The Handicapped One
By Kasi Pruitt
Several months ago my son was in a room full of other toddlers. It was a bustling room full of noise and kids running around. As I walked up to the room, I said to the adult at the door with a smile on my face, “Wow, y’all have your hands full.” Her response was, “Yes we do, and we have a handicapped one.” The look on her face was quite evident that she viewed this child as a burden of some sort.
After I picked my chin up off the ground, I said to her, “Yeah, I know, he is mine.” Her face was quite in shock. She obviously had no idea that the dark-skinned little boy in a wheelchair was the son of the light-skinned blonde girl. She mumbled out a few more things as I got my son out of there as fast as possible.
Walking away from that room, I had tears in my eyes. Tears of anger. Tears of sadness. She had no idea I was his mom, I get that, but it somehow made it worse. My son who was adopted from Uganda when he was 6 months old and is now 3 is the easiest going little man you will ever meet. He is always smiling and always happy. And because I know this, there was no way she could convince me that he was any kind of burden. In fact, as I walked up he was sitting in his wheelchair, watching the other kids and smiling.
As the day went on, I couldn’t shake what she had said. It made me sad that this is how most people view my son. They just see him as the handicapped one. Now, don’t get me wrong, obviously he is in a wheelchair, but that isn’t who he IS! My son is a beautiful little boy, made in the image of God. He is an encouragement to all of those around him, and his smile is downright contagious.
I talked to someone in charge at the event, and they talked to the woman who had made the statement. She immediately felt horrible and apologized over and over. I realized her intention wasn’t a bad one, but she just didn’t or couldn’t see my son the way I do.
Later in the day, the statement just kept going through my head: “The handicapped one. The handicapped one. The handicapped one.” As I thought about it more, this woman had it all wrong.
My son, although in a wheelchair, is not the handicapped one; I was indeed the handicapped one.
Before my son came into our life, I was handicapped by so many things—pride, arrogance, entitlement, comfort. I somehow felt like God owed me something.
When we started the process of adoption, we were only open to a completely healthy little boy. We didn’t think our “lifestyle” would be able to handle a child with special needs.
We were unaware of the severity of our little man’s special needs when we brought him home but soon found out that they were much more than we anticipated.
I struggled at first asking, “Why, God, would you let this happen?”
God then, sometimes gently and sometimes not so gently, started showing me that His plan was far greater than I could ever have imagined. God used this tiny 6-month-old to expose some deep, dark sin in my life that I didn’t even know was there.
Pride was an idol I had cuddled up to without knowing it. I wanted the picture perfect family. This was not what I had imagined. Arrogance and entitlement had become my close friends, even though I would have never admitted it. We were doing a good thing by adopting, so surely God would give me this perfect little baby I had in my mind. And comfort, well comfort had become what I longed for. We wanted to adopt, but were we in adoption for us or for the fatherless who really needed parents? We didn’t want to be stretched. We wanted the easy route. I wanted to be comfortable.
But, as my son has grown older, and we have continued to walk the windy road of special needs parenting, I have become so thankful that God did not listen to my little self-centered prayers.
Our son’s seizures started breaking me of that pride. His endless doctor appointments started shattering that arrogance. His never-ending therapy blew that entitlement out of the water. And the non-stop dealing with insurance, well, that is for sure not comfortable.
This little boy, who has never spoken a word, can’t feed himself, can’t walk, and needs me to care for every single need, is an instrument used by God on a daily basis. He lights up the room, he is a fighter, he has to work every day to do what is just normal to most. He is so handsome and a downright miracle. Although, he is made uniquely, he is still fearfully and wonderfully made.
See, when the comment was made about “the handicapped one,” it shouldn’t have been made about my son in a wheelchair, it should have been made about me before God used that precious little love to wreck me. What might be handicapping you?
I thank God, He knew far better than me and placed this beautiful, chosen, adored, loved, cherished, and precious little boy in our family. Titus Praise, you are far more than we could have ever imagined or prayed for.