The Brad & Karen Thompson family was about as average a family as one could imagine – until September 13, 1989. That was the day Hali was born. The second of our two children – our son Justin is 18 months older – Hali would soon put us in one of the smallest minority groups in America. Families who have children with special needs represent somewhere around 10% of the population (individuals with intellectual disabilities is smaller than that).
We are humbled to even be working on this project for one simple reason – we didn’t and wouldn’t have chosen this life. And I (Brad) have to confess that I wouldn’t have chosen Hali if given that opportunity. I’m sad to say that I would have been too big a coward to sign up for the challenges that Hali has brought – to our work life, social life, spiritual life, and probably most significantly to our marriage and family life. Just as I begin every speech or talk on this topic, I’ll say it again – I am so thankful that I didn’t get to choose.
We consider ourselves truly blessed to see the redemptive power of the Father in making our lives with Hali more than we could have ever imagined. At the same time, there have been some seasons of life that have been incredibly difficult and painful. Some of those seasons were directly related to Hali and her challenges. Others were of our own making.
As you’re reading this, we want you to know one thing. We don’t believe that God was caught off guard when Hali was born, nor was He having a bad day. He has a plan for her (just as He does for Justin) to make a difference in the world in which she lives. Our job as her parents is to provide a home environment that is peaceful, joyful, and faithful enough for her to develop those gifts. When we accomplish that, we have been faithful in our role as parents.
We believe the promise that Jesus made in John 10:10 is still true for us and families like ours. We believe that “life to the full” is still available, although it looks very different than we thought it would before Hali showed up in our house. Our prayer as you join us along this journey is that God will use us to give you a glimpse of what that life can look like for you and your family.
The see-saw is our attempt to illustrate the challenges faced by a family that includes a person with special needs. It’s a challenge to find a sense of balance between the individual with special needs and the rest of the family. And just about the time we think we’ve found it, something changes! We know that we will never perfect that balance, but recognizing the need for it and consciously working toward it will allow us to stay reasonably healthy.