Did you ever think it would turn out like this?
In fact, I had an iron-clad deal (I thought). When we adopted, I checked-off the box that said, "No Special Needs." Didn't think I could hack it.
And believe me, to this day, I sometimes wonder if I can run this marathon.
There are days that I say to myself, "I'm doing it! I'm doing it!" And there are those days, that sometimes come relentlessly for weeks at a time, that I say, "How am I going to keep doing this? I can't do this anymore."
So I started Hopeful Parents, a grassroots community where parents who understand what it's like having a child with special needs can connect.
Consider it a pit-stop in the marathon -- where we can go for attention to our wounds, where we can re-energize our way back on track, where we can look right and look left to see others running too, where we can hear the roar of the crowds cheering us on.
Hopeful Parents is a place of common ground.
Over the course of the next month, we'll introduce you to our diverse pool of talented, thoughtful writers who will share their stories, their feelings, their ups and their downs.
You'll meet parents raising children with physical, psychological, emotional, neurological, sensory, behavioral, social, genetic, and developmental disabilities. Some parents are single, some are married. Some grieve the loss of their child.
You'll also meet healers -- the "medics" who help us through our run. People we can turn to in our pain; people who can help provide some relief.
These writers -- the parents, the healers -- remind us that we're all on this journey together. We don't have to go it alone.
And with that spirit of togetherness, I invite you to get involved with Hopeful Parents. An easy way to start is by commenting on the posts that move you. Then explore the sidebar. There are quite a few links with ways to participate. Please check them out.
Joining costs nothing and will give you some perks on the site -- access to discussion boards when they become available, the ability to find other hopeful parents in your area. But that's not why I want you to join.
You should join because we -- parents who face increasing medical expenses, parents who often times face uphill battles with our schools, parents who feel the minority in broader social settings -- will have a louder, more powerful voice if all of us, regardless of diagnosis, could come together as one unit.
If every parent of a child with special needs were to join Hopeful Parents, imagine, for a moment, what we could do. Imagine banding together as a whole, collective voice to advocate for our children. Imagine a united assembly, strong in numbers, able to encourage more thoughtful leadership and policies so that we can better help ourselves, each other, our children, our communities, our nation and our world.
It's not a small vision. But it can be done. It starts with you.
A grand undertaking like this -- our marathon -- starts with a step. Here's the first one.