Everyone who ever meets Haven in person simply cannot help but fall in love with her. There really is something so, so special about our little girl. She’s just so endearing with her quiet sweetness.
Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t ask us about whether Haven will someday find her voice. Or, what will it take for Haven to finally speak?
|The wrinkly-nosed sweetie on the right is our Haven, being loved by her sister Hannah-Claire.|
It’s a legitimate question. There was once a time when I used to wonder the same thing. If someone had told me three years ago that Haven would still be non-verbal in 2011, I probably would have said, “No, way. Of course she’ll be speaking by then. Every doctor and therapist we ever consulted with prior to bringing Haven home, and those we saw once she was home, assured us of the same thing, “Just by being in a family she will find her words very quickly,” they’d say.
But, that has obviously not been the case.
Haven is still very content to live in her silent world. She makes no effort to even try and use her voice (which she does have).
So, do we think she will ever speak?
Honestly, we have absolutely no idea. Nobody knows.
Of course we pray that she will someday find her voice. Of course we want nothing but the best for Haven and will do anything humanly possible to ensure that she gets to that point. But here’s the thing…even if Haven never, ever uses words, we will be perfectly fine with it. We don’t even think about the fact that she is non-verbal anymore. It is simply who Haven is. She has her little way of letting us know what she wants, and we have learned over the years to understand her. Even though she refuses to use sign language, God has been so good to teach us how to meet Haven’s needs.
No words necessary.
What if God never gives Haven the ability to speak?
What if Haven’s life is to reflect HIS glory just the way she is?
Haven’s life touches more people than I can count simply because of who she is–the beautiful creation that God made her. God can choose to display His miracle-working power at any point and give Haven the ability to speak in a nano second. We know that. But up to now, He hasn’t.
And that’s okay! Haven is amazing. She is unique. She is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” She is created in the image of our God who does all things well. Haven is who Haven is–perfect in every way.
Many people ask us about therapies for Haven and what we do. When we first came home from China, we set out on a mission to do everything we possibly could to rectify Haven’s extreme developmental delays. We accessed every service under the sun and got the input of many professionals. We persevered for a long time.
It was a disaster! Haven hated it! She actually regressed every time we tried something new.
The bottom line was that she simply could not handle it.
The one thing that has been confirmed is that Haven suffers from severe PTSD. Horrible orphanage abuse has left her scarred physically and emotionally. A disrupted adoption and the heinous events that followed when she was returned to the orphanage (she was ostracized and a command was issued from the director that no one was allowed to touch her) left her completely traumatized and barely able to function. I will never forget the day we walked into the civil affairs office in China and saw her there–timid, literally shaking, unable to focus on anything, and completely terrified. It was pathetic.
And so we came home and with the best intentions tried to get Haven all the help possible. She reacted by soiling herself and melting down every time. It was all too much for our sweet girl. It was then that we realized that Haven is not like all the other children who get services and do well from them. Haven is different. Her needs are different. Her ability to cope with stress is different.
For Haven, safety is everything! She absolutely has to feel safe. We do everything in our power to ensure that we are always near her and that she is never threatened in any way. We protect Haven fiercely. As soon as she feels threatened or pushed beyond her ability in any way, she has a major melt down. She is simply unable to cope with it.
And so we keep Haven’s world safe, as familiar as possible, and we go at her pace. Over the years we have continued with the therapies that we feel she can handle, but sometimes even those are simply too much. To this day people tell us, “Give her aggressive speech therapy and she will soon find her words.” Uh-uh–so not going to work. Haven’s issues are psychological–every bit of speech therapy she has ever had has done nothing at all for her.
What is in her future? Only the Almighty God knows that. While Haven definitely has come SUCH a long way since 2008, she is still extremely delayed. She will turn 11 this year, but developmentally is still around a three-year-old. Will she eventually catch up? No idea.
God has given us the grace to parent Haven where she is–not having unrealistic expectations or pushing her beyond what she is able to do. We have learned to understand what makes her anxious, what stresses her out, and when she feels unsafe. We teach her new things daily, but understand that it may take months and months for her to master it.
The only thing that matters to us is that Haven is loved! Unconditionally. For who she is.
The rest we’re quite happy to leave in the hands of her God who loves her passionately and gave her to us as a beautiful gift. Words cannot describe how thankful we are to have this angel in our lives.
And if she never gives us back anything in return, if we never hear her sweet voice uttering a simple sound…so be it! It really does not matter. At all.
One thing’s for sure. Haven absolutely loves Hannah-Claire, she adores her family, and being at home is where she does best.
Slow and steady definitely wins the race with Haven.