Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Warner Bros. movie - Orphan

Warner Bros. new horror movie Orphan proclaims that it must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own. Let me tell you about how an orphan changed my life.

The first photo above is a picture of a little girl who was born with a cleft-lip, cleft-palate and two holes in her heart. Within a day or so of her birth, she was brought to a cultural center in Tianjin, China, and left to be found.

She spent her first three months in a local orphanage. There she was given the name Wei Kang Xia and referred to as Xia-Xia.

She was then moved to a children's village in LangFang. She received care and surgeries for her special-needs through her Philip Hayden Foundation sponsorship.

When she was fifteen months old, our family received the second photo. Her cleft-lip had been repaired while in China. Her palate was repaired shortly before she came home (see third photo.) The two holes in her heart healed on their own.

For all intents and purposes our special-needs child arrived home completely healthy. She will require some reconstructive surgery when her teeth and bone structure are more matured.

After being abandoned by her birth family, experiencing several moves (and losses) and undergoing two serious surgeries in less than 18 months, Xia-Xia was most definitely traumatized. Her heart and her brain were wounded.

I have no idea whose care she was in for her first 18 months or how well they treated her. She has memories that are far from pleasant and evoke much fear in this little girl.

Those are the plain and simple details of this child's life, devoid of as much emotion as possible.

Those may be the kind of details that movies are made of. At least horror movies. But you see, this story will not provoke fear, but rather faith. It's a story of love and redemption at it's very best.

The first photo you see is common for a girl with Xia-Xia's history. She was well-cared for, I am told, but orphanage life is not home. There are far too many children and not enough workers to meet a child's every given need, or respond to their cries, as would a birth mother.

In a perfect world, we would have no orphans. In a perfect world no child would be hurt. In a perfect world parents would always be loving, kind and gentle.

Sadly, our world is not perfect (yet.)

The rest of the photos are Xia-Xia 2.5 years later, at the age of 4. Her new name is Sara KangXia. She is an intelligent, loving, kind, energetic, humorous and well-adjusted little girl. She fits beautifully into our family. She loves her family and we all adore and love her.

Xia-Xia came home to us anxious, fearful and full of rage. She had experienced too many losses and too much grief to allow her to trust us.

She was diagnosed as having a significant attachment disorder (meaning her brain was wounded due to the trauma she experienced), post-traumatic stress disorder and a sensory-processing disorder (even going to the grocery store was far too overwhelming for her.) She would not allow us to hold her close. She would laugh when she fell down and got hurt.

Without intervention, Sara was bound to lead a life of pain and destruction.

We chose, instead, to intervene and respond in the same we have for her older brother and sister (our birth children.)

As soon as we recognized that Xia-Xia was struggling, we pulled together a team of specialists and support people. We spent the next 18 months helping her brain and heart to heal. We met her right where she was at, and, thanks be to God, He has worked a miracle of transformation into Sweet Sara.

The question remains, was loving Sara "harder" than my other two children? Most definitely. I won't lie. Her siblings and I bonded during my pregnancy. They readily accepted my love and comfort.

Sara didn't know who in the world I was. She didn't know if I was just another care-provider-in-passing. She had already bonded with her nannies and they were nowhere to be found. Her response to the entire situation was perfectly normal, albeit very difficult.

When you add any member to your family, it takes time, effort and shared experiences for bonding and true love to develop. Just as it does in any relationship. When that individual is wounded, it also takes counseling, therapy and the power of God.

We did love our new daughter the moment we made the decision to adopt. We loved her through the tiring paperwork and the waiting that followed. We loved her when we first saw her photo. We loved her the first moment we held her (and she screamed, grin.)

That love, however, has grown and deepened over the years.

Is my love for her any less? Definitely not. I love all of my children equally, regardless of how they joined our family. However, I also love each one of them uniquely. They each have their own personalities, they are different ages and we each have shared different experiences together.

My love for Sara has been tested and refined, and it only keeps growing more rich and full. We have painstakingly built her trust with us. And still, today, we need to reassure Sara that we will never leave nor abandon her.

Sara has been forever grafted into our family. She is our daughter through and through. We have and will continue to do everything in our power to help her heal, grow and mature into the precious girl God created her to be. None of her life history is her fault. She's a strong girl and has made great strides. We are so very proud of her.

Sara has challenged each person in our family to grow and be stretched. She has taught us things we greatly needed to learn, but never would have experienced without her.

The greatest joys follow the most challenging trials. We are stronger because of our daughter. And, we love her through and through. Just ask her.

I recognize that not all children receive the help they need and deserve. I can't speak to each and every unique situation in the world. I know that there are very deeply wounded children in need of healing and support.
Sadly, many of them never receive the help they deserve.

