celebrating imperfections

There are so many things about living in our modern day culture that drive me crazy.  Okay, so some things I just darn well hate.  One of those things is how we feel the need to “fix” everything.  If it’s broken, just fix it.  Most of the time we “fix” something by going out and buying a new one.  Easy!  Boy how things have changed from a hundred years ago when people actually made do with less-than-perfect things.  These days we’re all about perfection. We’re all about living in debt to support our perfect lifestyle. Our homes must be perfect, our cars need to be upgraded constantly, we’re bombarded with never ending ways we can perfect the way we look…everything must be picture perfect.

And sadly, so must our children.

Even our children with special needs.

It drives me nuts.  When did we ever become a society who cared more about what our children are instead of who they are? 

Everywhere I go it’s the same old same old–therapists and people in the know recommending ten thousand therapies (both old and new) that “are sure to get your child functioning like a normal child.”  Are you kidding me? Everyone wants to “fix” my children–not today, certainly not tomorrow, but like yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I know that they mean well.  But why the urgency?  What’s the rush? 

You know what?  I don’t care about that stuff.  I don’t.  We never set out to adopt four children with special needs so that we could try our darndest to make them perfect as soon as their little feet hit American soil. We don’t even want to “fix” them.  It’s not going to happen. 

Maybe we just see things differently around here. At least these days we do. We have changed so much since adopting our first daughter with significant needs. Haven joined our family twenty months ago as a frightened child who cowered away in every corner out of fear of being beaten.  She was terrified of anything and everything that moved.  Naturally we wanted to help her.  The advice?  Put her in a public school with thirty kindergartners and let her “immerse” herself in the language and the culture.  Give her a place where she can have every therapy under heaven and earth to help her catch up with her peers.

Being the dumb parents that we were at the time–we went against our gut instinct and took their advice.  Bad move!  Haven regressed something awful.  She could not deal with thirty little children who were loud and wild. She did not trust the many therapists who tried to help her. Trust for Haven is huge. She totally went backwards. We ended up having to put her in diapers (she was 8 years old). It was a complete disaster.

We seriously went back to the drawing board and had to rethink things.  We went back to what we knew all along–Haven needed a safe place. She needed her family.  That’s it! She did not need every therapy forced upon her.  She did not need thirty other children to help her adjust to her new life.  No, she needed only us, her family.  We went back and told the people who were assigned to help her, “Thanks, but no thanks, this is so not going to work for our daughter in this season of her life.”

A major lesson for us. 

My oh my do we see things differently these day. We’ve eased up on trying to find solutions to help Haven speak. We do what we can to help her, and leave the rest in the very capable hands of her God who adores her. Heck, if she finds her words someday, great.  If not, great.  Why should we put pressure on her to speak?  She communicates with us just fine.  We know her needs without her even having to say a single solitary word. Why should we compare her to other nine year olds and expect her to reach the same milestones? That is an unfair expectation to place on her.  Haven is Haven–she is uniquely and beautifully created in the image of an Almighty God. We have learned to go at Haven’s pace–not ours!

So it is with Hailee and Harper.  I promised them here that I would never push them beyond what they are capable of, and I meant it.  Of course we will ensure that they do get the therapy that will help them learn new things–but anything above and beyond what is absolutely necessary can just wait for now.  They have only been home for three months for goodness sakes. We know they’ll catch up in due time.  Right now all they really need is us, their family–so much more than they need to be carted and carried around to the things that everyone suggests I try to help them catch up. There has to be a balance with this stuff.

As far as we’re concerned they’re perfect just the way they are.  Whether they start to walk or speak in six months, one year, or even two years is just a big whatever to us.  We celebrate them just the way they are.  We know that they will learn and grow because that’s what children do when they are loved and cherished–they cannot help it.  They soak it up like a sponge.

Yes, we will absolutely ensure that our children get the best of help available. But truthfully, most of it can wait for now.  I don’t care that Betty Sue’s one year old son who has Down syndrome is already walking.  And so what if Susie’s two year old can recite the first ten letters of the alphabet.  I will never compare my children to anyone elses, that just lines them up for failure. These three blessings of ours have spent the first years of their lives locked up in awful orphanages. They have endured more than my heart can stand.  Right now the most important thing we can do for them is shower them with love and care and catch up on so many missed years of cuddles and kisses.  That’s what matters most. Home and family are the best therapy they could ever have in this season of their lives. The rest can wait.

Celebrating and embracing imperfection in a world obsessed with perfection.

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