Letter to my newest daughter

June 13th, 2012


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 workchallenge, 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









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34 Responses to “Letter to my newest daughter”

  1. Samantha says:

    I love that there is such blatant evidence of God in this world (as mere humans, we need that!)  Katie is such an example of strength and beauty and why we need to open our eyes to “the least of these..”  Thank you for such a poignant letter to your angel!

  2. Elizabeth in NC says:

    Love! Love, love, love. Katie is a precious gift and miracle from God. Thank you for sharing all of her triumphs!

  3. Jessica says:

    Love love love!  She is so beautiful and I love seeing her so HAPPY.  So excited for all her progress and can’t wait to see what other amazing things God has in store for her.  Through God all things are possible!

  4. Kat says:

    This made my heart sing…beautiful.  I’m going to link to this blog today…

    Your journey is a beautiful inspiration, more than you may know on this earth.  Katie is a beautiful inspiration. 


  5. Ashlee says:

    Love this! I also love your quote about how God does not have any children without special needs! Katie looks so happy and I love to see the progress she’s making! God is working wonders! 

  6. CHRISTINE says:

    She is just precious. <3

    How is she doing with the walker?

    Thank you Susanna for sharing that beautiful letter to Katie. She has changed many lives, just for BEING.

  7. Galit says:

    OMG! When I saw Katie in that walker I just burst into tears! Your family is such n inspiration to me!

  8. Shirley says:

    I don’t have the words to describe the beauty of this post. Such a pure outpouring of love – its wonderful. Thank you Susanna for sharing this. I’m humbled every time I see Katie’s smile…. (and isn’t she turning into a stunningly beautiful little lady???)
    How is little Verity?
    Shirley (Switzerland)

  9. Tara says:

    What a beautiful picture of what our Father God does for each of us.  This brought tears to my eyes (as so many of your blog posts do!). 

  10. Susanna says:

    Christine, I had that walker set to go only forward, and she had to work hard to get all the way up that sidewalk, as it’s a slight incline.  We are so proud of her!

    Shirley, thank you for asking about Verity!  I’m hoping to put together a two-year update to be published somewhere in the general neighborhood of her birthday on the 26th of this month.  :)  I’ve been collecting photos, which isn’t the easiest with Verity because she moves so fast now! 

  11. Desi says:

    I am speechless and overwhelmed with emotion at reading this beautiful post. 

  12. Deanna says:


    I love that you said God doesn’t have any children who aren’t special needs children!  We all need HiS love and care.  Katie is thriving because of love, and God’s grace, but all the children need that love even if they don’t respond like Katie did!

  13. Michelle says:

    All children deserve to be loved like this.  I’m so grateful to our Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly. 

  14. Brianna D. says:

    Thank you for sharing this letter to your sweet daughter.  I can clearly see throughout the whole post  the analogy of God’s love for His children.  I am encouraged so much by your example of turning your face to our Heavenly Father, and how He is pouring out His love through you! 
    Your love for Katie is indeed a powerful picture of Christ’s love for us.  May many who see you also give glory to the Lord.  
    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)

  15. sabrina says:


    I love the balance you share in acceptance of Katie just the way she is and your encouragement of her to continue to reach her full potential. This is a help to me as I shape my own mothering approach for our daughter whom we are waiting for. Without being intentional, I think that I would tend toward complete acceptance and then lower my expectations too much. I don’t want her to miss out. It’s so inspirational to see how far Katie has come in such a short time.

  16. Holly says:

    Susannah – you are so busy, so I dislike asking a thing from you – but is there anyway to add a facebook share button on your posts?  Several times I have wanted to share (and I still can, of course….) but wonder if even more people might share your posts if it’s a click of a button?  God bless you – sending much love to your family. 

    Holly – mama to nine lovely ones…

  17. Mary says:

    Oh how beautiful Susanna, Thank you for always sharing your heart with us.

  18. So happy God gave Katie a mama like you!

  19. Makenzie says:

    I have been following your blog now for a few weeks, and I just had to say this was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart and sharing Katie’s story with us!

