Twelve years ago we stood in a stark civil affairs office waiting to meet our new daughter. We honestly had no idea what to expect. How does a parent prepare their heart to adopt an eight-year-old who is non-verbal, traumatized, terrified, developmentally delayed and had been through more than we ever could have dreamed possible?! As much as we tried to keep open hearts and have zero expectations about what the future would look like, there was only one thing that was unwavering, steadfast…
…Haven was our daughter–the precious one who needed a “safe and sheltered place” as her name means.
No matter what.
I will never forget that day in September 2008. I had butterflies in my stomach as we waited for the orphanage staff to bring her to the place where we were waiting. Haven had been adopted before our family. But that’s all in the past and not worth a moment of rehashing. No matter anyone’s opinion on disruption in adoption, I believe with all of my heart that God’s hand was upon her and that He never let her go. I don’t know why things happen, nor do I understand why God allows it, but I wholeheartedly trust His sovereignty in all things.
The hows, whys, and what-ifs really don’t matter when we trust that God holds it all in His hands.
He really, really does work out ALL things to the good!
Truth be told without hesitation, Anthony and I were most probably the last people who should have stepped up to adopt Haven. Her needs went so far beyond what we were experienced in or equipped to deal with. Up until that point we had lived a fairly uneventful life raising four children who were healthy and doing well. We had no clue about raising non-verbal children, institutionalism, PTSD, trauma, abuse, or developmental delays. Like, zero clue.
But when two unequipped-yet-willing parents raised their hands to be her Mom and Dad, God knew exactly what He was doing. How He loves to take our whispered yes and turn it into something that only He can orchestrate. With all of our inadequacies and flaws and humanness, still He chooses to use us. Such amazing grace that my heart will never understand this side of heaven.
It is so hard for me to believe that 12 years have passed. What a journey it has been!
So much more than Haven needed me, God knew that I needed Haven. Raising this precious daughter has taught me so much. Not just about life and trauma and the complexity of the human brain, but being Haven’s mom has taught me to find my voice and to stand up and shout loudly for the sake of my children. I never used to be that mom before God blessed us with children who needed a voice to help them become exactly who God created them to be. And goodness, have we had to amplify our voices for this darling young lady! We have navigated things we never imagined. But God! He has been so very faithful to Haven…and to us.
I don’t know what the future holds for our sweet Haven. As she quickly heads toward her 20th birthday next month, it is truly with so much gratitude that I can look back and see the hand of God on her life. She is the absolute sweetest and has the best laugh ever. She loves her family and her home and enjoys being around friends. She loves nothing more than to go on outings with either Anthony or me. Haven has come so far in her willingness to try new things and go to new places. And although she still isn’t a big fan of large crowds, she’s always up for an adventure with her family. Home is her safe place and knowing that governs every decision that we make about her future, the activities she can handle, and the places she frequents. We walk a delicate road of encouraging Haven to try new things and not pushing her beyond what she can handle. She’s our fragile, tender little overcomer, and more than anything, we long for her to have an amazing, joy-filled life. Every day of our lives we will continue to fight for what’s best for her.
Thank you, Father, for the blessing of this precious daughter who has shown us your heart and taught us that every single day is a gift from you!