I have been doing weekly interviews with my family during Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month to get a perspective on how CP has impacted our family. I was going to start with S, but he requested the last interview. Tune in next week for his perspective on having CP.
This week I interviewed my husband to gain his perspective on being a father of a child young adult who has Cerebral Palsy.
What were your thoughts when we first made the decision to adopt a child who had Cerebral Palsy?
I was 100 percent committed. I knew there would be challenges but felt confident that we, as a family, could handle anything. We had/have a strong faith in God and we knew, from the beginning, that He would not give us a challenge that we could not handle.
What were your preconceived notions about what life would be like?
I figured that our life would be much the same as other families, but I also knew that we would need to work hard to get medical and support services for S. I also believed that our health care providers would work equally as hard.
What things didn’t you take into account?
The pace of our life. Sometimes it was hair-of-fire busy, and other times we needed to slow way down. I also didn’t consider the types of battles we had to fight while trying to get basic services for S.
What things surprised you about S and his CP?
I was surprised by the complexity of S and his CP. There isn’t a single part of his life that isn’t affected, in some way, by his CP. I guess you can say I was surprised by his positive outlook on life. He has a strong inner strength that enables him to overcome any obstacle.
What was the most frustrating time you can remember?
Battling with our insurance provider immediately after his arrival. We were sure that we had done all we could ahead of time, but it was still a frustrating battle. He was receiving an hour of PT per day in the orphanage but it took us more than a month for him to receive PT in the U.S. We also had to battle for him to get a walker. The upside is that I got very good at understanding insurance policies and regulations, often better than the servicing agents.
Were there differences in how you parented S and J?
Yes there were. Each needed a different parenting approach. They each had different motivations and required different incentives. We tried hard to promote each of their strengths and reinforce each of their limitations.
Do you think it will be different parenting J as he approaches adulthood than it was parenting S? How?
Yes it will be different. The overall goal for each of them is the same, well adjusted integration into a productive position in society. S will need more focus on independence-type tasks than J.
Any words of wisdom for parents of young children who have CP?
Be patient, lean on your faith, forgive often, and be prepared to be amazed. Your child will surprise you with their abilities when you least expect it.
Anything you wish we had done differently?
I don’t have any regrets but I am sure I could have done things differently. I believe that we have the awesome young adults that we have because of some of our "mistakes".
How would our life have been different if S didn’t have CP?
I am not sure how to answer. I think we would feel like something would be missing. There would be some obvious differences: no equipment, less appointments (PT, OT, Speech, Orthopedics, Neurology, Endocrinology, Ophthalmology…), less co-pays, more on-time arrivals. I guess we’ve just learned how to embrace all of S.
What opportunities would we have missed out on if S didn’t have CP?
Personal and spiritual growth as an individual, parenting team, and family. We would have also missed out on developing some really amazing relationships with providers and friends.
How do you think S’s CP has shaped our family?
We’ve developed into a close, supportive family with lots of give and take.
How do you think S’s CP has shaped him?
Easy… He is more determined, ok stubborn, because of his CP. Even when he was young, he possessed a keen ability to advocate for himself.
How do you think S’s CP has shaped you?
I’ve become more humble, patient and forgiving. I more readily acknowledge my many blessings (faith, family, health, friends, and career). I also learned that walking slower provides more time to appreciate the fullness of life.
I want to thank my husband for taking the time to answer these questions for me. He’s a very awesome husband and father! Stop over at his blog to read some of his thoughts on our life.
CP Awareness - My Family's Perspective
I will be on the couch with chocolate appreciating the blessing I have been given in my family.