Love Comes in a Box

By the next day, we started receiving packages from my family, sending gifts for baby girl. They were all so excited for us, and thrilled that we had a girl now! My mom had coworkers bring her bags of hand-me-downs to send to us, dresses and jammies, bows and shoes.....I just opened them and cried. All these people were being so supportive and here we are, struggling to even commit to keeping her. We had begun having the conversation that we could call our worker and let her know it was more than we could handle and they could find another home for this blue eyed girl we were unable to call 'ours'.

I cried, my tummy ached, my irritation soared when I was 'inconvenienced', and I couldn't stand to hear Scott complain about it. At this point in our first week with her, I totally and completely blamed him and it made me mad for him to mention 'sending her back'. As far as I could tell, we shouldn't have even said yes, and it was all his fault that we did. By Friday, we were bickering more than we ever had. Now that she was here, now that we were up most nights, now that the boys 'had a little sister', he was realizing he didn't think he wanted to do another round of cutting teeth, or potty training. Now, that we were almost through a week of sickness, now that I was struggling day in and day out to learn to love this baby; struggling to find resolution, or peace about a decision either way; struggling to smile at her when her big blue eyes locked on to mine in that 'knowing' kind of way. She knew I was hers, long before I realized she was mine. Now. And I could not have been more angry or hurt over it all.

On either Thursday or Friday that week, I opened another box. This one from my Texas people. My Aunt Vicki sent a few things and a note expressing how wonderful she thought it was that we now had a baby girl in our boy filled home. I could feel her joy and it made me sad. As I continued reading, she told me about the blanket that she had included in the package. It was a sweet, lace trimmed, baby pink blanket that her mom, (my Gram's sister) Aunt Charlotte, had made when Vickie was pregnant with her second child in the early 80's. They were all convinced she was having a girl and so this precious blanket was made and ready for 'her' arrival. Well, 'she' turned out to be another 'he' cousin Kevin! They were over the moon to have another boy but saved that pink blanket hoping someone down the line would one day have a daughter to wrap up in this treasure. Then a few years ago, Kevin was killed in a car accident. While he was likely never wrapped in this pink blanket, I knew the significance of her sending this to me was great and I was instantly humbled and ashamed. I called my mom crying, asking her, "How am I supposed to tell Aunt Vicki we have mostly likely decided not to keep her?'. I couldn't even bring myself to take the blanket out of the box.

I confided in my older sister, Shanon, (who lived in Oklahoma at the time) about the depth of my struggle. I confessed to her how ashamed I was that one of the reasons I wasn't sure we wanted to keep her was not knowing the extent of her needs. She was very delayed. In fact, at 6 months old was more like a 1-2 month old. We were so uncertain about taking this challenge on, when life with our boys was already so busy. What if she was deaf? Did we want to commit our entire family to needing to learn to sign?! My nephew, her son, Zach, has special needs. She understands first hand, the joys and the challenges faced when raising a non-typical child. She is one of the most patient and loving parents I have ever seen in action, and is the best big sister a girl could have. She listened with compassion and understanding that day. She shared her own insight and assured me, that whatever we decided would be ok. If we chose to keep her, we would be fine, that we would adjust as a family and face whatever came our way. And, if we chose not too, no one would be mad at us. No one would find blame or fault. Shanon demonstrates with her words and her actions, that while raising a special needs child might come with it's own difficulties, it also comes with great love and true happiness.

I knew after talking with her, that saying no to this baby for fear of what her needs may one day be, was about the most ugly, selfish thing we had ever considered. Not by the way she made me feel that day, but by the love we all have for Zach. How could you say 'no' just because he has a greater need? In the same way, I now knew if we said no, it would not be for fear of her needs, but because we just didn't want to say yes.