Friday, December 7, 2007

Rise Up and Walk!

The first time I ever really contemplated talking to our youngest daughter about her legs was when I was sitting in a crowded waiting area of the London Heathrow Airport, on my second trip to Ukraine in order to adopt her. All of a sudden, it hit me like a brick: Someday I am going to have to explain to her that she isn't going to walk like other children.

I tried to imagine what that would be like, and it filled me with so much sadness that I began to cry. People probably thought I was either mad a my husband, or upset I missed a flight. Or perhaps a bit miffed at the prices atHeathrow's duty-free shops. But whatever people thought, the reality of her disability hit me right then.

The thing is, that we've been through some similar things with our older daughters. It takes time for them to understand that their bodies are different. For instance, our middle daughter had been home for over 2 years, and was over 4 years old (and just really starting to learn how to count) when she made a mighty announcement at the dinner table.

"Oh my! ******* has only got 1 arm! There's only one, not two!"

We all just looked at her like she was a bit loopy.

"So," our oldest daughter replied nonchalantly, "It took you this long to figure it out, huh?"

Even with our oldest, we watched her go through the phases: thinking she would grow an arm, thinking that all children were born with a big leg and a little leg and that her little leg would start to grow at some point. She had even had the misunderstanding that we had an arm waiting for her at home when she left the orphanage. It's really hard to watch as they process the loss, especially as they don't begin to think of it in terms of a loss until they're older. Then, mix in the fact that it isn't a total loss because there is so much good that God redeems from disabilities, that in some facets it's actually a blessing, and it's just a lot for one little mind to process.

But what I should have remembered when I was in Heathrow Airport was that I didn't' know the future. I only have an understanding of what's happening now. In fact, according to I Corinthians 13, I only have a dim understanding of now, not even complete. So, there's no point in worrying how things will play out, when they never play out how you expect them to.

Take, for instance, our oldest daughter. From birth, it was expected she would never walk. She was born with absolutely no hip on her right side, a twisted hip on her left, no femur (thigh bone) on the right, and no fibulas (the smaller shin bone) in either leg. She's also missing a myriad of other bones that I won't bore you with, but suffice it to say, there was enough missing that she would never walk. She was also in a place where there was no medical intervention or therapy for her at all.

She was, however, in an orphanage where she was loved. The ladies who cared for her loved her, prayed for her, and decided that her best chance in life was to learn to adapt to herenvironment . So, they taught her, and she learned to do everything her peers did -- except to walk. Then one spring, only a couple months before we met her, her orphanage began preparations for the Easter program. She was told that she could sing in the program, but, since she couldn't walk, not dance.

That was enough for her. She was so miffed about not being able to dance in the program, she decided that that would never happen again. She created her own three-year-old physical therapy program that included lots of falling and bruising, I'm sure, but several weeks later was walking.

The orphanage staff in Ukraine told us that it was amazing she could walk, but since she was walking when we met her, it didn't really sink in. However, after arriving home and having many doctors tell us that, not only was it incredible that she could walk, but that they couldn't even give us a medical explanation for why she could walk, it began to really sink in!

So, I should've remembered that with our youngest daughter. However, she came home unable to walk, and her legs and body were limp with atrophy. For the first few months home she was so weak that her favorite position to play in was laying on her back on the floor. Doctor after doctor told us that the surgical options for helping her to walk were too extreme and we should just train her to using a wheelchair. There would be no walking in her future.

We began to work toward that goal, and since her doctor was recommending that we fit her for a power wheelchair, we began to work towards accommodating that. We had her feet surgically unclubbed so that she could wear shoes, but not thinking that she could ever bear weight or walk on them. Then a funny thing happened.

She began trying to stand and walk. While wearing her braces, she learned to balance on her feet while holding herself up on a step stool. Then she began trying to walk on her knees. Then she began trying to walk while holding our hands.


While this is a long way from walking, it is amazing nonetheless. And, I am reminded that we really don't know the future, and we really don't know what God will do. It's easy to forget that with God, all things are possible.

Each night when we tuck the girls in bed we pray, sing and read the Bible with them. Our daughter's favorite song is based on the miraculous healing Jesus worked through Peter and John, and every night she asks to sing it (and also a song about being quiet, which is really funny because she is never quiet, and she actually shouts the song).

"Peter and John went to pray.
They met a lame man on the way. (side note, I hate this line --what, was the guy boring?)
He held out his palm and he asked for some alms
And this is what Peter did say:

Silver and Gold have I none (amen to that brother!)
But such as I have I give thee
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Rise up and Walk!

And he went walking and leaping and praising God!
Walking and leaping and praising God!
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

I'm left wondering if God is actually going to let us witness a miracle with our own eyes. But until then, I pray that we can be content with whatever His plan is to reveal his glory in her life.


Joyce Seagle said...

Deb, I notice you are stay-at-home mom. I use to be one of those. Now my five children have grown up and moved far away. Now I go see them and I never stay at home. Joyce

MarlaQuack said...

Applauding the peanut walking!