The Winning Of Little Lynny
By Tom and Sherry Bushnell (Lynnyís parents)
Every family that adopts a special needs child has an adventure to tell. Ours is special to us. This is the true story of how the Lord, out of brutal tragedy, brought glory to His name. All names (except Lynnyís and our family) are made up to protect the privacy of those involved.
India, 1991. 14 year old Rani leaned her small back wearily against one of the poles that held up her motherís small cardboard and palm leaf home. Another cool night was falling... at least it wasnít steamy hot, like the months preceding.
Her bulging tummy, full of life, kicked up into her ribs as she squatted. The handful of pakoras (deep-fried potato and chick-pea flour balls) from the neighbor lady had not done much to quell her hunger. She hated to ask her mother for food, knowing it was probably gone for the day anyway.
She closed her eyes. Mocking scenes from the last year floated in her mind.
9; Her older brother had been gone for months and had returned. He was angry. His search for a job in the city miles away had proven fruitless. In addition he had been identified as a troublemaker. Seen with a gang of men looting a store front, he was under the watchful eye of the authorities who let him go home. He stayed around the hut during the day mostly sleeping. By night he slipped away to meet with other men who felt as he did. Revengeful. 9;
One morning he came home elated. He was rich. A foreigner had given him a whole US dollar (about 24 rupees) in exchange for helping carry his heavy bags through town. Rani groaned at her remembrance of her happy anticipation. At last now her brother would perhaps help pay for some food or at least bring her some peras (milk candy) from the halvais (sweet maker). That evening her brother left, laughingly promising her a treat the next morning.
Late in the night she heard her brotherís footsteps, decidedly drunk, stumbling through the floppy doorway. He stopped momentarily listening for his motherís snore.
On his hands and knees, breathing heavily, smelling of alcohol, he made his way to Rani. "I brought a treat for you," he sneered. Rani shrank from his closeness. He had a knife.
She shuddered in the cool as she shut off her memory. He had stolen her virginity. She did not remember many more details outside of the pain and the shame.
At least he had gone the next morning - taken his satchel, bed mat, everything. Mama said he would not be back.
In the morning, with relief after that fateful night, Raniís mother watched her daughter walk back from the village water supply. Rani did not seem too negatively affected by last night. Well, it was done now and a secret with her. She needed to get Rani married soon...but how? She pondered her options.
Then Rani remembered her motherís angry tears 7 months later when she realized a grand baby was on the way. Rani had hid it well.
Now there was no mistake. The whole village knew. Abortion was an alternative, but the nearest free clinic was many kilometers away. Her daughterís fate was sealed as a prostitute. Her mother-heart was filled with shame. She threatened to throw Rani out of the house. She resented the potential expense of a baby. Another mouth to feed. No!
9; 9; Rani awoke the next morning stiffer than ever. Her hunger gnawed behind the baby menacingly. Slowly rising to her feet she wandered past the water well toward the end of the village. She sniffed appreciatively. From the missionary compound, the wonderful smell of idlis (steamed cakes of rice and lentils) wafted. It drew her like a magnet. She stopped, leaning for a small moment to rest on the door step, taking a deep breath through her nose. The door opened, surprising both the missionaryís cook and Rani. Rani turned to run, gasping with shame. She had been caught spying.
"Stop," a kind voice whispered. "My lady would like to share her breakfast with you."
With horror and hunger, Rani halted. The whole village had continually scorned the Christian family. Anyone who befriended a Christian was a traitor. Only in dire medical need would the village gossips turn their eyes from a visit to the missionary compound. To eat with the missionary lady would be social suicide. She had to get away.
"If you wait right here, I will bring you a plate of breakfast," the missionary lady herself said softly as she entered the doorway.
It all sounded so good.
Rani sank to the floor inside the doorway. The servant closed the door behind her.
After filling her aching tummy with idilis, and sipping a cup of sweet hot tea, she watched the quiet smiling missionary at work. Raniís heart was touched deeply by her kindness. It was time to go.
The servant motioned for Rani to come. "I will let you out the back door. It is still early morning. No one will notice you. My lady says for you to come to her when your tummy and back hurt for labor. Come even if it is night. She will help you."
Rani padded heavily across the cleanly swept dirt floor and stepped into the morning light.
Rani puzzled as she hurried toward the village well. "What did this all mean? Why would her stomach and back hurt? Did it have something to do with the wriggling life inside her?" For that matter the idea of getting this baby out puzzled her. How? It was obviously too big to be eliminated from her bowels...how would she get it out?
