Our adoption journey started in the summer of 2003.
We attended an adoption fair. A family speaking that afternoon had brought their daughter with them to the meeting. The little girl, about seven years old, snuggled up to my husband with a large photo album and began to tell him her story. A story, and a smile, that grabbed my husband’s heart and planted a seed of hope. A dream began that day of adopting a little girl from China and becoming her family.
The initial paperwork was sent in to the agency. And then God interrupted our schedule with a series of events that seemed at the time to pull us away from our daughter in China. Yet the seed of hope remained. God used the years that passed to open our hearts to children who are waiting….not because of anything they can change, but because of all the things they can’t.
In the summer of 2011, we were ready to find our next child.
I scrolled through multiple different waiting child lists and websites. We had pictures of children taped all over our kitchen. We prayed for wisdom. And one by one the pictures came down until there were no longer any pictures remaining. I couldn’t understand what was happening. There were so many children waiting, why couldn’t we just pick one. My husband thought that we should take a break and pray. I gave it two days and then felt the pull to look through the waiting child list from our agency one more time. And there she was.
She was a new addition to the page and her face instantly grabbed me. I think her medical condition could have said anything at that point…. we were open to any special needs, any country, boy or girl. But here was our little girl in China, the one we had dreamed of so many years ago. We shared her file with an international adoption medical specialist. The professional painted a pretty hopeless picture for our little girl, but I knew I was supposed to be her mama. At the moment, that was all that mattered to me.
The seed of hope began to sprout.
I went into full adoption mode with tenacity. Paperwork and more paperwork and writing checks and meeting with specialists. She had missed out on five important years of treatment and therapy, and I was going to make sure we did everything possible for her once she arrived home.
And we have.
For the past three and a half years we have spent countless hours with physicians and therapists, surgeries, meetings with school officials and teachers, and emptying our wallets time and again to make it all happen. Our daughter is determined and physically tough. She has made such incredible progress from the little girl we brought home….
The one who fell down the stairs every day.
The one who couldn’t climb the slide ladder at the park.
The one who did not recognize she even had a right hand.
That little girl has been replaced by a child who can hike for miles, pick up small objects, and just last week, she miraculously rode a regular bicycle.
Our seed of hope started to grow and spread leaves.
We have much to rejoice over but have also realized the physical medical issues are really the easy part. There is another part of her story that cannot be seen by just looking at her or reading a medical chart. The part that wasn’t included on the tagline with her waiting child photograph. My daughter has twelve different specialists who provide great care and insight for our family. It has taken me over three years to realize an important truth – more than any medical specialists – what my daughter needs most is time to just be a little girl, a sister, and more than anything a daughter with her mama.
Greater than any of her physical needs is a deep emotional need to understand who she is and how much she is loved.
I recently asked my oldest son what was the greatest lesson he has learned from his sister. His response showed me he understands things much better than I do at times…
“People with disabilities are just like me. They are a person not a disability.”
When you have a child with many medical needs, you can easily make that all that life is about. I used to have a career in the medical world as a registered nurse. It is easy for me to operate in nurse mode, administrative mode, caretaker mode. It has been a journey to learning this truth:
My daughter doesn’t need another medical specialist. She just needs a mama.
A few months ago, we made some difficult choices. We took our daughter out of public school and all therapies. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. It seemed to go against everything we had fought so hard for these past three years. Physically she was making huge improvements, but emotionally she was bleeding. She and I now spend the entire day together. Learning and therapy go hand in hand. I feel like she is starting to discover herself, and I am finally getting to know her as a person.
And the greatest gift of all… we can see her heart beginning to heal. The bud is beginning to form, and we know that soon our seed of hope will grow the most incredible flower.
– guest post by Sonya