When I heard from staff that there was a specific need for families to consider cerebral palsy (CP) in the China Waiting Child program, it took me by surprise. As someone who has grown up with mild cerebral palsy, the term does not carry the intimidating or negative connotation I imagine it would for others. In fact, most people aren’t even aware that I could be categorized with this “medical needs label”. On the occasion that it has come up in conversation, shocked glances have usually followed. I assume it’s because I don’t fit the mental image of someone with cerebral palsy. I wear high heels, run 5ks and growing up, even most of my teachers were unaware. It has absolutely no impact on my mental capabilities.
Cerebral Palsy is also generally considered static, or non-progressive in nature. So while it did require correction growing up, the life I now live is, and will continue to be, very typical. I know in many other parts of the world, the stigma alone would have meant a much different life. Certainly the “normal” life I enjoy today did not come without some struggle. There were leg surgeries at age 3, 11 and 18. There were crutches and casts, stays at the nearby children’s hospital and trips to physical therapy. I’m sure there were sleepless nights for parents. However, looking back, I would not change any of those difficulties in my childhood. I believe there is a depth to our relationship with the Lord that comes in part from walking through such difficulties with Him. And today, my daily life is wholly unaffected by this “special need.”
I know there are those that would say CP does affect their daily life in real ways. Cerebral palsy can range from very mild to severe. So, I would never want to suggest that my story is everyone’s story or that it will be the story of every child living with CP in a Chinese orphanage. What I am suggesting, is that the child God has for your family may be hidden behind the label of a special need that is more manageable than you ever thought.
I love how Jesus sees “special needs” in the scripture. He certainly had a different perspective than the culture He was living in at the time.
“His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man or his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” -John 9:2-3
May we see the child with a special need as an opportunity for God’s glory to be displayed here on earth. It is my prayer that His wisdom and provision be with you, should He grant you the privilege of parenting such a child.
-an AW Staff Member
The China Waiting Children Program currently has several new children available for adoption who have CP. There are also a large number of children with CP who are available through the CCCWA’s shared system. Your family can view these children on the waiting children website or contact your Family Coordinator for more details about other children who are available through the shared referral system who are not listed on our website.
For more information on cerebral palsy, please visit:
**An international specialist can also be a valuable resource, and we can provide your family with a general listing of international specialists upon request.