When Scott and Elizabeth adopted Rebekah, who has severe brain damage and cerebral palsy, they knew they would be facing multiple challenges in the future, but no one could prepare them for the reality of what being special needs parents really looks and feels like 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year after year.
“We were told there would be many complications and a tough road ahead of us due to the traumatic circumstances during Rebekah’s birth. The years that followed were filled with laughter and many tears as we fell in love with our daughter. Our faith in God was our anchor during some tumultuous storms. Nevertheless, we were extremely exhausted and overwhelmed.”
Elizabeth’s transparency represents the heart of special needs parents well. Loving their children does not erase the relentless caregiving demands placed on parents or eliminate the need for practical and spiritual support. All too often, families impacted by disability end up feeling rejected, isolated, lonely and discouraged.
Without the proper support system in place, the threat of losing hope is dangerously real.
Scott sums it up perfectly when he explains, “We were desperate for community and a place to belong. I searched endlessly for camps or programs that accepted the whole family but was unsuccessful. Finally, a friend shared some remarkable stories with us about Joni and Friends Family Retreats, and we eagerly registered that same day. It would be our first family outing since adopting Rebekah.”
“Let the light of your face shine on us.”
With hope in their hearts Scott and Elizabeth packed up their family and headed off to our Bay Area Family Retreat. And with smiles on their faces they call to mind the day they arrived at Family Retreat as though it just happened this morning.
“We all vividly remember hearing the joyful shouts and seeing the waving banners with our names. We remember feeling loved and accepted for the first time by all those around us. We remember connecting with other families who were walking the same journey having a child with a disability.”
And with tears of gratitude flowing from her eyes, Elizabeth shares, “Our vision has changed because of Joni and Friends Family Retreat. We no longer keep our disability hidden but go out into our communities and share the love of God wherever we go.”
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Scott and Elizabeth found their light at Family Retreat, but there are countless other special needs parents who are still suffering in the darkness. They need an encounter with Jesus, the Light of the World, at Family Retreat.