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Why we adopted children with special needs

Diana Johnson is a recipe developer, photographer, writer and the creator of Eating Richly Even When You're Broke. She is passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat foods rich in nutrition and flavor, even on a tight budget, a...

Raising kids who were labeled "unadoptable"

One couple's journey from infertility to adopting six kids the foster care system said would never find a family.

Photo credit: DNF-Style/iStock/360/Getty Images

Ask any expecting couple what they're hoping for, and you will often hear, "We just want a healthy baby." Reesia and Adam Roth suffered through dozens of miscarriages before deciding to adopt. When they did begin the journey of becoming a forever family, rather than looking for the healthy happy kids, they began taking in the kids it seemed no one else wanted to take.

Discovering a horrifying world of abuse

Neither of the Roths ever considered themselves the type to adopt. Adam didn't think he would be able to love a child that wasn't biologically his, and Reesia had always imagined herself being pregnant and having babies. That all changed when miscarriage after miscarriage brought the realization that Reesia's body kept rejecting and killing babies before she could carry them to term, a fact that still brings her to tears.

As they began looking into adopting, their eyes were opened to the horrifying world of abuse and neglect that so many children experience from birth. One of the first children they adopted would scream, "Don't beat me! Don't beat me!" whenever he thought he was in trouble. Another, an infant, came to them in a full body cast because his father threw him around the room when he wouldn't stop crying.

Giving hope to hopeless children

As Reesia shares the background stories of each of her six children, her eyes fill with tears and it is clear that it deeply wounds her that anyone could have done such things to her babies. And nothing makes her blood boil like retelling the story of the social worker who told one of her boys, who was just 5 at the time, that no one would adopt him because he was too damaged.

But her tone changed from one of sorrow to pride, as she shared how counseling and an emotionally safe home life have helped transformed these "hopeless" children. The son who was told he was too damaged became a champion for another first grader after speaking during their class' sharing day about suffering abuse. Once sharing time was done, a classmate approached him to say that he was currently being abused. Her son immediately took this boy to the principal's office, telling him that you have to ask a safe grown-up for help.

Offering children a loving family

She admits that adopting children with special needs and severe emotional issues is incredibly difficult, but says, "We knew that God had been preparing us, and if we didn't take them, nobody would. They desperately needed a loving family."

When asked if they plan to adopt any more children, Reesia shared that the state of Washington only allows them to adopt up to six. Then her face lights up as she exclaims, "Unless one of their biological siblings needs adopting. We'd take them!"

Learning forgiveness and compassion

Reesia is quite active in the foster and adoption community, and encourages others to consider it. She also offers some words of wisdom for those who are newly considering fostering. "If you currently have kids, look at getting children who are younger," she says. "You don't know what kind of abuse or trauma they have suffered, and your older children will better be able to handle it, or to tell you if something is wrong."

She also shares some of the things that the Roths have learned and gained through fostering and adopting. "We've learned forgiveness, understanding and compassion, and not to judge. We've learned that we have a voice and can be a voice, and that we are also a little crazy. And we've learned that we are braver and stronger than we ever knew, and blessed beyond compare."

While Reesia acknowledges that adoption is not for everyone, she says there are lots of ways to be involved in the foster system. Her favorite suggestion is respite care. "You can take a foster kid, or kids, for a day, or a weekend. Go do something fun with them and it gives a break to the foster family."

More articles on foster care and adoption

The realities of adopting from foster care
Mom story: I fought to adopt my foster son
Helping your adopted child bond to you

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