September 16, 2009

never forsaken!


Where in the world has one year gone? I can hardly believe that today marks the one-year anniversary of Haven being in our family.

Just one year ago we walked into a civil affairs office in China to meet our new daughter. 

Over the last year I have shared bits and pieces of our journey with Haven.  Some amazing, some challenging.  The year has certainly been filled with tremendous highs...and difficult lows.

But today marks a celebration, a time of rejoicing in ALL that God has done in Haven's life.  Not a time of focusing on the difficult times.  He truly has done great things.

Two years ago we found a little girl on a waiting-child site.  We soon learned that her story was sad--filled with hopelessness, abandonment, and too much pain for a child her age.  We heard of her first adoption.  We were told of the family that she had bonded with--and then had to say goodbye to when she was returned to her orphanage just five days later.  Diagnosed in China with  profound autism, the family felt that they could not handle her needs and felt it best that she be returned to the place she had come from.

She grieved.  She had a family...then she didn't.

When she returned to the orphanage, a directive was passed from the orphanage director that no one should handle this child.  She was contagious.  She had the dreaded 'Closed Syndrome,' known to us as autism.  The director informed staff and other children that if they touched this girl, they would surely catch the 'disease'--and they too would not speak!  Being ignorant, they followed the directive.  Fear entered their hearts.  Orphanage staff were afraid to touch her.  They truly believed they would become like her--non-verbal and very developmentally delayed.

The result of this horrible action?  A precious child was ostracized.  Forced to spend her days alone.  For two long years no one touched her.  Children refused to play with her.  Nannies were too afraid to touch her.  No affection.  No care.  No love.  Nothing.

She shut down.  Emotionally, developmentally and physically.  She literally stopped growing.  

I so clearly remember the day I saw her picture.  I remember my first call with the agency who had her file.  They shared her story with me, that her adoption had been disrupted.  I was told about the autism diagnosis and all the details of the five days she had spent with the American family.  We read a letter written by the family who adopted her, cautioning any family considering adopting this child that she was indeed "seriously mentally ill"--something they said they were not prepared for.

Our hearts broke!

We knew it as clear as daylight--this child was not autistic.  We knew the diagnosis had to be incorrect. We knew we had to go and bring her home, come what may.  She had been dealt an awful blow.  Should she remain in China, labeled 'mentally disabled,' her future would be hopeless.

Sometimes we just have to dive into the deep end and trust the Lord to get us to the other side. This was one of those times when we knew that we knew that the Lord was calling us to step out of the boat. The Father named her "Haven."  He knew she would need a 'safe and sheltered place' after all that she has been through in her short life.

We got through the paperwork as fast as humanly possible. We were so anxious to get to her as fast as we could.

One year ago we walked into that building and met our new daughter. Haven was already there. Her life was about to change. The moment she saw us, we saw absolute terror on her face (which we expected).  The 'white people' had come to take her away again.  She trembled with fear and clung to the caretaker who had brought her.  Oh my goodness, my heart ached seeing her standing there. She was so very afraid.

Most of the time she stared off and would not make eye contact with anyone.  She fiddled with her hands and had her eyes half-shut...kind of like she was shutting out everything happening around her. It was heartbreaking to see.  She was there in body, but emotionally shut down.

The nanny tried to distract her by pointing to other things.  Poor little girl, she looked so tiny--nothing like an almost eight year old.  We were shocked at her small stature.  She looked like a toddler.

The caretaker was so sweet.  She kept feeding her and giving her drinks to distract her.  We sat off to the side--giving her space to adjust to us just being near her.  Every time we made an attempt to get closer, she screamed and clung to this lady.  Fear in her eyes.  Absolute terror.

Eventually we got a little closer.  She would not come near--but only gave us these looks out the corner of her eye.

She found safety in the arms of the one who had brought her to the civil affairs office.  She would not let go!

Eventually, to try and make the transition a little easier (because things were not going well), the sweet caretaker came with us back to our hotel room.  She stayed with us for about one hour.  When the time came for her to leave, I took Haven (it was the first time I had actually touched her in the three hours we had been together).  She screamed when the lady walked out of the room.  Grieving sobs that broke our hearts in two.

We prayed like there was no tomorrow.

The presence of the Lord was in that room.  It took 45 minutes of her crying that way.  Forty-five minutes of terrible grieving. Tears like I have never seen on any child. It was so hard.

