Let’s Talk About Labels

Every month the excitement quickens.

Every month the chatter on groups and the *official* website for all things China adoption takes on a new level.

Every month a few announce their joyous news for a referral of a child from the shared list. And that never gets old: to know a child who was once an orphan now has a family ready and willing to bring him or her home as soon as the paperwork trail is traversed.

Every month people express disappointment that more *matches* are not made. Some even express disappointment at the lack of young girls’ files released or at the magnitude of needs for those whose files are released.

And every month … every month thousands of children continue to wait for their turn.

Every month the same children wait and wait and wait.

Many of those children are listed with multiple needs. Many of those children are boys. Many of those children are girls older than three. Many of those children have more than one listed need.

And the questions are valid: Do they have syndromes? Do they have a chance for a *normal* life? Do they have a chance to have a *normal* lifespan?

Unfortunately I suppose those are not really questions that can often be answered. At least not from the other side of the world.

Here is the thing though.

We are talking about children.

Not an order we place.

Or even the perfect match.

Does anyone else feel a bit or even a lot uncomfortable with the use of the word *match* when it comes to the lists of children available and the referral of children. I much prefer the word referral not that my opinion matters. It is just that the word match conveys all sorts of things in my mind at least. Things I’d rather not have conveyed in my mind.

I mean, we are talking about children.

I know I already said that, but you see I have three children who were adopted and they don’t fit the most desired criteria. Or even the manageable or moderate categories really. And they certainly came with way too many labels for many people to even take a second glance. And not many people would even consider looking at their files. Because of the labels.

And yet they are the most wonderful children and they really are a blessing. I just don’t see them as a burden or as the potential to be a burden or …

Less than.

But I have come to terms with the fact that many people do.

Even in the adoption world.

See many children waiting on the lists right now as less than. Many of those children have the SAME needs listed that my children did.

Complex heart disease, unrepaired.

Unrepaired cleft lip and palate.

BOY.

10 years old.

CHD, repaired, CL/CP, unrepaired.

And the list goes on and on and on. So many children with those needs who wait and wait and wait.

Our daughter. Adopted with unrepaired complex heart disease and unrepaired cleft lip and palate at 3 years old. She was born with transposition of the great arteries and one ventricle in her heart among other defects. And she was also born with cleft lip and palate. And she was waiting at 2 1/2 years old with all of these needs having never been repaired in any way. And she weighed 18 pounds and her eyes are assymetrical and her fingers were clubbed. And her head didn’t fit very well on the growth chart. And she may not have a long life.

Our youngest son. Adopted with repaired heart disease and repaired cleft lip and palate at 5 years old. Born with tetralogy of falot, preemie weight, with cleft lip and palate. Listed for adoption at two years old after receiving open-heart surgery and cleft lip surgery in China. After visiting missionaries pleaded with his SWI to put him on the list for adoption persuading them someone would want him. As his paperwork became older and older, he continued to wait with so many labels and so many unknowns. So many questions no one could answer. Turning three years old, then four years old. Still waiting. Oh and did I mention … a boy. Not a girl. And his age. And his head measured small and so many markers for a syndrome. And the life span question. No guarantees there.

Our second oldest son. Adopted with repaired heart disease at 10 years old. Listed at eight years old. A special need in and of itself. A BOY. Still listed at nine years old. And with unrepaired heart disease. What about damage to his lungs? Or about the possibility he was abused? Or the fact he is a boy and not a girl? And he was nine years old. And still had unrepaired heart disease.

Too much.

Too much risk.

Too much at stake.

Too much time.

Too little time.

Too much unknown.

Too much lost.

Too much left unanswered.

Too much.

Too old.

Too risky.

Too major.

Too complicated.

Too much.

On the other hand.

Our children are WHOLE people who bless our lives and our family and who are just as normal as the next child.

They give us hugs and kisses. In being their parents, we are given an incredible opportunity to place our faith in the Creator God over and over again to meet all of their needs and ours as we take care of them.

We have a different perspective than we did before on what really matters.

More appreciation of the here and now.

More respect for those who may not be *normal*.

More of an understanding that *normal* is all about one’s perspective.

More children in our home to love and who love us back.

More blessings than we can count.

Yes, more doctor’s appointments.

And more laundry.

More prayers.

More tears.

More food to purchase.

More smiles.

More laughter.

More people to tuck in one last time before I crawl into bed.

And did I mention more laundry?

And most of all, more and more thanksgiving.

That we did not see them as the many labels they had attached by their names.

Or by the ones that might apply to them once we got them home.

Thankful that instead we are their family.

Thankful to know that medical needs, syndromes, and physical limitations are in fact minor in comparison to the immeasurable holes in our hearts that each one of them has uniquely filled.


Our Second Oldest Son. Today.


Our Youngest Son. Today.

Our Daughter. Today.


If you are waiting for the perfect *match*, please consider that maybe your child is already waiting for you … perhaps with a label attached.

tell us what you think...

%d bloggers like this: