Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's so special about being normal?

I'm reading three books right now. Adopting the Hurt Child, Parenting the Hurt Child, and The Connected Child. I read the first free pages allowed of these books on iBooks on my iPhone late one night and when I read the statement "...don't assume that just by integrating the child into your family that she will form a healthy attachment" I knew I needed to read up! So I am quickly learning that this is a matter for the professionals and I will read everything I can to teach me and Husband how to parent Lily. Not just for our sake....for her sake. She has so many classic symptoms of reactive attachment disorder and she has 9 years of institutionalized life behind her. I want to raise Lily in a way that she can overcome this and be able to have healthy relationships with adults in her life. From the outside she looks happy and healthy and free. And it would be easy to just believe that now all her past is erased and she can just forget it all. But her past is part of our life and we need to be able to help her sort through it when the time comes. She will have many questions one day when her mind is mature enough and brave enough to remember her past. I want to do what's right for her and what will provide the best opportunity for complete healing in her mind. Laying in a crib, not being able to walk or talk until almost 5 and living without a sole nurturing caregiver for 9 years comes with baggage. And we will take it all. Because we love Lily! And when it's time to unpack the bags, we will be right there with her.

As I read I am reminded of adults I know that did not have proper, loving nurturing relationships with their mothers the first 3 years of their lives and I can see that some of them still struggle in areas listed in the book, even as adults. It is hard to trust others, it is hard to let others see their weakness, they don't want to have to depend on anyone, or they have to control the person in fear that they will leave them as others in their childhood did.

While Lily is 9, she is really on about a 4 year old level so in a way that makes it easier for us ...or does that. We often wonder if she has the capacity to retain knowledge and learn and grow. School will tell us a lot. She has learned English well and she is very capable. I think her mind is clear, just extremely delayed. Like it's been asleep for 9 years. But regardless we just want the best for Lily and we want to help bring out her best. We don't put expectations on her. I know I have a ton to learn about raising a "special needs" child, but one thing that I do know is that kids don't have to conform to the norm. What is the norm anyway and what's so special about being normal? Who wants to be normal? I don't! When we take kids and measure them against others (height, weight, hair color, skin color, eye color, reading efficiency, baseball stats) all we get is kids (or parents should I say) that think they are better than others and kids that think they are worthless. I understand this is part of life, but we am going to strive to raise our kids in a way that they don't feel the need to measure themselves against others.

This past year in school a lot of my daughter's friends were saying, doing, writing, listening to, etc. things that we don't want her to. That was the norm. That unfortunately is the norm of kids her age, but even worse. And we decided that that norm wasn't going to be ok with us. And that is was OK for her to be the only one in some cases that believed differently. So the older I get the less I care about being normal and I think if we can somehow pass that on to our children it will help them so much in life. And in Lily's case, I am not interested in protecting her from the big bad world or making her feel "normal." She is special. She knows that a Man named God told me and Husband to go get her from the orphanage and you should see the smile that comes over her face when we talk about that. She knows she is special.

So I know that I'm just delving into this information in these books, but the professionals assure that she can overcome this disorder although most people carry it with them their whole lives. I know that God also has done a great work in Lily's mind and that He will be faithful to complete this good work! I can see Lily speaking in front of many people. Lily has a great story that has already begun. I can't wait to read her book one day!!!! I just hope it says good things about me! HAHA. Excuse me while I go read....

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