She stands tall; not trying to fix the child I adopted
When we adopted Evangeline from Ukraine in 2009, she hunched. She cowered. She chose to spend her time hidden in little pockets of the house, behind the sofa, under the comforter on her bed.
How would I bring her out of her shell? How would I get her to not only make eye contact with me, but to trust me and let love in after two and a half years of a myriad of caregivers, confined to a crib a lot of the time, and no real person in her life to call her own?
I resolved to fix her. My love would break through.
As her mom, I started to hunch too.
Guess what? I couldn’t do it.
I could not fix my adopted daughter. There were too many things at play: her diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, abandonment, fear, distrust.
But with time, fixing Evangeline fell by the wayside. God started to show me that I didn’t need to ‘fix’ Evangeline. That wasn’t my role.
She did not require fixing.
He pointed out to me through pools of tears and feelings of failure as her mother that I simply needed to love her. Not fix her.
Once that thought occurred to me, the pressure eased.
Sure, I still try to help Evangeline break out of her shell. I drive her to therapy. I read to her, do hand over hand with her to complete a puzzle, teach her how to use pictures to communicate since she is non-verbal, and encourage her to look people in the eye, to give high fives, to realize her surroundings and engage.
But I am not desperate to fix her anymore.
Would I like to hear her voice? Absolutely.
But am I content being her mom, and loving her for who she is. A resounding yes.
Today I spent the morning in Evie’s classroom for observation.
I saw a little girl happy to be at school.
I saw a little girl who still doesn’t really acknowledge those around her. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my heart ached to see that she was one of the lower functioning students in her special needs classroom.
But I also saw her standing tall. Confident in herself. More willing to look people in the eye. More open to returning smiles and allowing people into her world.
She watched me gather my things to leave for home. And something amazing happened to this Mama who all along simply craved her love, and let that drive stoke the fire to try to fix her to our relational detriment.
She walked over to me, and raised her hands for me to take her. I picked her up, and she wrapped herself around me tight. A smile lit her face.
She did not want to be put down. She did not want me to go. She knew I was her mother.
And that she belonged with me.
I cuddled her for a while, whispered love and peace into her soft little ear.
And when I put her down we stood, my daughter and I, looking at one another …
Both standing tall.