Ellen Stumbo: finding beauty in brokenness

I write and speak about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. I am passionate about sharing the real -sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly - aspects of faith, disability, parenting, and adoption. You can find me blogging at ellenstumbo.com or follow me on Facebook and twitter.

Motherhood Unexpected

Some women become mothers unexpectedly because motherhood was not part of their plan. But even when you plan to become a mother, once you actually hold that baby in your arms so much of motherhood is unexpected. No matter how motherhood comes to you, the unexpected happens because life is messy, and it’s hard, and it’s beautiful ....more

I never thought I would become a special needs parent

I never thought I would become a special needs parent. When people asked, “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” Like many expecting parents, I responded with the cliche, “I don’t care, for as long as my baby is healthy.” Healthy, for me, also meant “normal.” Jennifer Enderlin Blougouras in her essay, Notes From the Deep End, says that becoming a special needs parent feels like being pushed into the deep end of a pool, and you don’t know how to swim. And it’s true ....more

You’re Not a Failure

“I feel like such a failure, I mean, I’m trying to do everything I can to get services for my son but I’m not getting anywhere. His behaviors are getting so challenging. It’s just been…hard ....more

Dear Special Needs Parent, I Know It Hurts When Others Don’t Get It

Dear special needs parent, Some people will never get what it is like to walk in our shoes. No matter how many times we try to explain our situation, our child, the challenges our family has to face – no matter how many details we share – the reality is that most people won’t get it. And some people might think we are exaggerating, or that we are not doing enough, and we might feel judged by their words or forgotten by their actions ....more

To My Daughter On Down Syndrome Day

Dear Nichole, Tomorrow is Down syndrome day. A day you might be tempted to believe was created specifically for you, because you have Down syndrome, and because sometimes you think the world revolves around you. Sweet girl I’m afraid this day is not just about you ....more

When Mama Needs Help

This is a hard post to write because it’s a big issue, it’s something I am constantly working on, an ongoing journey that changes along with the needs of my family. This is not a post about parenting kids with disabilities, or about parenting adopted kids who live with the trauma from their past, or even a post about parenting children with mental health issues. But it is a post about parenting in the trenches, whatever that means to you, because mainly this post is about you, the parent, and how you are dealing with the extra needs in your family ....more

I Cannot Go Back, But I Have Today

My youngest daughter has Down syndrome, and when I say she has blessed my life I’m not simply using a cliche, the significance of those words flow through me along with the blood that runs through my body, giving me life. She has been an agent of change in my heart, she has transformed me. Completely ....more

You Are Not Measured By What You Do But By How You Love

As a special needs parent, I have often wondered if I am doing enough for my child. It doesn’t help when other people in my life seem to have great ideas on how to help my child, or they imply that they would do a better job, or that I’m not doing the best I can as a parent. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it feels like a punch to my gut that leaves me gasping for breath ....more

To Parents of Kids With Disabilities: Dream Big!

I did not dance a jig when my daughter’s birth confirmed her suspected diagnosis of Down syndrome. Dancing is for celebration, and I really do wish I had celebrated her birth but I did not know then what I know now. Instead, fear overwhelmed me ....more

If You Only Know One Thing About Children With Disabilities, Know This

Sometimes I forget two of my children have disabilities. My youngest has Down syndrome and although it’s physically obvious, I don’t look at her and think, Down syndrome. I mean, I know she has Down syndrome but I just see her – my daughter – the seven year old that owns my heart ....more