Thursday, November 29, 2012

Giving Thanks Day Twenty-Five - Opportunity

May 16, 2012

Seven months ago, Katie was still in her orphanage.

She was almost five years old and couldn't speak at all.

She didn't know how to play with toys.

She ran around like a wild, feral animal during our visits, unable to focus on anything for very long.

She made very little eye contact.

She yelled a lot, because it was the only way she knew how to communicate.

She didn't know how to drink from a sippy cup.

She wore a diaper.

She had horrendous skin and very little hair.

She could eat her dinner in seriously less than two minutes.

She ate like she was unsure of when she would eat again.

She had never had a bath in a tub.

She didn't know that a stove is hot.

She could only stand to be held for a very, very short period of time.  Not because she wanted to do something else, because she couldn't handle being touched so much and being so close to another person.

When I hugged her, she would just let her arms hang.  There was no hugging back.

When she got upset, she would throw herself on the ground repeatedly, flailing her arms around just screaming.  No tears.  Just noise.

She didn't know what to do when we read a book.  

She would scream at the boys if they came near her.  She was afraid they would hurt her or take her toys.  She had never had toys before.  She didn't know what to do with them, but they were hers and she had never had something of her own.  Ever.

She ran with awkward, bowed legs that had spent far too much time in some sort of baby walker or play area.  

She had never gone to school.  She would never have gone to school if she stayed in Russia.  She had no hope and no future.

This is the ugly side of adoption.

All of the paperwork that seemed so daunting?  That was not the hard part.  The hard part was bringing home a child who had been alone for her entire life, who didn't know how to depend on anyone else, who had experienced trauma that has forever shaped her, who had no ability to express herself in any manner other than fear.  That - all of that - was the hard part.  And we really didn't have it that hard.

Now?  Katie has opportunity and hope.

She has so many people who love her.

She has a bath every night and a full belly every day.

We read books each night and she picks them out.  She asks for books, and she looks at them on her own all the time.

If she gets near the stove she signs hot and says, "Ot mama."

She speaks.

She signs.

She knows how old she is and says, "I five!"

Instead of throwing herself on the floor when she's sad, she comes to her mama or daddy and lifts her arms to be held.

Her favorite thing to do is snuggle.

She runs like a typical five year old girl; sort of clumsy, but without crazy bowed legs.

She knows who her mama and daddy are, and she loves us.  Fiercely.  She will sometimes just smile at me and say, "My mama."  

She hugs and kisses.  A lot.

She cries when she's sad.

Sometimes she still throws herself on the floor.  We're still working on that.

Not only does she know she has a mama, she also models that behavior with her peers.  At school

She spends time each week in the typical preschool class.  

She can identify the letters A and B.  Let that sink in.  She can identify the first two letters of the alphabet of a language she learned seven months ago, after never, ever knowing how to speak in her native language.

All of that? 

That my friends is redemption. 

Katie has a chance now.  She has opportunities that she would have never, ever had.  She would have never even been able to dream of such opportunities because she simply didn't know they exist.

I am so thankful she knows now.


  1. I love this. Katie is so deserving of every opportunity to become the sweet, silly, amazing person she was meant to be!

  2. I seriously teared up reading this. Identifying the letters A and B in such a short amount of time is remarkable and my heart burst reading "my mama."


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