Years ago, Mark and I formed an adoption support group called KIN Adoption Advocates (Kids In Need). Mostly we met together as families and shared experiences, but occasionally we were able to match up families with adoptable children who were special needs. By the end of our time in KIN, we had successfully helped place 16 children who had been waiting for a home. Below is a letter from one of the adoptive moms whom we helped find a child. Her son has been diagnosed with FAS (Fetal Alcohol syndrome). She found me last week on Facebook. We hadn’t spoken in years and it’s been nice catching up. Here is one of her emails to me:
“We left a church a year ago this past November because of some of these things [People not understanding the special needs of FAS kids]. Sadly, it was people who should definitely be a better example, the Pastor and his wife & kids. Their son is a real bully, and one day they are going to have to acknowledge it because he’ll do something they can’t gloss over. The mother is also a bully, sad to say, and singled out particular kids for shaming and bullying. They didn’t really believe anything about John’s disability. We’ve been in a church for about a year now where they are far more accepting of special needs. It’s a small, independent Baptist church.
I actually have 3 friends who “get it”. One is a local home-school mom with 13 kids, 11 adopted, six from Africa, and 5 from foster care system. One is my best “local” girl friend, she is also a homeschool mom with 2 boys, one in high school, one in college. My very dearest friend is a homeschool mom who lived here.[until recently]. She has 3 kids, age 10, 8 & 7.
Frequently, the boys and I pack up and go visit them for 3 or 4 days at a time. We go their for her kids birthdays and they come here for our kids birthdays. They were here last month for John’s birthday, and will be here next week for Joe’s. She gets it like you wouldn’t believe. She’s known us since shortly after we moved here; we went to the same church. That’s when John was 4. She’s seen the changes in him and frequently encourages me as a mom. She wrote such a glowing reference letter for us for this homestudy update! And she has agreed to take our kids and raise them if something were to happen to both of us. She has somewhat “challenging” children, so she totally gets it, because over the years she’s received the same kind of nasty comments about her kids and her parenting. People just don’t get that you can’t always just “discipline them more” or “spank them more”. There are kids that you could spank until they are dragging you off to jail and it would not change a behavior, that sometimes you just have to find other ways. We had a woman at a former church say she wished John didn’t even know he had FAS, that it’s just an excuse, and that if we just were tougher on him he’d be more pleasant to be around (he actually is pleasant most of the time, and better behaved than at least one of her kids ever thought of being). We’ve been told to lighten up and give him more freedom to run like the other kids, but when we do, something happens and he gets the blame. You know the drill. L
I think removing John from school all those years ago was the best thing we ever could have done for him. He still has that innocence, and we haven’t lost him to peers. We’ve talked with him a lot over the years about FAS and what it means for him, and he understands that he will be with us for as long as he needs to be. He understands that other kids his “age on paper” will get to do things he won’t be doing. A girl told him a couple years ago that her mom said it was ok if she “likes him for a boyfriend”, and John told her “no, my mom and dad will tell me if I am ever ready to have a girlfriend”. I was very proud of him for that!”