Looking Through My Daughter’s Eyes
Hello, my name is Sophia and my Chinese name is Hui Rong. I am from China. There are hundreds and thousands of children in China with no families and I was one of them. And those children have special needs. It’s hard to understand what mine is, mine is epilepsy. Epilepsy is kind of like a scar on my brain. When I got to the hospital they had to take a picture of my brain.
It was pretty scary at first, but when it was done it was pretty cool to see my brain.
Well, you know when I was talking about the scar, I saw it. It isn’t like a scar on your skin. It was like an empty space because the sickness that I had when I was a baby kind of ate away on the left part of my brain. That doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I did before, but I do need to take medicine to keep me from getting another seizure. And whenever I feel left out I just pray that I will feel better.
I like being Sophia Hannah Rong Kaden. I like the way God made me. And I will praise Him as long as I shall live.
“God keep me safe.
I go to you for safety.
You are my Lord.
Without you, I don’t have anything that is good. God, people who live in our land are glorious.
I take great delight in them.
Those who run after other gods will have nothing but trouble.
I will not pour out offerings of blood to those gods. My lips will not speak their names.
Lord, everything you have given me is good.
You have made my life secure.”
Psalm 16: 1-5
A few days ago, my seven-year-old daughter Sophia approached me clutching a notebook tightly against her chest. She looked me square in the eye and informed me that she had decided to write a report. She thrust her work toward me and yet again, I was humbled by one of my children. She wrote this completely on her own, and the Biblical reference she used was one that I was not even that familiar with.
Sophia is rather introspective, and this was a special window into her heart. She was adopted as an infant with no known special needs; her condition was unveiled shortly after her seventh birthday. While spending her first eleven months in a Chinese orphanage, she contracted an illness that attacked her brain. Since it affected an area of the brain that is not necessary for important brain function, she appeared to have recovered and was available for adoption as a non-special needs infant with no mention of ever being ill. I am positive China did not realize what lay in wait for our dear girl, and I am truly grateful that it was undetectable. As Chinese adoptions have moved almost exclusively into the special needs arena, I thought sharing Sophia’s story would bring a reminder that every child comes with his or her own story- a mystery novel of sorts. They are all thrilling, exhausting, captivating…and completely unpredictable.
Having a framework of a child’s medical history and personality is an important tool for determining our ability to handle the unknown course that may lie ahead. Realizing it is likely incomplete, potentially inaccurate, and not a guarantee of a complete bill of health is our responsibility when weighing in our own preparedness. Truth be told, there is nothing available to us that will foretell the future or that will promise a straight path with no nightmarish surprises along the way. This is no one’s fault and is true for us all. When we decide to become parents, defenders and protectors of precious little souls, we take on the burden of the unknown. We will face pain and sorrow…as well as joy and peace. All of these emotions are gifts; they shape us and help us to grow in faith and love as we learn how to respond in kind.
Of our five adoptions, Sophia was our only non-special needs adoption. I find this a poignant reminder that every day that dawns holds a secret of its own. Sophia’s condition is by far the most serious and threatening of all of my children’s medical needs. Anyone who has met Sophia, even briefly, will tell you that she is nothing short of amazing and inspiring. She touches people deeply with her spirit and her trust. She completely changed our lives forever and is largely responsible for shaping me into the person I am today. I see life completely differently as a result of becoming her mommy. I am indebted forever.
Life is fragile. Sometimes, knowing just how fragile is information we would sleep more peacefully without. No matter how our children come to us and what their past histories hold, no matter what information we are gifted with or what lays in wait, when we commit ourselves to them we promise that it is of no consequence. We vow that we are blindly devoted to them so that they can squeeze every drop of experience out of this life while they are here, and also prepare them for the next life that lies beyond the horizon.
We do this as a community…supporting and educating each other as we are able. Life is not designed to be lived in solitude; it is meant to be shared, lived out loud and learned from. Life promises to be messy, complicated and extraordinarily beautiful…all written one page at a time.
Lisa Kaden is a mom to 7 beautiful children, 5 adopted from China. 3 of her children were adopted at older ages and all 5 have special needs. She has been a volunteer for LWB since 2004 and is currently a passionate adoption advocate focusing on older child adoption.