Raising Children with Special Needs When You Live Overseas


Forest, Hope, Radiant, Zen, Sunflare

“Your daughter has a rare genetic syndrome called Cri-du-Chat Syndrome, and she needs a feeding tube.”

My dreams, my desires to live overseas, seemed to shatter with that diagnosis. The past 10 months all made sense. This was the reason she was hospitalized in Beijing for bronchitis at 3 months old. This was the reason for choking almost every time she nursed. And this explained why, just a few months before, she lay limp with pneumonia on a large hospital bed in the middle of China next to six other children with some sort of lung infection. All of this led to me flying alone with her to the U.S. for medical tests. This was the reason I sat in that small clean consultation room with a doctor I barely knew.

Was this going to be the reason God would end our time overseas?

And then the haunting question, How am I going to tell my husband Uwe half way around the world on the phone?

To date, that was the hardest phone call I have ever had to make.

When Uwe and our oldest son (20 months) arrived in the U.S., we believed our time overseas was over. At that time we only knew of one other family living overseas with a child with special needs, but our daughter seemed to have more medical issues. As we consulted with surgeons, therapists, and doctors, not a single one hesitated to tell us to go back. This was incredible to us because we, like so many others, didn’t think it possible that families affected by disabilities could live and work overseas. So with a list of diagrammed exercises, extra feeding buttons and bags, and a feeding machine, we returned to China. Uwe went back to work as principal at the international school, and I began therapy with Matthea. Life changed, but God had not. He was still good. He was still providing.

Our story isn’t unique. There are others like us. Last week I was able to interview eight families ministering overseas who also have children with special needs. All of our stories seemed to share the following three themes.

You can finish reading over at A Life Overseas

4 thoughts on “Raising Children with Special Needs When You Live Overseas

  1. Hey, loved this post and would love to chat more. There is a huge need for this type of dialogue! We’ve lived in china, Singapore and Korea and worked with orphans and eventually adopted our own SN kiddo. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and sometimes it’s a chance to share truth. Either way, there are lots of people out there and I’d love to network more!

    • YES, we definitely need more dialogue. For one, many families believe that they can’t do it; that it is impossible. And, honestly, for some it may not be possible due to healthcare and specific needs. In the past few years, though, I’ve come across more families moving or deciding to stay – which has been such an encouragement to me.
      Thanks for contacting me. I’ll send you an email so we can chat in a more private format. =)

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