Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The snow storm prevented me from getting online and posting on Hattie's actual birthday but today feels "right" for this post, somehow because today is the home visit for our home study and Hattie has prayed daily for this adoption for years. Literally. Her faithfulness and patience in prayer is nothing short of remarkable and makes me feel ashamed of my attitude of often expecting instant gratification.
When I describe Hattie I often say she is all of the joy of being a parent with none of the work and that is true to the point that I sometimes think we take advantage of her sweet nature...take it for granted even. I used to worry that a mistake had been made - that Hattie wasn't supposed to exist in this world. She is too good. Too kind. Too, well, perfect. In the way that only mothers can be paranoid I used to worry that God would realize that a mistake had been made and take her back and, I will admit, that when Hattie complains a little or takes a rare fit of petulance I breathe a secret sigh of relief that she is human after all. When we made our first frantic steps down this road to adoption (I say frantic because I was in and out of the hospital after a minor surgery had complications and the deadline for our adoption program fell right in the middle of all of that) one of our first steps was to get references from the girls' teachers. The teachers comments about all of the girls made our hearts full but the comments from Hattie's teachers brought us to tears. Let me share a couple:
"I have Hattie in my reading class. It is rare to have a student that is always smiling. Hattie is the exception. She is a very compassionate child. It is not uncommon to see Hattie trying to comfort another child who is feeling upset."
"Hattie is simply a delight to have in class. She has continuously displayed gratitude toward others, including myself. Her work ethic is amazing and her attitude is subservient in a way that is only instilled within the home through Christian values. Hattie has a kind heart toward her fellow students, always being the first child to volunteer to share her supplies and seems to be acutely aware of the needs of others."
As much as I would love to take credit for our outstanding parenting abilities in raising such an exceptionally compassionate child, it would be a lie. Hattie came to us this way. I sometimes half-joke that everything we do messes her up a little bit! So I am left wondering - how do you say thank you for a gift like Hattie? I think the answer is by honoring God. By living a life that gives Him the glory...and, perhaps, by taking our cues from a little girl who turned 10 just yesterday. So here are some things I have learned through having the privilege of her call me Mama:
1) God is in everything - as the grass tickled a 4 year old Hattie's leg she exclaimed "God is tickling me!".
2) Never give up - I have watched this child struggle through several very difficult years in school as a result of not realizing she has Retained Primitive Reflexes and watched her struggle through 2 years of OT treatment with a smile on her face and never once heard her complain about the hand she had been dealt.
3) Be kind - I have often remarked that Hattie is the kindest person I know...and there is nothing that I have seen in her 10 years that would make me question that statement.
4) Bounce back - what a wonder it is to watch Hattie deal with a disappointment, even this past Sunday as her party was canceled due to the weather, Hattie spent no time feeling sorry for herself - she blinked back a few tears and then, that ever present smile was back on her face and she was looking forward to her party this weekend.
5) Put others first - Hattie not only does this but does so joyfully! Whether you are a dog needing a drink, a sister needing a playmate or a parent needing a hug or a hand...Hattie is there. I think her ability comes not from some sort of compassionate 6th sense, but rather from paying attention to others rather than focusing on herself.
So today I am humbled by the gift of this child who has taught me so much. Early this morning she told me her tummy felt the way it does when you are going fast down a steep hill, not because Christmas is coming or because her birthday party is a couple of days away. Hattie felt that way because today we take another step toward a prayer being answered. A prayer that this small child has prayed every day for years. I know I don't deserve her but I sure am glad that I have her.