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A journey of HOPE

Hi everyone

Sorry we have been so quite. Thank you for ALL the e-mails wondering how things are going. A huge thank you to everyone in our community for the outpouring of love we have received–the visits, meals, gifts for Haven and cards have meant more to us than you will ever know. We appreciate it so much. Some day Haven will understand how much she is loved 🙂

Well, life in the Salem house has been a little on the crazy side. PLEASE continue to pray for Anthony, he is not doing well at all. From what doctors are saying, his shingles has progressed to the worst kind one can get. It is permanent. The pain is excruciating! He is barely able to function normally. Poor guy has been in Minnesota for two days, he comes home today. He is trying various drugs, just to find some relief. He goes back to the doctor today. We are trusting for COMPLETE HEALING! We have some major decisions to make in the next few days, please pray for clarity and wisdom.

Haven is doing great. It is hard to believe she has been with us for only two weeks, it feels like so much longer. Now that a bit of time has passed and she has settled more, we have been able to look at her “condition” more objectively. Let me start at the beginning here—back in August last year when I found an urgent appeal on a Waiting Child site for a family to come forward for this little girl. I called the agency who had her file. They sent me all her pictures, as well as a letter the previous family who adopted her had written. As Anthony and I studied the pictures, something in our hearts stirred, she just did not look Autistic to us. We then called the family who previously adopted her, we wanted to know from them what her symptoms were and how the hospital came to the Autistic diagnosis. The father gave us his perspective on things, he stressed the importance of us knowing what we were getting into, that she was VERY mentally ill! They reversed the adoption out of concern for the other children in their home (two sons). We knew we had to adopt this child. From then on God performed miracle after miracle, providing us with every dollar we needed to bring her home.

Fast forward to adoption day–when we first met Haven she was sitting with the director of the orphanage. As soon as she saw us walk through the door she totally freaked out. After a few minutes she calmed down, she felt safe sitting in the directors arms. She was almost like a floppy rag doll, she would not make eye contact and the director kept lifting her hand to touch me. She obviously would have nothing to do with it. My initial thought when looking at her that day–this child has some retardation!

Here we are two weeks later–some time has passed and we have observed Haven carefully. Autism? We do not see it! Haven has met many people over the last two weeks and every opinion has been the same—nobody sees Autism. Yesterday I had to take Hannah-Claire to the doctor, I took Haven with us. Just from looking at her our doctor said “I do not see Autism, she engages too well!”. He confirmed what we had been thinking. Now, I must add that Haven has not had any official diagnosis here in the USA, these are just our initial thoughts and feelings.

What we DO see is physical abuse! I hate to even write that. She is very scarred. Remember I told you that she is terrified of seat belts belts? The reason is because she has been physically restrained, strapped down to a chair. She has big scars around her hips (even scar tissue), and around her ankles. She obviously struggled for hours to get free from the restraints. She is also very afraid of being hit. Yesterday she had a toilet accident on the floor of the bathroom, I came in to find her in the corner, cowering away from me with her hands held up to her face as if I was going to hit her! Oh my goodness, my heart broke.

Haven is delayed, very delayed! She is just like a tiny toddler who cannot do anything for herself. Our first thought is that she shut herself off as a means of coping with all that she has been through. She refused to speak as a means of just dealing with what life dealt her. Her growth is stunted, physically and mentally. We are considering Institutional Autism–a form of Autism in children who live in third world country orphanages–these children withdraw and show all the signs of regular Autism just as a means of dealing with the world. The good news is that it DOES get better with time, intervention services, lots of love and a family.

Yes, we do have a long road ahead with Haven. BUT, we look at her today and are amazed at what God has done already. We went into this with eyes wide open, expecting the worst (but trusting God for the best). We always wondered if the diagnosis in China was accurate. From what our guide told us when we were there, there is no way that any doctor could have accurately diagnosed her–she was terrified and completely non responsive for 45 minutes while they tried to diagnose her. The family needed an official medical diagnosis to get out of the adoption. So, the doctors just went by what the family said because they were not getting anything out of Haven. They just came up with Autism. We just don’t think so!

Haven has endured so much in her short life–orphanage abuse, being adopted and then taken back, institutionalism. We think that all these things have left her a delayed, fragile, traumatized little girl. The good news is that it will all start getting better. She has HOPE! She is no longer labeled “mentally ill”, she is a child with a bright future ahead of her. Yes, she has many obstacles to overcome, but isn’t God just amazing? Does He not hold every day of her life in His hands? We are so blessed. We are so thankful that God said GO…even when it seemed like a ridiculous journey to take. The Father has shown Himself faithful….AGAIN 🙂