Written on March 20, 2018
Do you have a child with special needs? This is a letter Sister wrote that I think you’ll like. It’s July 2016. Sister is a postulant and has been in Carmel for six months. The rest of us will attend an amazing family camp for families with children with special needs. We had been asked to be the speakers, actually, but things got complicated when someone decided at the last minute that he didn’t want to speak. I’m the sharing one, not him. I knew our kids could help with the talks and then wondered if maybe our Sister sister had some thoughts too. Feeling a bit desperate, I left a message at Carmel explaining the situation. The day we were to drive to camp, a letter arrived. She addressed it to the families at camp and I simply read it aloud. Sharing today because tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day and it seems like a good time to do so.
“The main way adopting a baby with special needs influenced my vocation was from seeing my parents and siblings and really our whole community of friends and family fully accept God’s will for us. Adopting a little baby with Down Syndrome wasn’t something we were searching out, Rosie basically just fell right into our laps. Like when a mom and dad find out the baby they’re expecting has a special need. How could they know beforehand? But there they are. God specifically gives that person to you. He chose your family out of all the other families to give that child with special needs to you as His gift. It’s not an accident or a mistake or something that could have been done differently. It’s His will that our sister has Down Syndrome, your daughter has autism, your brother has cerebral palsy. And I found that that’s similar to how it is with vocations. God gives everyone their vocation as a gift. It’s His will that your parents are married, your brother is a priest, your daughter will be a religious sister. And He gives us every grace we need to be the happiest and holiest we could be, because we’re doing His will. Since adopting Rosie, the truth in that has been so evident, it’s beautiful. Fist of all, she brings us so much joy. Even when we’re 2,000 miles apart she still brings me joy. When I think about her little face and all the goofy things she does, I get so happy. And second, I feel like our family is so much more open to Our Lord’s will because of the initial yes. Of course, along with the joy, everyone can probably agree that it’s not always easy. There are hard days, too. But because of the initial yes–yes to life of the baby with special needs, yes to an adoption, yes to a vocation–all of these yeses after that become easier. If it’s His will, God will always give us the grace. So when it came time to say yes to my vocation, I could look at the model of my parents and family and accept God’s will for me as they had done, with all the joys and sufferings. I will keep you all in my poor prayers during the camp. I wish I could be there with all the angels and their families! How lucky are we all? Never stop thanking Our Lord for them.”