What i want you to know: parents of special-needs kids are not saints

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Lauren.


My husband and I adopted a daughter from overseas who has special needs. She is significantly visually impaired, has epilepsy and is significantly delayed.

I want you to know that I am not a saint for wanting this child and it really burns my butt when you make me sound like one. When people tell me what an angel I am for adopting my daughter, it makes her sound like a huge burden. Otherwise, why would it be so noteworthy for me to love her? She's not a burden. She's a blessing. Every day, no matter what happens. Through the surgeries and the ER trips and the therapy visits. Through the tantrums and the tics. I cannot imagine our family without her. She gives more than she receives, you just can't see it.

She is blind and delayed, but she is not mentally handicapped. Please don't discount her because of some off mannerisms. She is actually very bright, but spending the first four years of her life in an orphanage in darkness made it hard to learn much of anything.

We know nothing about her biological mother. We don't know if she "did anything" to cause our daughter's disabilities. We do know that she lived in a terribly impoverished region. So while you may want to vilify her, don't do it in front of me. I am unendingly grateful to the woman who gave my daughter life, I love her for what she made for me, and I don't blame her for my daughter's disabilities.

No, there isn't a cure. No, she will probably never see like you and I. No, we are not raring for a miracle to restore perfect vision. If a miracle happens, we will celebrate. We do everything for her, medically, that we can. But the goal is not to change her and make her "normal." We love her "as is."

Sometimes, it's tough. Her needs are high and it can be stressful, but we are learning as we go and getting pretty good at handling it. The benefits far outweigh the pain, but sometimes I might need to whine and cry because it's tough. That does NOT mean that I regret it. It's just hard at times.

Visually impaired kids often explore the world with their mouths. Sorry if she explores something of yours.

Sorry if she grabs you without warning. She can't see you well, and she uses her hands to explore her world. Just be glad she wasn't using her mouth at that moment.

You have no idea how much more exciting the world is when every milestone is a big deal. You have no idea how rewarding it is to see a child brought back to life in your care. I see the whole world differently now. I appreciate things more. I love more openly. I'm fulfilled in a whole new way. I see miracles all around. Sometimes I feel sorry for people who don't get to see life from this perspective. You are really missing out.

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