I recently heard someone say, “My spouse doesn’t want to adopt special needs, but I do. What should we do?” This is a hard subject because all marriages differ, each couple interacts in different ways. Assuming that you have had a detailed conversations where you discussed pros and cons, each of you has expressed your feelings and as a duo you are still at an impasse, then, in my brutally honest opinion, don’t adopt special needs.
Marriages are hard, yo. This Monday I get to celebrate fifteen years of being married to my best friend. And I would be lying if I told you I finally talked my husband into not putting garbage in the sink. The reality is there are always going to be things you don’t like that your spouse does. Garbage in the sink is small. But to be frank, I worry a special need child-sized wedge in any marriage would be insurmountable. Take those little frustrations compound them with exhaustion, diapers for years, medicines, g-tubes, doctors, therapies. Both my husband and I one hundred percent chose our child and it is wicked hard somedays to be kind to each other. Couples with special needs children are already at a higher risk for divorce, I wouldn’t start the process of growing your family in a disagreement.
In addition, being a special needs parent can be super lonely. There are a lot of things about your life that people can sympathize with but they can’t truly understand. Except for your spouse, the other person in this world who loves that child like you do, understands the child’s limitation, understands the trials. Your spouse is your built-in-buddy who can help you talk through things, strategize, and plan. Your spouse becomes the only one who can feel your fear and tears without explanation, but is also the only one who understands why you are jumping around like crazy because your kid pulled their pants up. I can’t imagine doing the highs and lows of parenting, especially special needs parenting, without my spouse’s full support and investment.
However, people do change. Maybe as a couple you can start by making friends with a person with special needs. Get to know a family with a special needs child. Make a point of engaging with the special needs community, the good and the bad. Help a mom whose kid is having a meltdown in public. Help her pick up her things and find a quiet place. Exposing yourselves as a couple to the community may help you make the decision that is best for your family.