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May 19, 2010

Faith, Love and Adoption

Filed under: News — Linda @ 7:24 pm

Faith, Love and Adoption

 By LINDA GOODSPEED

As I look back on my long, 4- year journey to adopt my daughter, Masha, from Russia, I see God’s hand in every detail, every moment.

While actually traveling that journey, I confess I often continued on blind faith rather than with any clear direction from God. But I think that is what being rooted and grounded in God’s love is all about: Faith.

I can even trace the first moment I decided to adopt a child. Ten years before, my mother had asked me, ‘Why don’t you have a child’? I was shocked by her suggestion to me, a single woman. Nevertheless, God who often uses unlikely messengers, had planted a seed. Even when I was fairly sure adoption was God’s plan for me, I hesitated to follow through, Daunted at the thought of traveling halfway around the world to adopt a child. When I stopped praying for His direction about it, God kept leading me back. Soon I was taking baby steps toward adoption. But I paused again in the Spring of 1997, and abandoned for nearly a year any thought of adopting. Unbeknownst to me then, my daughter, Masha, was born in March ’97. In hindsight, I now know my hesitation was God’s hand on my shoulder, holding me back, waiting to bring the two of us togetherin His own time.

Being rooted andgrounded in God’s love means, for me, trusting Him even when I cannot see clearly the road ahead. I am legally blind and must use a white cane to travel. Trust in God is like using a white cane. I needed training and practice to use my white cane to the point where I am fearless. It took practice and lots of prayer to accept god’s love. With it, I am  fearless. Just as I would not venture anywhere without my white cane, I cannot imagine going anywhere without trusting God’s love.

I remember the day I was finally offered Masha. After four long years of waiting, paperwork, false starts, expense and more waiting, I received in the mail four color photographs, a 10-minute video and three pages of Russian, with English translation, including her birth certificate, parental Relinquishments, and a 1-paragraph medical summary of a pretty, forlorn-looking 2-year-old little girl. I memorized every word, stared at the pictures and played, and replayed, the video a hundred times. I couldn’t believe it. This was my daughter!

When my local adoption worker called to discuss Masha’s information, she began, “She’s awfully cute, Linda.”

My heart expanded. My daughter! I thought again, already feeling surges of parental pride.

“But I have serious concerns about her aPGAR scores,” the adoption worker continued. “I think they could mean mental retardation,”

Mental retardation! I was devastated. I had spent four years waiting for this little girl. I felt sick. I hung up the phone and put my head on my desk.

“Please, God,” I whispered. “Help me to know what to do. Please, God. Help me.”

I raised my head andpicked up the phone. I called every neonatal unit in Boston, searching for adoctor, a nurse, resident, intern, anyone who could tell me what Masha’s APGAR scores meant. I was assured that they only tell how a baby has come through the trauma of birth. They are not predictors of future development.

Of all the prayers I prayed during that long adoption process, my most fervent was for love, not only in Masha, but also in me. I had read and heard about institutionalized children unable to bond. I also knew myself, and wondered and worried that Masha might reject me. If that happened, could I continue to love her?

My back was turned toward the door as I talked to one of the staff at the orphanage outside Saransk, Russia where Masha spent the first two years of her life. Behind me I could faintly hear a steady, slow, thump, thump, coming up the stairs. The thump drew nearer. I turned.

“Et oo mama,” said The orphanage director, a woman in her late thirties.

Holding the director’s hand, Masha walked slowly toward me. I knew she was small from the video, but I caught my breath at just how tiny she was.

“Et oo mama,” the director repeated.

From my phonetic list of 30 Russian words, memorized before leaving Boston, I knew the director was telling Masha, ‘This is your mother’.

Masha stopped in front of me and raised her arms. I gathered her into my lap.

“Mama’s here,” I whispered, tears filling my eyes. “Mama’s here.”