She Flies!

June 25, 2010 albinism, older child adoption, Shirlee 17 Comments

I know. My second post here in week. But it has occurred to me that we are, perhaps, too quick to make judgements about a child’s future based on what we see when they are two or three (or younger).

Yes, dear friends, it was finally upon us. The BIG DAY. The DANCE.

It has loomed large in Cheeky’s mind from the very first moment that she understood that being in ballet meant getting up on stage and dancing in a costume.

And so on Wednesday night my flower and my butterfly had their hair scraped into buns and makeup applied to their faces. We kissed the boys and the husband goodbye and off we went to get ready for their moments.

I think I was more nervous than either of them. Not so much for Sassy. She has a natural grace and confidence beyond her years. Though she is only nine, I know she can handle being on stage. I know that if she makes a mistake, she will keep going and still be proud of herself.

But Cheeky is my baby. My little one. My newly emerged butterfly. She wants nothing more than to please me and her teachers. She wanted, I must say, to be perfect. To have us look at her and say, “Oh, Cheeky, we are so proud.”

And so she pranced and practiced in the big room with the dozens of kids milling around. While her little friends sat and complained about being hot and thirsty and BORED, she straightened her costume and checked her hair. Her teacher had asked if she could dance without glasses, and Cheeky was quite verbal in her desire to do so. I wanted to say, “No. The lights are too bright. You MUST have transitional lenses.”

But I looked into her face and knew I had to let her decide.

And so she went…into line with her friends, and I knew that when she rounded the corner, she’d hand her glasses to an older girl, and she’d step out into the spotlight. No glasses. Just Cheeky and the balance she’s learned from ballet and the heart she brings to all she does.

I followed and stood in the wings, watching as she ran on stage. I was not allowed to take pictures there, but I wish I could have. Because she glowed, my little one. This child who was deemed unadoptable, unacceptable, unlovable. This kid who was so delayed at three years old that I probably would have turned and run from her. I wish all of you could have been standing there beside me. I wish you could have seen what I saw.

Because she was not the most graceful dancer or the most coordinated. Her legs were not straight and her toes did not always point. But, oh, how she danced! How she danced! As if those little wings on her back were not just props but real. As if the sheer joy of being loved, of being alive lifted her up and set her free.

And I thought, “Oh, China, how could you have let this one go? How could you have not seen what you were missing out on? The joy, the creativity, the passion.”

And I thought, “What if I had met her when she was three? What if I had been too scared to see the brightness in her orphanage-dull eyes?”

Would I have walked away?

I can’t know, and it haunts me.

But perhaps that is why Cheeky came into my life now. Perhaps I am simply the voice that will shout to the world – Look how far a child can come! Look how beautiful the future can be?


Because I have seen what happens when a severely delayed three-year-old finds love. I have seen what can happen when she is accepted and encouraged and embraced. She doesn’t just thrive, she grows wings.

And then she flies.

– Shirlee

17 responses to “She Flies!”

  1. Debby says:

    Ah…so beautiful…..
    But I'm a little burned about her dance teacher asking her if she could dance without her glasses….(my daughter is deaf & dances with her cochlear implant…she could never do it without & in fact changes batteries just before we leave the house & brought her spare to the recital)!!!!!

  2. Stefanie says:

    Oh, Shirlee! What a voice you and your lovely Cheeky are to all those children who are just waiting for a family to love them… waiting to burst forth from their little, hardened shells.
    Beautiful. Just beautiful!

  3. bbmomof2boys says:

    Cheeky has come such a long ways and you have supported her and helped her in ways that I bet you never imagined!

    Tell Cheeky that we are very very proud of her!!


  4. Truly Blessed says:

    Shirley, this post made me cry. She's beautiful and she has the most wonderful mother to love her!

  5. Monica says:

    What an inspiration little Cheeky is! As a mom to a waiting child who is nearly 3 and possibly delayed among other things, I needed to hear this today. I need to know that once I get her home, she will have a chance to grow and thrive and sprout her own wings regardless of how her first 3 years have been spent. Thank you.

  6. Kristi says:

    This post is absolutely beautiful ~ as are the pictures that accompany it! And it spoke so clearly to me. Because I looked at a picture of those "orphanage dull eyes" and almost reconsidered. Oh how I'm glad God had His way in our family and that she's home now, also full of life, love, and joy!

  7. Kathy says:

    What a beautiful, inspiring post. You really encouraged me. I do not know Cheeky's whole story, but it sounds so much like our little one – delayed and forgotten. It is amazing to watch them thrive with love isn't it ?

  8. Adrian Roberta says:

    Well done Cheeky! Well done. (Also a little burned about the glasses thing thou…..)

  9. Cayle says:

    Your daughters have the courage that I will never have. To get up on stage I would probably pass out haha.

  10. Shirlee McCoy says:

    No worries about the glasses. The teacher simply wanted to get pictures of the girls who wore glasses without the glare of the stage lights on the lenses. She didn't mean any harm. One girl chose to wear her glasses. Cheeky chose not to.

    Kathy, it is amazing.

  11. Carla says:

    I can see the JOY radiating out of her in these photos, the thrill of it being HER turn to perform in that special costume. From her earlier photos (those 3 years old and prior that you have shown) to this? Truly AMAZING!

  12. mncfi says:

    Oh this is so lovely. This truth so simple and yet so incredibly complex. Who knows what every child can become? For some – they fly. Others are grounded by their wounds, but just sitting quietly with them on their patch of ground is magic too. Every child has a different story, and some carry scars but they are no less beautiful. My wish is that every child has some-one to treasure them – whether they fly or run or sit. Some-one to take a chance on them. I am so thankful that Cheeky has you and China Mama in her life.

  13. Diane says:

    Such beautiful words Shirlee, for a strikingly beautiful little girl! What a blessing she is to all of us who get to see her sweet face.

  14. Kelly says:

    I have read several of your posts and am encouraged every time. You have such a passion for your children. It is a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing so honestly about your adoption and story. Blessings to you and your family.

  15. LedaP says:

    beautiful post…really sweet pics too. Leda

  16. Michelle@BornInOurHearts says:

    Such a beautiful post, Shirlee!! I love reading your every word and seeing all of the pics of your beautiful family!!

  17. Love Lives Here says:

    Shirlee, that post brought tears to my eyes. I just love watching these kids blossom into the the beautiful children God intended.

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