Monday, September 16, 2013

The Real Special Need

When we decided to adopt we looked into all avenues to bringing home our child until we finally settled on the one that God was leading us to.  First we looked into foster care, then domestic adoption and finally sorted through various countries that were open to international adoption.  After much research and prayer, our hearts felt at peace with the Country of China.  It was there that we truly believed our daughter lived.  However, I will admit what was scary is that the only way to bring a child home from China in a relatively short period of time is through China's Special Needs program.

I am a pediatric Occupational Therapist.  I know about special needs.  I see the heart ache on parents' faces when their child is not able to keep with his or her peers.  I see the struggles a child faces, the pain they endure when their bodies don't work the way God intended.  I see marriages broken and siblings affected.  But, we trusted that this was the path we were supposed to go down.

The next step was going through our agency's check list of acceptable special needs.  I must say that this was one of the most humbling tasks we completed through the adoption process.  How can you decide what diagnosis you can handle and what you can't?  How can you decide what child is worthy of a family and what isn't?  Basically, we filled out what we could but, decided to allow the Lord to guide us to our child.

Well, just 9 days short of a year ago today we were emailed a file from our agency.  The file contained the most beautiful face with a diagnosis we had never heard of (and don't remember checking off on that dreaded checklist). 

Unilateral Microtia and Atresia
In short, as I have mentioned on here before, Olivia has a smaller right ear and no ear canal on that side.  This results in conductive hearing loss.  Yes, I was scared, yes, there were questions that we sent to specialists.  But, what I didn't realize is that her special need would be a non-issue for us.  I didn't realize that her resilient little body knew nothing different and that she would compensate completely for her loss.  Yes, we have more doctors appointments and yes she is in speech therapy but, her diagnosis is not her need.

What truly breaks my heart is that we have had to teach our daughter to cry when she has a boo boo and to come to mommy or daddy when she is hungry.  Just this week she was terribly sick.  So sick she ended up dehydrated and in the emergency room.  Poor girl was running around the cul de sac with friends when she happened to open her mouth wide enough that I saw sores.  I brought her inside to find she had almost a 104 degree fever.  But, no one has ever cared!  No one was there to comfort her, rock her and tend to her when she didn't feel well.  So this week, I taught my almost 2 year old what it means to have a mommy to hold you when you are sick. 
 We had lots of snuggles in bed together

Playing in the hospital

First meal in 6 days and the one that got her sprung from the ER.

Neglect and a broken heart.  That is our daughter's special need.  That is the special need of all orphans.  Every child deserves a family.  Every child deserves a mommy to hold her when she is sick, to kiss her boo boos and hug her when she is sad.  No child should have to be taught these basic survival skills.  I am completely humbled and blessed that God called me to be her mommy and the one who has the honor of caring for all of her very special needs.
"God Sets the Lonely in Families" -Psalm 68:6


  1. Awww, what a beautiful post. And a beautiful perspective. HUGS to you all as she recovers in your arms.

    1. Thank you. Every day I forget that she was born with a "different" ear but, every day she reminds me in subtle ways that her heart is still very broken. I know you understand this.

  2. What a beautiful post. I am so sorry your little one was so sick. I read this and cried. I know the feelings.
    I felt the same way when we brought our daughter home and we still sometimes struggle with this to this day. While she was only 7mo old when we met her some things take a long time to work through.
    Hope she is feeling much better and gets more snuggle time with her momma

    1. We both enjoyed our snuggles and she fully took advantage of mommy time once she caught on to all of the extra attention.

  3. Caitlin this was so eloquently written! Beautiful! Sorry she was so sick!

  4. What an awesome post. All I can say is, "Thank You, LORD!"

  5. Beautiful way to express your heart. So glad God placed her in your family so that she can bless all of our lives with her sweetness. So glad she has you as a mommy to take her ouchies away!

  6. Amen! I always say that our daughter's real need was her wounded heart, not her heart defect or her deafness. Sorry she was so sick, I hope she is feeling better!

    1. Joanna, so nice to hear someone else feels the same way. Also, I didn't notice until your recent referral post that your daughter also has microtia. I just knew she had hearing loss. She is just gorgeous and I love following your blog. Baby J couldn't be more handsome.