Deciding to pursue an adoption of a special needs child was not a difficult decision for us. We knew what we, as a family, could handle, and we did our homework. We read our books, and talked with other adoptive families. We prepared, and we felt ready to handle whatever came our way, but there was something we missed.
There was a special need that was unrevealed to us. Maybe this unspoken special need was something the orphanage missed, or maybe it just wasn’t important in the grand scheme of her obvious medical needs.
Our daughter’s medical file stated that she had a severe heart condition, and a microtia on her ear. we spoke to doctors, and felt competent to handle these issues. The medical files that you receive when you adopt from China are pretty straight forward. Sometimes there are some surprises, some unknowns, but overall they state the basic medical facts.
What they do not say is where your child comes from. I don’t mean the province, or city, or biological background. I mean that there is no information about how your child may have been treated at her orphanage or foster home. Did your child have enough to eat, was she cared for? Was she held, was she loved? These are things you can’t know until you see your child, and maybe not even then. Even if your child came from the best orphanage, the file you get will not prepare you for your child’s grief, or the fact that she may not bond to you for a long while. The file you receive will not tell you some things.
They said her heart was broken, and it was. And now, one part of her heart is fixed, but the other part of her broken little heart, the part that feels hurt and loss…that part cannot be fixed by doctors. Time will lessen the pain in her heart, but there will always be a loss there. Something we cannot fix.
We saw her need again while we were in the hospital for her surgery. When we were getting ready to go home, she was feeling so much. We could see it all…panic, fear, insecurity, pain, and sadness…all etched in her little face. As she alternated between fake laughing, and crying giant, sad tears of grief, I recognized her little face. I had seen that face before, only once. In those first moments we got her. And it made me ache for her. And I knew…
She thought we were leaving her. She thought she was being left again.
Yes we love her, and yes, we would do anything for her. We always will, but none of that will ever change the fact that she will wonder why. Why was she not held on to? Our love will never erase her pain, but hopefully our love can help her to navigate it. And we believe that, with time and love, we will see healing.
Does her unspoken need change anything? No way. She is the one we have always wanted, and we will always love her, no matter what, just the way she is. We will be fierce in our love, reassuring her always that she was wanted by us, and crying with her when she grieves not being wanted by others. We will be there to teach her what a family is, and to teach her that families ARE forever, and to walk with her through the pain of knowing that her first family was not forever. We will laugh with her, and cry with her, We will pray over her, and with her. We will endure the pain with her, and rejoice every time we see healing in her little heart.
Because we are her family. Forever.