August 31, 2007, Pocatello, Idaho~
Dear Ms. Sandusky~
I am writing because I read your story in your books ("A Family Made Out Of Miracles And Rainbows" and the sequel, "...And The Miracles Continue"); what I read truly moved me, at times to the point of tears. Your story is inspiring; I felt I had to respond to you, to thank you for bringing attention to what it is like raising children who are older, handicapped, or of another race, or from a different country.
Like you, I am an adoptive parent. I live in Idaho (Pocatello; have lived here all my life; was even born here) with my husband, Isaac, and our five children (one born to us, the other four adopted) who range in age from three to sixteen. We have two daughters (Kristina Grace--16-- and Winter Anuk Snow--14--; Kristina came to us from California, from the Paiyute Indian reservation, and Winter came from Alaska; she is Native Alaskan, being of the Inuit people; they came at about the same time; we adopted the two girls 12 years ago, when they were 2 and 4 years of age) and three sons (Gray, who is twelve; he is our only "homegrown" child, Spenser Cameron--6; adopted from Korea--, and the baby, Haven Chance; he is from Guatemala).
Our children all have special needs: that is, they have specific disabilities or learning problems that need attention., are older than the age of two, or are of antoher ethnic/racial background. Our son Gray has ADHD and Asberger's syndrome (a milder form of autism; most of the time he is okay, but he does act up once in a while, particularly during new or unfamiliar situations) while our two girls have Down syndrome (Kris isn't as affected as her sister, but both are mentally disabled, and both attend school for children with special needs).Spenser has asthma, sensory integration disorder, nipolar disorder, autism, and is hearing impaired, and Haven has spina bifida. He just learned to walk with braces/ccrutches last year.
Like the two girls, Spenser attends a school for children with special needs, but Gray attends regular school. Haven, meanwhile, has a few years to go before he is ready to attend kindergarten.
Our children bring us endless moments of joy, but they do provide us many moments of anxiety and/or excitement--like the time Gray wigged out in church, or when Haven peed in his pants while at the zoo; he made a nice puddle in his wheelchair--and on the ground; it was very embarrassing--; or when Winter disappeared for two hours while at the park; she was found two hours later, talking to a homeless veteran she'd met--; yet the experiences are ones I look back on with fondness; they make me appreciate how far I've come as a parent.
Raising five children who are chronically ill/disabled is challenging enough; I can't imagine parenting sixty plus children like you and Bill are doing. How in the world do you do it without going stir-crazy? Either you: a.) have a great love for children, or are b.) crazier than a pair of loons! LOL (Choose one. *grins*) I have learned it takes a special type of person to parent children like ours; it isn't a job for the faint-of-heart or for those who don't like (or want) children. Yes sir, we are a rare breed--yet, I wouldn't trade it for a million dollars! But I think sixty-two children is a bit--hmmm, shall we say a bit extreme?
Where do your children come from? Which ones were the hardest to adopt and why? Do you regret taking in any of the children? Which ones were the easiest ones to adopt and why? What are some of the disablilities/medical conditions that your children have? How do you handle any unforseen medical emergencies that may arise? How do you handle the skyrocketing medical costs or hospital stays?
I know this much: whenever Winter, Spenser, or Haven have been in the hospital (for whatever reason it may be), I don't spend much time home because I am scared to death of leaving the kids (in case something should happen to them while i'm gone). It has happened before, especially with Winter and Spenser. Once when I left, Spenser had a prolonged asthma attack that nearly killed him; another time, Winter had open heart surgery, and she died three times while on the operating table. (Thank God they were able to bring her back!)
I wonder if you are a nurse; you seem to know your stuff when it comes to medical issues or have a lot of knowledge about how to treat specific conditions/diseases. Please fill me in. I'm not a nurse; what I learned comes from the Internet, talking to other parents who have special needs children, or reading books.
A lot of the medical terminology still confuses me. I hate it when doctors talk down to me, like I don't have any sense in my head or have any brains. They treat me like I'm stupid or when they use longhaired words that make absolutely no sense to me! How do you handle such big-ego'ed doctors? I would love to know!
Well, Louisiana, I've bent your ear *wayyyyyyyy* too long; I think it's time I put this puppy to bed! I hope to hear from you; you seem like a very interesting person to get to know, just from reading your books! Take care, and may God bless you always!
Amy Jolene Stewart (Pocatello, Idaho--mama to five children, all with special needs). :)