On Having a "Special Needs" Brother: A Letter to My Boys

Dear Ethan - my sweet first born child,

Being just 11 months older than Aiden, I knew your bond would be tight, but I'll admit that I often worried how his physical differences would affect your relationship. Would you feel embarrassed by him if people made comments in public? Would you stick up for him? Would you begin to resent the attention he gets - both socially and medically? Your daddy and I tossed and turned at night for many months wishing we knew what the future held. And you know what, 5 years have gone by and have proven that we have absolutely nothing to worry about.

We have tried to instill a strong sense of character in you from a young age, teaching you right from wrong, how to be a good friend, what to say to people who stare or say things that aren't very nice.

But, I do believe that God beat us to it. He knew what he was doing when he gave us you - he gave us the perfect big brother for Aiden. This role was made for you. And we all get to reap the benefits.

Aiden is confident. Content. Happy. A normal, fun-loving kid. You know who he learned it from? YOU! By loving him unconditionally, without reservation, you have given him a priceless gift.

He knows he has his big brother in his corner. Whatever life throws at him, he takes his cues from you. So the kid who called him a name on the bus? It didn't bother him too much because you handled it like a pro and made it seem as if it wasn't the end of the world. Sometimes I feel as if you are wise beyond your years. Your loving and gentle soul will leave a mark on this world. I'm so very happy Aiden has someone like you to look up to. Can't wait to watch your brotherly bond ebb and flow through the years.


Dear Hudson - my little ball of energy,

You came into this world already having 2 of the best gifts there can be...brothers. With such an age gap, I worried you might feel left out, but your brothers absolutely adored you from day 1. They want to play with you, tackle you, chase you, read to you - and you certainly eat up all the attention. You are gonna be one tough cookie with all the beating-up they (un)intentionally do on you! I have to remind them you are just a toddler and not a big boy like them...yet.

The circumstances surrounding your brother Aiden's birth were engraved in our heart, making it hard not to worry when you were growing in my belly. But on the day you were born, you brought a light into mommy and daddy's lives. We exhaled, and cried out, and thanked God for giving us YOU.

As you grow, you will always know Aiden as your big brother - nothing more, nothing less. However you might also begin to have questions about his differences, and that's okay. Daddy and I have lots of pictures to show you how God made Aiden so very special and we can't wait to share his story with you. It's quite an amazing journey I tell ya! We know you will be so very proud to have a brother as tough and brave as Aiden!


As a mom of all boys, I am often asked if I wish I had a girl. I just laugh and say "God knew I was supposed to be a boy-mom!" And I firmly believe that is true. I have a tremendous opportunity before me - to raise 4 boys into strong, capable, generous young men...and I take my job very seriously. I am in awe of each of my children. Getting to know your souls fulfills me in ways I never knew possible before becoming a mother. This road we are on as a family is the road we were meant for. I pray that each of you understand just how special your journey is.

As individuals. As brothers.

I always hesitate to label Aiden as having "special needs". Sure he will require extra medical care over the years. You will watch him physically transform from one surgery to the next. He might go to the hospital or doctor more than others you know. But when it comes down to it, doesn't every child have needs that are "special"?

Instead, I hope that you always see beyond Aiden's differences and continue to accept him as one of God's unique creations, just like everyone else.

Furthermore, I pray that having Aiden for a brother will enrich your lives as much as it has mine.

Love you my sweets,


  1. Eden At Evergreen Eden11:35 AM, November 26, 2013

    You are beautiful, Taryn. The heartfelt sincerity in your words took my breath away!! Incredible talent ya have there, Lou. (I don't know, it just seemed like a natural way to say it lol. Blame it on too much Grinch and Mayor May-Who.) Anyway. Your boys are all blessed in every way to have you and your hubby as their parents, and you're giving both them AND the rest of society the most precious gift. ♥ God bless you all!!!

  2. This was a great list and I'm so so glad you made this post! I had totally forgotten about the big Melissa and Doug bricks when I was Christmas shopping so as soon as I saw them on your list I ordered them through Amazon. I know my two boys will love them, they are 2 & 3 and all into building things. Thanks!

  3. I found you in IG and just want to say that you are the most amazing and terrific mom in the world. I admire you so much as a mother and person. Your boys are amazing and I can see in pics how happy and fullfilled are they. God bless your family and please keep writing, your example and experience is important to the world.

    Greetings from Panamá

    Angela (mom of 2 boys: Gael 4y & Áxel 3 months with Down Syndrome)

  4. Hi there, My name is Mona Fudge. I am so glad to find this page tonight!!! I'm from Brighton, Newfoundland. U see, on May 27th, 1993, i gave birth to a beautiful baby who i named Melody born with Aperts Syndrome. We watched her go through many surgeries. In Sept 23rd, 1998, while having her mid face surgery Melody passed away!!! Our Melody was so special as well. She touched many lives in her short 5 years! It's been wonderful to see your precious angel Aiden tonight!!! I would really love to keep in contact!!! I know we would have so many things to share with Aperts being so rare!!! Also I have alot of pics and videos of our angel as well!!!

  5. Hi Mona! Thank you for commenting. So sorry to hear that your precious girl passed away. I am sure she did touch many lives - our kids are so brave and so special! Take care :)

  6. Thank you Angela!