I have often been asked, through the years, how having children with special needs has affected our other children.  Our five oldest are able bodied, normal, healthy kids.  Our youngest two both have special needs.  Keaton’s needs were very severe.  Having siblings with special needs has impacted our children in wonderful ways that I never could have imagined.

The compassion they have for others with disabilities is amazing.  They will very willingly go up to a child in a wheelchair, a person who is blind, or someone with downs syndrome and start up a conversation.  Some of our children are now choosing career paths in the medical and mission fields based on their love for the Lord and the impact their special needs siblings have had on their lives.  They have had their share of hard moments, long doctor appointment, medical equipment in the home, and sacrificing their time for the sake of their special needs siblings.  But, they love their siblings and wouldn’t change any of that for the world.   

Soon after Keaton went to Heaven, I read the clip below in an article.  I’m not sure who wrote it, but I couldn’t have said it better myself.  I shared it with some of our children at that time because it truly defines them.

“I am convinced that the next generation of great world changers are going to be from special needs families because in the middle of all the hard and all the heartache, you’ve learned what really matters in this life. You’ve learned so many things that so many adults can’t grasp. You’ve learned things that a textbook could never teach you. You have seen real life. You’ve stood in the middle of a raging storm with no umbrella, and instead of running to hide, you’ve waited for the rainbow never doubting that it will come.

You’ve learned the value of hard work. You’ve learned to never give up. You’ve helped out in therapy sessions. You’ve been your sibling’s biggest cheerleader. You’ve encouraged them more than anyone else, and you have learned to celebrate every little milestone.

You are going to change the world because you look at the world and see each person as equal. You don’t see physical or mental ability as a gauge of a person’s worth. You understand that every life is worth fighting for even if it looks different from what the world considers normal. You know what it means to treat someone with true dignity and respect, and you consider it an honor to serve others. You don’t think of yourself as better than anyone, and you know that a smile is the best form of payment.

God hasn’t placed you in your family by accident. He is grooming you to be more than you can ever imagine. You are being refined in the fire. Special needs siblings, take heart. You are a world changer, and I can’t wait to see all the good you will do. (author unknown)”

Thank you, Ethan, Shay, Whitley, Denzel and Maya for being the best siblings Chelsea and Keaton could have ever asked for.  Thank you for always loving them unconditionally and accepting them for who they are.

If you have ever considered adopting, I hope you will consider a special needs child.  They are truly remarkable and will change your family forever.  There are special needs children in the United States and all over the world just waiting for their forever families.

A year and a half ago, the Des Moines Register published this article about our oldest son.  He explains in his own words the impact his little brother with disabilities has had on his life.