In anticipation of Our Shining STAR Event, we are featuring a weekly blog series on Special Needs Adoption. On Wednesday January 29th, 2014, Adoption STAR will be hosting Our Annual Shining STAR Event to benefit special needs adoption. Adoption STAR has found many wonderful adoptive families for children with special needs. Adoption STAR helps adoptive families afford to make a commitment to adopt a child with special needs by waiving or greatly reducing fees. To learn more on how to donate, participate and/or volunteer to this great fundraising event, please visit our Shining STAR page.
Adoptive Mom, Brittany Jencik discusses her large family and how she began her journey with special needs adoption.
We are a BIG family, especially by today’s standards. Barry and I have 13 children; Lauren 23, Brian 20, Keaton 19, Brady 14, Zac 13, Ryder 11, Talia 8, Travis 6, Tennyson 6, Lachlann 5, Everleigh 2, Caulder 1 and Nate 5 months. Seven of our children are biological and 6 are adopted. Eight of our children have special needs. People ask us all the time when we think we will be ‘done’ growing our family. We simply answer that we feel we will know when our family is complete. Right now, our hearts continue to remain open to more children.
Special needs adoption…
If you had asked either of us how we felt about adoption 10 years ago, I think we would’ve shrugged our shoulders and said something along the lines of “Hmmmm, we’ve never really thought about it but we’re open to it”. If someone asked us about special needs adoption, I think we would have had that deer-in-the-headlights look because it was never on our radar… at all. Until our 11 year old came into our lives.
Ryder was born prematurely and is diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. He was a tough, tough baby with complex medical issues associated with his prematurity as well as complex social and emotional issues related to the Autism spectrum. When Ryder was 2, we felt as if we had made it over the hurdle with him. Not that there wouldn’t be challenges ahead, but we finally felt like we were no longer drowning and that we had expanded our ‘parenting skill set box’ to the point where we were open to considering special needs adoption. We decided to ‘interview’ agencies and just get a feel for the process.
In the Spring of 2005, we walked into Adoption Star and our lives were changed forever. We happened to be there when a Star family was picking up their second child. She was teeny, tiny and so beautiful. The connection between the adoptive parents and the baby was so heart warming to us and the sight of their older son sleeping in his father’s arms was priceless. Their older son has Down Syndrome and both my husband and I thought he was the most beautiful and amazing child we’d ever seen. I can’t tell you how Tyler’s heart reached out to ours that day. The entire way home from Buffalo (we live in Rochester), all we could talk about was adopting a child with special needs and how wonderful it would be if our family could be touched forever the way we were that night!
Three months later, we were bringing Talia home to meet her new family. Talia has Down Syndrome and she has changed our lives for the better just as I knew she would that night after meeting Tyler and his family.
There are so many challenges in raising children with special needs. For us, we have probably found the level of advocacy that is necessary to be the most challenging. Children with special needs require different supports than typically developing children. They often need to see many medical professionals and often need increased supports in their academic settings. This can be incredibly frustrating to put into place.
The rewards are immeasurable. Our children have opened our eyes to so many experiences and blessings that we would never have known otherwise. They face challenges with grace and determination. They live life to the fullest. They appreciate the little things and have spirits that drown out adversity. Each day, we learn more about what is really important in life. Our family has never been as strong or as close as we are now and we attribute that entirely to the accomplishments we’ve celebrated together and the challenges we’ve faced. We hear the statement all the time “your children are so lucky to have you”. The truth will always be that we are the lucky ones. Our world was rocked almost 9 years ago and our hearts will forever be smiling and grateful for that!!
Special needs adoption…
I would love people to open their minds to special needs adoption. That is not to say I believe special needs adoption is for everyone, but if people don’t even consider it, they’ll never be able to take the leap. It is a wonderful journey and while challenging, it can also have unimaginable rewards!!!
Read More by Adoption STAR’s Annual Shining STAR Event and Special Needs Adoption:
- I Felt Her Calling Me From China
- An Interview: Parenting Children with Special Needs
- Special Needs Adoption Videos from the University of Chicago
- Supporting Special Needs Adoption with Shining STAR
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