One of the questions I get asked the most is, “How is Haven doing? Is she speaking yet? Is she growing and developing?”
I know, there really is just something so special about Haven. You don’t even need to meet her in real life to know that she is so, so sweet just by looking at her pictures.
It is crazy when I think that Haven has already been home for three years. In many ways, time has absolutely flown by–and yet in others, not so much. I remember the day we committed to adopting her like it was yesterday.
Hearing that she had been legally adopted and it had not worked out, resulting in her being taken back to the orphanage in China, left us heartbroken. We knew all the reasons for the disruption–autism, an inability to attach to people, profound developmental delays, non-verbal, and on and on and on. None of it scared us, though.
Haven was our daughter. Come what may.
I don’t think that anything could ever have prepared me for the day when Haven was placed in our arms. We represented the “white people”–the ones who came to take her away and then return her when we inevitably changed our minds. Eight year olds get that. They understand abandonment. The little angel saw us walk into the building and all we witnessed on her face was sheer terror! She was so afraid of us. Who could blame her? Certainly not us.
It took us several months to try and piece together the big eight-year black hole that was Haven’s past. Some things were obviously impossible to know for sure. Why was she so delayed? What happened to cause this little girl to shut down so completely–to the point of losing all of her communication skills? Though we could not tell exactly and tried to fit small pieces of a very large puzzle together as we went along, one thing that was blatantly obvious is abuse–of the worst kind. Haven had shut down as her way of dealing with what life handed her in an orphanage!
She had suffered at the hands of those who were there to care for her, to protect her.
The last three years have been a journey, for sure. Therapists, doctors and many opinions have all pointed us to one thing–severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not one person has ever been able to tell us whether Haven will ever find her voice and speak. Because of her PTSD, early on in the journey we learned that keeping Haven safe was the most important thing we could ever do for her. Any therapy in a doctor’s office-type environment has failed miserably. She just sees the building and melts down completely. Therapy in a school environment has also been a big failure–she cannot handle it. Any time she feels even the slightest bit threatened, she shuts down completely and refuses to cooperate.
Safety is everything!
Home is where Haven does best. Home is her safe place–her safe refuge. We are so very thankful that we have been able to find a speech therapist to come and work with her here at home. This is where she does best and where she is more likely to at least try and learn and grow.
Has it been easy? Absolutely not! Parenting a hurting child is hard. So many days I just wish I could get inside her head and see for myself what is going on in there. Recently we have been feeling like we take ten steps forward and twenty steps backwards. PTSD is an awful, awful thing! Haven is extremely emotionally fragile–she has to feel safe and secure at all times. She gains ground in some things (which we rejoice in), and then regresses in other areas. There was once a time when we could at least get her to imitate us by making a few basic sounds…but not these days. She refuses to even try and utter a single sound. It’s heartbreaking. Haven is so comfortable in her silent world.
The future? We have no idea. Developmentally, Haven grew in leaps and bounds in the first two years of being home. At eight, she could not even put on her clothes or brush her teeth, she had no idea how to eat with a fork, and could not put together a puzzle with the large cut-out pieces. These days she can do all those things, albeit painfully slowly. She has plateaued developmentally at about a three-year-old level (Haven is eleven). No one has ever been able to tell us whether she has ID (intellectual disability) or whether her delays are associated with her PTSD alone. So, so many unknowns.
And that’s perfectly okay. We don’t dwell on the many unknowns and obsess about her future and what will happen. We just don’t. She’s our Haven…just the way she is.
One thing we are positive of is that God has a plan and a purpose for our beautiful Haven. Of course we pray that some day she will find her voice and be able to communicate with us using words…but if she never does, if she is never able to express herself with words…so be it! We believe that everything is for the Father’s glory! Everything. We know that He will give Haven beauty for ashes–no matter how that looks. And so we continue to pray that HIS will be done in her life, not ours.
As so many of you know, parenting a child who is hurting, has been abused, or struggles with emotional or psychological issues is not for the faint of heart. There are some days when there truly are no answers. But in the midst of it all, we walk in His divine peace that He pours down like rain upon us on a daily basis. I choose to put my faith, my trust, and our daughter in the loving and capable hands of the ONE who knows what He’s doing. When therapies seem to fail left, right and center and even baby steps forward are rarely seen, we put our hope (and Haven’s hope) in Christ!
I believe that every single life is created for His glory. I believe that, as parents, we do everything we humanly can to help a child to become all who God has created them to be (because that’s just what a parent does). But I also believe that we reach a point where we have to wholeheartedly trust that the Perfect Therapist, the ONE who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more in their lives…is able. He promises our daughter hope and a future. And He promises her that everything which was stolen from her (and there was much) WILL be restored to her life. How that looks is not our concern. We simply trust.
Haven’s life has taught me so much. God has used this daughter of ours to stretch and grow me in many ways. As He gently leads us down the path of parenting this precious one who has such deep and unimaginable wounds, He shows me so much about my own life that needs to be weeded out and conformed into the image of Christ. My daughter has been one of my greatest teachers.
No words can ever accurately describe how blessed we feel that God chose us–two people who, once upon a time, felt like we could never, ever parent children who struggled so deeply in this life. I am so thankful that the Father knew best…that He knew that we would certainly have missed out on one of His greatest and most wonderful blessings in our lives.
How blessed we are.