I saw you watching us for a while as you sat across from us in that waiting room with a serious expression on your face, while I juggled one child in a carrier and the other in a stroller. You looked unhappy or uncomfortable (and I can totally understand either of those responses). You finally smiled after we talked to each other. And then you told me that I must have my hands full.
I could have given you some cheesy line about how my hands are full but so is my heart. But I didn't. I told you the truth. I told you that we adopted these two kiddos and that the first few weeks home were really hard, but that we've found our groove now and our days are pretty smooth. I told you that although we certainly have hard moments, my kids are really good kids. And then you looked at me quizzically, probably questioning in your mind if it was true. I guess I could have given you a list of all of the doctors and store employees who are so amazed at how well the kids do when we are out and how well they listen, but I don't think that would have done it justice. I don't think that was the point.
I think you doubted there could possibly be easy days with my little girl, that most days could be easy. You saw a child with special needs. What you don't know is that she has cerebral palsy. That her medical records say she was born premature around 21 weeks. That she had a massive brain hemorrhage when she was born. That she was in the NICU for six months after her birth fighting for her life. That she was fighting for her life all alone for those six months...a one pound, one ounce baby struggling to survive all on her own, with only the Lord fighting for her. And she did survive. But that she spent the next five years of her life in an orphanage where no one nurtured her or taught her or helped her talk or walk or sit up.
Where you see a seemingly awkward, very delayed little girl, I see God's grace. I see a miracle. A miracle of a girl who never should have survived after her super early birth. A miracle of a little girl trusting her new parents after experiencing so much hurt. A miracle of a little girl just discovering life and coming alive.
Most of the time, I don't see her special needs. I just see my daughter. I see a loud and silly little girl who thrives on snuggles and lots of attention. I see a girl whose happy place is Mommy and Daddy's arms. I see a fighter. I see a girl who works extra hard every day to do the things I take for granted, like sitting up. I see a girl with a sensitive heart and a lot of hurt to unravel and heal. I see a girl who surprises us everyday by how quickly she learns new things. I see a girl who is being taught to use her spunk and tenacity for good.
She was certainly loud in that waiting room. And while it may have looked like I had my hands full working to quiet down her silly giggles (so as not to disturb you and the others around us in the quiet waiting room), wiping the drool off her mouth when she blew raspberries, and stopping her from rocking in her stroller (a new trick she just discovered while we were waiting there), I was actually really amazed that she was laughing genuinely and enjoying this new place.
You see, a couple of months ago, she never would have been comfortable in that doctor's office. She would have let out helpless little whines, ground her teeth, and been much quieter in her overwhelmed state. And although she would have looked "behaved" and maybe even "normal" on the outside a few months ago, she really would have been a scared, overwhelmed mess on the inside. That day you sat across from us was a victory. That day showed how far she has come in four months and how much more she trusts her Mommy and Daddy.
I wish you could know her and see that her special needs do not define her. They are a part of who she is, but they are not all that she is. I wish you could see the girl I see. I wish you could see the miracle that she is and the joy she brings to our lives.