A week later, late at night, Rani awoke on her mat with a sharp pain in her back. Her heart started beating wildly, wondering what to do now. She drifted back to sleep, awakened again and again by the persistent waves of pain.
With tears, Rani groaned, "Mother, can you help me...?
Raniís mother awoke with a start. It was time. She had been expecting this. "Go," she hissed. "Do not come back until you are done. Do NOT bring it home."
Rani arose slowly. It was dark. She shivered, wrapping her blanket around her. A sharp pain doubled her over and she sank to the floor.
"Out," growled her mother. Rani crawled out the door. Lying in the doorway she pondered her options. It hurt so much more than she thought it would. She was scared.
Remembering the missionaries kind offer, Rani, bent over at times, slowly made her way to the home of her new friend. The gate was locked to the back courtyard.
Could she possibly make it to the front door unnoticed? Softly moaning she felt her way around the house to the front door. Locked. Rani knocked softly. No one came. Rani sank to rest on the doorstep that had so tenderly fed her a week before.
The door opened. Rani was in the middle of a great pain and so only dimly remembered being lifted inside and onto the blanket covered reed mat. A burning pain seared her bottom and Rani screamed. A quiet hand soothed her hot head, murmuring gentle words. Rani sank back to rest. She couldnít get away... so much pain. Why oh why? What could she have possibly done in her past life to be dealt with so meanly? Another searing pain. This time there was relief as the babyís head slid out. The missionary lady smiled and urged her to push hard now. Rani wanted more than anything to be done. She pushed and yelled with everything she had. It was out.
A gurgling sound and a small cry caused Rani to open her eyes. She watched with wonder and yet disgust at the wet, bloody, wiggling baby girl. "Hold still, weíll get you cleaned up," the missionary servant murmured.
Rani sank back exhausted. Now she had to figure out what to do with the baby. Her troubles had just begun.
After another warm breakfast of idlis that tasted just as good as the one a week before, Rani watched drowsily, her eyes half closed. She fell into a deep sleep. So did the baby.
Hours later, sunlight beaming through a crack in the ceiling, a loud cry by her head awoke her. The baby, now hungry, turned her open mouth against the white cotton blanket wrapped tightly around her tiny body. She wanted breakfast too. Rani looked helplessly at the missionary lady.
"Donít you want to feed her?" the older lady encouraged.
Rani shook her head forcefully. "I cannot keep her."
The servant lady got up and padded softly to the missionary in the corner writing. "She will not feed the child. What shall we do?"
"We will feed the little one some buffalo milk. Do we have some?"
"Yes, but it is several days old. Might it hurt the babyís stomach?"
"If it is soured it is better," replied the missionary.
Taking the now hollering baby, clucking sympathetically, the older lady rocked cross-legged on the floor, dripping tiny spoonfuls of milk into the corner of the baby's mouth. The baby sucked at the spoon half-heartedly, dozing off.
"She didnít eat very much," said the older servant.
"Yes, I see that. Something is wrong with the babyís eyes...I wonder if it will live?" said the missionary softly.
That evening after dark, Rani arose. She must go. Perhaps the missionary would take the baby. The older servant arose from the corner and smiled. "You ready to go? Your baby girl is all wrapped ready to go too."
Rani wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and the child. She would go...but where? If she kept the baby, she would starve. She could not feed the baby. It would starve too, and none to quietly!
With a smile of thanks, Rani quietly stepped out the back door. Turning left out the courtyard gate, she wandered out toward the fields. Thin roads separated each large plot. The dark clung to her and she and the baby were alone.
Wandering aimlessly Rani wished she could walk forever, at least walk into a better living arrangement. With food.
A sudden thought sent her stomach lurching. She must get rid of this baby. There was no other way.
Looking around, laying her baby in the slanting ditch, she hoisted a large stone. Lifting it over the babyís head, she let go, and ran.
Rani dashed away...hurrying, falling occasionally to the ground to rest...all the way to her motherís house. Wrapping her familiar blanket around her securely against mosquitos, sinking to her familiar sleeping mat, she nodded in and out of a painful sleep.
Early sunrise greeted a peasant farmer making his way down the narrow road between the fields to his own rented plot. His water buffalo was strong and his plow was new. The morning glowed pink. His thoughts wandered to his wife and children. So much work. But life was good. At least they had just enough to eat.
A strange, high-pitched, smothered cry interrupted his day dreaming. It was in the ditch just ahead. It sounded like a wounded animal... perhaps a cat?
