|An Addition to Our Family?
A little over eleven
years ago, my family and I were confronted with a difficult decision. We had been involved
in foster care for several years and had taken care of a number of children; some lived
with us for years. In some ways, this was a challenging experience but it had also been
very rewarding. As a result of this, we had decided we wanted a larger family. My wife had
two beautiful daughters from a previous marriage and our opportunities were limited as we
explored adopting a child. Eventually the question came: were we interested in a child
with special needs? After many discussions, a few prayers, and a lot of waiting, we
decided as a family that the answer was yes. Within a month, we learned of a baby boy with
Down Syndrome who needed a home. Two more months later, he was on an airplane to our home.
Part of our decision to adopt Todd had been my own family's experience in raising my baby
sister, who was born developmentally delayed. Also, my wife and I had originally met while
we both worked for a local program supporting individuals with disabilities. While these
experiences certainly helped with some aspects of raising our new son, some serious
challenges awaited us.
Significant Health Problems in the Early Years
Todd was a beautiful and happy little boy. He, immediately, and continues to enrich our
lives. In addition, we had nearly immediate support through our local school district's
early intervention program. His teacher visited the day after he arrived! Within a few
months of his arrival, however, Todd developed some health problems. Todd had contracted
pneumonia and couldn't seem to shake it. The first episode took over a month to get
through sleepless nights, trips to the ER, fighting to get food and fluids into our little
boy - it was a very long month.
Over time and several subsequent bouts of pneumonia, we learned that
he had asthma. We quickly became familiar with trips to the ENT, a myriad of medications,
nebulizers, and so on. This continues to plague Todd to this day; he currently is getting
over a case of bronchitis. At the same time, we were confronted with concerns about Todd's
behavior. As he got older, his sleep patterns deteriorated. He rarely slept through the
night for weeks at a time. As well, he was doing increasingly poorly in child care. Loud,
crowded situations seemed to upset him. We eventually learned that Todd was hyperactive
and had "autistic tendencies." These issues have also continued to be things we
have to deal with every day.
The good news is Todd's health and behavior have gradually improved over the years. He has
benefited from excellent teachers. He loves school and would rather be there than stay
home! A psychologist from the local university program has helped us with his behavior.
His service coordinator identified a child care provider trained in working with children
with special needs, and he has done well there. So, there's progress.
Todd is eleven now and is really growing. He likes race cars and adores
his big sisters. He also has a niece who he can't stop bragging about. There's still
plenty to do - lots of doctor appointments, school visits, planning meetings, etc. While
his mother and I are no longer together, we co-parent effectively. We stay busy, but that
should be no surprise. As I said earlier, there's plenty left to do. I'm looking forward
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