My amazing husband and I have been blessed with three children from China that were “Born in our hearts,” as we like to say. This in itself presents a “visible difference” and a public challenge at times. You might be surprised at the comment/questions we get as a family. I am an advocate for adoption, so I try to turn most situations around into teachable moments. We are training our daughters to be able to confidently answer questions, but also giving them space and boundaries to say, “I am sorry but I don’t want to answer that question now.” I think a few of the hardest things we have been asked repeatedly while out in the public is, “How much did they cost?” or, “Did you pay less because they have a special need?”, and finally “Why would you go to China when we have so many kids here?” The comment that really bothers us the most is “Are they real sisters?” This question makes our children question if we are normal and “A real family.”
We believe that we have been directed to each of our children and therefore are a perfectly created family. Our newest daughter came home about a year ago when she was 5 years old. Before we adopted her, I actually had a vision of her…and then was led right to her 7,000 miles away. I recognized her because of her beauty and that she is missing part of her left arm. In fact, all of her limbs have been affected by amniotic band syndrome (birth accident). In just a year, we have discovered that 10 fingers and toes are pretty over rated. It has never been an issue and quite frankly we don’t even see it anymore.
But that is NOT the case for the world. We have had a whole string of recent “stranger episodes” that have left us hurt, shocked, grieved, surprised and in many deep conversations with our girls. For our family, it seems the world feels we need to explain many things, when often times we just want to function as a family out. I want to share two situations with you. In our home we do not say “you can’t do that because,” we invite her to figure out how she will do it. It was bed time and one of our precious daughters Princess Rose Petal made a heart with her two hands. Our other daughter, Princess Peach Tree began to sob. “Mommy, I only have one hand, I want to make a heart too.” Feeling her pain, I looked at her and said, “You can make a heart, let’s do it together….so here is my half of it and you put in your half.” So every night we make a perfect heart together.
The other thing I want to share was something difficult that happened recently to our family that felt shocking and hurtful. We sell jewelry as our profession and were doing a Scottish festival and at an event, a little girl asked our daughter Gloria, who we call “Princess Peach Tree” to be her friend. Gloria said yes…and then the little girl noticed Gloria’s little arm and started to scream in terror, “Your arm is gone. It’s GONE.” The little girl was crying and demanding to get away from Gloria…..and this went on and on…and it was loud, real loud and over the top. It never resolved. Daddy intervened right away but the other child would not settle down. He did not want to leave because he did not want our daughter to feel as though she had done something wrong. The little girls’ mother tried to calm her daughter down, but could not control her AND our sweet Princess Peach Tree felt rejected.
Meanwhile, our sweet daughter said to me, “Mommy, some girl was scared of my little arm!” She held her little arm up in the air looking at it. Next, she said, “Mommy…why mommy?” The look on her face and that feeling of rejection that was pouring off of her made me cry inside as I comforted her. I fell even deeper in love with her in that moment. We knew that the topic was sensitive since Gloria recounted so many harsh stories about her limbs while in her orphanage. Since she arrived we have been working hard through our faith to empower her and learn to love herself unconditionally, since we know there will be future unwelcome “events.” Regardless, we are grateful for the chance to help other people understand “difference”, as well as guide our own children.
It is our hope that with more exposure, such as our story has to offer, we will encounter one less stare and one more child will find her forever home. Our children can do GREAT things!
What Happened To You By James Palmer
I walk down the street without a care,
I can feel the tension as they look and stare.
I wonder to myself, what gives them the right,
to say what is missing is wrong or right.
I do not ask why they are fat, skinny or tall,
you see to me it does not matter at all.
If you look in a forest at every tree,
none are the same it’s impossible to be.
Some are tall and as straight as an arrow.
Some are all leafy for the resting sparrow.
Some have fallen over from the ants inside.
Some fall to the rivers to meet up with the tide.
Some people think they are perfect you see,
what are the things ‘they are hiding from me?”
It talks in the Bible of the plank in our eye,
they will have to convince God, on the day they die.
You see, I know I am different,….and that’s OK,
because when they ask me what happened?
I tell them God made me that way.
So have no pity for what looks as it’s gone,
inside in my heart I sing praising songs.
I carry them with me all day through,
And when you ask me what happened?
I wonder that of you!
You can read more of Tammy and her family’s story here: www.borninyourheart.com. Princess Peach Tree is on her road to healing and has created her own brand of jewelry called, “Born in Your Heart.” Should you want to contribute to our Kickstarter campaign and pre-order a piece from her collection, here is the link: http://kck.st/1qRg7iM. She is raising money by getting pre-orders for the purpose of bringing her “Born in Your Heart”(launching in August 2014) to market, with 30% going to charity for children born like Peach Tree. She will launch into the gift- markets in August 15,2014.