Erica Bode, Ada
“I want to adopt a child,” I told my husband over the phone while running errands. “I want to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Actually, there is this beautiful boy on the Reece’s Rainbow adoption site who I am in love with.”
I have replayed this conversation many times since adopting our sweet Armenian, Sam. Sam was born in Armenia, given up at birth, and lived in an orphanage for four years before we brought him home in 2016.
Before we started the adoption process I knew nothing about Down syndrome. My heart always gravitated towards the beautiful Down syndrome children with almond eyes, chubby fingers, and a gap between the big toe and the rest of the toes. I knew nothing more about Down syndrome then what meets the eye. I knew nothing about raising a child with special needs. And I knew nothing about what it meant to become a parent of a special needs child. And here’s a little secret I’ll share with you – after having Sam for almost two years I am still learning what all this means.
My husband and I had great aspirations of bringing Sam home and changing the life of this little boy. But we never realized just how much we would change. We never realized how much we needed to change to raise this little boy. Sam has made great progress since April 2016, but our parenting had to change to help him be successful. We soon realized that we needed a team of people to help us. We couldn’t do it alone. This new parenting style required us to be vulnerable, humble, and intentional. We surrounded ourselves with some great therapists, enlisted family to provide us with much needed respite, and thanked our lucky stars for some amazing teachers and teaching staff who loved our kid even when he was hard to love. And lastly, we sought out an adoption counselor who helped change our mindset on what it means to be a parent, an adoptive parent, and a special needs parent to a boy who didn’t ask for any of this.
We are still learning, we don’t have all the answers. But the great thing is – we don’t have to. We are grateful for the other parents who share their stories and life lessons. We can only hope to one day pay it forward to the couple who is considering adopting a beautiful child with Down syndrome.
Photo credit: Sydney Kelley Photography