Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

The Eyes Have It
adoptive momma (China) AmFam at American Family… discussing visual processing disorder, its therapy and how it relates to her daughter’s life pre-adoption

Surgeryadoptive momma (China) Leslee at Finding Lilly Grace… her daughter’s surprisingly bad breath leads to a surprise – and quite necessary – surgery

Ellie’s Medical Update
adoptive momma (China) at Bringing Home Di Di… more about vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) and how it effects her daughter Elise

Letting God Dreamadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… about her biological child’s special needs and accepting him for exactly who God made him to be

Yingy and Yangyadoptive momma (Haiti) Christine at Welcome To My Brain… parenting a child through reactive attachment disorder

my little chatterbox
adoptive momma (China) Andrea at Adoption Road… her daughter’s hearing loss does not seem to be slowing down her ability to learn and understand language

Surgery: One Year Agoadoptive momma (China) Kim K. at Musings from Kim K… a look back on her daughter’s hand surgery a year ago

In The Midst of Chaos

**I wrote this blog post prior to leaving for China to get our new daughter Ava. This topic weighed heavily on my heart. I hope that it speaks immediately to whoever needs it.**

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the d-word. The big yucky word that no adoptive parent or professional wants to have to speak about: DISRUPTION. Recently I heard about 3 separate adoption disruptions which occurred just a few days after each family received their child in China. To hear about this was heartbreaking. And although we have never actually disrupted an adoption in China, we have walked through the chaos of receiving a child so sick, so grossly delayed, so not what we expected, so far from what we wanted…. that it was pure absolute gut-wrenching agony and chaos.

And that chaos immediately leads you to a state of panic where fear takes over and you question everything you were sure of just 24 hours BEFORE meeting this child.

And then you speak to yourself in absolute statements:

I can’t parent him.
His needs are too much.
His needs are overwhelming.
His care will tear our family apart.
This is not what we signed up for.

And you’re confused because just the day before you were floating on a cloud of anxious excitement dreaming about Gotcha Day. And now you are wondering how the heck we got to “this place”.

And then the guilt takes over:
I thought I was more loving.
I thought I could handle anything.
I thought I could parent any child placed before me.

I suck.

And then back to here again:
I can’t parent him.
His needs are too much.
His needs are overwhelming.
His care will tear our family apart.
This is not what we signed up for.

And please believe me that I am not making light of this at all. This is truth. This is what happened to us. But somewhere in the 2nd round of “I can’t parent him”, God took a hold of me. And I let Him. He reminded me that He doesn’t make mistakes. He is not surprised or perplexed. God ordained that specific boy to be our son.

But GOD, did you see how he is acting? Did you see his delays? Did you see how sick he is and how he can’t even sit up? These aren’t “normal delays” God. It is clear there are many many things wrong with him and we…. Ok…. I can’t handle it. I can’t parent him. I can’t.”

And at that moment it was clear to me that I had a very serious decision to make.

I could stand in front of my husband, my guide and the Civil Affairs office and tell everyone how my heart and mind were feeling. How this was impossible. How his needs were far beyond anything we could deal with. And looking at Luke, all of these thoughts and feelings would have been accepted and validated by the guide and the Civil Affairs office. He WAS delayed. He WAS neglected. There were obviously many other things wrong with him. But there was that constant voice of God whispering to me. Whispering how this adoption was not a mistake. How this boy was a part of our family.

And I responded to God: “This is going to be a huge sacrifice for us God. A huge sacrifice for ME God and I don’t know what the heck I am doing! I’m not the person you *think* I am.“ And that’s the moment when He gently reminded me that this whole thing wasn’t about ME. It was about Luke. And most of all…it was about God.

On May 22, 2008 we signed the official paperwork in China to adopt our son Luke.

I firmly believe that the only reason that we came home with Luke was…. our belief in God. Because mentally and emotionally I was so stunned, so angry, so upset that I was not in the game. It is our belief that God doesn’t make mistakes. That He wants to bless us but it’s not about it being EASY or COMFORTABLE. It’s sometimes hard and painful. And this was painful. Lots of painful.

