What I’ve Learned, So Far, From Parenting a Child with a Visible Difference.

We are rapidly approaching our 6-month Famiversay for Mighty.  On 5/12, he will have been legally ours for six months.  What a whirlwind it has been.  In some ways, it feels like he came yesterday, but in so many more ways, it feels like he has always been here.

Bo on the Beach-1

When we set out to adopt a ninth child, we set out to adopt Mighty.  We knew he had Dwarfism, and we were prepared to adopt a child with a special need.  Now, after six months, and an adjustment period, I wouldn’t categorize Mighty as having a special need.  He had more needs from not speaking english and being institutionalized then he does from having Dwarfism.  What he has is a visible difference.  That difference requires some accommodations, but those are few and far between.  We travel with a folding step stool and a faucet extender.  With those two pieces of equipment he can reach almost anything he needs.

That visible difference is what WE as parents weren’t used to.  Any struggles or differences our kids have had, pre-Mighty, weren’t physically visible.  Mighty’s are.  At first, people just thought he was small.  But, over the last six months, he has grown an inch in height.  This is largely due to having access to better nutrition.  His growth will slow dramatically now.  And, what he has gained, he has gained largely in his torso, which makes the difference more visible.  In other words, he looks like he has Dwarfism.  We love Mighty as Mighty, but other people now see him as a child with a special need.

What they don’t see is just how much Mighty does for himself.  He uses the bathroom solo, washes his hands by himself, sits in an average size chair at a restaurant (and can get into it himself).  He holds a pencil and writes letters now.  He pedals a tricycle.  He can hang up his own coat, his own backpack and get himself a snack.  He’s three-years-old, and does what every three-year-old does.  In fact, given a step stool of the right height, Mighty can do more than the average child his age.  We worried so much at first that this wouldn’t be the case, that he would need to be helped with every little thing.  He doesn’t. In fact, most of the time, he doesn’t want our help.  He allowed it at first, so that we could attach and bond, but now he declares himself a “big boy.”  He can’t wait to join a soccer team and run with his dad.

I wish the people that glance at Mighty on the street, on the beach, in public in general, knew this  about him.  They see a “dwarf” or a “midget” while I see a little boy who has learned, grown and adapted beautifully over the past six months.  Do they know what it has taken to get him to this point?  How much hurt he faced when people said ‘no’ to him over and over because of his visible difference, when they put him in a room with children of his size, and not his age, when he is so smart and just wanted to learn, when people gave him back to the orphanage because his legs “looked crooked”? Maybe, if people knew that, then the visible difference they would see would be something else…like amazing tenacity…or extreme bravery.

–FullPlateMom, who loves her Mighty just the way he is.

One thought on “What I’ve Learned, So Far, From Parenting a Child with a Visible Difference.

  1. Wahoo!!! I love this post! You are SO right! Molly Kate is a mighty force herself! She has a visible difference and that is all. She asks for help when she needs it (or when she’s feeling lazy if I’m being honest), but those times are FAR outweighed by the times she wants to (and does!) do it herself. Even if the world doesn’t see Mighty for who he really is, you do and that is pretty huge. Hooray for six months of Family and hooray for many many many more than that ahead.

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