Special needs and Sue Badeau are a great pair as the August 2012 interview series about adopting children with terminal special needs shows. Today, she’s back to answer one more question I asked during the interview: What can churches do to support families with children who have terminal special needs? She answered with three pieces of practical advice.
Special Needs Church Support: Tip 1
I would like to see churches play a stronger role in supporting families caring for children with special needs and those who are terminally ill. While our church has “been there” for us, they often did not know how to best support us. For example, there were long periods of years when some of our children simply could not come to church due to their medical conditions. This meant that Hector and I had to take turns attending church so that one of us could stay home. Wouldn’t it have been great if the church had offered to set up a schedule of volunteers to come to our home on Sunday mornings and stay with our sons on a rotating basis so we could attend church together?
Special Needs Church Support: Tip 2
Another example – we have many children with significant mental health diagnoses and behavioral health challenges. These children are the ones who sometimes stray into drug addictions, and behaviors that are very challenging such as stealing or running away. Wouldn’t it be great if a small group of caring adults from church made a covenant to pray every day for your child and checked in with you from time to time to ask how to best pray?
Special Needs Church Support: Tip 3
A final example – often the child with the most severe challenges or terminal illness is not the only child in the family and yet requires an inordinate amount of the parents’ time and attention. Perhaps the needs of this child also stretch the family budget to the breaking point. Wouldn’t it be great if the church found ways to support the other child or children in the family by taking them to the movies or providing a scholarship so they can attend a week of summer camp or take ballet lessons?
These are just a few examples of ways that churches could take initiative and provide supportive pastoral care and fellowship for families going through difficult challenges while raising children with special needs or who are terminally ill. While it is true that these parents could be more pro-active and ask for this help, they are often too exhausted and overwhelmed to do so. If the church could stand in the gap for these parents and take the initiative to pro-actively support them, it would be a ministry worthy of a King!
More Special Needs Church Support Advice
Thank you, Sue, for those examples of practical ways for churches to support our kids. For more ideas of what your church or you can do, check out these posts:
- 7 Things You Can Do to Help
- 10 Tips for Working with Families of Kids with Special Needs
- How to Support the Parents of a Child with Special Needs
As always, your tips are appreciated, too. So chime in below with your ideas about how churches can support special needs families. And be sure to stop by Sue’s blog, www.thebadeaufamily.com to keep up with their latest adventures.