Did you know that almost half of children waiting for a family placement have an impairment or some form of special need?
Some people have a fear of disability, but not Michael Atwal-Brice and his partner, Paul. When they adopted identical two year old, disabled twin boys, Levi and Lucas, they were over the moon. Like parents everywhere, they looked forward to giving them a loving and caring home. They were even happier knowing that they saved the boys from being separated.
Life hasn’t been easy for them though. Since becoming parents, they’ve had to learn everything, including their conditions, the medical treatment and how to deal with it all. It’s been such a commitment, that both Michael and Paul had to give up work and adapt their home. But what they will never give up, is their unconditional love for the twins.
When some of their friends talk about getting tests done to see if their baby is disabled, it breaks their hearts. Because of the risk of disability, last year in England and Wales, almost 3,000 abortions took place. Sadly, lots of children waiting to be adopted are disabled and children with learning disabilities are the most difficult to place.
Yet Michael and Paul’s experience of life with Levi and Lucas is one where the exhaustion and despair is inseparable from the joy and love. Children with disabilities share the same sense of fun as the rest of us. Although they often have to struggle with pain and extreme distress they also light up the lives of others, just as the boys do for Michael and Paul. People with disabilities are not second class citizens. They are full members of the community and help to enrich all our lives.
It will never be easy for them, but quality family life is vital. They have little money and little sleep, but know that If the right help is in place, life is a lot more manageable. They appreciate living in a country where they can get help, but appreciate that the service differs, depending on where you live and your personal circumstances.
When parents are full time carers and unable to work, it can plunge families into poverty, and the special equipment and respite care which can help ease the pressure is very expensive. In Michael and Paul’s case, there was special equipment which meant that the boys could get out into the community, like other kids. But, as full time parents relying on Carer’s Allowance, they simply couldn’t afford it. Thankfully, there are charities which provide support of all kinds and in their case, the children’s disability charity, Action For Kids, raised £15,000 and bought the boys two specialist bikes which will last them well into adulthood.
Michael says “Going on a family bike ride now is amazing; before we’d have holidays and be unable to do anything, stuck inside as so many playgrounds aren’t adapted properly. Now we try to go out on the bikes every weekend for hours at a time. The boys love being outside. They are stimulated by sensory things and it calms them when they are out with the wind in their hair.”
Michael and Paul get a lot of joy back from Levi and Lucas. The tiny little things that Levi and Lucas achieve are so huge. The boys love bubbles, and playing with bouncy balls. Michael says “Just to see them smile makes us so happy and life that bit easier. We will always fight for everything for the boys. After all, why should they miss out on opportunities other children have?”
No one is saying that adopting a child with a disability is easy, but the rewards are enriching for the parent/s and for the child. If you would like to find out more, please speak to a member of the team at Family for Me on 01364 400064.
Images and article content from The Independent (Monday 11th August 2014)