Saturday, January 8, 2011
By Ellen Stumbo
When Nina arrived, she was behind Nichole in development in all aspects except her ability to talk, and unfortunately, our languages were different. She was 3 1/2 years old, but her development seemed to be that of a typical 18 month old. In amazement, we watched her go through baby stages and quickly move on to a toddler stage, and now a little girl. Although she is still not your typical 4 1/2 year old, the difference in this little girl is astounding!
Those first few months were hard. They were really hard. For Nina, for Ellie and Nichole, for us as parents, but especially for me. My love, patience, compassion, and gratitude were tested every day, and I failed many times. I felt like a failure as a mother, not being able to love and help Nina as I had hoped to do. Over time, as we began to know each other, we began to refer to Nina as our "Fiery Furnace" for God was using her to stretch us and teach us about His heart and His unconditional love.
As Nina's speech developed and we began to be able to communicate, Nina was able to share with us about her life as an orphan, and about the things that she feared and the life that she lived. She was able to tell us about her excitement over having a family, and we would hear her saying, "Nina, happy girl!" We were able to get to know one another better, and to learn to fall in love with one another.
We have asked ourselves, "Where would Nina be if we had not adopted her?" "What would her future been like if she had grown up in her country?" What a different life she would have had, with little hope and no future. But what about us? Where would we be if we had not adopted Nina? Sure, life would be easier, a lot easier. But what about us? What about our hearts? What about our ability to love? What about being conformed to be more like Christ? As much as we saved her, she has been a tool of transformation in our lives. She has expanded our hearts, and she has brought us great joy.
If you were to meet Nina today, you would be amazed at the fact that she has been with us for only a year. Her speech really is phenomenal, and she is a charmer. She thrives in praises and affirmation. Her little heart's desire is to make us laugh and to hear us call her beautiful. She is unusually good at sharing and she wants to help any way she can. Which as you can imagine, makes it easy to want to love her. She loves hugs and kisses, and to be cuddled.
It still amazes me to think that there was a child of God forgotten at an orphanage, sentenced by her disability, and out of all people, God chose us to be her parents, not her biological mother, and not another adoptive family, but us. He did not bring her to us through birth, but He grew her in our hearts. Half-way across the world He called to us, "Will you love one of mine? One that has been discarded? A daughter that I deeply love?" We responded to God's call, and what a blessing this journey has been for all of us! And although it has been hard, we would do it again, and again.
What a wonderfully testing year it has been, how we have been transformed, and how we have been falling in love. We treasure our Ukrainian princess, and we could not do life without her. She belongs with us, she is our daughter.