Sadly, as adults, we miss opportunities and shy away from them for fear that they will be too difficult or scary. I understand that.

Truthfully, had I known how difficult our transition would be in adding a traumatized child into our family, I would have run away in fear. I also would have missed one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Thankfully, God knew better. He knew that we could handle more than we ever thought we could. He knew that with His help, we would rise to the occasion and make it to the other side and that we would all be better for it.

I understand that many people will see Orphan as simply entertainment. The reality is, however, that we have over 147 million orphans worldwide in need of food, clothing, a home and a family.

It is very scary to choose to adopt a child that is not your own. This movie has the potential of causing incredible parents to run away in fear, leaving yet another child alone and in need.

A possible consequence of this is that children who grow up without a family's love, will not suddenly morph into a well-adjusted adult.

I encourage others to think of what the world would be like if 147 million children grew up into poorly-adjusted adults. Now that, my Friend, would be truly horrifying.

Claiming an orphan as your own and investing your heart, energy and life into them is one of the most incredible things one can ever experience.

God never expects us to walk the hard days on our own. He uses them to grow us into the individuals He created us to be. When we choose to take a chance on a child in need, we will be blessed beyond belief. Sometimes even more than the child we adopted, if you can believe it.

I urge you, my Friend, to not allow movies such as Orphan to fill you with fear and doubt. Yes, there is evil in this world. Thankfully, we have a God who is BIGGER! Love always wins.

If you made it all the way through this l-o-n-g post, I commend you! :-) Something so important cannot be addressed with a few words. (And yet, pictures do speak a thousand words, don't they? Isn't she beautiful?)

No, Sara's not perfect. But neither am I. Like Sara, I require love, patience and a whole lot of grace! Parenting this sweet little girl has helped me to have more compassion on myself and others.

We're still learning. We're still growing. But God is with us, each and every step of the way. And it's been an exciting ride!

If you're visiting my blog today, I have many more sweet photos of all three of my children and have written in depth about all that God is teaching me through them. I also have a video I posted about her journey to us. God is SO good!


To God be the glory,


Emily Makes Six said...

Oh my dear friend what an incredible journey you have traveled with your sweet SaraSara and what evidence of God's amazing grace and love. Thank you for sharing the depths of your heart and for continuing to testify to what God can do in the life of a precious little orphaned girl. Your story always makes my heart soar with confidence that God heals the broken and brings beauty from the ashes. I love you dearly!

J-momma said...

hi. i got to your blog through tom davis' blog about defending orphans. your story sounds like ours. our son has cleft lip/palate and attachment problems coming to our home. but he's not adopted from china, we adopted through foster care. we did work very hard, and still do, to heal him through his trust issues. but it's a continual process, not one that ends after a year or so. and we still struggle today. i actually just posted about the challenges we have with our son two days ago. i think i will now balance that with a positive post and our adoption and linking it to tom davis' blog as well.

i love your post. it couldn't be more true.

Jennifer said...


I followed you here from Tom's site. WOW!!! The Lord has gifted you with the ability to write and I'm so glad you're sharing it with us. I'm encouraged, uplifted, challenged, have tears in my eyes, and I've only read four posts! I'll be back for more...

The way you put words to your journey with Sara was amazing. Thank you for sharing so honestly all that God has carried all of you through and how adoption is not always easy, but always an opportunity for so much blessing, if you allow God to be the center of it. Sara is a beautiful little girl!

Now, off to the daunting task of writing my own story. I'm not a writer, AT ALL. I shouldn't have read your story first. :)


Jennifer said...

I'm wondering if I you mind if I quoted a couple of your sentences on my blog? If not, that's totally fine, but thought I'd ask.
You can email me back if you'd like.



ellie said...

As usual a beautiful post, beautifully written. Thanks for sharing yours & Sara's story. Our challenges have been great with our son (adopted from Ukraine) however yes, it is worth it HE is worth it! Thank you my friend for reminding me to keep my eyes on the prize!

xo ellie

sara said...

Thank You, Thank You for this!! Truly, I am in the midst of learning to love and learning to BE loved!! It is very hard. I want it so badly!! We learned in our "classes" that it could take at least as long as they were apart from us (3 year for us!) for them to fully trust us and love us.. I so desperately want her to reach out to me in love, in need..

Is IS, in fact, scary. I probably would have "passed" had I known. But would I do it again? If God calls, YOU BET!!!! GOD CAN DISSOLVE MOUNTAINS!!! With HIM, we can all learn to LOVE!!!!!!

Leanne said...