…(the Lord will) provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
This is the first adoption we’ve had where our children had many memories of their past. Our first daughter was a toddler, and while clearly affected by her institutional start, she had no verbal memories of her beginnings. Our second daughter had several traumatic surgeries at 5 years old, including much time on the bypass machine, and possibly as a result, has few memories left of her early years.
But our new girls remember everything.
They were born skilled communicators and value relationships greatly. They are people oriented and watch and evaluate everyone around them. They are excellent storytellers and as their command of English grows, we hear more and more about their different pasts.
One dd has stories so comical that no one could make them up – she was clearly loved, cherished, and spoiled by all who came in contact with her. Her enthusiasm for life is hard to resist, and even those who would notice her visible differences are quickly diverted by her winning personality. She is a force to be reckoned with, so any attempts at mocking would have likely resulted in the mocker’s quick demise. But there was evidently little of that, and she possesses a confidence born of nurturing and love. How they must miss her!
Our other child had a much different experience. When we heard her speak fondly of those she missed, we promised to take her back to visit. But shortly after returning home, she refused to speak her former language – even to friends. Yesterday, out of nowhere, the heartbreaking details of her past emerged through sobs and tears. She expressed terror that she might have to return. Our sweet natured girl had suffered at the hands of one who was supposed to protect her, but she had been afraid to speak out for fear of worse. Her visible differences were used as an excuse for violence and mocking, and her only reprieve was in a few protectors and school.
So things are not always what they seem, and I would caution parents to follow the lead of a child who may not be telling the whole story at first. While she had loving people in her life, they were unable to protect her from those whose cowardly anger was vented on a defenseless child. Our good intentions in keeping her past alive had caused her anxiety and worry for the last several months – the last thing she needed after years of pain and vigilance. As she firmly states, “My life is here now.”
She is remarkably unscathed by a past that would make most of us timid and unable to trust. She is a sponge for affection and wants so badly to please –something she was unable to do for those in her former life. We are awed by her resilience and optimism and believe she will accomplish anything she puts her mind to. We now understand the compelling call we received from God two summers ago to bring this child home. When she now spontaneously blurts out, “I’m so happy living here,” we know she really means, “ I feel so safe, secure, and permanent living here.”
Yesterday, we received the incredible news that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this child was not affected by the genetic syndrome we had been told was so likely. It was a miracle, and she was cleared of all medical worries for the future. We think it is the beginning of a new life of blessings, “beauty for ashes,” that God has in store for this brave girl.
If your heart is calling you to a child, consider it may be because of great need – regardless of the difficulties of finances, fear of the unknown, and impossibility of their SN or your current situation. It may be an answer to a child’s prayer. Listen to that call and trust God to work out the details – and deliver that child from a lifetime of loneliness.