Anyone following Luke’s story on our family blog knows that after 2.5 years of searching for a diagnosis, we finally received it. Luke has an Intellectual Disability. This was our worst case scenario that has become reality. And even in my mind when I rewind to those painful days standing in the Civil Affairs office feeling conflicted, angry, resentful, deceived, hurt and sad…. even knowing what I know now…. I would STILL make the same choice over again.

Was it easy? No.
Was it scary? Yes.
Was I still conflicted in China even after we adopted him? Yes.
Was I sure we made the right decision months later? No.
But we did.
And our God walked us through it. And He is still walking us through it.

All this is just to say that I know how hard it is to come to this crossroads…to have to make the hard decision whether to disrupt an adoption in China. I am just putting our story out there. Our chaos, our experience, our lives… so that if 1 person reads this and then experiences the questions, the confusion and the pain…. maybe that person can feel that they are not alone, that their feelings are validated and most of all that God is there to be the guide.


By Linny@A Place Called Simplicity

I am sitting writing in our dark hotel room in Guangzhou, China. Emma (our 16 yr. old) and I came to finally (!) meet and bring home our Jubilee Promise who we have been in the process of trying to adopt for over 600 days.

I was just reading my Bible (by cell phone light) and felt the need to share some thoughts. Many who read No Hands But Ours are considering special needs and many have already “taken the plunge”.

Our Jubilee has multiple special needs. Cleft lip/cleft palate (repaired), estropia (repaired), ear deformity – just for starters. There are other things too. We will wait on those till we see docs in the states. We knew there were some unknowns when we pursued adopting Jubilee. We knew that there was chance she would be with us for life. My husband, Dw and I, were good with all that. We have never liked the idea of an “empty nest” (actually sounds soooo boring to us!!). Having Jubilee in my arms….I am smitten. Whatever the doctors find? She’s ours! Forever and we are thrilled.

Anyway, yesterday we had Jubilee’s medical exam in the Guangzhou clinic – a wonderful chance to talk to other adoptive parents. While there I was talking to a couple who were adopting their 8th child (3rd adoption). The mom was sharing with me that they have a down syndrome son, which they birthed. In the midst of the conversation, the mom said something about having a son with DS. It is a wise (Biblical word)…..and I just had to mention it.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.” Matt. 6:34

Yes, tomorrow is not even a given. Today is all we have. Enjoy it. Love your kids. Love your spouse. Special needs kids? Today is all we have. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. And really, who knows what 20 years from now will bring. We have a faithful God who will meet each need tomorrow. He is working the night shift on your behalf, your kids behalf, Jubilee’s behalf, etc. He loves these precious treasures far more than any of us could dream or imagine. His plan for them is good. Just take one day at a time. It’s all we have.

Blessings from China,

Our Waiting Son!!

I just wanted to share OUR NEWS!!! I have shared about our journey thus far to our waiting older son here on NHBO. Today, we received the wonderful, God-size news that China said YES once again to our family for which we are so grateful and thankful. Today, we received our LOA for our newly-turned 10-year-old SON!!!!! Hopefully we’ll be traveling sometime this Spring to bring him home! I’ve posted a picture over on our blog! OK, just had to share here too … so excited!!!

