Sorry for the delay in posting this, friends. I am seriously up to my eyeballs in packing. Time seems to have run away from us–being so ridiculously far behind. We have just two more days to get everything done. Yikes.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the emails and comments I have received asking me about how Hailee is doing. I truly do appreciate your concern so very much.
Hailee is doing okay. Not great–just okay. Most of our days with her are long and quite tiring. Some days are better than others. She is struggling to adjust to her new norm. She is easily overstimulated. She is a picky eater. She cannot eat any solid food. Sleep is an issue. She cries a lot. When she’s not crying, she is usually fussy. She bites her little fingers until they are swollen. In fact, by looking at the perpetual swelling and horrible callouses, it looks like she’s been making lunch of her fingers her entire life. Hailee also still scratches behind her ears, and we’re battling to see the infection go because of it. There are literal slits back there, where she’s tried to separate the ears from her little head. Taking her out of the house is difficult–all too much for our sweetheart. She is showing a lot of autistic behaviors. Hailee is just struggling in general.
But who can blame her? Certainly not us. Hailee’s world has been rocked–turned upside down and inside out. For a child who has spent five long years in a crib, only being taken out to be changed and fed, this is HUGE for our sweetie. It is almost too much at times. The world outside of what she knows must, in many ways, be a very scary place.
Hailee got a rotten deal in life, sweet friends. No child deserves what she endured. NO CHILD! No child should ever be treated like an uncared for animal or a plant. No child deserves to be locked up in a room–never to feel the warmth of the sun on their sweet little face. Not once in their lives. No child deserves to be confined to a crib 24/7.
It is no wonder our precious little jewel is having a hard time. She knows nothing but sorrow and misery. Every behavior and habit she displays is simply her way of dealing with her previous reality. I’m sure that I too would bang my head on anything I could find, gnaw on my fingers, rip at my ears, make strange clicking sounds, rock back and forth constantly, grind my teeth to the bone, be unable to make eye contact, and struggle with sensory overload if I had lived in Hailee’s shoes. Actually, come to think of it, I probably would have given up and died a very long time. I am not as strong as my daughter. She is a fighter. Honestly, knowing everything we do about Hailee’s previous life, we are very surprised that she survived long enough for us to get to her. God forbid she would have been transferred to the mental asylum (which happens to every orphan with special needs around their fourth birthday in the Ukraine). That would have been a death sentance. I’m told that ninety-five percent of orphans with Down syndrome die in these horrific places.
Remembering Hailee’s past helps us keep things in perspective as we navigate the present.
I would be completely misleading you all if I told you that things here at home have been a walk in the park since we got home from the Ukraine. They have not. Our days are challenging. Hearing a child cry for hours and hours gets tiring after a while. I literally fall into bed at night, exhausted. It’s my reality right now.
I have been thinking a lot about Hailee, adoption, our family, and everything in-between recently.
Hailee’s struggles are not so unique. The reality of adoption is that it is hard most of the time. Sure, there are wonderful adoption success stories where everything is hunky dory, bonding is beautiful, and the child adjusts instantly. We’ve had one of those. Our Hannah-Claire literally waved goodbye to China and made us her family instantly. It was a beautiful thing. Harper would fit into that category too. But, as many of you know, sometimes the adoption road is darn hard! It takes every ounce of strength and courage we can find.
We always felt in our hearts that adding Hailee to our family would take faith, sticking to what the Lord called us to do, and trusting Him day by day. We were right. This has been our toughest adoption. We’re learning how to parent a little girl who has suffered at the hands of orphanage staff as I posted here. We’re learning how to meet the needs of a little angel who is so malnourished and tiny. And, we’re trusting the Lord daily for wisdom in knowing what is wrong with her when she cries–without tears–for hours on end. I’m sure she ran out of tears years ago. Nothing left for the Lord to collect in his vial.
Hailee is already teaching me so much, friends. Through this tiny child I am seeing so many things in my life that need to be rooted out. Things that have no place in my walk with the Lord. In learning to parent Hailee, God is teaching me more about Him, more about the things that break His heart in two, more about the things He longs to see His Body fulfill on this earth.
My heart has been forever changed in the last few weeks. I will never be the same again. The things I used to hang on to and hold so dear to my heart now seem so trivial. I look at sweet Hailee struggling to adjust and I am so thankful that she even has this opportunity to adjust to a new life. Sadly, many do not. She will learn. She will grow. It may take years–but it will happen. I know that the things we are experiencing with her now are so temporary compared to the rest of her life.
Adoption is NOT for the faint of heart, friends. All of us who have adopted knows that to be a fact. EVERY orphan deserves a family. It does not matter whether they are “brain damaged” or “bang their heads on a crib”…they ALL deserve the love of a mommy and a daddy. Just as we would never love our biological children any less if they were born with special needs, so we adore our adopted children. In our eyes they are fearfully and wonderfully made JUST the way they are. It’s as simple as that. Yes, we may have to “count the cost” to bring these special children home, but dang it, following Jesus was never meant to be easy.
In the midst of the trials and the long days, I am so thankful. I know that God is using this experience to stretch and grow me. I know that He is using this time in my life to weed out the stuff that has no place in my life, and replace it with seed that can grow. It is during the toughest seasons of my life (like this) that I have grown more in my relationship with Him, more in His grace that He gives me. It has been, in those moments where I have felt like I am hanging on for dear life, that I sense His presence so intimately. I don’t want to take the easy road in this life. I don’t. I don’t want to take the road that is trial free and smooth sailing all the time. I know that I would never grow as a Christian. It is in the valley that I am forced to cling to my Savior so that HE can help me get back onto the mountain top.
Hailee is a priceless treasure in our family. We know the hard times will get easier and easier. This road is not new to us. When we brought Haven home eighteen months ago, we wondered if she would ever overcome her fears and blossom into a little girl who could cope with her surroundings. Goodness, the change in her life in such a short time (a year and a half) has been breathtaking. She has gone from a timid, fearful, unhappy child to a little girl who is full of joy and loving her life. The fact that she is non-verbal and delayed is nothing to us. Haven communicates with us in so many other ways–words are unnecessary. We know that some day she will find her voice, but until she does we’ll find other ways to communicate with her. We have seen a radical transformation in a child with our own eyes–we know Hailee is going to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Things can only get better.
And so we’re taking one day at a time here in the Salem house. It is all good. Hailee is learning to trust us a little more each and every day. She will learn that she is safe here. Her autistic behaviors will become less and less. The crying will eventually stop. Her scars will eventually heal. It just takes time, prayer and heaps of love. We’re learning as we go. I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful we are for the opportunity to be her parents. She has blessed our lives already. We cannot imagine not having Hailee here with us. The good times are glorious and the difficult times make us press into the Lord more, trusting Him for complete healing in our daughter’s life.
Hailee’s road to emotional healing has begun and we can hardly wait to see what the Almighty Father is going to do in her life. Healing rain IS falling down.
Thank you for your amazing support. You bless me more than you will ever know, sweet friends.
** Thank you, precious Jeanne, for the most adorable outfit. I am going to miss you something awful.