In my time as an orphan advocate, I’ve heard a lot of reasons why patient, amazing, kid-loving, extremely blessed and well-equipped-with-medical-care families right here in our state and our country “can’t” adopt a special needs child.
They don’t have the time.
They don’t have the medical knowledge.
They worry that a child with “special needs” will be detrimental to the children already inside their family.
My favorite, though, is the line that I’ve been given not just one time in the last five years but TWICE.
“We can’t bring home a child with special needs,” both families told me very seriously. “We love to travel. How will we ever take our other kids to Disney World?”
Last week, our family with two “special needs” children learned how.
By getting in the car and driving there.
And from a girl who has accompanied every one of her four children on their fifth birthday Disney trips with grandparents, I can tell you the truth.
It was our very best Disney trip yet.
Because our superhero who is missing an appendage and requires an hour or more of daily medical care and our superhero who can’t independently walk didn’t for one second let their superpowers get in the way of them enjoying the happiest place on earth.
In fact, their superpowers helped them appreciate it that much more.
That’s because, upon entering the park, Guest Services issued our family a Disability Access Pass and a handicapped tag for Superhero 4’s stroller. (Although we wanted to bring his walker to the park, we decided that a 12-hour day of walking what ended up being five to 10 miles each day might just kill our little superhero who has only been mobile with his assisted walking device since April. So we allowed him to push the stroller, weighted down by heavy brothers, instead.)
The tag essentially turned Superhero 4’s stroller into a wheelchair, and it allowed us to then push his stroller through every line in the park and have it waiting for us on the other side of the ride. (Thank you, Disney, for saving this weak mama’s back for four very-long park hopping days!)
It also gave him access to wheelchair parking for special events like parades (which basically made this superhero’s entire life).
Best of all, though, the Disability Access Pass allowed our entire party of nine (including one sweet auntie who flew in just for the weekend and two doting grandparents who spoil our boys rotten by taking every grandchild to Disney World when he or she turns 5) to approach any ride in the park and ask for a return time. All of us then received the equivalent of a FastPass to return at the time that we would have waited in line.
WITHOUT waiting in the line.
This meant that our family was able to ride the most popular rides in the park we have never been able to enjoy because we thought our superheroes might explode if we made them stand still for three hours while waiting to hear the Seven Dwarfs “Hi Ho” themselves down a rollercoaster.
We approached a ride, received a return time, rode other rides with shorter lines and simply returned when it was our turn.
Which means we didn’t stand in line more than 15 minutes for any ride all four days inside the park, and our family rode EVERY ride on our list at EVERY park for EVERY day in Disney.
What an incredible blessing.
(Ironically, it looks like those of us with superheroes with “special needs” may have received the most magical experience of all!)
Although all four superheroes loved their days at Disney, I think it’s fair to say that the two who grew in our hearts instead of my belly treasured it the most.
Both the younger boys took in the wonder and magic of Disney (Superman’s second trip and Superhero 4’s first) with the big, bright eyes I remember experiencing myself as a kid.
Superman, who has only had an opposable thumb on his right hand for half his life, was the first to sign up for Jedi training. And when it came to his show time, that sweet boy rocked out his light saber fight with Darth Vader, Superman hand and all. (Miss Claire, our favorite OT, you would be oh so proud!)
And Superhero 4 — a Mickey fanatic who wrote on his back-to-school board that he wanted to be Mickey Mouse’s doctor when he grew up and who asserted in our World Adoption Day video that Mickey Mouse was actually a member of his family, right behind God, Mom and Dad — nearly exploded when he entered the park where Mickey Mouse “lived.”
We couldn’t make our way down Main Street fast enough.
And when it came time to meet Mickey Mouse in person (all three times in our four days at the parks), even Grandma walked away teary.
From the outside, this video of the best day of Superhero 4’s life looks just like the day any other excited 4-year-old meets the life-sized characters he talks about all 14 waking hours of every day.
Except what you don't know in this video is that Superhero 4 has Cerebral Palsy and can't walk independently.
What you don't see is that we did not bring his walker to the park on this day because I was single parenting it and didn't think I could manage a stroller, a walker and carrying multiple potentially crashed kids all without the help of Super-Spouse, who wasn't flying in until the next day.
What you don't see is that Mickey, from across the room, saw Superhero 4's big, bright eyes when he looked up to see his, and this character left the spot he was supposed to be posing for pictures to walk across the room and take Superhero 4 by the hand ... so that our sweet superhero could not be carried, not be held, not be pushed, but WALK to meet the characters of his dreams.
Though there was a 35-minute line of equally enthusiastic Mickey fans waiting in line behind us, and though the families before us took but one or two minutes with these characters they loved, this Mickey stopped EVERYTHING, including the entire line, to approach OUR boy, walk with him, talk to him and let Superhero 4 talk his mouse ears off for nearly five minutes before we finally exited the building.
I have never been more thankful for a life-sized mouse in my entire life.
Because the man or woman behind this costume sent a message to our son that he hasn't heard his entire life long.
That's he's PRECIOUS.
That he's VALUABLE.
That he's WORTH WALKING TO and WAITING FOR.
That on days when his body won't let him do exactly what other kids' bodies will, he won't be overlooked, overshadowed, held back or handed off.
He'll be APPROACHED.
Exactly where he's at.
For exactly who he is.
With exactly the abilities he has.
He'll be loved.
He’ll be CHOSEN.
If only the rest of us embraced the opportunity to adopt special needs children the way Mickey Mouse embraced ours.
Knowing their value.
Knowing their worth.
Knowing that THESE precious superheroes are truly the super ones.
And those of us who get the honor and privilege of holding their hands through this life?
The MOST blessed. ❤️