Passport Pictures–Then and Now

I could have also titled this post, Where did my baby go?
Cholita (yes, I’ve changed her name–not legally, just on-line!) needs a U.S. passport, that was made abundantly clear to us at the Canadian border, but I’ll admit that I’ve been reluctant to get it done, reluctant to file away the last tangible reminder of Cholita’s life as Jin Qiu Ju.
The picture for her Chinese passport was taken before we met her, probably when she was moved from the foster home where she’d lived for a few weeks and put back in the orphanage. It breaks my heart. And those eyes. It’s the shell-shocked look she sometimes got during our first few weeks together, when she felt overwhelmed and would simply shut down. Enough of the English. Enough of the Caucasian faces. Enough of the changes.
We were in the food court at the mall yesterday and she pointed to a man behind a counter. He was cooking at a wok, speaking Mandarin to his co-worker.
“I think he’s Chinese,” she said.
“I think you’re right,” I told her.
“I used to be Chinese,” she said.
“You’ll always be Chinese.”
“Hmmm.” She smiled and crinkled her nose. “Kind of.”
So it’s time for her U.S. passport. She’ll always kind of be Chinese. Always kind of be Jin Qiu Ju. But that baby with the scared eyes is not the sassy little girl who sauntered up to the white screen at the Costco photo center. She’s her own unique blend–a little China, a lot United States. A little Qiu Ju, a whole lot Cholita.

The worst moments of the heart

(This is Q today – I had to post this picture first so as to remind myself how healthy and strong she is before launching into my story)

In March of 2009, our daughter went in for her second cleft surgery. She had had a full successful palate repair the previous October. With no fistulas to repair, her second would be a relatively simple surgery compared to the first. It would entail the cosmetic completion of the closure of her lip, which had been “tacked” in October to partially close the wide gap.

After only about 2 hours of surgery (the first surgery had taken four hours) our surgeon came out to tell us that the surgery had gone beautifully. As before, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. But moments later, we learned from the anesthesiologist that she had stopped breathing while they were bringing her her out of anesthesia. She stopped breathing again in my arms just minutes later in the recovery room. She would stop breathing four times before they were able to stabilize her.

This is something that can happen when small children go under general anesthesia – even in a simple surgery. We never thought it would happen to us. Honestly, it’s too painful for me to retell this story (or even re-read my post) so I’m just going to reprint my post from that day. I have never been so mortally terrified, or cried so hard, or felt so utterly bereft in my entire life.

We will, of course, have this fear in our hearts during each future surgery, lest it could happen again to our strong, healthy child. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Every single terrifying minute was worth it, for the privilege of living with this amazing child every day.

- Maia (http://wanderersdaughter.blogspot.com)This is me and Q at 5:30 am, bundling up for our trip to the hospital. Mostly, she was excited for an “adventure” at this point, and even at the hospital she was happy and calm – clearly she didn’t have bad memories from last time, which is nice to see.

As some of you already know, we had some pretty serious complications after general anesthesia, and it was touch and go for a while in the recovery room. These were the longest hours of our lives, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been so scared. Fortunately, the team at the hospital did a good job of stabilizing her and pulling her through.
The surgery itself went perfectly – the plastic surgeon was thrilled with the result, and QQ is doing much better after a long day and night in the hospital.
Q and daddy in the waiting room.

Some people have asked me in the past why I share things like this, and actually I have a very specific reason: To the uninitiated, it often seems like an insurmountable thing to adopt a child with medical needs. Naturally, it’s frightening to contemplate the ramifications. No one wants to voluntarily undergo moments of terror like we did during this surgery, the fear of losing a child. But the fact is, these are not risks specific to children with congenital conditions. Children break bones, they get pneumonia, they choke on things, the risks are there for every one of us. This is just life.
I describe the process in detail in the hopes of demystifying it. What you see here is our life – the actual balance and heft of it. There is nothing I’m hiding, no dark secrets, no hidden dismay. The reason I describe both the good and the bad is because I want people to see that we live a very normal life. Our life doesn’t center around Q’s medical condition, nor does her condition define her. If anything it makes her a bit tougher, a bit more resilient in spirit. Children who go through things like this learn to take it in stride, and to focus on the best parts of life. They bounce back.

There are tasks that come with a medical condition, of course there are – extra checkups, a larger team of doctors, that sort of thing – but those quickly become routine. Like anything else in life, you adjust, you make room and time, you make it work. It’s really a very ordinary process.

