Pregnancy goes hand in hand with this common saying. If you’ve had pregnancies, you’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve even (as I have) said those words to others. However, after having a child with special needs, we changed our response to, “Well, even if this baby isn’t healthy, we’re not giving it back.” We’re not sure if it’s taken seriously or with humor, but how does that sit with you, especially if you do have a child with special needs?
We learned a long time ago that we aren’t in charge or control of how our children turn out, short of us doing the things we know we should: eat well, exercise well, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do anything to purposely harm the baby. Yet, time after time there are babies born with an alphabet soup of special needs; even after their parents do all the right things.
In short, here’s what we’ve learned why that common saying isn’t most important:
An UNHEALTHY/special needs baby:
- Is still a loved baby. And this baby grows into an adult who has become all he/she can be because we as parents have helped them, advocated for them, sacrificed for them, and have loved them well.
- Can change our own unhealthy heart that becomes healthy and vibrant because of what our child with special needs teaches us. (After nearly 40 years of learning this, we can say we are most blessed and extremely thankful for what Joey has taught us!)
- Brings us to our knees to pray for them; helping us to learn that prayer should and will be our first response instead of our last resort.
- Has allowed us to know God better and see His perspective on life better.
- Helps us to accept what God has allowed even when we don’t understand it; realizing He wants us to adjust to His plan instead of our own.
- Points us to giving thanks and looks for the blessing in this special life.
- Helps us experience pain that can awaken compassion in us.
- Builds character in us.
- Brings us from trial (temporary) to triumph (eternal) in most every situation.
- Teaches us that pain and challenge always have a purpose.
We have learned so much and would not trade in what we’ve learned, how we’ve grown, or how our son has shown God to others even as a mostly non-verbal person. And while we would never wish for a child to be born unhealthy, we do see the blessing, the joy, and the benefits of how God has used our special Joey in our lives and the lives of others. As we prepare to celebrate a time of THANKSGIVING in our homes, let’s begin with a list of how our child/children with special needs have done that for us, our family and the friends who’ve embraced us as a package!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey (order at www.cindiferrini.com). They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Janet Parshall at “In the Market”, Chris Brooks of “Equipped” and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at:
and via social media at:
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