Jennifer and James have a very unique family, they have 10 children! 6 of them have been adopted and 4 or those adopted have disabilities.  They each have brought love and joy into their family.  

Internationally Adopted Children with Special Needs

The Unexpected

Jennifer and James went to Kazakhstan to adopt their daughter.  They were unaware at the time that she has autism and other medical issues as a result of living in an orphanage.  Jennifer recalled “She ended up with Reye syndrome and came home with severe liver problems and cognitive disabilities..they did some testing and told me that she had severe autism”

Both Jennifer and James were crushed by the diagnosis. However, she has exceeded expectations and is on the honor roll as a freshman in high school.  “As soon as I think we’re going to hit a ceiling, she breaks through it.” Jennifer added.

Adding More

After struggling with miscarriages for a few years Jennifer knew it was time to adopt and add another to their family.  Some countries have restrictions on allowing typically developing children to be adopted if there are other children in the home.  This led Jennifer and James to start adopting more children with disabilities.

The moment Jennifer saw Jacob, she knew he was supposed to be in their family.  “I recognized him, I knew it was him and he had Trisomy 21, Down syndrome.” Jennifer said.

Children with Special Needs have Special Abilities to Love

James says children with disabilities have a unique gift to love. The amount of happiness felt not only by his wife and him, but also their other kids, has dramatically increased since they’ve adopted children with disabilities.

“The light and joy that they bring us is immense,” James said, “and this is true with each one of our children. They have their own unique traits and their own unique abilities. But with those things that the world would call special needs, they come as a total package, and with those special needs have come special abilities, and that’s not just lip service. Truly special abilities that have blessed our lives more than I can begin to say.”

Jennifer said, these children with special needs know what’s most important in life and really understand happiness. They naturally have many talents and capabilities that do not come so easily to others.

This family knows to truly love, care for, and raise children with special abilities means to be blessed to be in the presence of angels.

The Impact of Having Children with Special Needs

Jennifer and James both agree that their children who have special needs have had a profound impact their immediate family as well as their extended family.  Jennifer said “they all have a very special connection with all of our children, but particularly the ones with Down syndrome..my brother was the one who said to me..‘I think that their chromosome (the extra one) is the love chromosome.’ 

“It’s been fun to see that they’ve not only impacted up in our immediate family but in our extended family and our community.” added Jennifer

Questions when Adopting Children with Special Needs

Parents who want to adopt but aren’t sure, James encourages them to look deeper. Of course the cost of adoption is high—especially from a foreign country—is expensive, but adopting a child is infinitely more valuable than any material possession anyone would spend the same amount of money on. Jennifer says she knows every child has a forever family whether it’s their own or an adoptive family.

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