We got some more information on M. Saturday. It was kind of a shock.
I've posted a bit on what you can't see on a photolisting. What happens when you see a child and a list of her weaknesses with none of her strengths. This was a whole lot more of weaknesses than strengths.
She does not walk. She does not talk. She is not potty trained. She is of an age where one would expect a child to walk and talk and use the bathroom independently. (If she were two, all that wouldn't be a huge concern).
She is described as severely mentally retarded.
She has an additional physical disability which greatly impacts how she perceives and interacts with the world... in addition to the one we knew about. This would make communicating with her very, very hard, unless one of these disabilities can be corrected (possible with the new disability we just learned about). The combination of these difficulties could be part or all of why she does not have the affected physical, verbal, and self-care skills. Her difficulties in perceiving and interacting with the world around her could also have resulted in the diagnosis of mental retardation, even if her disabilities did not affect her cognitively. So there could definitely be an element of once we can get through to this little girl, she will blossom.
She does not have a special attachment to any caregiver--but due to other circumstances (recent moves before the information I received was written) this may not be indicative of a problem.
She is smaller than I expected--the height of my three-year-old and barely heavier than the weight of my 21-month-old. I do have reason to believe this was also due to a move, and she's put on some more weight since then. It is hard to tell whether she may have regressed in other areas since her move.
There is a little good news, if I read between the lines. She is comforted by physical contact. That means she is not afraid of touch! She shows affection with smiles and laughter. She shows affection! This also makes me a little less worried about RAD, despite the information that she doesn't have a special attachment right now. She has a short attention span and doesn't show much interest in her lessons--Praise God! A caregiver is getting through to this little girl somehow. A short attention span is miles from so disconnected from the world she can't be reached. Still....
Unless we get more information on her--which might itself be a miracle--we have no idea what her future looks like. We have no idea what she is capable of. We have no idea how intense the care she will require would be.
Our family could probably handle a child who would require the level of care a 7 to 10 year old would require throughout her life. I could handle it if she were never really independent but could be semi-independent most of the time. What I'm not sure we could handle is a child who will require the level of care a two-year-old needs all her life. Constant supervision and help. Constant redirection to keep her out of trouble. All of that compounded by the size of an adult, who could reach anywhere, open gates and locks, and has the physical strength to get into bigger trouble.
Unless she made big improvements since this report--which is a possibility due to changes which happened a short time before this report was written--we would have no clue what sort of prognosis M. would have until months, possibly more than a year, after she came home. If the new disability we learned about were corrected, would she blossom? Or is the diagnosis that she is severely cognitively affected correct, so that even if her other difficulties were taken away, she would still function at a toddler level all her life?
If she were born to me, I would never doubt M. were my daughter. I would do whatever I could to give her the best quality of life I could.
On the other hand, if all I know now had been available to me initially, I never would have thought she might be the little girl God had for us.
Is He giving us this information now, rather than before, so we had a chance to bond to this little girl and hope she might be part of our family? Or is He giving us this information now, rather than later, so that we will pursue the adoption of a different child? Is M. the little girl He wants in our family? Or... not?
We are still processing all the new information. We honestly don't know how to proceed.
I am asking God for a sign. Please pray that for us.
At this point, I was just starting to see this little girl as my daughter. I was thinking about bringing her home, teaching her, finding her the resources she needed. I had started to find clothes and toys I thought she would enjoy. I have named her in my heart.
But to bring home a child with such severe multiple impairments, whose prognosis is a complete unknown--is that really what's best for our family?
At this point I would need a sign to give her up. And I would need a sign to bring her home. So I ask that you would pray with me for a sign. Pray that God would grant it to my husband as well as myself. Pray that He would speak wisdom to our hearts--He gives wisdom to all who ask. Pray that He would prepare our hearts for whatever child He has for us, and heal our hearts--especially my daughter Hannah's heart, who so wants M. to be her sister--if we are not supposed to bring M. home. Please pray for M. too! Pray that she is learning and growing as much as possible. Pray that she is loved. Pray that her family is being prepared for her, whether or not it's us. Pray that if we are not her family, her family will step forward as soon as we step back (and pray that we know when to step back, if that's His will). Pray that M.'s family--us, or not--will love her forever, stand by her through every difficulty and all of her needs, and help her to become all that she has the potential to be. Whatever God's plan for M., may she be richly blessed, and be a blessing to all who know her. Father, protect her and guide us. Give us the courage to follow you, no matter what your answer.
In the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.