Cora: The Gift of Knowing How to Love And Be Loved
On December 7, 2015, I sat in the Taiyuan social welfare office wondering what the next chapter in our lives held. We knew so little about our soon to be 2 ½ year old daughter. We knew Cora had complex congenital heart defects and Goldenhar Syndrome, but we did not know the extent of either of those diagnoses.
We knew, from pictures, that she had been loved deeply while in the care of Little Flower Projects, and we knew she had been in a Love Without Boundaries foster care program (where she was known as “Josie”) for the last twelve months. That was all we knew.
We did not know if she knew how to love or how to be loved, and we worried that the many moves in her short life would hinder her attachment process to us. Our fears were about to quickly be dismissed by more love and affection than we could have ever imagined.
After barely having time to get my camera ready, my beautiful daughter was the first to walk in to the office. It did not take long for her to warm up to me. Of course the goldfish crackers and play phone helped, but within minutes she was smiling and snuggling and showing affection. It was completely surreal. Her sunny and joy-filled personality was unmistakable from the first moment. I knew within minutes that she had been intensely loved in her foster home and that we were not going to struggle with love one bit.
In our travel group, Cora was the only child who had not been in an orphanage, and the difference was profound. Many of the children did not know how to snuggle. While they didn’t dislike their forever mom and dad, they weren’t sure how to relate to them and the attention they were receiving. Cora immediately snuggled, and hugged, and played as if she had been in our home from the beginning.
Her loving nature has continued now that we are home. When she gets hurt, she knows to come to me or her Dad for comfort and allows us to comfort her through her times of grief. She has attached very quickly to both of us, and we know that is because she was attached to her previous caregivers.
The other blessing foster care gave to Cora and us has been her ability to quickly attach to the other members of our family.
Cora is now the youngest of our five children, and we were concerned about how she would handle sharing attention with her siblings. However, she loves to play with her brothers and sisters, and has settled in to her “baby sister” role beautifully. We learned shortly after she became ours that she was very close to her foster brother, and we believe this is why she has done so well.
Cora has also attached quickly to her grandparents who live next door to us, and we know that she had foster grandparents in her foster home. This has been a tremendous gift to us.
We are forever grateful for Love Without Boundaries’ foster care program. They gave our Cora Hope the gift of knowing how to love and be loved, and that is a priceless treasure.
~Ryan and Faith Mahoney are the parents to Trent, Maggie, Evangeline, Reid, and Cora. They live in Villa Ridge, Missouri.