Imagine you have been preparing for a huge milestone birthday celebration for, oh, maybe a year. You’ve talked about it since your child was little. They knew it was coming. They were just waiting for that one big birthday.
You picked out the special dress. You booked the hall. You booked the church and the band. You made sure there will be enough food and cake. The bar is taken care of. The special girl and her attendants need transportation because they aren’t old enough to drive and that special dress won’t fit in the minivan, so you rent a limo. Decorations are made to coordinate with the theme. Everything is moving along well, although it has been a pain in the backside to get everything coordinated for the same day.
All along, you’ve been telling the rest of the family to save the date. You have made certain they know because it’s a big deal. You’ve talked about your dream of it since they placed the tiny Mexican-American girl in your arms. You want her to know her heritage.
Yes, she is adopted. She is your sweet daughter. She has special needs. Her birth mother drank alcohol when she was expecting your sweet baby. Birthmom liked to party. She didn’t realize it would cause birth defects, brain damage and hurt her entire central nervous system. Your sweet girl has bones missing from her forearms, she has ARND (alcohol related neurological defects). Her CNS (central nervous system) has been very damaged by the partying. Still, you and your family celebrate the adoption and you learn to live life with short arms and ADHD.
Now, Miss Sweetie has her big day coming up. It’s a month before the quinceañeros, the celebration of a girl turning 15 & becoming a young woman. The dress is in the final stage of fitting, things are settling in as they should be, even though your stomach and brain are a nervous wreck, trying to remember if you have everything right. Invitations are sent out and RSVP’s aren’t coming in.
Your entire family turns you down. Oh, they know how much you have been planning, how long you have waited but there’s this bike tour that’s the same weekend. “We would love to come but this is a really neat bike tour and we all signed up. No refunds. Sorry. We will catch you another time. Maybe Christmas if it’s not too snowy?”
Tears of anger & frustration well up in your eyes. What in the world are you going to do? The entire family just bailed. You have paid for everything and there will be about 8 people there.
You put out a plea to a couple of your Facebook support groups, asking if anyone is able to get to your town to help your daughter celebrate. Above, you will see the moms who made the trip to help Miss Sweetie enjoy her quinceañeros. We came from many different states with husbands and kids. We are your family, your support family. We can’t pick up and get there every time but we will try. We will make sure to keep you in prayers, we will send cards and messages, we will listen to you and read your posts and texts and return them with words of love, encouragement and support.
We had a PARTY! It was wonderful! It was perfect!
Families who have adopted children with special needs aren’t surprised by family making other plans and shunning them. It still hurts though.
See those kids in the pictures? Nearly every one has some type of disability. For the most part, they ‘look normal’. I hate hearing that. You have no idea how un-normal our family life is. But, we partied and celebrated and had loads of fun. We were, and still are, a FAMILY. Family is there for each other. Family loves each other. Family helps. Family prays. Family sacrifices.
WE ARE A FAMILY!
HAPPY QUINCEAÑEROS, MARISSA!
PS–This story is about my friend and her daughter. She gave me permission to write about the heartbreak and love in the adoption/special needs world. Thank you, Linda.