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Successful Families

Special needs children have so much to give...

Susan L, an adoptive parent in Jemison, Alabama

Our fourth adoption began as our third, when we received a copy of Hi Families, a publication of Holt International. We had decided from the very first adoption that we would request only special needs children, so the section of the magazine, entitled "Waiting Children," was our favorite place to search for a child. The Feb. 1993 issue included a tiny photo and write up about a 2 yr. old girl with Down Syndrome available in Korea. We called and were told that a family had already been found for that girl, so we went on with our busy life and never expected to hear about her again.

Two months later, the phone rang and it was a worker from Holt. It turned out that the girl's adoption did not pan out. Six weeks later, we went to the Birmingham airport to meet our daughter, Mary Beth. She was our first Downs child so we did not know what to expect of her. We set out on a round of doctors and therapists visits and made sure that her vision, hearing, and general health were fine. Because we live in a rural area, we decided that homeschooling would be best for Mary Beth, and I began to research information about how to teach a child with Downs Syndrome.

At first, she was very distant and lethargic, and made little eye contact. As the weeks passed, she began to bond, at first, only with Mom. We began to learn sign language together, because I learned that even though Downs Syndrome children usually speak, their speech is delayed more than their understanding of language. By age 4 Mary Beth had more than a 100 signs and at 5 she was beginning to speak. Her progress was never compared to that of any other child, we just rejoiced over her every accomplishment. She developed articulate speech and a funny sweet personality.

Over the next 6 years we adopted four more Downs Syndrome children. Later, we learned that Mary Beth also had autism. She achieved a level, which we now know, is remarkable for a child with both conditions. This said to me that there is no power greater, than the power of God's love. Mary Beth is only 6 years old, and will always have great challenges, but she is a precious, special child who has already overcome enormous difficulties. Adoption gave her a chance for a happy childhood and a loving family. We are committed to this child, as we are to all of our children and will be forever grateful to those who believed in her worth as a child of God. Special needs children have so much to give and deserve the opportunity to give and receive love. The success of our adoptions and of our family is due to the grace of God.

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