One of four children adopted by a Utah couple, Simon loves to help.
This amazing story begins with a man and a woman who met, fell in love, got married shortly thereafter, and then threw open the doors of their home to life in a way that many might think is absurd.
Jeremy Clark is a teacher who works with special-needs children, and his wife Nicole is a nurse, so their professions predispose them to wanting to help people in need. They’re a beautiful couple, whose faces reflect the light of their generous souls.
“What perfect children they must have,” you might say, looking at their photograph. And they do! But Jeremy and Nicole welcome children whom others often discard, and see a gift instead. They’ve adopted four Bulgarian children with disabilities.
Alex, David, Jon & Simon
Alex, the oldest of the Clarks’ children, is 6 years old and has Down syndrome, as does Simon, the newest child to join the family, who is four years old. Then, there’s David, 5, and Jon, who both have cerebral palsy.
Can you really choose to form a family with so many complexities without drowning in the daily challenges?
Without a doubt, Jeremy and Nicole have the necessary educational and medical skills, thanks to their professions, but they also have the right attitude. Jeremy explained it this way in an interview with the Daily Mail:
“Raising four kids with special needs requires a lot of work, and there are many things you have to do. The key is finding joy throughout each of those activities. Recently, I timed how long it would take to wash their teeth and get them ready for bed, and it took 30 minutes, so even if I work really hard it always takes a long time. Fortunately, my wife Nicole, who had been a nurse for 10 years, quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom and takes care of the children full time.”
This may not sound like the feminist ideal, but Nicole hasn’t given up her freedom; she’s chosen the joy of sacrifice, the satisfaction of being at home to care for her children.
“Taking care of these children can be a great experience,” Jeremy says in the interview. “They’re always excited and full of joy. They get really happy over simple things that other kids could sometimes take for granted.”
Since Simon has arrived, Nicole can breathe a partial sigh of relief because Simon is happy to help her out. He’s an example of love and attention for his brothers. Simon was given the name Zadock at birth and now at 4, just a few months ago, he flew from Bulgaria to Salt Lake City to live with his new family. Although he now goes by Simon and doesn’t speak English yet, he’s the most talkative of the group as the other brothers have difficulties with verbalization. According to Simon’s parents, his arrival was like that of a tornado of energy: “Since Simon has joined us, the days have become longer, they start a bit earlier and end a bit later, and there’s more time to be a good parent,” Jeremy explained to the Daily Mail.
Some may use different, less optimistic words to describe the Clarks’ situation, but it’s true that when you watch their family videos, you don’t get a sense of darkness or suffering, but rather an air of freedom and unpredictable adventure. The protagonist in every scene is undeniably Simon, who, busy at the service of his brothers and parents, puts to shame those who want to impeded the lives of people with Down syndrome. Without any incentive from Jeremy or Nicole, Simon washes the dishes, feeds his brothers (tasting the food often—he’s gained the right), plays with them, and helps give them their medicine.
These children who love and are loved and families like the Clarks show the world that there is always hope in our daily battles. What we need is to be there for each other, so we can help each other, no matter who we are. Just being there for each other, as individuals who are in need of each others’ help, brings joy and consolation.
Adopting Macyn: How infertility led one couple down an unlikely path to joy
Why we should welcome children with Down Syndrome