It feels like yesterday, and it feels like a lifetime ago that I carried her frail, sick, emaciated, broken little body out of an orphanage in Eastern Europe. Tears ran down my face as we drove away from the only place that she had known as home for nearly fifteen years. I looked back one last time and whispered a prayer of gratitude for the fifteen years that God had miraculously sustained her in that very dark place.
It had been a nine-month journey to get us to that point of finally being able to take Hasya home. Nine months of endless paperwork and red tape that goes with every adoption. Nine months of waiting and praying that she would hold on for just another day. And another. And another. We knew the reality for children like our daughter-to-be.
So many abandoned in horrendous places like hers simply become too weak to hold on and eventually they pass away. Alone. It’s more common than we’re willing to talk about—these children who have no worth or value and are deemed unworthy of even the basic necessities of life.
The Lord, He is faithful.
From the moment that we got in the car that day to take Hasya back to our hotel, she cried. Inconsolable sobbing. She had been taken out of the only environment she had ever known and she was beyond terrified.
The sounds, the smells, the new people—it was all just too much and she struggled to adjust to the upheaval in her world.
We only later found out that she is nearly completely blind. Not being able to see and having all the changes were just too much for our tiny, fragile girl. For days she vacillated between desperate sobbing and screaming.
As I sat in our hotel room doing anything and everything I knew to do to try and console her, I wept. I wept for her, and I cried tears for our family waiting for us back home. Every fear that I had wrestled with over the previous nine months seemed to be unfolding before my eyes.
“God! How can I parent this child? I don’t know how to be her mother.”
“God! How will this affect our other children?”
“God! What if I fail her?”
I could not see further than one moment at a time. In that hotel room, I was faced with all of my frailty and my weakness and my humanness. Sitting in the dark and holding onto my distraught, emaciated daughter who refused to eat or drink a single thing, feeling utterly helpless and desperate, I had a fresh revelation of how Moses felt in all of his inadequacy as he wrestled with God using him to lead an entire people. Though my situation paled by comparison, the magnitude of it felt so heavy on my weary shoulders that night. Despair felt like it would consume me.
I had never felt so ill-equipped in my entire life for what lay ahead.
The flight home will more than likely always be remembered as one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Hasya screamed the entire way home and by the time we landed on American soil, her body was shutting down from malnourishment, dehydration, exhaustion and the extreme stress she had endured. It was all just too much, and she began to fade fast. She was admitted into the hospital where we spent the next few weeks. We fed her mere drops of formula at a time because too much nutrition at once would have killed her. And in those days as we ran test after test, her list of diagnoses became longer—some things we had never even heard of. Anthony and I were on the fast track to learning how to care for her many needs.
Not a day went by when there was not a new group of doctors and residents at her bedside taking notes and asking questions. Never had they seen a child of her age in her condition…alive. How was it even possible that this teenager was the size of an infant, they asked me time and time again.
The consensus was unanimious…
…It was a miracle that she had survived fifteen years of unfathomable neglect.
For the many weeks that followed, Hasya fought. Her tiny body fought for healing. Her desperately frail, fifteen-year-old, nineteen-pound body fought for the health and wellness that had been stolen from her.
And God began to take me on a beautiful journey that I never knew would be part of my barely whispered, fearful, yet willing “yes” to adopting a fourteen-year-old girl who weighed just fourteen pounds. Even in those early days of Hasya being my daughter, I began to learn a truth that the world forgets…
…There is beauty in brokenness.
The brokenness in my daughter.
And the brokenness in me, too.
This sweet daughter of mine has been one of my greatest teachers in this life. Through the blessing and absolute honor and privilege that I have had of being her mother for the past seven years, I have learned more about what truly matters and the source of pure joy. I have learned about the things that are important enough to hold onto, and value of letting go of the clutter that weighs me down–materially and emotionally.
In the past seven years, Hasya has thrived. Now weighing just fifty pounds at twenty-two years old, she is still very little. But oh my goodness, don’t judge her by her tininess! This young lady has more courage, more hope, more determination, more love, more life, and more pure joy than most people triple her size. To her, every day is an adventure, and she is always up for a ride in the car, sitting in a coffee shop, or just going on an outing to the grocery store. Our girl is always up for the next trip out of the house. How far she has come! Every single day she goes where we go and never gets left out of anything.
And so many days I look at my sweet daughter and I wonder. Would I have been able to survive what she did? Would I have been able to come out on the other side of so much loss and pain with the joy that she has? Would I have been able to turn such tragedy into a testimony to God’s goodness? The sad truth is that even up until a couple of years ago, I don’t think I could have. I have been far more inclined to run away from hardship and pain, rather than face it head on. There have been so many times in my own life that I have struggled to see God’s hand, His grace, and His goodness in pain and suffering.
Yes, it is true. Had Hasya not been adopted, she would not be alive. When God reached down from heaven on that Spring day in 2012 and chose two people who were probably the very last in line for the job, but were willing, and He called us to go and bring her home, our lives changed forever. But not in the way that most people tried to caution us about bringing home a severely disabled child. And not in the way that would validate every fear I had on the day that I tried to console my new daughter in the hotel in a faraway land. No, definitely not!
The Father knew that we were the ones who needed rescuing.
We needed to be rescued from holding tightly onto our own lives.
We needed to be rescued from believing that chasing the American dream mattered more than chasing the call on our lives.
We needed to be rescued from our fleshly desires and so often forgetting to seek His Kingdom above all things. ALL things!
We needed to be rescued from caring about the opinions of man instead of the only opinion that matters more to us than anything in the world. His and His alone!
And He used a child in desperate need to change us from the inside out. We don’t get it right every day. We still do wrestle with all of the things of this world that pull us away every day. But God! By His amazing grace, I am learning.
I am learning to find beauty in the broken, hard places of our lives.
I am learning to find unspeakable joy in the midst of trials and when things don’t go our way.
I am learning to find peace and contentment when the storms of life come our way and when my only hope is trusting the One who calms the seas.
And I am learning how to be courageous like my daughter.
Today, as I look at my sweet girl sitting happily in her wheelchair, enjoying the warm Spring day, I don’t see a body that is less than perfect. I don’t see a young lady who is unable to speak or make her needs known to me. I don’t look at her and see a young lady for whom the world has all different kinds of labels.
I look at Hasya and I see just one thing…
I see beauty in every crooked toe and eyes that don’t see.
I see beauty in legs that can’t stand and a body that will never walk.
I see beauty in every broken place that He has made whole.
I look at my Hasya and I see the love of a God in heaven poured out daily just for her.
And really, we’re the same, my daughter and I…
…broken vessels in the hands of a faithful Potter who’s grace and mercy make all things beautiful in His time.