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Looking At Courtship and Marriage and Special Needs Children

By Donna Adee, mother of a son with Prader Willi Syndrome.

Every parent of a tiny baby looks forward to the time when that child will grow up, get a job, get married and raise a family. But, what about our child with Downs syndrome, severe physical disability or various other problems? Will that child get married and raise a family?  Isn't that what all parents look forward to as they see their children entering the teen years? How do you prepare your child for the time when others their age are being courted or are dating with plans to marry the girl or guy of their dreams?

Our Nathan with Prader Willi Syndrome, as a teenager thought that all girls, who were kind to him, were in love with him. It was difficult for him to see that they were just being nice. While in high school he corresponded with a girl that he met at an out-of-town high school band conference. We allowed him the write to her knowing that she lived far enough away that he probably wouldn't see her again. But, we didn't reckon on Nathan. He kept trying to come up with an idea on how he could visit her. She solved the problem by telling him that she had found someone else. He thought if he could call her he could change her mind.  Thankfully he wasn't able to locate her because talking to her probably would made it even more difficult. We were just hoping that he would forget about her and in time he did. We really didn't know how to handle situations like that for Nathan.

We knew that Nathan could never marry because taking care of his own needs was all that he could handle. With Prader Willi Syndrome, children think they are starving all the time and will eat almost anything. He lived at home except for an eight months month's trial alone in an apartment. Most people thought Nathan could function as a normal adult, but he didn't grasp many of the concepts of social life. He faced life like a young teenager rather than an adult even when he was in his 20s.

My husband talked to Nathan at times about seeking what God wanted in his life, but we never told him that marriage wasn't something for him. The Lord took Nathan home when he was twenty- seven. He had never asked us if he could marry someone. He loved to go the weddings of his friends and I'm sure he felt left out many times. I think if we had it to do over again, we should have talked to him before his teen years about the joy of serving the Lord as a single person. He lived a full life and enjoyed helping others. The hours he spent reading and singing to the head injury patients in our local hospital brought him much joy as well encouraging them.

Several years ago, in our small town there was a boy and girl, who both were born with cerebral palsy. Neither could walk and their talk was very difficult to understand, but they found each other and wanted to get married. They did marry and lived in the local rest home all their married life. I'm sure they were happy with the relationship, but if their parents or disability help funding their stay in the rest home, it wouldn't have worked.  We parents of all people must honestly evaluate the abilities of our children. If the Lord has blessed us with a child with special needs, who can't handle marriage and a family, we need to:

1. Start in their early years sharing with them how they should seek God's plan for their life and the joys of serving him as a single person.

2. Train our child in their special abilities. Becky, a lady in her late 20s with Down's Syndrome lives with her mother at home and they continually work on new songs that Becky can share when she visits their local rest home. Our Nathan sang and read to patients in the head injury area of our local hospital. He had the patience to listen to their garbled talk. 

3. Give our special needs child specific goals to work for to improve their abilities to serve the LORD.

4. If you feel that your child has the capabilities for marriage, teach them while they are young about courtship so they will be depend on you as a parent to help them find the right spouse that God has for them. I so wish that we had known about courtship when my husband and I were young and especially when our two older children were seeking spouses. I feel this fits into the Biblical teaching on family and marriage. The story of Isaac and Rebekah is a wonderful example of Biblical courtship.

 To allow our children, whether with special needs or not, to date according to the world's standards is to promote a disaster. Our son was in special education classes with a girl who was sent on the near-by city for continuing her education through high school. She had a lot of mental and social problems, but her parents allowed her to marry an older man, who moved her out of the state. He abused her so much that the parents had to bring her back and get an unlisted phone number to protect her. At the age of 35 or older, she now lives with her parents and watches soap operas all day and writes letters to famous actors and actresses. It would have been so much better if the parents had taught her skills to help others and given her useful projects to do. Yes, children with special needs may marry, but it requires the guidance of loving parents who honestly evaluate the abilities of our children.  God makes us parents responsible for protecting our children from babyhood to adulthood. That includes courtship and marriage or a life of serving the Lord as a single person.

THE MIRIAM AND JONATHAN SERIES BOOKS - for teaching kids Biblical principles in story form.

The Miriam series books No.1-3 and the new Jonathan book No. 1 by Donna Adee of Minneapolis, Kansas are written to present the history of the 1890s- 1920s in central United States and lessons through the characters on obedience to Christ. Donna and her husband of 45 years, raised their youngest son, Nathan, born with Prader-Willi Syndrome until the Lord took him in 1992.

Their first book was, "God's Special Child-Lessons from Nathan and Other Children with Special Needs."  A few years later Donna started the Miriam series to present in story form Biblical principles for life:

"Miriam's Dilemma," presents the need for salvation in Christ.

"The Courtship of Miriam," presents Biblical principles for seeking God's plan for courtship and marriage. "Miriam and Timothy Face Life;" encourages walking with God in obedience in marriage and family. There are no romantic love scenes in any of the books.

The new Jonathan series:

"Jonathan and the Mystery in the Trunk" is written with her husband Ellis, sharing for boys the need for Christ through many true adventures from Ellis' family of 8 siblings growing up in the 1920-1930s. The reading level of "Miriam's Dilemma" and "Jonathan the Mystery in the Trunk" is 10-14 years and the other books are for older teens through adult.

Here is what one young teenager from a non-Christian home said about the books: "The Miriam series has not only been a great joy to read, but an excellent lesson on how life is, or should be lived. The way that everything is in relation to God is a wonderful example on how all society was back then. Reading these books has helped me to see how important it is to accept God and understand that there is a logical explanation behind everything that HE does. Everyone in these stories has a good side to them even though it may not come out at first. Take Melody Cramton for example, when she met Miriam she was very mischievous and disobedient. Miriam helped her to see the life she was living was wrong and was there to help her turn around. Thank you so much for everything that you have helped me see and understand."

    ---- Holly Palmer. Beloit, KS

The books can be ordered from

Harvest Publications,

1928 Oxbow,

Minneapolis, KS 67467.

    God's Special Child - $8.95

    Miriam's Dilemma - $8.95

    Courtship of Miriam - $10.95

    Miriam and Timothy Face Life - $12.95

    All 3 of the Miriam books for $30 postage paid

    Jonathan and the Mystery in the Trunk - $9.95

    *Prices do not include $2 postage per book*