And then, all of a sudden, she stopped.  Just like that.  We looked into her eyes and there was a knowing there--a look that said, "This is okay, I am safe!"  God had breathed a quiet assurance into her terrified little heart.

She was safe!

Slowly but surely we started to see this little flower bloom.  Right before our very eyes she started coming out of her shell.  A beautiful butterfly started emerging.  All fear was gone!  She bonded with us almost instantly, as the Lord replaced her fear and anxiety with absolute peace.

She looked at her sister and saw a soul mate.  She adored her from Day One.

She had found her best friend.

Haven knew that she would never have to let her sister go...ever!

She loves her family with all her heart.  She knows with everything that is within her that she will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be abandoned again!


And so the journey with Haven continues.  Actually, it has only just begun.  We have seen a transformation that is nothing short of miraculous.

As many of you who read my blog know, the autism diagnosis was indeed incorrect.  There is no autism in sight for this child.  No surprises there.  Obviously we have a long road ahead.  Even today Haven is non-verbal.  But you know what?  That's okay with us.  We get by.  We have learned, with the Father's leading and guiding us, how to parent this sweet little angel.

Perhaps she will find her words, perhaps not.  That is not our concern, but God's.  We think she's perfect just the way she is. 

Whatever may be wrong with Haven seems so irrelevant, so small in the bigger picture. We only see everything as being oh so right with her. Today we rejoice.  God has turned her life around.  Written off as unadoptable, without hope, labelled "mentally ill," without any future--look what God has done in just one year!

We rest in knowing that whatever the future may look like for Haven, it is going to be good. Simply because her God in heaven promises her hope and a future...that is where our peace lies. 

How blessed we are to be the parents of this little girl.  Thank you Father for sending us!  Thank you that Haven has found the safe and sheltered place that you promised her.


Elisabeth- Truly Blessed said...

What a beautiful story and such a reminder of God's faithfulness to the "fatherless". Haven is a true angel with amazing parents! Thank you for giving me the gift of being able to watch her bloom before our very eyes.
In Him,

Laura said...

oh i loved reading this post. loved reading of all the good hopeful fruit of your obedience. such an encouragement, amazing. thanks for recording that. what a gift.

The Klins Family said...

What a beautiful post about a beautiful child of God. Love reading your blog - thank you!

Lori said...

Oh my goodness. I had not heard Haven's story before now. I sat and read it with tear-filled eyes. Amazing. I think this is the most touching adoption story I've ever read. It encouraged me greatly as the enemy has attempted to fill me with fear as we get ready to leave for China. God is faithful, always. And your story tells of His faithfulness in a mighty way.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Angie said...

What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. God surely sent you to rescue Haven out of a pit of despair and your family has surely been blessed with this little princess. It's comforting to know that our girls are in the Lord's hands, and God created them just as they are. Sometimes it's hard to know why the challenges are there, but knowing God loves them more than we do makes it so much easier. God bless you, little Haven!

Transformed from glory to glory said...

Our God is a God of REDEMPTION. Thanks for the great reminder!

Talley Images said...

lurker here, but I had to comment.... what a beautiful story and beautiful girl!

Mandi said...

This is truly a testament to how He is always with us, watching, guiding, and loving us. Haven is such a beautiful little girl that has been blessed with a wonderful family. And that family has been blessed with a beautiful little girl. I love reading posts like this that prove that by having faith in Him, anything is possible.


Chris and Sarah said...

What an amazing story. She has the most amazing smile ever and I'm so glad God let you see behind the scary medical reports.

trustandobey said...

Let's all co-write a book and call it Evidence of God's Faithfulness. The body of Christ on this Earth NEEDS to hear and be reminded of His loyalty on a daily basis. The Bible tells us to encourage one another every day in this way because God knows how susceptable we are to forgetting and doubt. God also knows our adversary loves to plant and spread doubt and what better place to plant it than in the fields of the fatherless. Haven's story IS God's story of the redemption of every Christian. Every believer was once helpless and hopeless, but God sought us and bought us and now we are heirs to the King of Kings. Amazing love! Amazing testamony in Haven's short existence. If that child NEVER opens her mouth, she has already spoken volumns with her life :)

Andrea said...

What a beautiful story of love and hope! Thank you for sharing! Blessings

Debbie said...

Beautiful! Awesome! I'm so happy to see how much she has grown in the last year. Wow, I did not even realize it had been a year. Congrats! Hugs to you all! Love, Deb

Stefanie said...

