Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loving My Girl


I told you she is beautiful :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There Is No God

Just like that it came into my head one morning last October, “There is no God.”

It was a weekday morning, a Monday or Wednesday or Friday... I was running late getting Jade to preschool. All of the little ones were packed into the van, ready to go. All except Kimani who was refusing to be strapped into her carseat.

We had just returned from seven weeks in Ukraine. After our long absence, we brought home with us two strange children. Kimani’s response to this was to refuse to be “put” into anything. She would not sit in her highchair. She would not go in her beloved jumperoo, and she would not allow herself to be put in her carseat.

I joke around that changing Kimani’s diaper is like wrestling a crocodile, “Krikey, she almost took my arm off. Ayyye, she’s a beauty.” But for real, when Kimani fights you, you lose. Ok, so we could forgo the highchair and jumperoo, but the carseat was non-optional.

Kimani was thrashing around, stiff-legging, back-arching, screeching... I would get her body bent into position and she would shove off from the seatback, jetting herself up... She rolled to the side, she swung at me, scratched me, bit me... and then, crack! I slapped her.

She froze. Silenced, she slumped into her chair. She did not cry. Instead her face stretched long and her bottom lip jutted out. Her sightless eyes bore through me, surprised and questioning. Her silky cream skin turned pink where my hand landed. That is when I heard it loud and very clear, “There is no God.”

For a decade or so I had sought Him out. I read, I listened, I studied, I prayed. I gave up drugs, voodoo, and hating the world. As my beliefs strengthened, I left my corporate job and went to work for the church. I joined a small group. I started a blog and wrote about God. I was obedient and got baptized, accepted my special needs daughter, and then adopted two more. I had done all I could to be close to God.

And there I was, godless... a rotten mother who had just slapped her mentally retarded two year old. For me there was no other explanation... nothing other than I was alone in this world, alone with my faults and weaknesses, alone with my impatience and anger. Alone with my black heart. Alone without my faith.

I was pretty sure that nothing could change my mind about this. Yet in November a friend suggested that I spend some quality time with God. I was on a retreat and had the time to myself so I opened up the hotel desk drawer and pulled out Gideon’s Bible. I couldn’t remember where I had left off in Isaiah, so I skipped ahead to Jeremiah. And the message was, “O my sinful child, come home to me again, for I am merciful; I will not be forever angry with you.” Jer 3:12

I was moved but not convinced. Back then, I had expected to feel a blessing of some sort, maybe have my secret prayers to be a better person answered. And a guilt trip through Jeremiah wasn’t going to fix everything.

Then at Christmas, I asked for what I thought would be impossible. I asked the God I was no longer sure about to give Anya a family. I knew Anya was a hard sell. She wasn’t photogenic like so many children with Ds. She was not as advanced as the others... No one had ever asked about her and her time in the babyhouse was up.

When the Haddicks stepped up to adopt Anya shortly after Christmas, I was overwhelmed. And just like that I heard it loud and clearly, “Yes, TUC, there is a God.”

(The Haddicks are over in Ukraine right now getting their girl. Check out their exciting story.)

Monday, April 18, 2011


My seventeen year old stepdaughter walked into the kitchen to where I was sitting at the table working on the computer and said, “I hope I’m not pregnant.”

Open mouth to answer, stop, think... reply, “Um, why?”

(Y’all are impressed with my amazing mothering skills demonstrated by that well thought out response, aren’t you?)

She went on to explain that if she was pregnant everyone would forever think she married her boyfriend because of that reason and not because they really wanted to be married. Did I understand that, she wanted to know.

Yup, I did. “It’s like me and Kimani,” I said. She is here and nobody really knows if I wanted her to be here.

TK was stunned at the possibility that I may have not wanted Kimani to be here, “Well you didn’t abort her and you had the choice, so that shows you wanted her.”

“Is an abortion at 22 weeks pregnant really an option?” I asked her playing the devil's advocate.

She wasn’t looking too good. “Well, you adopted two more just like her, so obviously you wanted her.” She insisted.

Ahhh, there it is, voiced by an unworldly inexperienced teenager. The proof of my love for Kimani, evident for all to see.

I knew this thought was germinating. I’d been feeling the tiniest twinge of reckoning every time I announced to someone that Masha and Peach are adopted. I see it in your faces, your reactions... so different from when you heard my daughter was born with Down syndrome. There is no more pity, just awe and compliments.

TK had stuck her pointing finger right into a murky spot in my heart. Did I adopt Masha and Peach as a way to show the world that Kimani is good and valuable, and worth the air she breathes?

If you asked me that before I adopted them, while we were still thinking of adopting, still pushing papers, I would have told you “No, we are simply saving two lives.” But now, I don’t know. Maybe there was a part of me that knew that bringing the girls home would answer all those unasked questions. In a way, saving their lives is the statement that saves Kimani’s.

Friday, April 15, 2011


School pictures came home the other day. I was digging in Masha’s backpack for her daily report and I spotted the package. There she was, so beautiful in her red plaid dress... the perfect preschooler photo.

I knew there would be a similar package in Kimani’s school bag. I tried not to get my hopes up. It takes a thousand shots of Kimani to get a good one... I slipped the thin grey 8 by 10 envelope out of her bag, cellophane side down... With a final wish, I flipped it over, and my heart crunched tight.

“Retake!” was my initial painful reaction. My gut hurt. Why couldn’t she look more... why couldn’t she look less... Why did I have to feel so damn disappointed? I wanted to send it back.

Masha and Kimani are opposites when it comes to the camera. Masha is a pretty girl and that prettiness elevates to lovely when frozen in a snapshot. Kimani is a beautiful child... dainty, fair, with plush rosy lips and ocean blue eyes. Her cheekbones are high and she has a perfect kitten nose. Her wispy hair frames her face with a golden softness.

And like so much about Kimani, her absolute beauty cannot be stilled and captured. But evidently her delightful laughter can be and I won’t be trading that in anytime soon.