I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has said to me, “You look familiar, but I can’t quite place
you.” I always answer this with, “I’m Shaun and Daya’s mom,” and that usually clears it right up. Yes, my
kids are noticeable, they stand out in a crowd, and many more people know them than know me. That’s
ok, though, they deserve the spotlight. You see, my kids both have significant special needs. They have
braces on their legs and feet, they use wheelchairs and walkers, and Shaun is often seen driving his
There are actually many unique things about our family. When we found out the crushing news that
both me and my husband are infertile, we knew there had to be an important reason. After a lot of
soul searching, we decided that there must be kids out there who need us as much as we need them.
With this in mind, we started looking into adoption agencies that had special needs programs. We
ended up finding and adopting both of our kiddos through the foster care system. Shaun, who is 13, has
cerebral palsy, epilepsy and asthma, and Daya, 11, has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, bipolar disorder and
dermatomyocitis. People usually think that these diagnoses are important information. The truth of the
matter is that Shaun and Daya’s diagnoses are the least important things about either of them. What
all of that medical terminology doesn’t tell you is that they are both beautiful, charming, courageous,
creative and loving. Shaun has a wicked sense of humor, and Daya has an incredible imagination. I’m a
Many people ask me how I do it, taking care of these amazing kiddos. Honestly, I have a hard time
answering that, because it is all I have ever known as a mom. We just do what needs to be done. There
are some things we’d like you to know, though. First of all, my husband and I are not saints or angels,
and honestly, when people say that, it hurts my heart. I know that’s not how it’s intended, but when you
say that, what you’re really saying is that it would take a saint or an angel to be willing to adopt and take
care of my kids. Actually, they are the angels. I watch them struggle, persevere and succeed, and I
am amazed. They are my heroes! Second, it’s completely fine with us when people ask why my kids use
wheelchairs, walkers, etc. It’s ok to be curious, and the kids and I don’t mind giving a brief explanation.
We’re happy to help educate others about special needs. It is absolutely NOT ok to ask what is wrong
with my kids. I have been known to answer, “Nothing is wrong with them. What’s wrong with you?!”
Please remember that my kids can hear and understand everything you say. And third, I would like
you to know that we often have to say “no” to invitations, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to
see you! It takes us a good couple of hours to get everybody ready out of the house. It’s not that we
don’t want to be with other people, it’s just a lot of work for us to get somewhere. So please, don’t stop
inviting us, we’ll make it eventually.
There are so many things I could tell you about our life. Some are good, some are bad, just like
everybody else, although the good and bad things may differ somewhat. But in the end, we are a strong,
happy family, and I truly enjoy being Shaun and Daya’s mom.