The Roland Family

Told by Samantha Roland

Oftentimes, you hear something, and you can’t help but think, “Wow, that’s terrible. I didn’t expect that!” Our family has faced less-than-desirable diagnoses, depression, and fear. We have said, “Wow, we didn’t expect that!” but God used those moments; He has shown us that you can still be blessed. Our story is better and stronger, and we can’t help but say, “God is so good!”

When we were pregnant with Zoe, we opted to forego prenatal testing. We didn’t believe testing was necessary, as any result we might have received would not have changed the love we had for our unborn child. In hindsight, it might have been helpful from a preparation standpoint. We are older parents, but figured we were heading on a standard journey with a typically abled child.

When Zoe was born, we discovered she had Down syndrome, and our world became very confusing. We hadn’t received any resources and didn’t know how to care for a special-needs child. I remember a social worker speaking with us in the hospital, but even that meeting was discouraging. What we were facing was not at all what we had expected.

Zoe’s first year was full of medical appointments, and she had many seizures. She couldn’t even smile! We were in an unknown space, and I was unable to continue working at my job, as caring for my family was a lot of work.

Zoe is now 11, and though our journey was hard, we truly feel like we hit the jackpot with our sweet and tender girl. She is the most delightful person, and we are so grateful God chose her for our family story.

When Zoe was around 1 year old, God began to perform miracles in our family, as He began to heal us and knit us together! God healed Zoe of her seizures when she was a little over a year old, and my husband and I were strengthened as parents of a special needs child. Besides these miracles, the Lord brought Jill’s House to us!

I found out about Jill’s House from a mom at the playground. I was apprehensive, but excited to learn that Jill’s House is a Christian organization. Zoe has now gone to Jill’s House 3 times! She loves camp so much. Jill’s House is the most wonderful experience for her!

Zoe’s weekends at Jill’s House help her to feel like a grown-up girl. She gets to try on an independent life and enjoys doing things that other kids get to enjoy! She would probably say her favorite part about camp is sleeping in a sleeping bag, hanging out with friends, packing all her favorite belongings for the weekend, and spending a weekend away.

Families like ours don’t have much margin for anything outside our daily load. But we are also used to carrying it all. So, realizing that we aren’t carrying the load by ourselves, that we have a team of supporters and encouragers in Jill’s House, means so much. It’s just another way God has shown His faithfulness to us.

We have learned so much through Zoe! Walking through life with her and our community of friends has opened our eyes to the very special needs we all have. The team at Jill’s House has shown us that the most healing message anyone can hear is that even in your unloveliness, you are still loved! The team really covers everything they do for every child, with love and understanding. Having a team of people who love us, though we are different, is so healing to our hearts.