our unexpectedgift 

My second child was not conceived in my womb, she was birthed in my heart.
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“We have a little girl who has come into care; she is 18 months old, but small for her age, and delayed. I would say developmentally she is about nine months and she barely weighs 11 pounds. She is a fighter, but psychologically shattered and physically fragile. One brother was battered to death, the other, if he makes it, will have life-long brain damage. Based on how we found her, we have reason to believe she has not been out of her crib in the last six months. It's likely she will be found unadoptable, but would you consider taking her, at least for now?"
In my mind, the word "unadoptable" translated to "untouchable" and I thought about how Jesus pushed through the crowds to get close to the outcasts, the unclean, the untouchables. I thought about the man with leprocy who touched Jesus' robe and said, "Lord if you are willing" and Jesus responded, "I am willing."   
I believed with all my heart if I was willing, love would heal all wounds, but I had no idea the challenges that lie ahead.
 
I can now admit to being naïve when considering my answer and I would paint a false picture if I didn’t share that raising her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; in fact, it was crazy hard, tumultuous, and often left me feeling ill-equipped and full of self-doubt. But loving her is also one of the most profound gifts I’ve ever held. 
The early years were spent bringing her out of her catatonic shell. Her inability to give words to the rage and fear that flamed inside her presented a constant stream of challenges. Primary school entailed six school suspensions for things like catching the school on fire - twice! There were numerous fights against boys and authority and running away from home held as her primary coping skill. 
 
Adolescents brought on isolation and ridicule by her peers, cutting, refusal to attend school, depression, and ultimately, her attempts to take her own life.
 
To say there were many times I wanted to give up and wondered if I was making a difference at all, is a whisper where a shout is more appropriate. But we made it through and discovered many
unexpected gifts woven into the fibers of tattered brushes and muddled emotional color; arriving
to a place of hope. Our place of true healing began when I learned to love her without expectations.
The moment I freed myself and my daughter from the dreams I held for her was the pivot point of her becoming who she was meant to be.
 
It has been over 30 years since I said yes to the little
girl God placed on my heart and into my care. She
is now in the Navy and serves as the medic for a
Marine Battalion. Her fierce tenacity, ability to not
get emotional in situations that would crumble
most of us, has become the pillars that allow her
to excel in her field. 
 
She will always be challenged when it comes to 
trusting others and she has to work hard at using
the life tools learned, but she is thriving and
making her way with confidence and joy. She is an 
incredible young woman, whom God well equipped
for the purpose He planned for her life.
Together, we are co-writing a book about our journey. It started with me writing a memoir about my courageous child, the hardship of her abuse and neglect, and the act of putting all the attachment pieces back together. But, when she read the first draft of the first few chapters, she recounted to me the feelings, thoughts, and emotions she was experiencing at the time. Her perspective contrasts mine on so many levels, and her ability to articulate what she was experiencing is powerful. If you are interested in more about our publishing progress, feel free to subscribe to our updates!
Thank you for wanting to know our story. I hope it has given you a bit of hope for your own journey.
Just knowing you took the time to read it tells me you are a woman with the same heart and have a story
of your own. I'd love to learn more about both. 
 
With joy, 
Suzzanne and Nicole 
 
           
writer l communicator l artist l friend
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