The biggest thing about our life with Q is the joy she brings, and that is the part we see every day. That is the thing that stands out. The rest of it just comes around every now and then, a chore, like doing your taxes or getting annual checkups.
As you can see, even in the prep room with both Q and daddy suited up for surgery (M got to carry her in and watch her go under this time) there’s no hint of fear or alarm in her. They tell you that kids don’t remember the bad parts, and they don’t.
The surgery lasted about an hour and a half, including new ear tubes (one of her old ones had become blocked), inspection of the healed palate, and the full closure of the lip. When the plastic surgeon came out, she was radiant and delighted. The surgery, she told us, had gone perfectly. She was thrilled with the results. She also told us that the palate appeared to have healed beautifully and that no further work was necessary at this time either on the hard or soft palate. This was what we had hoped to hear – the best case scenario.

After that, however, the anesthesiologist came out, and I could tell as soon as she started talking that something had gone wrong.
M and I caught a pretty nasty upper-respiratory flu of some sort while we were in San Francisco, and it was a tough one to kick. It was so hard on us that I was pretty certain they’d have to reschedule Q’s surgery. It seemed hard to imagine that she had spent days in a small hotel room with two people as sick as we were, and not catch anything.
Time passed, however, and she appeared healthy. I was nervous because I knew that a respiratory tract infection poses danger during general anesthesia. We were careful to tell the surgeon at our pre-op appointment about our illness. But Q had no signs of cough and her lungs sounded clear, she had no fever and all seemed well. Both the ENT and the plastic surgeon gave us the go-ahead to proceed with the scheduled surgery.

It was only after they removed the breathing tube post-surgery, we were told, that they discovered some congestion had been present deep in the lungs. It was very slight – her illness was mild, but even that was enough, in a child this small, to cause her airways to close up with anesthesia.
The anesthesiologist told us that they’d stabilized her, and that she was in the recovery room doing fine.
The first minutes in the recovery room.
As it turned out, however, her issues were not so easily resolved. The narcotics in her system exacerbated her breathing issues. She was taking juice from me just moments after surgery, but after several swallowed she suddenly gave a kind of hoarse ghasp and her eyes glazed over. Then I could see her heaving for air, and within moments her lips started turning blue.
We were immediately shuttled back out of the room while the medical team converged on her. There is no possible way to describe the bottomless fear of a moment like this, so I won’t try. It was the worst moment of my life.
I have M’s mom to thank for having the presence of mind to document this process with my camera. This is the shot she took of the lonely hallway down which we stared, petrified, for what felt like hours as they worked on stabilizing her again.
Back in the recovery room. The team had given her drugs that would reverse the narcotics in her system so that her natural functions could take over again. But the narcotics can’t be reversed too quickly, and while we were back in the RR, she stopped breathing a third time. As we waited in the outer foyer this time, I have to admit I really thought we were losing her.
Back in the recovery room and this time no seizing…but by this time I was too gunshy to hold her again. I can’t tell you the horror of feeling your only child seize up and go bloodless in your arms. I had to step away and let M do it this time. Fortunately, her airways did not seize again.
Neither, however, did she wake up. After a length of time, I could see M getting worried that maybe she had gone into some sort of coma. The doctor came in and looked at her pupils, and then nurse did a reflex test on the bottom of her foot – at which point her foot gave a good, healthy, annoyed kick – that was when I knew she was OK. It did take her a while to regain consciousness, but the doctor explained that the narcotics were still in her system, and that since the surgery itself was not a terribly painful one, the narcotics just knocked her out. Her little body had some recovering to do as well, after all that trauma.
It took a while for her breathing to return to normal and it was terribly difficult to watch her little torso heaving so unnaturally. But you could see when it ended, and it ended quite suddenly.
Her body relaxed, her eyes popped open, and she looked around at us alertly. You could see her craning to see people walking downt he hall, looking around the room for things she might want to touch. She even gave a chuckle and a little dance-jiggle when she saw the Pooh Bear decals on the glass wall. You can see the difference in her face in this photo.
There’s the alertness back again as we load up for the trip to our overnight room in the pediatrics ward.
Reaching for Daddy’s hand.
Rolling into our room. The tube I’m holding is her free-flowing oxygen, which helped to increase the oxygen saturation in her cells while her airways and body recovered.
Visiting with grandparents in the room. Once she recovered from the narcotics, you could see how much easier the actual surgery was on her system than the first one. With no cartilege involved, she was in very little pain, alert, chipper and active.
It was still a long and mostly sleepless night – the trauma had left her whole system oversensitive and she was having allergic reactions to the adhesive used to stick on her monitors, and particularly to the tape which had covered her eyes during surgery. This left her patchy, red, and extremely itchy. She also hates to have her hands and feet confined, so the IV in her hand and the oxygen monitor on her foot were a source of unending fury for her.
Still, the difference was marked from October’s rough recovery. She was even exceptionally affectionate this time, giving out kisses, flirting, hugging, and trying to giggle even through her tape and stitches. Late in the night, as the three of us piled into the narrow hospital bed, she got particularly schmoopy and started getting M and I to give eachother kisses by turning our faces forcibly toward one another with her hands. This made her smile and chuckle every time. As she was sinking into a blessed (if brief) latenight nap, she grabbed my hand and M’s and linked them over her back before falling asleep. Can you even believe that? The way her mind works never ceases to amaze me.
This morning, as we packed our belongings to go home. A whole new QQ. She was beyond delighted to be freed from her tethers of monitor cords and IV tubes, and toddled manically around the room collecting all the toys she’d been loaned.

