Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Mar 25, 2021

Episode 82: Adoption Of Special Needs Children with Guest Dr. John Cranham

In this episode, Dr. John Cranham discuss adoption of special needs children. His son Cornell was born at 23 weeks. He spent the first 6 months of his life on a ventilator and trached before moving to a transitional unit. John’s wife initially worked with Cornell in the hospital as his therapist, and then decided that they should take him home as a foster child. They thought about it for a while, and then decided to move forward with it. They went through 2 months of training. Cornell initially required, PT, OT, speech, PEG tube, trach, and nursing care. When he was around 2, the ENT found that the tissue around the trach site was closed off and air wasn’t getting to his vocal cords. He then required surgery, which did not go well, leading to him stopping breathing frequently. It took another year to take the trach out and do the next surgery. At age 11, he was having difficulty breathing again and found that the trachea area hadn’t grown, and he needed surgery to fix it. John couldn’t meet Cornell until he was approved to be a foster parent when Cornell was more than 1 year old. Even though it was incredibly challenging, he found a lot of joy in going to see him. He had to do an overnight stay with Cornell in the hospital, which John found frightening at first. For a while, John had a lot of doubts. Over time, Cornell began to really feel like theirs. They experienced joy, fear, sadness, loss of your life.

John and his wife decided to adopt Cornell after his 2nd birthday, he went into respiratory distress, they didn’t think Cornell was going to make it, John started reflecting on his own resilience, he thought Cornell was going to pass away, and then a few seconds later, Cornell started fighting even harder. Then John decided that if Cornell could fight that hard, John was willing to fight for him. Early after the adoption, they went to see a psychologist, who told them that it was important to tell Cornell about the adoption before age 5.

Creating an IEP for him was challenging. Educationally, they had such a bad time moving him from Kindergarten to first grade that they took him out of public school. After attending a special school through 6th grade, he went back to the public school. There, he attended some inclusion classes and some special education classes.

Socially, Cornell was in an unusual place because he didn’t fit in with mainstream or special education children, so he didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. Nowadays, he has a larger social group through his religious organization.

For the transition to adulthood, Cornell had difficulty coping because his younger sister was able to go off to college and he wasn’t. However, he was able to attend a rehab facility which had some similarities to college, and Cornell really enjoyed it. To learn to drive, Cornell practiced with simulators, and persisted with trying to take the written test. He currently still lives at home, but does laundry, cooks dinner for the family twice per week, and is working on getting ready to go out and live on his own.

John coped by working at work really hard, using nursing care, respite care. Themes in the book include not comparing himself to others (comparison is the enemy of contentment), persistence, perseverance, purpose and passion, and embracing your obstacles as your biggest gifts.




The Cornell Effect: A Family's Journey towards Happiness, Fulfillment and Peace




Email us if you have any questions or ideas!

We are now on instagram!

Check out updates on our website.

Follow Thriving on Twitter.

Check us out on Facebook!

We are also on Pinterest!



Please subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store, or wherever you find your podcasts, Leave us a 5-star review, to help us know what you like and what you don't like, and to make sure other like-minded people find support through this podcast.

Show Music:

Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (


Hosted by: Jessica Temple 


Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2021 Jessica Temple