I can hardly believe that it has been four and a half years since we traveled to China to adopt Haven. How time has flown!
I remember arriving home back in 2008 with this little girl who literally cowered away in a corner if she felt threatened or unsafe. She had been adopted before, but just five days after legally adopting her, the family felt like they were unable to parent this child and left China empty-handed. She had no words, had been hurt by people, and had suffered the unthinkable. Haven had shut down and lost her ability to use words. With a diagnosis of PTSD and profound intellectual delays, every single doctor and therapist had the same advice. “Give her six months and she will absolutely start speaking,” they all told us.
Four and a half years later and Haven still does not use words.
And you know what?
People ask us all the time, “Will she ever find her voice?” “Will Haven ever be able to communicate with words?”
Honestly? We have no idea! We don’t focus on the future and the what-if’s. God’s Word tells us not to worry about tomorrow, but to trust Him for today. That’s good advice.
Today Haven is doing well! Over the past three months we have seen such tremendous growth in our twelve-year-old daughter. Every single little step that she takes toward more independence and toward learning how to take care of her own needs is a beautiful victory, an opportunity to praise God for what He is doing in her life.
Like the fact that for the first time since being home, Haven is being so much more assertive. In the past, she would not acknowledge any kind of need whatsoever. Nothing! Haven would leave food dripping out of her mouth or not lick her lips to keep them from chapping. She would even rather dehydrate than go to the fridge to get a drink. But not these days. These days Haven will happily go and get herself a drink or a snack if she sees the other children having one. It’s something you take for granted when raising “typical” children. For someone like Haven, who is so extremely passive, being assertive and acknowledging need is just enormous! I get giddy when I see her reaching into the cupboard herself, getting a cup and going to the fridge to get a drink. Glorious!
And the fact that she is actually playing with her siblings. Haven loves Hailee and Harper. Harpy will chase her around the house and Haven absolutely loves it. She will belly laugh until she is exhausted. Sweet music to our ears.
And the fact that for the first time since coming home, last weekend she was able go and watch a movie with her big siblings and sit through the entire thing without melting down. Victory!
And we rejoice over the fact that she is learning better hygiene and is able to take care of herself a little more than she used to. She’s getting there!
And the fact that is finally mastering the art of using a fork and a knife to cut her food!
And the fact that she can actually put together a 100-piece puzzle all on her own. It takes time, but she can do it! Huge!
And she is learning to stay in the lines when she colors a picture.
And her receptive language is getting so, so much better. We are always amazed at how much she understands.
Oh, and we always know when Hailee or Harper are getting into mischief. Follow Haven’s giggles and you will always find one of the little ones unraveling a roll of toilet paper, pouring rice all over the floor, adorning their faces with permanent marker, decorating the walls with the same, or helping themselves to a snack out of the pantry. Haven thinks it’s positively hilarious when they are doing something she knows they should not do. Funny girl.
Haven works so hard with her therapists. As with all things, she has to trust and feel safe in order to participate. Safety is everything for a child with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She loves her therapists and is finally at a place where she cooperates with them and loves spending time with them. When they walk in the door, she goes to them willingly. That in itself is huge.
Is raising an intellectually delayed, non-verbal child easy? Nope! Not always. We definitely have had moments when the journey has had its challenges, when we have needed answers and direction. But God’s grace is ever present, isn’t it? His grace to meet us where we are and equip us with what we need to parent our children. Raising any child is not always easy. Raising Haven is no different.
Anthony and I have learned so much in raising this beautiful girl the Father has graciously loaned to us for such a short time here on earth.
We have learned that “success” with our children is not a one-size-fits-all thing.
We have learned to go at her pace, not ours.
We have learned that when children do not reach milestones, that’s perfectly okay.
We have learned to focus on what she can do, not on what she cannot do.
We have learned to let go of the expectations!
And we have learned that in spite of what many may feel, children cannot be “fixed.” Can they be assisted to become the very best that they can be? Absolutely! But never “fixed.” Only God can mend a broken heart and restore what the locusts have eaten. Only God can breathe healing into their spirits and new life into their beings. As a parent, we pray without ceasing and we go to the ends of the earth to help our children to learn, grow, and become all who God has created them to be. But the outcome we leave in His capable hands.
So what does the future look like for our sweet girl? We really have no clue.
But we do know this one thing: He who holds her in the palm of His hand has never, ever let her go. God promises Haven hope and a future…
Even if she never utters a single word.
Even if she lives with us for the rest of her life.
Even if she stays exactly the way she is right now.
What a beautiful gift this blossoming young lady is! No words can express what a treasure Haven is to our family. We are so, so thankful that God chose us–even when we wondered if we had what it took to parent a child with profound emotional issues and delays.
We love you, precious one! Keep shining for Jesus.