March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month!
The Saunders family passionately believes that every single child deserves a family. In addition, they are equally convinced that the only genuine “special need” any waiting child has is for a family – a family who will celebrate each victory, advocate for any needs, encourage through every struggle, and love unconditionally – forever. Out of their 11 adopted children, 2 have cerebral palsy. Read more and learn about adopting and raising precious children with medical conditions like cerebral palsy.
My husband is 68, and I am 64, and we now have eight children left at home (making us “almost” empty-nesting – ha!) So far, our five oldest are married, and we have 18 grandchildren. Six of our 18 grands joined our family through adoption, and a couple have significant needs. It is a joy to know that our kids, in essence, have given their approval on growing up in a large adoptive family that included siblings with medical needs and disabilities.
Since we have been doing this “parenting thing” for 40 years with typical children and children with medical needs, we are convinced that raising all kids is hard. And sometimes the ordinary may just be harder!
Day to day accommodations become a part of regular life.
Ruby and John both have cerebral palsy and move about in wheelchairs. We have added ramps to our exterior doors and modified bathrooms. Our home has one accessible bathroom, which John uses.
Ruby has quadriplegia and needs total care 24/7. We have modified our primary bathroom so that the vanity is now a piece of furniture between two sinks which we use as her changing table. It’s wonderful! We also added a clawfoot tub for Ruby. Ruby loves her bath, and the clawfoot allows me to easily lift her out because it is already several inches off the ground.
We brought John home from China in 2016, just before his 14th birthday. He has adjusted well and loves being part of a large family.
Over a year ago, John got a job at Home Depot. A Paratransit van picks him up daily and brings him home from work. He also goes to a Mandarin-speaking Chinese church and Bible study. Some days he goes to work out at Ability360 (a sports facility for folks with disabilities). He is thriving!
John uses his vast wheelchair when he takes the Paratransit van. We have a smaller electric wheelchair that he uses when he is out with us. His small electric chair and Ruby’s manual chair can be lifted into the back of our van when we go somewhere. We had the car dealership install side steps to help John get into the van. We lift Ruby ourselves and put her into her car seat.
Both of our kids with CP have had multiple surgeries. Ruby has not had any surgeries related to CP. Our son John had extensive surgery due to the CP to stabilize his ankles. He, of course, had several doctor appointments as we prepared for surgery. He has had other surgeries not related to CP.
Would you consider adopting a child with cerebral palsy?
Our treasured children with medical needs have brought us unending family joy and made us better people. For that reason, we couldn’t imagine our lives without each of them. Ruby is medically fragile – each day with her is a gift. Yet she brings unending joy with her sparkly personality and enthusiasm for life.
I call Ruby my “wee-BFF,” – and I am 100% certain I have never done anything good enough to deserve the privilege of being her or any of the others’ mom. I am convinced that because of Ruby, the Lord has been so very kind to me.
We have found that serving those we love with significant physical or cognitive limitations has helped us be kinder, more patient, more loving, and less selfish.
Our culture tends to make people believe it’s about “me.” However, I contend that the “me culture” has created a self-absorbed lifestyle that leaves little room for others. And amid the self-absorption, I am not sure anyone is happier! All the while, mental health issues are at an all-time high. Could the secret to true happiness be serving others?
Our family also knows that we could develop significant limitations at any point. So, we strive to “do to others as you would want them to do to you.” Focusing on the needs of those we love has helped us see life outside ourselves.
Have you thought about adopting a child with medical needs? My advice is to do it!! Could you do it? Great love overcomes significant obstacles. With great love, the beneficial joy of serving others with needs outweighs perceived “risks.”