Here she even backed up against the changing table to “pose” for me. And what’s that in her right hand? Yup, a box of Cheerios. Munchkin decided to use this particularly traumatic occasion to start eating cheerios by the handful, as well as applesauce from a spoon – stitches be damned. I can see that progress will happen by leaps and bounds once she’s healed. And you could already hear her making new sounds whith her mouth (her “mama” changed and became much more crisp and round-sounding overnight, and she was making little “Puh” puffs with her new lips, which is thrilling!), so I am excited to hear how her language progresses over the next weeks.
QQ’s lip does in fact look seamless -as much of it as one can see around the bandages and glue. I can’t wait to see what it looks like once healed and uncovered. What you see in her nose are plastic tubes that hold the nostrils in a widened position. These will stay in for a week (we hope) or as long as we can get her to keep them in. The idea is that a bit of scar tissue will form around the tube and bolster the cartilege where her nose is naturally flatter on the cleft side.
It did our hearts good to see how happy she was to find herself back at home. She actually crowed outloud when we pulled up to the curb, and wanted to parade up and down the sidewalk in the unseasonably warm sun for a while before going inside for her long-delayed lunch.
We gave her an episode of her beloved Yo GabbaGabba, and then put her down for her nap, where she was palpably radiant with joy to be back among her own things. So happy was she, in fact, that she didn’t even complain when we put on the hated arm braces that she railed so bitterly against after the last surgery.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

annually easyadoptive momma (China) mama d at and i am like the ocean… cleft is an easy special need… or not

Disclosureadoptive momma (China) Raina at Faiths and Illusions… disclosing her new daughter’s Hepatitis B status

Speaking of attachment, Part 3
adoptive momma (China) The Gang’s Momma at The Gang’s All Here… describing how they shrunk their world the first year home with their new daughter

Pondering the Pons (and a little fun, too)
adoptive momma (Russia and China) Tisha at Privyet, Mei Mei… describing brain reorganization of the pons at a San Diego clinic

An HIV Adoption Storyby Leslie Goldman for Parenting.com… a day in the life of a family who adopted a child who is HIV positive [HAT TIP to Thankfulmom at A Bushel and a Peck]

Three Therapeutic Tips for a Merry Christmasadoptive momma (Ethiopia) Lisa at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart… three tips for helping a child newly home or who struggles with attachment issues through the holiday season

Purple Hair, Purple Eyesadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… using a new hair product to keep white hair from turning yellow

