A personal story on openness-to-life for the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
Those familiar with the adoption process won’t be surprised to hear that one of our six adopted children suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. A psychologist painted a vivid, mental image of this condition when he described my child as living in a wheelchair that no one else can see. It is hard for those who have not lived with a RAD child to truly fathom the relentless and unforgiving aspects of this condition. In spite of the daily challenges which this condition presents, I have continued to long for more children – and lots of them! I wasn’t sure if this desire was part of my own disordered fervor or an inspiration from the Lord.
Consequently, my prayerful cry was,
“Is it right Lord to adopt more children if You have already challenged my patience, my virtue, my love with such a demanding child? Is it right to bring more children into our family when one requires heroic forbearance by his young siblings?”
I reflected that natural fertility is not removed from a couple if one child is born with special needs. I concluded that having one child with special needs is not a reason, in itself, to stop having children.
Marriage is an unbreakable bond for the expression of fidelity and the raising of Christian children.
I remembered these words of St. Augustine describing the vocation I had been given. Marriage, by its very essence includes children. I found more support in continuing to have children in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. #164
While this question pestered me for an answer and the insistent desire for more children continued its assault, I attended one of my formation meetings with the Franciscans of the Immaculate. We were taught that married couples should always pray for children. This prayer is a way for married couples to practice chastity within marriage.
To me, it seemed much easier to discern “open to life” when one has the natural gifts required to have children. I had long ago considered myself barren-as-a-stone. What was I to do? I didn’t have this gift of fertility (or so I thought.) I could add the prayer to my life even if it seemed incompatible to me to pray to have children biologically.
I decided practicing openness to life meant maintaining current paperwork in the adoption process – as best as I could while also attending to my children at home; Doing my best to follow up on adoption leads; Investigating the recommendations of friends regarding agencies. I have believed that doing my best to offer a “yes” to God allowed the Master greater reign in my life. My “yes” allows God to say “yes” or “no.” My “yes” meant I was open – available for more.
With my husband’s willingness and consent, we continued to apply to adoption programs. We did not ask explicitly for special needs children but we were fully aware that children who come from a orphanages or foster care may very well arrive in wheelchairs that cannot be seen.
An interesting twist to this story developed last year with my surprise pregnancy. My doctor told me that I was a carrier for cystic fibrosis. This was surprising news. I was unaware that any of my family had experienced CF. We knew my husband was a carrier for this genetic condition so this gave us a one in four chance that our baby would be a special-needs child.
I didn’t think in pregnancy that my child would have CF. I concentrated on the 75 percent chance that the child would be born free of this condition , a condition which affects the lungs and digestive system. I reasoned, the Lord had given us a houseful of children to care for and the newest had only entered our family a few months ago. I was also dreadfully sick the entire pregnancy. How could I possibly be strong enough to have a medically fragile child? How could this be God’s Will for us?
But, the Lord’s ways are not my ways. I was not thinking with the mind of God.
He did bless our family with a medically fragile child.
In some ways, I feel that the Lord answered my prayerful question, asked throughout my marriage.
“Should I continue to have children despite special needs?”
He answered loudly and in the affirmative.
The Lord loves special needs children. He loves families who are open to life no matter what the cost. He loves hearts which open further when pried by special needs. He gives abundant graces to those who carry their crosses. He makes them more and more into Himself.
The Lord loves special needs and we should not be afraid to embrace life for fear of special needs. Openess to life despite special needs is a true reflection of ...
The Triumph of the Cross.