You know that saying…
You want to see God laugh? Just tell him what your plans are!
I’m pretty sure it went down like that.
In July of last year Papa and I carefully looked over our agency’s special need’s list. It’s a paper that lists about 50 possible special needs. Hepatitis C, missing limbs, cleft lip and pallet, dwarfism, deafness, heart problems… Potential adoptive parents, like us, are directed to check yes, no or maybe next to each special need. The agency then uses this list to “match” special needs children with potential adoptive families. Papa and I prayed and talked many many times about it over a couple months. And we didn’t agree on many things. Not many at all. But there were some needs that we did we agree would be something we could tackle and might be a great fit for our family.
But in the end… we ticked only 1 box as yes. It was our plan.
Only 1 box on the whole paper.
I felt guilty, but still knew it was the right decision for us.
Papa and I knew that by only accepting 1 possible special need, we’d likely have a long wait for a match in front of us. We decided that we’d wait 6 months then re-access.
Can’t you just see God giggling already.
On September 29th, our agency called us with Mazie’s file thinking she might still be a match for us. And no, it wasn’t the special need we planned on.
In fact her special need wasn’t listed on the form.
Well… so what special need does she have? we asked.
Developmental delays. Delays beyond her peers at the orphanage.
Why? was the obvious follow up question.
It doesn’t say. They don’t know. It just says that’s she’s quite behind.
Oh God, really? I mean really? Now? Jump out of the plane now?
And we did.
So here’s the thing. Mazie was in the standard non-special needs program. At 15 months she had some testing done because we assume her delays were evident. She was tested, and she tested quite low in some s things like walking and language, and she scored average in others. And again, we’re talking delays significantly beyond the scope of her peer at the orphanage. So she was transferred to the special need’s program.
We’ve of course consulted with an international adoption doctor who is reviewing Mazie’s medical information and progress, why she might be delayed. We consult this doctor every time we get any information on her.
We’ve repetitively examined all the photos and videos, and so has the doctor. We’re all looking for clues to explain away the why’s. But there is nothing that indicates specifically why Mazie is so delayed. The orphanage has been asked, and they say they don’t know either.
Here’s the big scary part… don’t let those cute photos with chubby and adorable cheeks fool you. There are likely very real reasons my daughter is delayed. Things like autism, brain damage, and cerebral palsy just to name a few… scary words to see next to your child’s name. Things I’d rather not dwell on for too long.
Mazie’s foster parents are working with her in hopes of “catching her up” to her fullest potential. What that fullest potential is remains to be seen.
We’ll know much much more when we finally meet her… maybe. And even though much of that scares us, that’s ok with us. Until we can answer the why’s, we’ll let our faith will be enough.
International adoption, and especially special need’s adoption is full of unknowns. And honestly, maybe it is better that Mazie’s “unknowns” so out in the open. If we had been referred a child that fit into our plan, maybe that would have created a false sense of security. Maybe we would have fallen into the trap of thinking we knew what type of child we were getting. And the honest truth is that nobody knows what child they’re going to get… ever. We don’t know much about Mazie’s needs yet. And there’s a very real possibility that we won’t know of any of her limitations for quite a while after getting her. It is so important that adoptive parents go into adoption not only accepting the obvious challenges inherent with international adoption and post-institutionalized children, and special needs they are made aware of, but they additionally need to go into it accepting for the unknown.
We need to be ready for attachment issues, malnutrition, and learning disorders. We need to be ready to deal with rage, hoarding, shut down, and sensory processing disorders. We need to mentally prepare ourselves for limitations and the very real unknowns. And we need to be ready for all of this long term. None of us wants these things for our children, but for children that grow in institutions and in a life of abandonment and disruption, these effects are a real possibilities. It’s scary. But it’s true. I don’t want to say any of this to scare anyone. Yes, adoption is ful of amazing unconditional love and rewards and blessings beyond the scope of what I even thought possible! But it also has the very real possibility of tough challenges, and work, and pain for everyone involved.
And it’s these very challenges that make the rewards so great!
In the midst of my fear about Mazie’s unknowns, we’re preparing for the worst, and praying for the best. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.
We received our final travel approval and are hopping on the plane in 18 days! Not that I’m counting or anything.
Looking back up at the plane, falling through the air, and relying on God,
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