What led you to want to focus on special needs within adoption?
Mary: As we began to explore adoption I kept finding myself going back to children or birth families with special needs. But, I would tuck it away and say "no." But, God kept bringing it back to me. I was afraid Jeremy would say no but as soon as I presented it he said yes. Over time God kept giving us more and more of a desire to pursue this adoption and opened us up to the thought of raising a child who had special needs or may come from a family with special needs.
Jeremy: To be honest, I was naïve at the time. We knew of people in our lives who had children with special needs. But, you don't fully know the struggles that come with making this decision until you are in the middle of it. But, your child with special needs brings so much joy to your family and to your life.
What type of adoption do you have and why?
Jeremy and Mary: We have an open adoption. When we adopted our first son we got a call later down the road that his birth mother was expecting again and wanted to create another adoption plan. We asked Gifts of Grace to present us to the birth mom because we wanted the boys to be raised together. In our open adoption we exchange photos and have two visits yearly with the children's birth parents. It's important to us that our children have a relationship with their birth parents.
What advice would you give to friends and families of future adoptive parents who adopt children with special needs?
Jeremy: Don't be afraid to ask questions. It means a lot to us as parents for others to have a better understanding. It shows you care and that you are invested in our child.
Mary: Be positive and encouraging. These adoptive parents need encouragement and shared interest in the joy and rewards that come with parenting a child with special needs.
Why did you choose to work with Gifts of Grace?
Mary: We were very choosy with the agency we wanted to work with. We personally know a few birth moms and we wanted an agency that would do right by our birth mother. We wanted an agency that wouldn't coerce our birth mom. We knew that Gifts of Grace would support their birth moms whether they chose to parent or if they continued with an adoption plan.