I came over from Lori's blog... your story is truly amazing!!
Thank you for sharing your daughter's journey!
Would you consider sharing your story on No Hands But Ours?
Blessings to you and your beautiful family :)

quilt-n-mama said...

What an amazing God we have, I know He has plans for Haven's life. She's a beautiful girl, I am amazed of your story of stepping out in faith to bring her home and it's awesome to read of His faithfulness since!
Hope you are having a blessed week.

Cari Bacon said...

What a beautiful story. I came to read this because of a post on Lori's blog Joy Unspeakable. I love reading about the journeys that God has prompted other fellow believers to take in order to work out His plans and purposes. Thank you for the inspiration!

Shonni said...

That is SO BEAUTIFUL, sweet friend...thank you for sharing her/your story with us all.
Thank you, Father God, for redeeming the life of this precious little one and all the others who have been placed in loving us to raise them for YOUR Glory!

Holly said...

Hallelujah! I am in AWE of God's love for His children.
And honestly Adeye, I am in awe of your obedience. It is not every follower who would have said yes to this call. And look at the blessings you would have missed had you given in to fear rather than trusting in the calling of Abba. Truly, it is such an honor that He chose YOU for these blessings!
Rejoicing over all He has done and yet to do!

Gary and Michelle said...

What a joy to read how in your obedience to God, He has given you such a beautiful daughter.


Tony and Rett said... made me cry, sister!

Haven's sweet smile says PEACE to me. She is at peace. She is at home as part of your family.

What a blessing to be chosen as her Mama!

christy rose said...

Wow! Adeye! Tears flowing quickly here as I read what you wrote about Haven. Thank you so much for sharing this story today because I had not heard the whole thing. It is so sad that she was rejected for so long and yet so amazingly wonderful that she is so loved today. I loved the pictures of her and Hannah laughing. I was really tearing when I saw those. I am so amazed at how God has and is using you to bring restoration to the hearts of so many little girls who once had no hope of being loved by a family. I am even more excited now for you to get to Hailey.
Praying for all of you,

Karin said...

Oh Adeye...that pictures of your two girls asleep in bed just about did me in. Tears of joy for your precious Haven. God is so amazingly good. Thank you for sharing and for your inspiring obedience to Him who has blessed you with this precious treasure.

Tara said...

Oh, I loved reading this!!! How wonderful for Haven and your family.

Kim K. said...

I'm wiping away tears. I found your blog through Karin's blog "Our Treasures from Afar". What an amazing story. Blessings to your sweet family.

Kathy said...

I came over from Lori's blog. Thank you for
sharing your beautiful little Haven's story.
It is such a sweet reminder of our Father's
faithfulness and love for His precious children.
Also very encouraging to me as we walk in faith
and obedience to God calling us to adopt our
older dd. She has a SN that know one in the Medical Field I have talked to has ever heard
of. I know when we bring her home God will
lead us in the right direction for whatever she needs. When the enemy tries to put fears and
doubts in my mind. I will just hop on over and
reread Haven's beautiful story to be encouraged
and reminded of God's faithfulness.

Beautiful Mess said...

Thank you for your obedience and trust. Thank you for sharing that story. God is amazing!

God bless you all!


Chris said...

That post requires at least 2 tissues! I sincerely hope the misinformed director gets to see Haven's 1 year home pictures! and realize the damage...thank goodness you followed God's leading and brought her home.
Please do share your story on "no Hands but Ours" but emphasize that this kind of journey should not be attempted without a STRONG faith in God.
Thank you so much for sharing

IS5413 said...

Thank you for your beautiful post! Your faithfulness inspired us one year ago when we met our sweet girl and found a child in a much worse condition than we had imagined, and it still inspires us today!

Amy said...

No words... just tears... and plenty of them. Thank you Lord for placing this precious little girl in this amazing family. Your example has taught me so much. Amy

mom2eliza said...

Hi, I was led to your blog by a link on Lori's. Always interested in reading a family's memory of Gotcha, but particularly because I'm heading to China on Saturday for our 2nd China adoption. Little did I know, your post was a HUGE red thread. Our first daughter adopted from China is non-verbal, yes-diagnosed w/ autism, but I still have my doubts about that. I'd love to chat more with you. Your Haven is gorgeous and her story made my heart ache and my eyes tear gut wrenching in hearing her experiences of isolation. My own daughter did the same thing on Gotcha Day and I've written about it; the deepest, painful crying I've ever heard for 45 minutes, and then leaning back and finally looking me in the eyes...that was it. She was happy and a full of love and bliss for the rest of her life with us. Anytime you want to talk or share experiences, diagnosis, therapies, etc., let me know. - Sarah ...

