In late 2005 while AB and I were attempting to put our dossier together, we had a decision to make. Before our paperwork could make its way to China and into what would become an abyss of waiting, we had to decide if we were willing to accept the referral of a child with "special needs" or specifically wanted only a child who could be deemed "healthy".
We wrote a nice letter introducing ourselves, and made sure to follow all the guidelines and rules set out for families putting together these types of packages. In that letter we made it clear that we wanted a "a girl, healthy, as young as possible". I's dotted and t's crossed...
This is who we are. This is who we want. Something like that...
Each year that went by, paperwork would expire and we would find ourselves renewing those documents. And again, that letter...revising only the date at the top. Leaving the rest.
This is who we are. This is who we want.
Over and over. Reiterating to ourselves exactly what we were prepared for. The type of child we were preparing for.
And so, last December we received the call...that long-awaited, celebrated, anticipated call telling us who she was. Introducing us through technology, pictures, and translated paperwork...finally learning who she was. A baby girl, just five months old. Healthy.
But we couldn't really know. Didn't really know anything about her.
Still the mantra of our whole adoption process playing in the background of our minds...this is who we are...this is who we want.
All the way to get her. All those steps from here to there and into the same room with her...all those tears and difficult moments, making our way to be together after five years. Such arduous, painful years without her...longing for her.
Longing for our baby girl. As young as possible. Healthy.
If you've been reading recent posts, you know already about that meeting. If you're new, welcome, and you can read it HERE.
And so this is what I came to say to you tonight...
With these sweet babies...I believe deeply that there is no honest differential between what is documented as "healthy" vs. "special needs".
What Keira does not have in physical ailment, she makes up for in emotional devastation. For children suffering physical ailment, the trauma is double.
I would never have believed it. After all, our attachment with Quint was textbook perfect.
But let me write that letter again...let me rephrase it. Please!! Because what I asked for...it doesn't exist and it's unfair. To me. To her. To all of them...even to my sweet boy, who may not feel the depth of his loss for years to come.
It's not reality. It's not even in the same stratosphere of reality.
Who are we to say that the brokenness of her entire family tree is neither special, nor a need. That her pain is somehow less because it appears unseen to the naked eye?
To think that a girl...as young as possible...healthy by the standard of medical reporting would suffer such anguish and fear, insecurity and pain with the limited ability to reason in her short life...it's beyond me to convey. To think that she will carry that pain and loss her entire lifetime is more than this mother (who thought I knew who I was and what I wanted) can bear for her to face. But she has no choice...she has to.
I saw her need again...this week. When for the briefest moment we walked through a new environment and new people approached us. Unlike any healthy, young baby girl I have ever seen...panic, fear, anguish, insecurity, pain...all etched in her face. Thick tears streaming down those beautiful cheeks instantly. It took only seconds for both AB and I to realize that we had seen that exact expression before...only once. In that first moment.
And it nearly broke us. Both of us aching for her all over again, but with new eyes.
She thought we were leaving her.
She thought she was being left...again.
How deeply I was hurt to see her relive that fear in any fashion. I could see this wound re-opening time and time again, manifesting in different ways over the years, as she tries to come to terms with her loss. Over and over...
I would never intend to downplay the serious nature of medical conditions orphans the world over suffer from. But neither would I ever again accept the idea that being "orphaned" means children who have suffered loss of this caliber are not also children with a special need. Healthy is a relative term.
Her pain and loss are debilitating for her emotionally. Even now at this tender age. And oh, how I loathe that pain...how I want to take it all up and absorb it so she won't have to feel it for one more second of her little life. How I want to erase that hurt from her heart...that loss...so that one day when she's older, she won't have that gaping wound inside telling her she was left. She was abandoned. She was unwanted.
Never mind we love her to the moon and back. Never mind that! Never mind we went on the journey of a lifetime to be together forever...to love her...to care for her. It's all wonderful. But it doesn't take her need away. Her need to know why. Her need to understand all the reasons why she was not held onto. It won't erase the gaping wound...it will only act as a salve to it.
Oh that stupid letter - that horrid, misinformed, childish letter. Why did I write it? Who we are and what we want...
What about her? What about what she needed or wanted? Who she was...
Why didn't I instead write that I would love her, pain and all...anguish and loss, heartache and brokenness...that I would love her through all of that. And that when she came to me, years later, and begged to know why this had happened to her...assuring me that she loved me, but hurting and wounded and feeling betrayed by her birth-parents...that I would love her still...and comfort her. That I would say the right things to help her in her grief. That I would not give up on her. That I would always fight for her pain to be healed. For her brokenness to be made whole. Maybe not in this lifetime...maybe not until the next...but that I would love her through all of it. Why didn't I write that?
And I'm left with the knowledge that there really is no difference. Foolishly, I believed that I knew who I was and who I wanted to love. And I didn't. Not really. Not in the way that mattered.
Because I want her. Love her. Cherish her. Just the way she is. Always. Forever.
And it may take a lifetime of reassurances, reminders of how we love her, encouragements along the way to affirm who she is to us - what she means to us - all that she gave to us the day she came into our lives. A lifetime to remind her of all the sweet things that came from the loss she endured. A lifetime praying that God will restore her in His time, weeping with her as she grieves, and enduring with her as she endures.
Her special need was not noted. Woefully left out of every document, every report, every picture.
A broken heart...
She has a broken heart
and sadly for her, that was lost in translation