The Doing Good blog follows area charities and social service agencies.
About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding a Family for Molly
Photo by Dave Ellis
For the past few months, photo director Dave Ellis and I have been working on a project featuring foster children available for adoption. Every other month or so, we travel to Richmond to meet some more children.
My heart grows a little bit each time. And sometimes I think that if my heart can grow to fit these children, my family and home could grow, too.
My husband is quick to assure me that our family is quite fine the size it is.
But visiting with Molly—our latest featured foster child—I really began to wonder. Watching TV, her face lit up and she started to giggle. I looked down at her, lying on the floor and I felt an overwhelming impulse to scoop her up and take her home. Molly is small for her age, with long skinny arms and legs. She wouldn’t take up much room in our home, I thought.
But her equipment would.
Molly is pretty profoundly disabled. She uses equipment to walk, to sit up, to take a bath. She sleeps in a large hospital crib.
And even if I could fit her equipment in my not-so-large home, I’m not sure I could fit Molly’s intense needs into my life. I have a demanding job and two disabled children already.
But I know there is a family out there that can handle Molly.
And you probably don’t even realize it.
I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me, “I could never do what you do” or “God gives special kids to special parents.”
But there was absolutely nothing special about me and my husband when we became parents 12 years ago. We were just as scared, overwhelmed and confused as every other parent. Maybe even more so: We were young and neither of us had much experience with babies.
God didn’t choose us because we were strong or patient or wise.
That’s the thing about the challenge of raising children with special needs: They call you to be better than you were.
And so even though you can’t picture raising Molly–you think you’re not brave enough or smart enough or kind enough–she can make you that way.
Of course, I don’t want to sugarcoat this. It will not be easy. Raising a child who can’t talk to you is hard.
Some days, it will break your heart. Your soul will shatter into so many pieces you will never be able to fit them back together quite right.
Every time you see a child doing the things your child should be doing, when you sort through your friends’ photos from Disney trips, when you see couples on dates—you will feel the gaps so sharply you will forget to breathe.
Some nights, you will cry yourself to sleep. Some mornings, you will want to stay in bed. Some days, you won’t talk to your spouse; you will be ashamed because he is braver than you. Or angry because he isn’t.
Some days, you won’t call your friends. You won’t be able to hear stories of their “normal” children and their “normal” lives.
But there will be other moments, ones you can’t picture yet. Just imagine your happiest time: the thrill you felt when your husband proposed, the day you got a big promotion or graduated from school.
That is nothing compared to the moment your nonverbal son says “Ah-ah-oo” and you somehow realize he means, “I love you.”
The praise you get from everyone else will be meaningless compared to the look in your child’s eyes when you enter the room—as if you’re the most amazing person in the world.
And one night—after one of those days that just never seem to end—you’ll be putting your child to sleep, and he’ll be quiet for a moment. He’ll look into your eyes and smile, and you’ll see something there, something you could never put into words. A spark of divinity. Or love. Or beauty. But it will be the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen.
And it will be enough.
In fact, much more than enough.
And a couple of other resources for interested foster/adoptive parents:
BETHANY CHRISTIAN SERVICES, 540/373-5165.
FREDERICKSBURG RESOURCE FAMILY, a division of Fredericksburg Social Services. Call 540/372-1032, ext. 241, for details.
RAPPAHANNOCK AREA FOSTER FAMILIES TEAM 540/ 507-7824, 540/507-7817 or 540/507-7852
UNITED METHODIST FAMILY SERVICES, 540/898-1773