It has been 14 days since QQ's surgery, and she is finally emerging from the woods. It's palpable - you can see her rediscover her comfort. She's catching up on sleep, both at night and during her naps, and you can feel the heaviness of her repose, the depth of it that hasn't been there for the past two weeks. Awake, she is finally really happy again, full of energy and vigor and her old, unsullied joy in life. Happily, the new affection and attachment that emerged post-surgery has stayed with her, and incorporated itself into her joyful play. She is more connected, more attuned, eager to draw us in close, instead of just playing on her own.
The other day, when I was describing the pain and difficulty of her recovery, her discomfort and our lack of sleep, the stress we all felt, someone said to me, "It's a hard road you picked, with the cleft palate."
I was taken aback by that thought. I was speechless for a moment, and the only thing I could think of to say was, "But...she's THE ONE."
That's how I see it. I don't see the choice anymore, the decision we made some 20 months ago when we decided to adopt through the medical needs program. All I see now is that, through choice or through fate or through whatever you believe in, we got the one child...the only child that was intended for us.
I feel so incredibly lucky. The difficulty, the pain, the tears, the sleep-loss, all of it is incidental. I take it all for granted now. I see no other possible path. Because if we had not made the decisions we made, we would not have found her. And what's worse: she would be with someone else. Some other family would have the privilege of loving and helping and raising this amazing child. I just can not support that thought.
For the record, when I first considered the Waiting Child program, I was not at all certain. I was nervous about it. But I talked to my husband, and really it was his immediate enthusiasm, his certainty that we were the right people for this path, that made it possible for me to trust my gut instinct and dive in headfirst. As soon as we made the decision, I knew it was the right thing for us. My gut told me we were on the right track. I would never encourage anyone to adopt special needs against their better judgement. It's a very personal decision. But for us, it was the right thing.
Some would say that QQ was born with a difficult path to tread, that she was born with disadvantages. And she was, in her society, in her time. She will have more pain in her life than some people. But I don't think of her as unfortunate. I think of her as charmed.
No one would wish to be abandoned by their parents, just days after birth. Of course it's difficult, and it will come back to revisit her. She will, I imagine, struggle with it at various points during her life. But we all struggle with something. No one of us is free of strife, regrets, doubts, the occasional bout of self-loathing. Yes, she was born with a physical "defect". But who among us can say that we were born "perfect"?
She is undeniably beautiful, both pre-surgery and post-surgery. But beauty can be a heavy burden to bear, for unexpected reasons. My guess is that her "flaw" will be the thing that gives her the gifts of strength and character. She will be even luckier for having both beauty and strength. We, her parents, will also be stronger for the process of nursing her through the pain of her various surgeries, so we will gain as well.
My gut feeling about QQ is that she is one of the charmed people. She has a magic in her. Few people in our country have seen a child with an open cleft, since cleft surgery is well advanced in our society and generally happens not long after birth. Some people suggested that we conceal her face when we first adopted her, to save her from the reaction of those who were unprepared for the way she looked. We didn't do that. We saw her as beautiful from the start, and we assumed that others would, too. There is no shame in her "condition", and we didn't want to create shame where none was necessary. So we took her out in public right from the start, and she rose to the occasion. Contrary to what some had feared, she received no looks of horror, no inappropriate comments. Both in China and in the USA, people were charmed by her and drawn to her, as we knew they would be. It's her personality, her openness, her lack of self-consciousness. She is confident and open. She loves people, and that attitude shines through. She has had strangers wrapped around her finger from the get-go.
I am confident that her beauty (both interior and exterior, spiritual and physical), and her personality will carry her through her life. I sense that she will be one of those people toward whom others gravitate, for the sheer power of her aura, in the hopes that some of it will rub off on them. People will, as they do now, want to absorb a bit of the glow that she radiates. That kind of power is rare, and can make a person vain. I think that her disadvantages will give her the strength of character to resist that vanity and all its attendant pitfalls.
So, no, I don't feel that we're sacrificing anything for her. I don't feel that we've taken on anything we can't handle. And I don't feel that she was born with misfortunes. Some say that she's lucky to have us, but I feel the exact opposite...we are incredibly lucky to have her. We could not, in fact, have been more fortunate.
She is our magic child. When she is happy, the sun comes out over our world. She has given us a joy greater than anything we ever imagined. And we cannot conceive of life without her.