When people refuse to work with special needs parents

When our daughter Reagan had a metabolic crisis at 13 months old, a customer in Rob’s agency asked a hard question:

“Oh, he has a special needs child? Do we need to take our business somewhere else? Will he be able to help us?”

The employee on the phone handled it with such grace and truth, “Well sir, I’m helping you now, and we have three other people who can assist you as well.”

If it wasn’t bad enough for someone to say that, learning they were missionaries was icing on the cake. Didn’t Jesus talk about how you treat the least of those, you treat me?

Both my husband and I have our own business, and we regularly blog here to provide updates on our daughter. We do it to: 1) give glory to the only one who is deserving of that praise 2) offer other families, special needs or not, encouragement through our life 3) provide a voice for the miracles God is performing in Reagan’s recovery and 4) ask for prayers when needed.

I have wondered if blogging about Reagan could cost me business as a Realtor. Not only has Rob had to hear about one of his customers concerns from another employee, I regularly have to squash things like, “are you still working full time, you still doing the real estate thing?” it’s not a hobby. Or correct people when they say things like, “hey, I’m sorry to bother you, I know you’re busy with Reagan…and I just read your blog…so reply when you can…”

listen to me

I blog because I want to, it’s easy for me to type my feelings out, people want to know how Reagan is doing, how WE are ALL doing. I’ve blogged and then received messages from people about how God put it on their heart to pray for Reagan talking, and the blog revealed why God laid that on their heart. I’ve blogged and received thank you texts because our family was on someone’s heart and they were unsure how to pray for us, the blog revealed specifically how they could pray. God uses this blog and I’m not going to stop blogging because it allows readers to witness the miracles God is doing in Reagan’s life. I feel called to write and to be honest in our story and special needs journey.

I sell real estate (and have been doing so successfully for eleven years) because I want to, because I’m good at it, because it allows me to financially provide for my family. Rob has owned his own business for seven years and has been a licensed insurance agent, selling insurance for seventeen years. Yes, seventeen.

Unfortunately, we’ve both lost business due to the openness in our life journey. I’ve worked with past customers, people who I’ve successfully guided through previous transactions, who have written testimonials or even done testimonial videos saying they would always use me, use someone else. I had one seller hire me and tell me she was so impressed with my ability to sell real estate and care for Reagan…only to call another agent in my office and complain about the fact that I have a special needs child and specifically name and blame my child for the reason her home (that was overpriced based on 20+ showings of feedback) wasn’t selling. I’ve coached sellers, for over a year prepping them to put their home on the market, up to the point of signing paperwork, only to be given a one line, “we’ve gone with someone else” email and a refusal to respond asking what it was that made them choose someone else.  I can’t help but think, it could have been the blog I just wrote that said I’ve been battling an insurance co. for a month trying to get Reagan’s medications.

she probably doesn’t have the time. he’s not in the office today? must be that special needs child of theirs. let’s find another insurance agent. let’s find another realtor…

To me, it’s like saying how can this person be fun and serious, aren’t they only capable of one?  They surely can’t do both.

People tend to look out for number one…the crazy thing though, is that Rob and I are always looking out for our customers, treating them like family, guiding them, coaching them and helping them make the absolute best decision for their family.

It’s especially hard to lose a client who also knows the details of our life. Who knows that a sale would go toward benefitting Reagan’s care, toward therapy. I don’t want pity customers, I don’t need those and neither does Rob. I do a good job and have continued to be a top selling agent in my office, even after Reagan’s crisis. Do I need to post my numbers here on this blog? No. (But if you want to talk with one of the 70 families I’ve worked with since Reagan’s crisis, let me know). Because people who know me and know Rob, especially those who have worked with us, know that we are hard workers, our customers are satisfied and for the most part, they are 100% loyal and come back many times over to hire us.

But this blog is a reality check…there are those who in their hearts know we would do an excellent job, but choose not to work with us due to the other demands on our life, and that’s unfortunate. That’s not a condition of my heart though, it’s a condition of theirs. God has always taken care of our family, in every way.

I tried googling things like, “losing business when you have a special needs child” and the like, but I didn’t find anything that really resonated, so I wrote this blog and I know it will resonate with other families. I know one particular family whose son just had a devastating brain stem stroke and there are fundraisers all over town to help in his recovery. The organizer, who provides daily updates, has had to say multiple times that yes, the father, also a Realtor, is still working. Why would he stop at a time like this, when his family needs him?

Are things demanding when you’re a special needs parent, you bet. That doesn’t make us incapable of doing an excellent job at our job. Here in our house, we continue doing an excellent job for our clients and customers AND we are doing our very best to raise our child, who has additional needs. We want to let you know, we can do both.

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