No Longer An Orphanadoptive momma (China) Jean at There’s No Place Like Home… after someone sent a photo of her daughter when she still lived in an orphanage, one momma looks back at how far her daughter has come since being adopted at age eight

Status of Adoption from China:
BOYS the executive director of Love Without Boundaries and adoptive momma (China) Amy at A Life of Giving… gender statistics surrounding international adoption from China

A Special Needadoptive momma (China) Maryellen at A Beautiful Mess… how the wait effected their decision to adopt through China’s special needs program

Sunday Snapshot: Avery
adoptive momma (China) Chris at Layers of Life… a glimpse into the world of the special needs adoption process AND their soon-to-be-adopted daughter Avery

The Brace Shuffle
adoptive momma (China) Annie at Cornbread and Chopsticks… a video clip from last year of her daughter walking to the Christmas tree while wearing a special brace

A Promise Received

Another little one is an orphan no more.

Miss Jubilee Promise is finally with her forever family!!

If you don’t know Linny(a contributing writer for No Hands but Ours), and the story of their Journey to Miss Jubilee Promise, I beg of you to head on over to A Place Called Simplicity and take some time to get to know this Amazing family. You will be blessed.

Happy “Gotcha Day” Saunders Family!  
We Love You, Miss Jubilee!! :)

The Big Build-Up

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what in the world I would post on this beautiful blog. Don’t yall LOVE this blog? It is a big ol’ blessing to so many…Kris, your post below stole my heart.

Anyway, yesterday I attended a travel information meeting my agency hosted. It was for families who are getting ready to make the trip to China to meet their child! It was the second time I’ve heard the details of the process, by the same sweet social worker, but I felt that no matter how many times I adopt, there will always be something to learn about the journey, amen? ;)
I’m so thankful I went, because it confirmed what the subject of this post would be, something that I’ve been thinking a whole lot about lately:

The Big Build-Up to The Big Trip

If you have traveled to China, or if you are thick in the paperchase to adopt your child, or if you are about to get on that plane in three days, or if you are just thinking and dreaming about adopting one day…I think you will agree with me on this one point: there is so much anticipation, so many butterflies in our stomachs, so many dreams and scenarios played out in our heads of “THE TRIP”.

As our social worker presented all the glorious details leading up to “Gotcha Day”, I felt those familiar emotions of anxiety, nervousness, and extreme excitement that I was getting closer to the day I would meet my son. Who, by the way, is the CUTEST thing you ever did see, don’t you agree? ;)
I’m off track. Looking at him does that to me! ;)

So I’m getting excited as she talks about the moment your child is handed to you…which is really how it happens mostly. They just hand you your child after checking your passport and paperwork. And then she went on to talk about attachment and adjustment, and the wide spectrum of issues that go along with that.
And I was reminded (and brought back down to reality, frankly) that this TRIP, this marvelous, long-awaited trip….well, that’s all it is…a TRIP. It is not the end-all, be-all of my journey. Certainly not! Yes, it is important, because it is the vessel used by God to bring me my child. But in the big picture, it is all about getting through the trip to the other side…home with our son!

Both times we’ve gone to China, I get wrapped up in the preparation of this trip. It does seem huge, looming before us. The packing, the buying of gifts for Chinese officials (don’t let this stress you out like I have done!), the tizzy of ordering plane tickets, the details of who will keep my other children while we’re gone. (Don’t tell anyone, but our first trip to China….I consumed myself with making sure everyone had matching outfits. And then Gotcha Day came, and we were handed two 2-year olds, and how ’bout those matching outfits? Do ya think I cared one bit about our clothes after that? ;) It’s easy to let the trip consume our thoughts, of course. And certainly we should relish every bit of our child’s culture and birth country while we are there… taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and people of China. But this trip is two-three weeks long. In the big scheme of a lifetime, that’s pretty short. It will be full of bumps, unexpected surprises-some good, some bad, and we will survive it and get our son home, and then new life will begin.