  20. Susanna says:

    Holly, thank you for asking!  Joseph added a few sharing buttons to the blog a few weeks back, but they only show up at the bottom of a particular post if you click on the title, like so:  


    Does that make sense?  Please let me know if it doesn’t work for you.  I wanted to make it easier for readers to help spread the word about waiting children!

  21. cindy says:

    Susanna, you write so well, to the point but in such a way to allude to many Biblical things; it’s lovely.  You must do well teaching your children to write.  The pics are great, she’s so full of life and making such strides, literally it seems.  Your family is a challenge to each of us to ‘push and stretch’ for what God wants us to be.

  22. Judee Albert says:

    Love the hair!!!

  23. Jennifer says:

    We often believe our future son is sentenced to death and we have been given the exquisite privilege to parent him – someday soon we hope!  It still amazes me how different this precious child is.  As a mother already to a daughter with special needs, it is exciting to see the changes that take place, even as we must readjust our thinking to where her needs are.  Yet we push her and help her to be the best child she can be.  That is our hope for both of our children.  I hope we can meet our little boy very soon!

  24. Kristi says:

    Beautiful. Beautiful.

  25. Wanda says:

    I love you Dear friend and am so thankful for each update !

  26. Cinderellamommy says:

    Amazing, miraculous, wonderful … these could, and do, describe so many things:  your beautiful Katie, your lovely & loving family, our Father’s love for us all… Thank you for continually sharing your heart and mother’s wisdom with us all.  You bless not only your family, but also so many of us.  I have no doubt that you are also drawing many hearts closer to God and His work.  Bless you, all. 

  27. Samantha says:

    Absolutely beautiful!  This post, little Katie, your family.  All beautiful.  And it thrills me to see Katie in the walker.  The progress she has made in the 8 months she has been a part of your family is nothing short of amazing.  Thank you for sharing Katie’s and Verity’s (and your entire family) story with us. 

  28. Rita from Spain says:


  29. Jill says:

    so much joy in her eyes! what love can do!!!

  30. Amy Joss says:

    An amazing and beautiful presentation of the Gospel – and our love for these children.  All Glory to our Heavenly Father and Christ our Redeemer.  Thank you for your beautiful words and opening your life up for others to see…sometimes we have to see some one walk the path first – just like we have seen Christ walk the redemption road for us.  Thank you.

  31. Christina says:

    Thank you for preaching the gospel with your very lives – you encourage me in godly living in so many ways.  God bless your whole family dear Susanna!  

  32. Ali says:

    I cannot get over how much she has grow…she is so precious! 

  33. Holly says:

    Thanks, Susannah!  I “get” it!  :)  Sorry to be dense!  :)

  34. betsy m says:

    I was thinking about your blog tonight, and the name of it. Please don’t ever change it.

    You said that you had Verity’s name picked out before you conceived her. You prayed for her by name. You asked God for Verity – Veritas – Truth. He sent you Truth that you could not ignore. Not only this beautiful girl, but this child who healed/opened/fortified/transformed your heart. Through her your eyes were opened to a child of yours thousands of miles away. Through her you saved that child – your Katie.
    As Christians we know that there is a huge difference between truth and fact – truth is deeper and more profound. In Roman Mythology, Veritas (the goddess of Truth), is the mother of the goddess of Virtue. In Greek Mythology, Virtue and her sister Harmonia are known as the exactors of Justice.
    You asked God for Truth, he gave you Truth in a person and beyond. This Truth opened your eyes and mind and heart, and has led so many other families to finding their children far away, has opened the eyes of a country (or parts of it) to the tragic truth of these poor neglected children, leading them on a path of justice for these children.
    You asked God to bless you with a girl to name Verity – he gave you her and her inescapable blessing led you to Truth, Virtue, and Justice.
    The Blessing of Verity indeed!
    You are constantly in our prayers. Take care of your beautiful family and hold them tight. Never doubt your path, or the effect you can have on the world. :-)

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