TJ's Story (Missing Limb)
I actually met my son in his orphanage months before I considered adoption. I saw this adorable little boy sitting in a little bamboo walker in the corner, and I went right over to pick him up. His nanny ran over and began rolling up his sleeve to show me he was missing his lower arm and hand. Physical birth defects in many countries carry such a huge stigma, and his orphanage director told me that most likely his only chance at finding a family was through international adoption. How incredibly blessed I am that his family ended up being mine!
I didn’t really know much about missing limbs before his adoption, but I joined a great online support group for parents of kids with limb differences and began learning all I could. I can honestly say that there is not one thing my son can’t do one-handed. He taught himself how to ride a bike with one arm, swims like a fish, does baseball and karate, and he can beat anyone out there on the Xbox!
I would never say this special need is a non-issue, because of course we live in a two-handed society, but TJ has found a solution to every situation he has faced. Absolutely the hardest part of having this special need has been the reaction of others in public. I was not prepared for people staring and making comments almost every single time we would go out, and our whole family had to learn how to approach it. We learned how to gently educate those who are just simply curious about his arm and how to stand up firmly when someone is just being outright rude or cruel. When new parents of kids with limb differences contact me, they almost always bring up how absolutely shocked they are by the comments made in public, and often by adults as well.
I have told TJ that the decision on whether or not to wear a prosthetic is completely up to him, and so far he has chosen to not use one. He knows that as he gets older and wants to try things, like guitar or rock climbing, that there are aids he could use to make things a bit easier, but for now he is an incredibly healthy and active kid who blesses my life every single day. I would encourage anyone considering adoption to research limb differences, as I can’t imagine my life without my amazing son.