when bones disappear

Our daughter came home when she was five years old. Five years of life lived on her own. Five years of missing a family. And most importantly five years of missing an advocate. Our choices, our decisions, our "yes" and our "no", they all carry a weight of action and consequence. Most days our family lives out our days like any other family. But then there are days like today. The days that set us apart. The days when the past collides with the present and forgotten seasons scream to be noticed again. 

Our daughter's waiting child profile listed not just one, but multiple special needs. She came home with a handful of photographs from her life before we met. They are an incredibly precious gift to both of us. Photos taken for a waiting child's file are different than other pictures.  You can tell when you see them they were meant for a specific purpose. She is about 18 months old in her first one. I have no idea how many agencies listed her over the years or if any other families ever considered saying yes. There are many questions that will forever remain unanswered. But I do know that the waiting made a difference. 

A child's referral gives you a fuzzy picture of the child you are adopting. Sometimes things turn out better than what is written down, sometimes things are missing and sometimes things are much worse than you expected. We took our girl to many specialists after touching ground in America. For months we had dreamed of getting her treatment and beginning therapy. Much of what we heard was exactly what we expected and we were ready. But it was the unexpected that has written a huge chapter in her story. 

The imaging of her skeletal structure was concerning. Our orthopedic surgeon looked at her and then looked at the images and back again with a look of confusion mixed with frustration and empathy. And then came the words that I wrestle with to this day. "Her images should not look like this."  It is common for children with Cerebral Palsy to have hip displaygsia. That is, it is common for children who cannot walk because of their CP to have hip displaygsia.  But our girl can walk.  

As she discovered words in English to tell her story, we discovered more pieces to the puzzle. Hours spent alone in a crib mimic time spent in a wheelchair. And when you are only given what you need to survive and nothing more, well, that pretty much eliminates intensive physical therapy. When we signed on the line that we were coming for her, she was moved to a larger orphanage in a nearby city for physical therapy for a few months. At this point she was already four years old and the years of effective preventative therapy had already passed. Too little, too late. 

Three years ago her orthopedic surgeon reformed the structure of her hip using her own bone. It was an effort to erase some mistakes from the past and prevent further pain in the future. It seemed to work. Every image over the past two years has shown a beautiful curve.  Every image until last week. "Bone Re-absorption". Two words we knew were a small possibility, but prayed we would never hear. Words that bring back so many old emotions and a rewrestling of days I cannot rewrite. Some questions have no solid answer this side of eternity. In today it always comes back to trusting the One who made her, the God who knows all her days, the Father who loves her more than I can even imagine. The God who understands, the God who sees, the God who takes our brokenness and makes all things beautiful.

I cannot change what has been so I will advocate for what could be. I meet men and women all the time who tell me they had always thought about adopting but the years passed by without them ever taking action and now the season has passed.  You see them rethinking past choices as they thank me for following through with the calling they once ignored. All of us are called to care for orphans and widows in some way. Not everyone is called to grow their family through adoption. However, after hearing this story of regret from so many,  I do believe that many who are called to adoption never follow through. Many children are waiting on your someday to become today.

Ready to learn more about adoption?

Want to learn more about being an advocate for waiting children and helping with their medical needs?

We don't know the whole story but our daughter had a cleft palette repair while she was living in China. Every specialist that has looked in her mouth is in awe of the excellence in work.  I have no doubt that her surgery was provided by an organization like the ones I have listed above. It can seem insignificant to give a donation online to one of these groups, but the couple of moments you give to click on the link will forever change the life of a child. 


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