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Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

Since its 1976 proclamation as National Adoption Month in Massachusetts,[1] November has remained a part of our National tradition as a time to celebrate the gift of love.  A little over fifteen years ago, such a gift was given to me when my seven-day-old son was placed in my arms.


As I gazed into the face of my new son, I could not have imagined that a mere twelve hours later, I would fall completely, irrevocably in love.  I could not have comprehended that this "Son of My Soul,"[2] would capture my heart completely and forever hold it captive.


I have often been asked the question, "Do you ever wish you had a child of your own?"  I’m sure the quizzical look on my face must have baffled such interrogators until they heard my response:  "But I have!"  It seems to many, that a magical contribution of DNA is all that can make someone yours, but that is not so.  Life together, commitment and love, work their own magic.


I also often hear, "I’d love to adopt a baby, but I just don’t think that I will feel the same towards an adopted child as I would had I given birth," to which I can only reply, "Then I feel sorry for your husband.  He doesn’t carry the child.  I guess he can’t love any children you have as his own."  But you can find love through adoption, and through Special Needs Adoption, you can find a deep and satisfying love with the added knowledge that you are helping a child who is desperately waiting for a home, is in great need of an advocate…is urgently waiting….for  love.


I remember the first time I was told that my son was considered "special needs."  "Really?" I queried.  I was confused.  Why would he be considered so?  Yes, he was born with cleft lip and palate, and there was a concern about hearing loss, but to me his "specialness," was in the sweet way he clung to me when I picked him up, the curl of his bright hair, his incredibly large, luminous eyes.  I have to admit, that it took a little while for me to realize what I was being told, and when I fully understood, the impact hit me like nothing had before.


Special Needs.  What does it mean in relation to adoption?  A child is considered special needs if: they are an older child, usually over five-years-of age; a part of a sibling group where the local Children’s Services is trying to keep brothers and sisters together; a minority or of mixed race; physically challenged, such as my son; children considered to be at risk, like those born to drug-addicted mothers or who have been abused or neglected; mentally or emotionally disabled because of inherited conditions or resulting from abuse.  Special Needs.  Shouldn’t that translate to Special Love?


On the practical side, Special Needs could mean Special Expenses.  In the case of special needs adoption, when conducted through your county Children’s Services, many times there are no fees.  Therapies and medical expenses are often covered, and frequently help is offered for schooling such as tutoring.


Special Needs.  A way to open up your life, your home, your soul to a child who needs a family.  An opportunity to finally form that family you forgot about on your way up the corporate ladder.  Or maybe just a chance to finally fill that empty space in your heart, which has been waiting for someone special.


Special Needs.  Indeed:  Special Love, Special Memories, a Special Family for a very Special Child.



[2] Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, Debra Shiveley Welch, copyright 2007




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Debra Shivel...
Central Ohio


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