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How can you create a peaceful home?
Just ask Laura Hernandez, mother of ten! Laura joins the podcast to share gems of parenting wisdom—especially for those raising adopted children and children with disabilities.
Over just four years, Laura and her husband Tony went from raising four children to ten. In addition to the demands of a bustling house, Laura and Tony faced a steep learning curve caring for children with invisible disabilities caused by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
What is fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)?
According to the CDC, “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.”
Learning about FASD as a parent, Laura learned facts that surprised her. For example:
Specifically in the church and the adoption community, it’s estimated that about 70% of kids in foster care have some form of FASD.
Many foster parents do not get trained about FASD, nor equipped to deal with its effects on children in their care.
Laura’s Parenting Wisdom
For Laura and Tony, as Christ-following parents, sustainably creating a safe, peaceful, loving home for ten children begins with trusting God. Instead of leaning on their own energy or strength, they have learned to depend on the Lord daily.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
In dependence on God, Laura found her footing as a mom, and now coaches other moms to do the same.
“I had to kind of create systems that worked for us—as unique as we were. And that process kind of led me to [a realization]: Everybody has a unique family, and this one-size-fits-all situation doesn’t work for anybody. And so I kind of found my joy and my… outlet for life in this space of being able to help other moms create systems for their homes. But that’s where it all started is that big upheaval from going from four to eight kids.”
Practical tips for parents:
1. Fill your cup
“So for me, that’s taking care of myself in the morning and getting up earlier and going on a walk and spending time with Jesus and doing those key things that are going to fill me up so that way I can pour into my kids. We all hear this all the time, but we can’t pour from an empty cup. And so that’s not necessarily a full family system, but that’s a definite priority for mamas.”
2. Create a rhythm
“I want us to think more about a rhythm… like a musical or a symphony, if you will, that it flows, it just creates a better flow for your day. I think so often, especially as special needs parents, that it’s more like a cacophony, right? Like everything’s happening all at once, all the time. But if we can kind of provide some of those structures and some of those pinpoints in our day… then it can flow more like a symphony.”
3. Ask for help
“I think my number one encouragement for special needs families is always just to ask for help… If you’re weary of asking and no one’s showing up, keep asking for help because somebody will show up and it will be beautiful, and the Lord will provide.”
How can churches support adoptive and special needs parents?
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
For Laura and her family, the body of Christ has made it possible to cope, and even thrive, amid complex challenges. From respite care to sponsoring family activities to delivering meals, the church community has always been quick to provide support, acceptance, understanding, and love.
“It’s so great because there are other people around us that get it… they know exactly what we’re going through.”
When the church rallies around families like Laura’s, bearing life’s burdens, God changes lives for all eternity. That’s why Joni and Friends equips churches to serve families living with disability, in the U.S. and worldwide.
You can make a difference!
By supporting Joni and Friends through prayer or a donation, you can help bring our God-sized vision to life: a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ!