She was abandoned.
This precious girl who stole ALL our hearts in 5.2 seconds in our home — she was abandoned.
At an orphanage.
At 4 years old.
I didn’t know.
I couldn’t imagine.
I still can’t even fathom.
When we signed up to host this sweet angel, I assumed that she, like Superman and many of the children sitting in orphanages in China, was abandoned at birth. Before parents made attachments. Before mamas and babas fell in love.
Before angels like this one melted hearts.
Before “goodbye” was to a PERSONALITY and not just a PERSON (as if the person itself weren’t hard and horrible enough).
But when Joy arrived two weeks ago, we FaceTimed with the chaperone who works at her orphanage. That chaperone’s host family called a translator to ask the questions that I still didn’t have answers for — the questions that, after 24 hours in our home, just plagued my mind.
How did she get to this orphanage?
What kind of education did she have?
And whom there did she love?
Because after 24 hours in our home, it was CLEAR that this precious little girl who I’d assumed had sat in an orphanage all seven years of her life had the ability to bond. To relate. To ATTACH. And that doesn’t happen with children who’ve never held close relationships with a caretaker.
It doesn’t happen for children who haven’t had that foundation of love and care poured at an early age.
Attachment is something generally built early on.
This angel — you could tell immediately that she’d had it.
Her chaperone confirmed for me that she did.
And then she lost it.
Because Joy arrived in the orphanage at age 4. Because of her special needs, she could not communicate what had happened or where her family went.
So, with no identifying information and no family to claim, and with no results from the mandatory local police search and newspaper announcements, she, at the age that most children are learning independence and preparing for their first day of kindergarten with helicopter mommies and proud, picture-taking daddies, became an orphan.
My heart — it just cannot wrap my MIND around this thought!
Joy! This precious Joy! This same girl who melted our hearts in 5 seconds with her hugs and constant kisses. Who crawls into our laps and shows compassion more intense and more insightful than some of the boys who’ve lived in our home their entire lives! Who expresses her needs and wants and desires SO CLEARLY and demonstrates HUMOR and JOY and even IRONY!
This girl who, after two weeks, we can’t even imagine letting go.
SHE was abandoned by the people who are supposed to be committed to loving her for life.
And she was likely abandoned for the very thing that has blessed OUR family this month beyond measure.
Her extra chromosome.
I can’t even.
Friends, this extra chromosome our girl sports — it does NOTHING but just make her SPARKLE.
She can do EVERYTHING our “typical” boys can do.
She can run. She can jump. She can play. She can dance.
She takes care of all her own bathroom needs, and she’s even woken up and given herself a shower daily without instruction.
She dresses herself, feeds herself, cleans herself, cares for herself. She tidies her things and puts away her toys, and, except for the orange peels she incessantly feeds to the dog, she puts all her waste in the trash without instruction.
She picks up on routines after one or two introductions, and she’s helped with chores that our boys still complain about years into this family gig.
Yesterday, she used a sharp knife to PERFECTLY cut her own oranges, and the day before that, she sat on the floor following a diagram to assemble a fort kit the kids all got for Christmas.
She counts with her fingers, colors PERFECTLY inside the lines and she’s picked up “hello,” “goodbye” and “Ranger” in English already.
She’s SMART. She’s BRIGHT. She’s 200 percent CHARMING.
And Li’l Miss Friendly woos every visitor, store clerk and passer-by with a kiss, a smile and a special twinkle in her eye.
There is NOTHING “down” about this syndrome.
And it breaks my heart in two that this girl will forever have to live with the fact that her parents likely abandoned her because of it.
We refuse to let Joy’s story be one of abandonment.
We refuse to allow her name to be “Unwanted.”
Not when she’s “Cherished.”
Perfect in God’s sight and in ours.
This girl — she is a treasure. To her Father in Heaven and to us. And we will PRAY and we will FIGHT and we will SHARE and we will ADVOCATE.
We will tell Joy’s story hour after hour and day after day until this sweet girl once again gets to know the love of FAMILY.
We will not abandon this girl, and we will never abandon her cause.
Because in a FAMILY is where this beautiful child of God belongs.