When raising kids gets almost beyond difficult, you may wonder if you can ever raise your challenging child to adulthood, and if you do, what will be his or her outcome then. Evelyn’s experience with her son may help give a ray of hope to those who are struggling in similar situations. The names in her story have been changed to protect their privacy, but they gave us permission to tell their story.


Kelvin was born nearly two months early. His adoptive parents took him home six weeks later. They didn’t know if he would be challenged with any learning disabilities or not, but it didn’t matter. They wanted him and loved him immediately.

They didn’t notice any developmental problems until he entered school. Learning to read was more than a little challenging for him. He just couldn’t seem to make sense of it. He tried and tried. He was placed in a remedial reading class, but that didn’t seem to help. Teachers tried everything, but nothing worked. It was a very frustrating time for him and his parents. He was a smart kid in every other way, testing higher than most in science and math. He could read numbers fine, just not words.

When he was in 5th grade, his parents finally located a reading school that was willing to help him. Somehow, an amazing teacher there was able to break through, and he began to catch on. However, it was a slow process. He would attend that school in the morning and return to his regular school for the rest of the day. He doggedly plugged along, and advanced with his grade level. He was now able to read, but haltingly. It was a real struggle for him. His parents worked with his teachers and gained their support.

With great effort on his part, Kelvin graduated from high school on schedule. He worked at a job for a couple of years then expressed a desire to pursue a college education. Since he was good at math he decided he wanted to be an accountant. His parents were very supportive throughout this process.

As an Adult

He fell in love and was married while still attending school and working as a bookkeeper for a thrift store. Because of his difficulty in reading he advanced slowly, taking only a couple of classes a semester. What took another student 15 minutes to read would take him nearly an hour. Every word was sounded out in his head. Reading was drudgery, but he was determined. It took him eight years to graduate from college.

When he walked across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in accounting, Evelyn and her husband were bursting with pride and gratitude for such a stalwart son. They knew the price he had paid to get to that point.

Now, many years later, he has a good job working as an accountant for a state agency. Not only that, he takes an active part as a Sunday School teacher at his church. He told his mother recently, “It takes me a long time to prepare my lesson because I read so slowly, but I want to do this. I enjoy teaching, and I can’t do it unless I know the material.”  Evelyn said, “I can’t express the happiness and pride I feel. Kelvin has amazed me his whole life, and he’s still doing it. We are so proud of him.”

What if. . .

Evelyn said she has wondered, “What if we hadn’t adopted this wonderful son because he was born premature and might have learning disabilities? We would have missed so much.”

That’s how it is when you raise a child with special challenges. You may not know it, but so often parents in this situation find out they’re raising a child who will achieve far beyond their expectations. It may not be quite what they originally imagined parenting would be, but, in the end, it is worth it all. In spite of the bumps along the road, Kelvin has become a responsible, contributing adult.

An added bonus: This son has given them three wonderful grandchildren who bring even more joy into their lives.

It Takes Love

Adopting a child is pretty much like giving birth to one: It’s risky business, any way you look at it. Parents never know how it’s going to go. All children are different, no matter if they are biological or adopted. They present their own kind of challenges to parents. The good thing is that they all respond to the same kind of love and encouragement that caring parents give.

The respected author C. JoyBell C. shared an important message for all parents. She said, “I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway… Let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”

Evelyn and her husband caught that vision, and the results were a successful life for their son. Letting children become what they are capable of becoming only happens when we give them the confidence and encouragement to believe in themselves. That’s the best kind of love we can give to our children.

So, when the going gets rough, hang in there. Be believing. Be loving. The proud moments will come.