This week, Annette gets to have a conversation with Mary Susan McConnell, host of the popular Mama Bear Podcast. The Mama Bear Podcast is a place where women who are raising special needs children can come and hear stories and advice from other women in similar situations. Mary Susan says that men are welcome too of course!

Mary Susan talks with Annette about her journey with her husband to adopt their daughter Abiella from a government orphanage in Ghana. It is a beautiful story that is heart wrenching at times as she speaks about the challenges they faced and what it took to finally secure their adoption and bring her home. Abi has Cerebral Palsy and they wanted to get her to her new home so they could provide more care.

Mary Susan started the Mama Bear Podcast because she felt isolated and didn’t know where to turn at times. At one point, having not left her home for over two weeks, she realized that there must be many other moms out there just like her. She needed to find others that “Got It.”

After connecting with many in social media groups, she started thinking about connecting through a podcast. She started her podcast one night after some encouragement from her husband and it has grown tremendously since that time and now has over 100 episodes.

Annette and Mary Susan talk about how important it is for parents of special needs children to get out and find others that you can talk with and rely on for support. They talk about the many challenges of special needs parents such as taking vacations and date nights and how we can find joy in connecting with others.

They wrap up by talking about how powerful relationships can be in the special needs community.

Mary Susan has also created The Dream Team Coloring Book as a way for everyone to understand how inclusion works. It is available on her website for free and is a great tool for school aged children to learn more about how to be more inclusive.

You can connect with Mary Susan McConnell on her website, find her podcast there as well as The Dream Team Coloring Book.