Thank you, friends, for all your encouragement and advice as we walk the road of parenting a non-verbal child. I appreciate that so many of you e-mailed and commented, sharing your own experiences with me yesterday. I am still trying to get through responding to all the e-mails. Goodness, there are so many things that many of you shared which we have never considered. So much to think about.
Thank you for sharing your hearts with me.
We realize that Haven’s situation is unique. I cannot tell you how many ‘possibles’ have been mentioned by professionals as to why Haven is so very delayed, and still non-verbal at nine years old. When we arrived home with her 14 months ago, most doctors and therapists felt positive that Haven would start speaking on her own within a year of being home. We heard things like, “the love of a family”, and “the feeling that she belongs” over and over. We were told all these things would help Haven to start speaking. But that has not been the case. Here we are, well into our second year, and still there are no words. Still the development is painfully slow. Still the progress is at a snails pace.
Coming up with some kind of a ‘diagnosis’ for our sweet girl seems to have the professionals baffled. They just don’t know. It could be PTSD. It could be apraxia. It could be intellectual disability. It could be selective mutism. It could be so many different things, or a combination thereof. One thing we are certain of is that horrific orphanage abuse has made whatever her ‘condition’ is so much worse.
We don’t know, friends. One thing we do know is that the diagnosis she was given in China of autism is completely inaccurate. There is no autism is sight. That’s a good thing. The other good thing is that we have learned to take all ‘official diagnosis’ for children living in orphanages with a grain of salt. They mean nothing. I’m sure many can relate. We adopt a child because God said they’re the one, no matter what is ‘wrong’ with them. We adopt in obedience…and trust God with whatever we have to deal with. At least that’s how we see things.
At home, Haven does fairly well. This is her safe place. She has definitely come a very long way in 14 months. For the most part, she gets going to the potty right. We still have accidents, which are very random, but she is doing better. She can change her clothes and put on her coat. Zippers and buttons are not her thing though. She can kind of brush her own teeth–we do need to help out to get a good job done. These are things she could not do a little more than a year ago. We rejoice when we see her progress. We are so thankful when we see her try to do things for herself.
Many of you have asked about sign language. Yes, we have tried. We have tried repeatedly to teach Haven a few basic signs. She will imitate us when we do it. However, she will not use sign language to communicate with us. She would rather pee in her pants than make the sign for ‘potty’. She would rather go thirsty than make the sign for ‘water’. Something in her will not acknowledge need. Something in her brain does not register that she can communicate with something other than words. Does that make sense?
In the midst of it all, we have absolute peace. God gave us this sweet child, and He enables us to raise her and parent her. There is no stress whatsoever in it for us. We have learned to take one day at a time and have no expectations. When we see Haven learning something new, there is much rejoicing. When it seems like she is not learning anything at all, and is so content to remain in her silent little world, that’s okay with us too. We just don’t worry about tomorrow, or what it holds for Haven–we know God has that under control.
One thing’s for sure–she is the happiest, sweetest little girl. She may not speak, but she has a smile that can light up a room. She loves her family, and adores her little dog.
We don’t get hung up on what Haven’s future may, or may not, hold. It seems completely irrelevant in the bigger picture. Whether she goes on to become a self-supporting adult, or ends up living with us forever, is just a big whatever to us. We don’t care. All that matters is that she is home, where she belongs. If we never hear her tell us that she loves us, that’s okay–we know already. What are words anyway?