Special needs parenting is NOT for sissies. Perhaps that is why so many people fear us, fear our children.
I think most of us would agree that one of the more annoying platitudes people throw at us when we become a caregiver is, “God only gives special kids to really special parents. He must have known that you could handle a child like this.” The crying fetal position we find ourselves in at times of crushing crisis belies the validity of that statement.
Few of us would say we felt capable of competently parenting our challenged children the day they were first diagnosed. Even those of us who adopted children with foreknowledge of their condition have a level of uncertainty about being up to the task. As they grow, we have so many seasons where we feel inadequate or defeated, wondering if God got things right in making us the parent of this particular child.
Yet, in hindsight, we gain the ability to affirm the truth,
“God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”
It is in that process of equipping that the LORD orchestrates the making of a super hero.
Think about it. He begins by allowing average people, men and women who merely have their hearts set on being typical parents, to be called mother and father by a child who will never be considered average, nondescript, or typical. He escorts them through some of life’s deepest shock and grief. He softens their hearts, so they see that child with His kind of deep, selfless love. Suddenly, they begin to see a precious person, formed in God’s image, not the diagnosis. As their hearts expand, they step into a role they likely never would have imagined.
These heroes-in-the-making often lose hours of sleep, up with myriad types of care or dysregulation. Hours fuse into days sitting next to the hospital bed, hand-holding, comforting, learning new medical procedures, and praying for a speedy return home. And those hospital beds for parents to room in! The future hero endures the feeling of being jabbed in the back with a hanger just so he or she can be close to that precious child in need.
From the unsteady days of learning home treatments or therapies, parents develop a customized expertise, shaped just for that unique child in their care. An entire new medical vocabulary is developed, and discernment increases. The growing super hero knows just what questions to ask and has definite opinions about which direction treatment should take.
This one time average man or woman suddenly knows how to administer IV’s, tube feed, suction, or change an ostomy bag. While it never gets easier to see their child suffer, the hero presses on through seizures, and meltdowns, and surgeries, and way too many flirts with death.
Perhaps this is why they have such resolve when fighting in the educational system for their child’s rights. After all, what super hero doesn’t face their fair share of conflicts? No school staff is going to tell them that their child can’t learn or that proper accommodations cannot be made!
Yes, this is the making of a super hero. God takes some ordinary people and makes them extraordinary advocates and caregivers over a lifetime of loving a remarkable child. And in that process, His power is made perfect in weakness. His glory shines bright.