Jean said...

What a beautiful story!! Haven is lovely and in her pictures you can see her joy! Praise the Lord for guiding you to her this precious little diamond in the rough!

Thank you for sharing your story! Bess you all!

Anonymous said...

Again I cried as I remembered the journey. She is such a sweet, beautiful girl and she has come such a far way. Isn't God awesome..... Love Janelle

Alyssa said...

What a beautiful story, and such a precious child! You have been truly blessed, as has she!

Ginny said...

She sure looks good. It's been amazing to follow her journey as well as yours. What a very special little girl.
May all the hurts of her heart be healed.

Lynsay said...

Thank you adeye. Havens story amazes me, and makes me more committed at the same time. She is truly beautiful! Love you!

Wife of the Pres. said...

Beautiful post! I LOVE the photo of her looking up at the camera with her cake! She is absolutely beautiful and reminds me a bit of my daughter. Some similar features for sure.

I came over from NHBO's blog. I've read Haven's story before, but I had not been to your blog in awhile. I'm so glad I found it again!!!

Our Dd is not non-verbal BUT she is not understandable b/c of her 3rd degree, unrepaired CL/CP. You are so right that there is more to life than TALKING!!! And Haven's smile says a million words!!!

Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful tribute to your daughter and our Father God's healing power.

In Christ,

Bee said...

Thank you - for being so faithful to give this beautiful child a family and home.
And thank you - for telling the story.
I hope she will one day talk to you.
God's Grace, Bee

Ivy said...

Thank you for sharing your story, and Havens. I find her name wonderfully refreshing.

TheHappyNeills said...

Precious beyond words. . . rejoicing as you celebrate 2 years with your beautiful daughter!

Debora said...

Wow--praise be to God for His faithfulness to Haven! What a story, and what a love you all have for each other. :o)

Sharon said...

I loved reading your story and hearing your heart. I love how you love your daughter...just how she is.

Tana said...

I know this post is very old, and I'm sorry this is long, but I couldn't help but comment after reading it because we had a very similar experience with one of our children.  One of our Haitian children has albinism, and during her time at the orphanage, it was extremely difficult for the director to get any of the nannies to care for her.  They believed that she was cursed and contagious.  She spent the majority of her time in a "special" baby house with a few other severely disabled children.  Other than feeding times, I believe these children had virtually no human interaction.  When we met our daughter for the first time (which was a visit trip, not to complete the adoption), she SCREAMED every time she was taken outside.  At first we chalked this up to her albinism and accompanying light sensitivity, but we quickly put it together that the most likely never got to see the light of day.  It was heartbreaking.  She was extremely delayed and at 12 months couldn't even hold her own bottle.  She rocked and rocked and rocked.  I was petrified and worried that perhaps her needs were far more significant than the albinism we were told about, and I began to doubt that we had it in us to care for her.  Still, she had this little smile that was like a little ray of hope...

After about the fourth day with her, something changed.  We had been praying and crying and praying as we never had before, and that day, God simply removed the fear from us.  I can't explain it any better than that.  I was terrified one minute, and calm the next.  God told us that it would be OK, that we were her parents, and that it didn't matter what her abilities or lack thereof might be.  I envisioned her using a wheelchair or being permanently intellectually disabled, but I just suddenly understood that it DIDN'T MATTER.

When our daughter was escorted home from Haiti, she and her escorts were kicked off the plane in Dallas because a flight attendant took one look at her and deemed her too sick to fly.  The escorts were forced to take her to the emergency room for medical clearance where she was diagnosed with only an ear infection (!).  Meanwhile I flew down to Dallas on the spur of the moment with only my purse with me.  When I arrived, the escorts told us that the ER attending physician had told them that he hoped the family that was getting this baby realized that she was "mentally retarded."  

Now that our baby is 7, I've often wished I could track down that doctor and send him some pictures and video of the precious child he was so quick to cast off.  I wish that those Haitian caregivers could see that she is not cursed or contagious or anything to fear.  She is smart, and funny, and an amazing dancer and singer.  Everywhere she goes she wins people over, and those who take the time to get to know her continually remark on the incredible spirit she has.  She touches lives, and I'm so grateful that we didn't let our fears keep us from receiving one of the most amazing blessings of our lives.  

(BTW - we are now adopting a nonverbal 7-year-old with Down syndrome from China.  :o) )