Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is a Special Need?

Promoting special needs adoption has been our focus since Love Without Boundaries began. The very first baby helped by LWB and adopted was baby Kang, a beautiful baby boy with a heart defect. Almost all of the orphans we help in China have some sort of need, some really minor others more significant. Every one of these children are just that…..beautiful children….but so often children are defined by their needs.

Today in the Huffington Post, there was an article called "Stereotyping Kids with Special Needs is Looksism" by Ellen Seidman . This post discussed how Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley recently adopted a baby from Korea with a special need. The problem is that no one has been able to “see” the specially need and has commented on how normal she is. What is normal? What exactly are special needs?

Education is the key…..either for anyone may be considering the adoption of a child with a special needs. There are so many different kinds of special needs, some that are visible and others that aren’t. There are children waiting for families with just about any special need in every country, including the US. Because we know how important it is to learn about different needs, to understand exactly what the special need involves in terms of treatment, surgery, or therapy, and for families to decide what needs they are able to handle, we have developed a website for potential parents. This website contains basic facts and treatments for each particular special need –

We hope more families will join the Heigl/Kelley family in adopting a child with a special need as every child born deserves a family to love them. What do you think of when you think of "special needs"?

Karen Maunu


  1. Great Post, Karen! We are in the process of adopting our daughter from China, who was born with a SN. She has since had her surgery and is doing wonderful.

    It's funny that you ask what we think of when we hear the words "special needs" ?? ...Because that has definitely changed for me over time. (Thank God!!) I used to feel bad for the kids with special needs and never considered SN Adoption for our family. My thoughts were narrow minded and uneducated at best. My first thoughts were that we didn't have a "handicap accessible" home. But SN is so broad, and I would even say the majority do not require a handicap accessible home. When my uncle suggested we consider SN, I was secretly opposed, but agreed to pray about it and asked him to do the same on our behalf. Well, be careful what you pray for, because God QUICKLY opened up my heart and my eyes...and I am SO glad that He did!! It's so important that people take the time to educate themselves and find out what special needs they can manage. But I always encourage an OPEN heart and to drop all stereotypes at the door! My life is forever changed because of it. And if we ever adopt again in the future, SN will be my FIRST stop!! :)

    Blessings and Hugs,

  2. In the U.S. we typically associate "special needs" with the severe end of the spectrum. After our first non-special needs adoption, we felt we knew enough about China that we would be open to minor special needs. It was then that my eyes were open to both how minor some special needs are and what a wide variety of needs exist, some even already repaired.

    One of the very common and very correctible needs is cleft lip/palate. Being born with a cleft palate myself, I had never even thought of me being a "special needs" kid! In exploring special needs, we found some things that fit our preconceived idea of SN, but so many more we didn't know of that we could easily handle.

    Then we received a file of a 3 1/2 year old with malnutrition II and sequel of rickets. As I read through this file, I could see no particular on going need aside from early deprivation risks, but a whole lot of special in the little girl who was as developmentally on target as one could expect living in an orphanage her whole life. She is now almost 6 and couldn't hold a more special place in our family.

  3. I am the mom to a child with a sn that few know about unless we tell them or they notice her unformed ear on their own. It rarely effects our daily life in that we have all learned how to manage sound and voices for and with her. We do have some adjustments to make in crowds and big rooms. And I've gotten the "looksism" type of reaction. Like, "what are you pampering her for?" type of responses to my adjustments and preparations. It's frustrating on some levels and I needed this post tonite. Thank you!