Voices from Ohio: Theresa Chumley on Special Needs Adoption


TONIGHT, Adoption STAR is hosting its Annual Shining STAR Gala Event. You may also get your invitation here: Shining STAR Gala Event Invitation and you are welcomed to pay at the door. We hope you will join us to celebrate Special Needs Adoption. In theme with tonight’s festivities today’s blog post is on parenting children with special needs.

We interviewed adoptive mom Theresa Chumley about her son Adam who arrived into their family from Beiging.

1. Tell me a little about your family/children.

Mark and I have been married for 17 years and have four children. Their ages range from 15 to 7. Our 7 year old was adopted just one year ago from Beijing, at the age of 6.

2. What made you decide to specifically pursue adopting children with special needs?

We longed to adopt a child so we began to learn a little about adoption and the differences between domestic and international adoptions. We then learned about the term “special needs adoption”. We were surprised that any child over the age of two is considered “special needs”. We had already thought our family was best suited to adopt a child somewhere in the age of 4-8. When we learned about the desperate situation of children in international orphanages, we just wanted to be involved. From there, doors kept opening and staying open, for us to bring Adam home from China.

3. What has been the most challenging aspects as the parents of children with special needs?

Our “special needs” child is very healthy, very bright and has had an incredibly smooth transition. We have truly not had any more challenges with him than what parents meet with any child, adopted or biological. Adam does have micropthalmia—he was born without a left eyeball. This requires surgeries to create the space for a full prosthetic. We are very fortunate to live in an area with skilled physicians, surgeons, and an ocularist familiar with his condition. With this condition, we have a few more doctor’s appointments than we would otherwise have. That aside, we have found that Adam is much more typical than not and just like all children, he desires our time and attention. So finding a new normal in our family routine and adding an extra layer of busy to our lives has been the biggest challenge as we have transitioned from a family of five to a family of six.

4. What has been the most rewarding aspect?

The most rewarding aspect of adopting has been the sincere, genuine love we have for our son and the love he has for us. Admittedly, I was concerned prior to the adoption about bonding. I was afraid that I wouldn’t really love him as much as I love our older three children. Any mother who has given birth more than once, knows that God just grows your maternal love with each child He places in your care. I found this to be the truth with our adoption as well and I cannot imagine our family without him.

5. What message would you like to share with other families considering special needs adoption?

I would encourage families considering special needs adoption to not be afraid by the term. It is so broad. Most people who meet our family would not consider our son to be “special needs”, yet according to adoption laws, he is. Educate yourself and be empowered. Talk with other families who have walked the road you are considering. Also, plan a visit or phone meeting with medical specialists who can help prospective parents navigate the meanings of different conditions and what type of care might be required. Most importantly, be honest about what you and your family is or is not equipped and prepared to handle.

Click here or on the picture to receive your invitation to the Shining STAR Gala Event.

Click here or on the picture to receive your invitation to the Shining STAR Gala Event.

Read More by Adoption STAR’s Annual Shining STAR Event and Special Needs Adoption:

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