When you start the adoption process, you spend a lot of time thinking about the moment you're going to meet your child. It all boils down to that moment. Maybe it's picture perfect for some people - I guess it has to be, since there seems to be plenty of videos circulating the internet, but I'll venture a guess that it's not that way for most people. Anyway, I digress. So here's our story.
I was nervous, in a time zone 8 hours different from home, jetlagged, and I didn't sleep much at all the night before. Our day started at 6am when our facilitator picked us up for the drive. If my memory is correct, the drive from our apartment to our daughter's region was about 2 hours. And guess what? I get carsick! I honestly didn't even think it would be an issue because I rarely get carsick at home - the roads are straight and smooth and I sit in the front seat. However, in the back seat of a car on bumpy roads is a recipe for me feeling like I'm going to puke all day. So, here I am exhausted, nervous, and nauseous. First stop - the regional social worker's office, where we met the woman whose approval we had to have for our adoption, who then rode with us for the hour drive to the orphanage.
At the orphanage we were ushered into a room and we were surrounded by staff, the social worker, and our facilitators. Then they brought in this little girl - she was ALL OVER THE PLACE. She was in constant motion. No attention, no focus, impossible to reign in. It was as if they had let her out of a cage and she felt she had to move constantly to expend the pent up energy. Forget eye contact or connection or "here are your parents" or picture perfect moments. She was tiny and wild and completely locked in her own world. And while we were trying to take this all in, the staff was bombarding us with information about her and none of it was good. The list of medical concerns was long and scary. Our facilitators told us we didn't have to make a decision today, to take our time. Our translator asked us if we could really help her - not in a rude way, but I think in honest curiosity, because her needs were a lot. A lot. I was nervous & I'll admit that for a little bit I was scared. It was a Thursday and they had told us to visit each day & let us know on Monday. I thought that was a prudent plan. But my husband, he saw it differently. He thought waiting until Monday to file the commitment paperwork was crazy. He was ready before our visit even ended. It was a done deal.
You see, for about an hour, everyone left us alone and the nannies bundled up V and sent us outside because they said she likes it outside. When we got outside she calmed. Now don't get me wrong, she was still wild, but she was different. We were able to coax out some interaction and brief moments of eye contact. We were able to connect, even if very briefly. We were able to see that she CAN interact, she CAN connect. I remember that first moment of eye contact and it blew me away. Yet I was still scared - I still wondered if waiting to commit was a good choice. But not my husband - he was brave. He was bold. He was her daddy.
I don't want it to sound like I was on the fence. I was all in; but on that day, the fear and exhaustion took over. The reality of her needs was overwhelming. I learned something about my husband that day - there is no limit to what he will do for his family. He will march fearlessly forward despite the crazy odds. He told the facilitator to file the paperwork before the car had left the orphanage. He told me that she couldn't be more perfect if she ran up to him, jumped in his arms, and said "Daddy!" You guys, they told us they thought she couldn't hear well, couldn't see well, maybe had a heart condition, had seizures, was completely nonverbal, was cognitively an infant and wasn't learning, couldn't chew, couldn't feed herself or perform any self care, wasn't potty trained, had constant tics, and the list seemingly went on forever. She was bald, tiny, hyper, and hard to connect with.
My husband's description of her: She's perfect.
I have never loved that man more than I did that day.
As I sit here and write this I realize, that's how our Heavenly Father is to us. I could write a book about the things that are wrong with me, yet God says: you're perfect. You could probably make a long list of the things that are wrong with you - God says: you're perfect. I pray that you can see that, and I pray that I can see that, because sometimes I can't.
I also pray for the orphans left behind. I pray that there may be a day where they all have an earthly father who thinks they are perfect, but also that until that day, that they will all come to know their Heavenly Father, who loves them and sees perfection.
In case you are curious, many of the things about V were true. However, since coming home, she has defied all of our expectations. We have learned that there was a bright, spunky little girl locked inside with no way to communicate, and we love watching her blossom. She still has lots of challenges, but all of us, including her siblings agree - she's perfect.