“The Flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Mulan
I always said I would never adopt an older child. I always said it wouldn’t be a good fit with the family and that was the truth. It is harder to bring an older child into your home and have them accept the ways of your home. Our house can be loud. Our house can be kind of crazy sometimes. Our house is full of love and fun and singing, but life with Codey isn’t the usual. Not many 26 year olds scoot on the floor and growl when they are upset. It was just easier to have a child grow up around him. I worried an older child wouldn’t accept and love him.
I’ve read the stories posted to Facebook of frustrated parents. I read the blogs and other articles. Older children are more set in their ways. They have a belief system in place. They are hardened by all the hard knocks they’ve taken in their lives and it will take lots of work to reach them. They are angry and mad at the world. They have learned institutional behavior. They can steal, lie, and more. They have walls that they have built very high to protect themselves. I wasn’t sure I was up to any of that.
Plus, an older child can call you out on things. An older child can tell you that you are wrong. An older child can say they don’t like you and articulate all the reasons why. They might never accept you. They might resent you. They might never truly accept you as their mother. I knew my heart couldn’t handle that.
Then I saw her face.
And in an instant all those doubts didn’t matter. OUR daughter was half way around the world and we needed to go get her. We couldn’t let her age out in another country. She was no longer an orphan, she was a loved child of this family. In an instant everything changed.
God works that way sometimes. We can be adamant about not doing something and then He shows us how wrong we have been. Jasmine has been through many hard times. She should be a hardened, angry teenager, but she is not. She is a sweet, beautiful soul with a smile that lights up the room.
From the moment we first saw her, she has been smiling. You might not know it by looking at her sitting in her wheelchair, but Jasmine can do very little for herself. If you knock her over, there is nothing she can do about it. We have to move her from place to place. We have to sit her up. We have to dress her. And yet…..she smiled when we had to take her to the bathroom that very first time. She smiled when we had to strip her down and hold her in place on a footstool in the shower. She smiled when I changed her clothes and it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. We were strangers and she just trusted me and gave me that very sweet smile.
Recently she admitted that she had been afraid, but in China they had told her she would go to a place where she would be hurt and not fed. She said, at that point, trusting her new mama and daddy didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Can you imagine? You can’t run away. You can’t call someone on the phone for help. You don’t have many, if any choices, so you are just going to trust these two Americans you have never met because it seems like a much better option than what will happen if you stay. What amazing bravery, hope and courage Jasmine had.
Jasmine can be very silly. She likes to take your phone and take silly selfies. You never know what you will find.
Jasmine also shared with me that she wasn’t silly in China. She said she was silly when she met me because I am silly. I will admit that I am pretty silly in life. I love to laugh. I like to make up songs about the most ridiculous things. I like to hear my children laugh. It’s the best sound in the world and I will be as silly as I have to be to get them to laugh. So when I was in China, carrying my new daughter under her arms while Cassie had her knees, trying to get through the smallest bathroom door you’ve ever seen and then strip her down and stand there so she doesn’t fall off….well, what else was there to do but sing a show tune? And Jasmine smiled and then the most beautiful thing happened….she laughed. That very first day she laughed.
But things can steal Jasmine’s smile away and that is really hard on this mama’s heart. When she wakes up shaking because she had a nightmare and starts to tell me the dream and I say, “It’s okay sweetheart. You’re awake now. It’s not real.” and she says, “Yes, it is mommy. It really happened.” and it’s beyond anything you can even imagine. Your heart hurts. It hurts for all the pain she’s had to endure. It hurts because there is nothing you can do about the past. It hurts because her sweet soul didn’t deserve any of it. It hurts because ITS.JUST.NOT.FAIR!!!! It hurts because she was alone for way too long.
I’m thankful that we can be there for her now. Yesterday was another one of those days when she just trusts. They had to put in an i.v. and sedate her for her MRI. Her body is just too contractured for her to lie still in the MRI machine. She tried really hard to do it when we last tried, but she just couldn’t lie still enough. She trusted me when I said it was going to be okay. She trusted me when they put the needle in her hand. She trusted me as they hooked her up to all the monitors. She trusted me as they put the mask on her face and she drifted off to sleep. She fell asleep to my murmured “I love yous” and she trusted that I would be there when she woke up.
For a child who has been abandoned, that is huge. She has told us how they dropped her off with just a picture of her mama. How she sat there waiting for someone to help her. She doesn’t say much more except to say she was very scared. She shares mostly with Gracie after they are tucked in at night. She shares with Gracie because it is Grace who climbs in bed with her when she is afraid. It is Gracie who holds her hand and tells her it is going to be okay before she comes to get us. It is Gracie who she calls best friend. Jasmine has a hard time sharing a lot of the bad things that happened to her. She will tell Gracie but she doesn’t want us to know.
But every once in a while, when we are alone in the car or like last night when everyone else had fallen asleep, she decides to share some things with me. Jasmine told me that it’s good that I’m going to be a mama to 14. I laughed and said, “It is? Why?” She then told me that I make her happy. She said, Mama you are good with kids and you love orphans and that is a very, very good thing. She told me how much she loves me and how happy I make her. She thanked me for saving her and for loving her and for saving and loving Kelly and Elyse before I even got to China. That was the best compliment I have ever received.
She told me how much she loves the other kids, especially Evie, and Gracie is her best friend. She told me she likes when they all tell her good night and they all say “I love you” in the morning. I asked her if she understood Hope’s story? I told her Hopey’s story in the simplest terms that I could. I told her sometimes things happen to us that have nothing to do with us. I asked her if she understood that and she said no. So I asked her if she thought Evie had done anything to be an orphan. She said, “Oh no mama, Evie is wonderful.” I then asked her about Eli, Ben, Maisey, Lainey and even Hope. Jasmine told me that she never understood it before but she does now. She loves America. She loves her big family. She loves her mama and she adores her daddy.
I love her daddy too because he understands that daughters want to be loved by their daddies. He is the kind of daddy who does things like this.
I almost missed out on one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am not overlooking how hard it can be and how much work there is and how horribly it is going to end. I’m not. Life can be and most often is messy. But the blessings of being Jasmine’s mama far outweigh any of those things.
There are many things wrong with international adoptions. There is fraud, the paperwork is neverending, it costs too much and takes too long. The lists you can use for excuses are long. You can spend days thinking of all the reasons why you shouldn’t adopt, but I’m telling you that the blessings you will receive are beyond compare. Don’t let a scary story stop you from following God’s lead. Sometimes jumping in when you are most afraid leads to the biggest blessings of all.
Sometimes the most beautiful flowers, which have bloomed in adversity, make your garden more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.