“My Child Will Never Be Normal?” (Realizing Special Needs)

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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I remember the day I realized my son would never be a normal child.

I was standing on a baseball diamond during one of his team’s practices and he was throwing a fit. In the middle of the field. Not a “normal” fit that you would likely see any other child his age throw. This was a fit filled with rage, impulsion, lack of reasoning, and oppositional defiance to the highest degree. And it was the type of fit that my wife and I had seen multiple times in our home. This time, however, it was in front of his entire team.

If you think this is not out of the ordinary for a 9-year old kid let me clarify something-

My son suffers from a disorder that is often overlooked and seldom understood by today’s culture- Alcohol-Related Neurological Disorder (ARND). I must note here (for the sake of people judging my wife) that my son is adopted. When he was in his birth-mother’s womb she made the tragic choice to consume alcohol. The result is brain damage that is irreversible. The side-effects are impulsion, lack of reasoning, poor behavior, strong emotional outbursts, oppositional defiance, sensory processing issues, specific dietary needs, ADHD, and delayed learning. A percentage of his behavior can be boiled down to choice, but a greater percentage is a derivative of this disorder.

Because of this, he is a child with special needs. He requires an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) at school. He also receives special services through local providers which has turned out to be a huge blessing.

He will never be a normal child as the world defines normal. And you know what, I’m okay with that.

However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time where I wrestled with great frustration over the fact that he could not just participate in a football practice or a neighborhood activity without it turning into impulsion or acting out in poor behavior or bad choices.

I was burdened by the truth that he would never excel academically without special assistance. I would question why he couldn’t just reason and think normally, on his own, without us having to constantly be on him. And the emotional outbursts over tiny things were almost too much to handle (they still are, at times!).

No, he will never be normal. And, most likely, we will always be “hands on” with him throughout his life.

This is not an easy conclusion to come to. If you have a child with special needs you understand. You question, you lament, and you ask, “why me?” “Why him?” “Why her?” “God, why couldn’t I have just been given a normal child? Or a semi-normal child?” “What did I do to deserve this?”

If you’ve ever rung your hands at the sky and cried one of these statements out, I understand fully! I’ve been there many times. I’ve had more dark moments than light.

But I have found an element of peace in this- God never makes mistakes! My son is not a mistake. He is a gift from God. Is he special? You bet. He’s special because he is mine. He is special because he is unique. In truth, he is one of the most compassionate, loving kids I have ever seen or known. And when he is not throwing an emotional fit or doing something impulsive or fighting us tooth and nail over spelling homework, he is loving and kind and really stinking funny!

This is not easy. It never will be. And it’s hard to grasp and be at peace with. When you realize that your child will never be normal it’s incredibly difficult. I know. I can offer this- you’re not alone. My wife and I are right there with you. We understand. If nothing else, you can rest knowing that there are other parents of children with special needs who carry the same burden you do. There are others who wear the same scars. No, you’re not alone.

Do you have child with special needs? What has helped you through the tough times?  

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.