Voices from the Pews: Adopting a Child with Special Needs
Today’s post describes the experiences of the Thoele family, Epiphany parishioners and parents of four children.
Luke and I talked about children and the possibility of adoption before we were married. I studied Early Childhood Special Education in college. We didn’t think that we would adopt a child with special needs, but we can see now how God was preparing us to be Charlie’s parents.
Our marriage started as we had hoped, with our first child, Alice, coming along a year after we were married. But then we lost two babies early in each pregnancy, Rose and John. This made the possibility of adoption more of a reality, but in 2014 we prayerfully discerned not to adopt at the time. Soon thereafter, we learned that Annemarie was on the way and we got to meet her in June 2015. The thought of adoption stayed on our hearts and we prayerfully discerned we should start the process early in 2016. We didn't have special needs adoption on our mind, but the paperwork was very specific in listing what we were ok with or not ok with regarding disabilities. We listed on our home study that we were ok with almost all medical diagnoses but told our attorney we preferred a child who didn't have any needs. Looking back, we think God was slowly preparing us to be Charlie’s parents.
In January 2017 we received an email with Charlie's newborn picture (he was 3 months old when we brought him home) and I knew instantly he was meant to be our son. We were told of his disabilities, but there was such peace that God would walk with us through figuring it all out. We were able to meet his birth mom twice. We pray for her frequently and are eternally grateful that she loved Charlie and let us be his parents. We brought Charlie home at the end of the January.
Charlie has cerebral palsy. This is simply a brain injury that occurred either before, during, or after birth that impairs motor function. It is not degenerative but, in Charlie’s case, it presents significant developmental delays. But other than the obvious impairments (wheelchair, non-verbal, feeding tube), he is a pretty healthy guy. Charlie is receiving many therapies in-home through Early Intervention. He will transition this fall to the public school system.
Parenting, whether it be a kid with or without special needs, takes selflessness. In some ways Charlie is harder, but in some ways he's easier. We won't be waiting up anxiously for him to come in by curfew, but there will be more doctor visits and hospital stays. Each of our children has unique individual needs and will bring glory to God in a unique way. Charlie is not an exception to that. We are truly blessed with a lot of support from family, friends, and our Epiphany parish family.
We currently have 4 kids. 7 year old Alice, who is in first grade at Epiphany, likes reading to her siblings and jumping on the trampoline. Our Annemarie will be 4 in June. She loves taking care of her little brother and sister, baking, and library class. Charlie is 2.5 and is such a smiley guy. His social skills are his greatest abilities. He loves when someone is chatting or playing with him, especially moving his arms. He is projected to be non-verbal and always in a wheelchair. That's ok, but we pray we give him every opportunity to succeed and live up to his highest quality of life. Our Veronica is 1 and our wildest. She's full of joy and zeal. We are so grateful for each and every one of these gifts from God, and if it be His will, we hope there are more children to come!