she has a certain something. a captivating quality that you can’t describe. it must have something to do with such a long period of time relying on non-verbal communication.
she can draw you into a conversation without saying a word.
this small wonder of a girl has taught me so much about everything. but perhaps more than anything else, she constantly teaches me how impatient i am. i want what i want, right now. waiting has never been a strong suit of mine. and just when i thought the adoption process held the cards on “waiting” – it was only prep work for some of the waiting we have done after she arrived home.
of the many surprises i’ve found along this journey of adoption, our non-verbal journey has been one of the most challenging and the most wonderful surprises. it was a part i never considered. i thought about surgeries and doctors visits and a few speech sessions. but i never considered what a constant and often exhausting challenge communication could be. i didn’t know how much more i needed to practice waiting and what a blessing i would find in those long days and months, learning realness of a child who can’t say all of the things they know and feel.
my daughter came home in july of 2011, 2 months later her cleft palate was repaired and 3 months later, her beautiful cleft lip was repaired. though we grieved the loss of her original lips, we hoped speech would soon follow. we hoped she would finally be able to tell us what she needed. when she was hurt or frustrated or excited. i felt exasperated and helpless as she so often screamed to be understood.
“speech will come soon” they all said (“they” being the doctors and therapists and specialists).
so we waited. we used sign language. we invented our own language.
when she didn’t progress further than 5 verbal words, they all said she must have a problem.
“it’s probably apraxia of speech” they said. “she should be genetically tested for unknown disabilities” they said.
it just didn’t feel right. she was healthy, thriving, learning. she was a typical kid in every way. i refused to make her a medical seek and find and i finally decided to pull back from the medical world for a few months and let her be who she would be. if she never spoke, we would just keep on rolling with life and help her find her voice in other ways. but the funniest part? it never felt quiet. it was surprising to me when people asked why she wasn’t talking. my mind would say, “seriously? she just told me she wanted yogurt for lunch. you didn’t hear that?” she and i could hear and understand each other in a way i’ve never experienced. and through all that frustration, all that time holding her while she screamed and i didn’t know why, God was allowing us to be knit together in a unique and special way.
and then november 2012 hit. something clicked. all those words locked up in her brilliant mind came flying out…and ever since we all just trying to keep up with all that she understands and wants us to know. she’s quite the chatterbox.
and although speech isn’t as much of an issue these days, we still use our special language. the one that doesn’t need words. she often tells me what she needs with only a glance.
i can say now that it’s been a sincere blessing to have over a year without words.
yes, frustrating at times…but i see now what it gave us as a family and what it gave my relationship with her.
we have to work hard to understand each other. harder than if language had come instantly. and in that hard work, we found a special blessing of knowing each other in a way that doesn’t need words.
a great many things can be said when no one’s talking.
i really want to know what she will be when she’s all grown up.
what will her determination and specificity produce in the future?
one thing’s for sure…she knows what she wants and she does not give up. never. no matter what.
this can be a frustrating trait when the thing she wants is a candy cane before dinner and knowing the best way to harness her determination is tricky. but for the most part, it is an extremely positive trait. one that amazes me to see what she can accomplish.
i have a feeling she will do a great many things.