Exactly four years ago, Anthony and I were in an apartment in Ukraine with our two newly adopted daughters. We had recently made the grueling train ride from the place of their birth to Kiev with our precious girls who both have Down syndrome. We were more than ready to head home!
Harper was so young and just loving all of the attention she was receiving. At two years of age, her little heart had found a home and she was lapping up the cuddles.
Hailee, on the other hand, was desperately struggling!
We sat on the floor that day with our just-turned five-year-old who was disoriented, afraid, manic, and completely out of sorts, and I wrote THIS POST.
Weighing in at just 14 pounds, our tiny Hailee was battling terribly to adjust. She knew no other life but that of a crib and was suffering from the horrendous side effects of being given an adult tranquilizing drug for five years! She had slept most of her life away thanks to that awful medication (after all, a sleeping child is an easy child). Touch was torturous! Being outdoors was frightening. Having SPACE was terrifying (after being confined to four sides of a tiny crib). She was so drugged that she was hardly able to sit alone. The backs of her ears were raw and horribly infected from being constantly scratched and pulled on. Her sweet little head bore the scars of the self-harming, self-soothing behavior of being banged up against crib bars. She was so agitated and literally unable to cope with life outside of those tiny walls.
She cried and wailed. Endlessly!
The emotional trauma of being taken out of the only (tiny) environment that she had ever known was just too much for our fragile darling.
Anthony and I dealt with every emotion in the book in those days. Beyond exhausted and in survival mode, we wondered what the future would look like with this little girl who we felt God call us to go and bring home.
We knew that life would never be the same again.
But what we didn’t know four years ago was that the journey would turn out so very differently to what we ever imagined it could.
Because when God calls us to lay our lives down for the sake of one of His precious children, not only is it for the good of the child who needs us…
…but it’s also for OUR good.
As I tried to bond with my little girl in those weeks in Ukraine, I confess that there were many days when I looked at her and asked of the Lord, “Why this one, Lord?”
“How can I parent a child whom I have NO idea how to care for?”
“How can I fall in love with a fragile little girl who wants absolutely nothing to do with me?”
“How can I be a good mother to a child who is so very broken, so desperately needy?”
I cried so many tears in those weeks. In all my humanness and with my miniscule mustard seed of faith, I had no idea how this adoption was going to work out. I was beyond intimidated at the mere thought of navigating a road that I knew nothing about.
I had previously been that mother—the one who begged the Lord for healthy babies. I had been the mom who scrutinized every ultrasound making sure that there were no abnormalities.
And here I was. My very comfortable life as I once knew it up on the altar.
Was I really willing to learn sacrificial love?
Fear rose up in my heart too many times to count.
But in the quietness of the night, after spending long days with the two children who we were about to commit to adopting, when I dug so deep in my faith, I knew this one thing with absolute certainty:
When God calls us and we say yes…our yes must be yes! I knew that by putting my life, my heart, my family, my dreams and desires, and my obedience on the table…
…I could simply never go back!
Fear could never make me walk away from what God had called us to do.
Because I knew a truth so deep down in my own heart.
When God calls His people, He equips us with everything that we need to do the job with excellence. He never promises us that it will be easy, but He does promise us that He will lead and guide us every step of the way—holding our hands through the trials and giving us peace in the valley.
He never abandons us on the mission field!
I learned what it means to CLING in those days!
To CLING with everything that I had!
It’s blurry, but it’s our first picture together. Tiny Hailee at nearly five years of age.
God has taught me so much through this child. I cringe when I recall how many times I wanted an easier road four years ago. I’m ashamed at how little faith I had to trust my God in heaven…knowing that He was exceedingly, abundantly able to do immeasurably more than what I could ever hope or dream of. Now, I weep at the thought of this precious little angel not being here with us.
The Father has used Hailee to grow my faith…
…to stretch my heart’s capacity to love unconditionally.
…to crucify my selfish, fleshly desires.
And to show me that every single child—no matter how broken, how needy, how unlovely, how sick, how abused, how discarded, how abandoned, how painfully neglected—every child has infinite worth and value.
Every child has HOPE.
Yes, it’s true. Hailee has astounded us in how far she has come. She has blossomed in every way! Of course there are still challenges. But today Hailee is the happiest, most amazing, sweetest, full-of-joy, energetic, loving, koala-bear-cuddling, 31-pound little girl you will ever meet. God sure has done such a redeeming miracle in her life. She is a new creation in every sense of the word.
But, the greatest change?
That definitely would be in me!
I am no longer the same person I was four years ago. God has used this one child on the planet to change me from the inside out. I see things differently because God knew that I needed this tiny girl. Truth be told, I needed Hailee so much more than she needed me.
I have learned that God never calls His people to easy. No, He calls us to dig deep in His promises when we’re holding on for dear life.
I have learned that there is so much joy indescribable in pressing in and embracing difficult.
I have learned that when we are faithful…so is He!
I have learned that obedience is absolutely, 100% worth every fear, every tear, every doubt, and every moment when I felt like life as I knew it was about to end (because it sure did, thank goodness!).
And I have learned that there is no sweeter place to be than completely surrendered to the will of God.
I look back today and I am weepy with emotion. To think how easy it would have been to walk away from one of the greatest blessings that the Father could ever have given us is more than my heart can stand.
I just cannot imagine life without my spunky Hailee in it.
Happy 9th Birthday, my darling Hailee. What a joy and a delight you are to us!
Thank you, sweet girl, for showing me time and time again that even when I feel like I can’t, Jesus CAN.