Adopting a Child With Vision Impairment
Before adopting a blind child, I really believed life would be a lot different once she came home, and it has been, but it hasn’t been her blindness that has held her back.
This is how it began:
Her picture came through my Facebook newsfeed just like so many children before her, but this time something was different. I could not just scroll past her face. In her video, she is reaching out, but no one is there to hold her. I did not know it yet, although I had a feeling, but this was my daughter.
Her records and pictures clearly showed her significant visual impairment (she is blind with sensitivity to light and slight peripheral vision in one eye). It was also clear that she was developmentally delayed for many possible reasons: institutionalization, lack of care, malnourishment, and blindness to name a few.
The more we talked to other families who have walked this road and the more doctors we had look at her file, the more serious and scary committing to her became. However, our hearts led us to her, and we could not turn away.
Now, our daughter, Shiloh is enrolled in preschool where she receives multiple therapies, and we take her to outside therapy two times a week. She only sees the eye specialist every three to six months now, and all of her glaucoma pressures are controlled with a tube that was inserted in her eye through surgery. She gets eye drops twice a day, and it’s really been as simple as that!
Actually, her vision impairment is possibly the easiest part of all of her special needs. We have certainly had some hard times since coming home from China. At one and a half, she was hardly able to sit up without support and was not speaking at all. Her file was cut and dry and contained answers like “she can’t because she is blind.”
Shiloh was so weak, she could not even hold her own bottle. There is no way to prepare fully for what lies ahead with the homecoming of any child.
One of the biggest battles we have faced is trying to get her to quit pushing so hard on her eyes. Most blind people will push on their eyes out of habit or for stimming purposes, but our daughter does this to the extreme and actually caused irreversible damage to one eye because of it. She now has a beautiful prosthetic eye that covers that damage, but this is one big reason why it is so important to get glaucoma treated as quickly as possible. Blindness is the least scary thing we deal with when it comes to our daughter. It truly does not hold her back from doing anything she wants to do!
Some suggestions I would make to parents who are considering adopting a child with severe eye issues and/or blindness would be to find a group of parents, either locally or through social media, with whom to connect. Gain some perspective on how to find the right specialists for your child.
Also, many states have extracurricular activities specifically for blind children where they can meet other kids like them and interact with activities that are adapted for their needs. Our family enjoys going skiing every winter with a group here in Michigan of all blind children. That has certainly been an eye opener for us. Before meeting an entire blind community, we had no idea that blind kids can literally do everything seeing people can do. They can ride bikes independently, ski, swim, learn to use public transportation, use chain saws (YES. Chain saws!) and the list goes on. It’s pretty incredible.
Our daughter is still very young, but when we first brought her home, she could not even crawl at two and a half. Now, she is bouncing off the walls! She climbs up on everything without fear, and I continue to be amazed at her progress!
Morgan is a child with vision impairment who is waiting for adoption. He recently turned six years old and lives in an orphanage in China. Before returning to his orphanage last year, Morgan was part of our foster care and medical programs.
LWB is offering a $3,000 Adoption Assistance Grant towards Morgan’s adoption expenses. Please reach out to our Adoption Advocacy Team at [email protected] with any questions about this gorgeous little boy!
Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact [email protected] with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.