My beloved child,
You spent less than eighteen hours in my arms during that hot, sunny week last August.
I yearned over you with my whole heart, but you didn’t know me.
You didn’t know who I was, or why I was there, or what it meant for you.
You were very slow to let any of your guard down that week. You were fragile on the outside, but had a thick, tough shell around your heart on the inside.
During the sweaty-hot hours we spent together that week, could you sense that I loved you more than you had ever been loved before?
Your daddy and brothers and sisters and I had already accepted you without hesitation or reservation.
We wanted you just as you were.
You didn’t need to be cleaned up before we would touch you. You didn’t need to be lovely before we would love you. You didn’t need to be healthy and whole, or even functional, before we would accept you into our family.
We knew that you had been severely damaged by many years of being unloved.
We didn’t know if you would ever be able to learn any new skills, take care of your own needs, or love us back.
Did any of these things matter to us?
No, they didn’t matter. Adopting you was not about fulfilling some need in me or in us as a family. We didn’t adopt you because we needed you to do something for us. You didn’t need to prove your worth to us.
It was enough for us that you would finally be safe at home where you belonged.
You would finally be fully loved and fully accepted.
One splendid day, we walked out of the Pleven orphanage with you in our arms, little daughter.
It felt as if our hearts would burst with joy. The law had been satisfied. You were finally free, and at the same time, you now belonged to us. It is as if you were condemned to die, but before your death sentence could be carried out, you were born again into a new family.
Now that you were free to live, if we truly loved you, we would give you everything you asked for, right?
You didn’t want us to feed you, let alone help you to feed yourself.
You didn’t want us to get too close. If we crossed over the line into your space, you reacted by pulling away or getting agitated.
You couldn’t bear direct eye contact.
You preferred to stay detached from reality.
You didn’t know how to play appropriately.
You didn’t want to touch objects within your range, or even have them in your line of vision.
You didn’t tolerate a supported sitting position for more than a few seconds.
What made you most comfortable was to be ignored in the bed.
If anything represented work, challenge, or difficulty to you, you pushed it away.
In the past seven months, my little daughter, we have stretched you as you were never stretched before.
In the beginning, simply our presence in your life was an intense challenge for you. Why?
Because we did not ignore you.
Our presence was an expectation of interaction, and that was very uncomfortable for you.
And now, the stronger you grow, the harder the work we ask of you.
Why do we keep upping the ante?
Why didn’t we, why don’t we let you sit peacefully on the sidelines? You could still be reclining in a Nap Nanny, messing your diapers, being fed through a tube, and watching others work and play. That would not make your value to us any less. But you are capable of learning to do so much more.
Do our expectations of you mean we no longer fully accept you, or that our love for you is conditional, or that we are disappointed in you?
Do they mean that now you must earn our approval by showing us constant effort and achievement?
That now you must work, work, work to prove to us that you are worthy to be our child?
No! You don’t have to prove your worth in order to be our child!
You are our child!
Nothing you can do will make you more or less our child!
That legal decision was made by the judge eight months ago! The case is closed!
You are ours and we are yours!
We can see your limitations. We know your frame, and remember that you are dust. We can see the terrible damage done by the enemy, the damage to your emotions and body and brain. Some of the damage will be healed, and some will stay with you until the end of your days.
We are gentle and understanding and compassionate with you. We open ourselves to you so that you can learn to trust our love for you. We take immense delight in richly and abundantly providing for your needs.
And we stretch you in the ways we know are most needful and effective for you. We expect, interact, motivate, model, correct, praise. We set the bar high, then we meet you where you are. We provide just the instruction and support you need to help you meet the challenge.
We know you, Katie.
Because we know you, we also know what you need. This is part of what you need, and loving parents make sure their children have their needs met. We can so clearly see what you cannot see at all. This path of struggle and hard work leads to far greater rewards! Greater satisfaction! Greater joy!
Giving you what makes you feel most comfortable would not be a loving thing to do to you, Katie. If we didn’t have a vision for your life that stretched you beyond your comfort zone, we could not claim to truly love you.
How do we know what true love looks like?
As we turn our faces upward to our Heavenly Father, He shows us how to love you best.
He doesn’t have any children without special needs, you see.
And we do love you, so much.
Giving my life for yours, precious child, with the strength that comes from the One who gave His life for me,
“God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.” ~Leighton Ford