Adoption is a life-changing decision for families, one that required deep thought, discussion, and research. Families that want to adopt children with special needs or terminal diagnoses have even more to think about. Today, Different Dream welcomes Hector and Sue Badeau, parents of 22 children (yup, that’s them in the picture), twenty of them adopted, three of whom had terminal special needs. Over the next three days, Sue tells their family’s story. In Part 1, she leads us through the growth of their family. Part 2 focuses on the adoption of their three children with terminal special needs. In Part 3, she shares lessons learned during their grief journey.
Adopting Terminally Ill Children: One Family’s Story, Pt. 1
My name is Sue Badeau and I am the mother of 22 children. (It almost sounds like the opening of a joke, with a punch line to come, but trust me, it is very real!)
The Journey of a Lifetime
In 1979 I married my high school sweetheart, Hector, and we began the journey of a lifetime. He grew up in a blue-collar French-Canadian Catholic family, the 12th of 16 children born to his parents. Hockey was the center of his life, and because he excelled, hockey provided the ticket out of our small town by way of a college scholarship. Throughout our dating years we had talked about working together and when we eventually had children, raising them together with equal involvement and participation by both parents. So, the logical thing to do, of course, was to buy a business less than a month after our college graduations (and a month before our wedding!) The Christian bookstore, Logos, was a wonderful place for us to begin our marriage, grow in our faith and explore ideas about what we wanted to do in our life. While still managing the bookstore we became parents, first to our birth daughter Chelsea, then by adoption when we added our son Jose from El Salvador and also by foster care when we welcomed a teenage girl into our home.
Life Changing Adoption Choices
Those early career and parenting decisions profoundly shaped our lives. Guiding scriptural passages during those years included Luke 9:48. “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.” And Romans 8: 15-16: “ . . . the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” And of course, I Corinthians 4:10: “We are fools for Christ!”
As we adopted and fostered more children, we sold the bookstore and Hector became the full-time at-home parent, while I worked outside of the home in the field of social services. The last of our children needing full-time round-the-clock care passed away in April and Hector recently ventured back into the workforce with two jobs, one as the youth program director at our church and the other as an overnight counselor at a local homeless shelter.
From 1980 when our first daughter was born, to 1997 when the last of our adopted children joined our family, we brought home a total of 22 children to form our “forever family” (2 by birth, 20 adopted) and cared for 50 foster children (half special needs infants and half teenagers). Since that time, we also served as a host family to refugees from Guatemala, Kosovo and Sudan and our children have blessed us with 35 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren!
God’s Guidance on the Adoption Journey
God has led us, at times gently and at times quite firmly, along this journey over the years. God planted this motto into our hearts, “Our family would adopt the child most in need of a home, but least likely to get one.” Initially, we thought that simply meant a child who was no longer an infant (so our first adoption was of a 2 year old boy) but over time, He showed us that this motto included children who had siblings that needed to stay together, children who had experienced significant trauma in their young lives, children with serious health, mental health and cognitive challenges, children who were already teenagers but still in need of a family. Through my work, we also helped many children be adopted by other families and part of my work was during the HIV boarder babies crisis in the late 80s and early 90s. As I placed these terminally ill children into their adoptive homes, I admired these parents deeply but believed in my heart that I could never bear to adopt a child who I would have to later watch die.
Not until a precious little boy named Wayne came along.
What Do You Think of the Journey So Far?
While reading Sue’s story, I have to strong responses. The first is a deep respect for the Christian generosity and compassion Sue and Hector displayed in welcoming these children into their home. The second is a certain knowledge that not all of us – including me – are called or equipped to serve in such a way. But, whatever you sense God calling your family to do, please leave a comment about Sue’s story so far. What questions do you have? What encouragement can you offer? What’s been your adoption experience?
If you’d like to read more about the Badeau family, visit their website at www.badeaufamily.com. And come back tomorrow to meet Hector and Sue’s three very special sons Wayne, Adam, and Dylan.
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