Parents of special needs kids sometimes don't know where to find help. They may not even know what help is out there. One Roanoke family wants parents to know there is somewhere to turn.
When you walk into the Barber's house in Roanoke you know immediately it's a busy place.
"We have four adopted kids and we're presently fostering another," said Ashley Barber. "Our first children were four and five and they were adopted out of foster care and we were their fourth home I believe."
Eleven years later, those children are both now in high school. Over the years, the Barbers adopted two more children. Jonah was a baby when he was adopted. He's seven years old now and was recently diagnosed with autism.
Jonathan Barber was 9 months when the Barber's adopted him. "He had major medical issues and he is now three," said Barber.
Angela Barber will tell you it has not always easy but the support she receives from a group called Special Families has helped.
"The Special Families group has really turned out to be some of my closest friends," Barber said. "They are some of the first people I call when I'm happy and the first people I call when I'm upset."
The group offers emotional support as well as a mentoring program. Parents who've already navigated the system to find resources for their children help other parents find their way. It also helps parents develop better relationships with physicians who care for their children.
"There is something about having other parents that are going through it that just really helps you cope and helps you know you're not alone," Barber said.
Barber said she and her husband always felt a calling to adopt. "And we felt called to adopt the ones that are harder to place or less adoptable if there is such a thing," Barber said.
While this mom will tell you there have been challenges, the rewards she's gotten are well worth it. "Jonathan is walking and talking and running and trying to keep up with other kids even though he has cerebral palsy," Barber said as she smiled proudly at her children.
"Just the love that you feel," said Barber. "And just to see a child that has really fought to walk or fought to talk (and then) to see them do that is really rewarding."