The REAL TRIP will begin…getting to know him, establishing a new normal and a good routine, cleaning up his messes, taking him to doctor appointments, comforting him through major heart surgery, and prayerfully one day taking him on vacations, watching him walk across the stage at graduation, smothering his children with my kisses. That is the trip I want to prepare for…and it is a wonderful trip called LIFE!

John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

I Do Not Want to Be Afraid

Cheeky has a favorite song.

She announced that fact a few weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about her announcement and her choice of favorite songs since then.

You see, Cheeky loves many songs. She sings all the time. All the time. She has told me over and over again that she loves all the songs she hears on the radio.

And that leads me back to her favorite song.

We’ve been hearing it on the Christian radio station for a few months, but I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics until Cheeky started singing them. The more she heard the song, the more of the lyrics she was able to sing. Until, finally, she had great chunks of lyrics and was belting them out in her sweet soprano.

There were a few words here and there that I didn’t quite understand. As a matter of fact, the whole gist of the song was lost on me.

Except the parts that Cheeky was singing.

Those were clear as a bell, and every time the song played and she sang, I got a lump in my throat. Two weeks ago, she began singing the parts she knows around the house. I’d be washing dishes, and she’d be doing her daily chore of wiping down the table after meals, and she’d sing the words she knew, and I’d glance over at her and see that she was completely engrossed in those words and in that song. And there were moments when I wanted to cry, because I do not believe this song was chosen randomly.

I finally looked up the words because I really did not understand the song.

And when I read them, I did understand.

It’s actually a shocking song, but I suppose that’s what it was meant to be.

Here are the lyrics. It’s called Cut and is by Plumb. I guess it was a soundtrack for one of the vampire movies (or t.v. shows. I don’t know which as I’m not familiar with the programs). The sections in bold are the ones Cheeky sings. Words in parenthesis are words she uses that are not original to the song.

I’m not a stranger
No I am yours

With crippled anger
And tears that still drip sore

A fragile flame aged
with misery
And when our hearts meet
I know you see

I do not want to be afraid
I do not want to (cry) inside just to breathe in

I’m tired of feeling so numb
Relief exists I find it when
I am cut

I may seem crazy
Or painfully shy

And these scars wouldn’t be so hidden
If you would just look me in the eye
I feel alone here and cold here

Though I don’t want to (cry) die
But the only anesthetic that makes me feel anything kills inside

I do not want to be afraid
I do not want to (cry) inside just to breathe in

I’m tired of feeling so numb
Relief exists I find it when
I am cut

I am not alone
I am not alone

I’m not a stranger
No I am yours

With crippled anger
And tears that still drip sore

But I do not want to be afraid
I do not want to (cry) inside just to breathe in

I’m tired of feeling so numb
Relief exists I found it when
I was cut

Cheeky does not, of course, understand what the song is about, but the words she does understands mean something to her. And, so, they must mean something to me.

I’m not one to look at Cheeky through the eyes of adoption. I treat her as I do my other children. She is, after all, my daughter. Not my adopted daughter. What I’m realizing as I travel this road with my little girl, is that not everything is about her past but some things are about her past.

This thing, this song, is.

My mother’s heart acknowledges what my mind would rather ignore. When Cheeky sings this song, it is a story about her life. It is a story about meeting strangers and of being afraid. It is a story about acknowledging where she belongs and who she belongs with even as she fears that place and those people.

It is her story, and I embrace it even as I embrace her.

I share this only as a reminder that grief and joy can coexist. That one does not always outweigh the other. Cheeky is the child in the photo at the top of this post, but she is also the one in the photo below. She is both lost and found. Both in love and in mourning. She is a complete package whose present can only truly be understood in light of her past.

She is my daughter. My blessing. My pure joy.

I grieve with her, but I will not grieve for her. Instead, I will do what I always have. I will sit her in my lap and I will tell her the story of her life. The story of strangers who are no longer strangers and of a love that will never leave her lonely. A love that was and always will be much greater than fear.