Where have we been for the past two months? Well, the short answer is “Ukraine” and “locked away in our house.” We have been through all kinds of emotional ups and downs, but the easiest part has been our wonderful Daisy girl. God has been protecting her heart for all that time she spent in a laying room, unable to be picked up. And again, through a major medical procedure which gave her health for the first time 6 months before we met her. And then through the anonymous, benign neglect that accompanies a child who doesn’t know how to catch a nanny’s eye, coo, flirt and beg to be seen.
Our daughter’s life was protected, valued, and sustained in the competent care of her excellent orphanage. But her heart was locked in hibernation. I think she honestly did not know she was different from the cribs, ceiling tiles, and communal clothes that defined her days. But she must have felt it in her heart. That she was not an inanimate object. That ember of hope, deep down, stayed banked until her body could feel what it had longed for so many times. To be kissed, to be touched, to be loved by a mom and a dad who don’t mind looking silly when they were the only ones not using strollers, and wouldn’t stop to put her down.
God was working to keep her heart alive. Her Godmother, Aunt L, came to one of our visits. A young girl, only 20, who had poured her heart into this baby she was not even allowed to pick up. When she came as a volunteer with her church, an exchange student with a kind soul, our girl’s desperate need pulled her near. She visited, and spoke to her, and held colorful toys for her, and stroked her cheek. But she was never allowed to hold Daisy in her arms until the day we met in the orphanage 10 months later. She came on a bus, an hour both ways, to spend just a short time pouring love into a child who she couldn’t even hold. That’s how God uses His faithful servants. In those brief visits, I know, she kept our daughter’s hope alive.
There is a lot of training you do to prepare to bring an institutionalized child home. Even though people make comments that “she’ll be too young to remember,” you are preparing for that not to be the case at all. You expect rejection, illness, sleepless nights, stimming behavior. So when people ask how we are doing, we can easily say that the last thing we were prepared for was this child to come home and want to be with us. That’s how good our God is. This long, difficult, heartbreaking road of international adoption has led to a child who wants, heck needs, to be with us constantly.
She sleeps next to us. She soothes when we hold her near. She smiles when we tickle her. She even latches to nurse.
This is our child, even if she wasn’t born to my body. I love her in a way that doesn’t even bear mentioning, because it is natural, deep, and infinite. If you told me an alien experiment had launched one of my biological children across the world and caused her to be born of another woman, I would say “Yes. I knew it all along.” That is the connection between us. It is simple, and unearned by me or Andy. God simply found the family that she would be a daughter in, without delay, effort, or question. I cannot give you any tips, because we did not do this. We just scooped our baby out of that nanny’s arms like our bio children lifted from the water at the moment of birth.
And I’ve been quiet so long, and it’s vague. It’s all so vague. Have I robbed you all of the inspiration to go forward yourselves in adoption by remaining quiet, offering too few details? I hope not. Because it has all been magic to me.
Hours in taxis, past the vegetable stands and the overgrown weeds that lined the streets, heading to see our girl.
Walking to the Black Sea with two new friends, delighting in the chance to speak English for hours while getting the worst sunburn of my adult life.
Trying to speak to everyone, then eventually realizing that this was the greatest silent retreat a person could ever go on. “Da,” “nyet,” “pajaleusta,” “centrahl” were the only words I spoke some days.
The quiet nights in Kyiv watching Pride and Prejudice, making a human shield against a rolling Daisy who I first heard cry that night.
I’ll write about them all as they come back to me. But to write about them as they happened…this one time, it just didn’t feel right. We have changed so much since the day we realized Mac was not coming home, since our little Faith was born into our hands and lost at the same moment, since we first looked at our tiny 18 month old daughter offered to us with uncertainty–would we say yes?
And we did say yes to it all. We have lost two children this year, but gained a daughter. And it has all been filled with overwhelming grace and love far beyond our understanding.
That it was made possible by such sacrificial love of a dear family member, devoted real life friends, readers of this blog, strangers who were moved to action, and Reece’s Rainbow…it is not lost on me how greatly our lives have all been enhanced by this tiny princessa, and how grateful we are that you supported us financially and emotionally through it all. God has used each word spoken in love to strengthen us for the journey. And YOU said yes to that. Our deepest thanks would be ridiculous compared to the weight of our gratitude.
And in this time of transition and doctor’s appointments, illness, and adjusting to life as a family of seven, please forgive me for hiding. I have been hiding a heart as overwhelmed by loss as by grace. We have been learning–with school books, EKGs, new routines, and stay-home date nights–each as enlightening as the other. This was a time to be still and hide our hearts. To share in a few moments, instead of a few hours.
Our daughter, Daisy, is home, and well, and ours. Our hearts are growing bigger, and we won’t be hiding any more.