He halted his beast, putting the wooden plow down. Peering into the ditch he was horrified. A baby, face down, covered with mud and blood lay crying into the slimy bank. Taking off his work jacket, he scooped up the cold baby and gingerly wiped some of the muck away from its mouth. It turned hungrily toward his finger. He felt sick inside. Why? Who? He looked around piercingly to see if perhaps someone was hiding nearby. Only the morning mist, raucous birds and a small animal slipping into the murky green/brown water met his gaze.
Puzzled how to manage baby, water buffalo, and heavy plow all at once, he pursed his lips. With gentle care he placed the crying little one, rudely wrapped in his coat, into a 1/2 filled basket of firewood twigs he daily scavenged for the home fire. He tied it to the patient cowís yoke. Cushioning the little one further, he propped up the babyís head with the sleeve. Turning around on the narrow road was not an easy task. The rhythmic back and forth gait of the animal lulled the hurt, exhausted, baby to sleep. So much for todayís work. He urged homeward.
"Wife," he called softly, "come quickly." His wife arose with sleepy eyes, blinking at the morning light in the doorway of their rude hut.
"What do you have my husband?"
"A baby....in the ditch about a 1/2 kilometer from here."
Wife took the baby in her arms. Mud covered the tiny hands like gloves.
"She is not well. See, she is hurt on the side of her head." Wife murmured as she cleaned the wound with a damp cloth.
"The baby is not waking up, we better take her to the police," they agreed.
And so the farmer did.
After an hour at the police station for questioning, the farmer was allowed to go home. The whole village knew whose baby it was, but only later did Rani get summoned to the police station for questioning. She was let go.
Baby Gauri (named by the orphanage) was taken to a hospital and later to a Christian orphanage. She never fully recovered from her injury. She was diagnosed by the medical personnel working for the orphanage as blind and later possibly deaf. When Gauri was a few months old, she was released for adoption.
Our family had 4 boys and had adopted Sheela, who is blind, from India. We prayed about getting a sister, who was also blind, for Sheela.
With 8 miscarriages over the last 5 years, in order to have our last son, we had gone through infertility testing and progesterone injections for 11 weeks. It had been very difficult emotionally and we felt adoption would be a more peaceful way to add to our family.
We felt that the Lord would help us through any difficulty that we would encounter. Bravely, we moved forward, believing that the Lord was prompting us. We only needed to be obedient and take a step of faith!
Our up-dated home study began with a Christian agency in town. They set up a time for their new social worker to visit us.
It was fall. On our farm we raised our own meat, including a hog that was ready to meet its destiny. The week before we had called the butcher and he was not only busy, but experiencing trouble with his truck. We gave up waiting and decided to call someone else later that month.
Home study day arrived. We cleaned and scrubbed. Nervously, we watched the driveway. ( Home studies are like that.) The social worker arrived all smiles. Sitting down at the dining room table, she began the usual round of questions. We had dutifully filled out the forms and questionnaires she had sent the week before. She delved more deeply into her questions.
Around the corner into the driveway a truck wheeled in....it was the butcher. We groaned. "You have company, I see," peered the social worker twisting to look behind her back out the window.
"Yes, Iíll be right back!" Tom ran out the door, Jake and Josh right behind him. The social worker and possible-mother-to-be chatted about the weather.
"We are butchering a hog today," Sherry mentioned casually. The social workerís pained face lent immediate information that we had a stanch animal-rights, non-pork eater for a guest.
Pointing towards the back of our farm, Tom gave the butcher directions. The boys were not happy to come back in. They had been waiting for the butcher for weeks! 9;
About 15 minutes later a knock on the front door revealed the villain butcher himself. The winch on his truck had broken and he was going to need help lifting the hog up to finish. Tom left.
By now we had all moved to the living room couch, sipping tea. The boys were antsy. They so much wanted to watch with Daddy!
The social worker crossed her legs and began again. "So", she leaned toward Jacob. "Do either your mommy or daddy spank you???"
"Oh yes," said Jake with a sincere nod. Josh was silent as usual.
"With what?" said the social worker, lifting her eyebrows, sweetly prying, leaning closer to Jake. Jake backed against the couch cushion.
"Can I go see Daddy now?" Jake looked up imploringly.
I shook my head.
"Where do they spank you?" queried the social worker?
"Here. On the backside", Jake pointed.
"With what?" she queried, further curious.
"A rod.... Mommy, can I pleeeease go to see Daddy now?" Jake pleaded. Josh bounced on his bottom on the couch in eager agreement.
"Can I see it?" gasped the social worker. By now her eye brows were arched and I could tell we had trouble. Oh where was Tom?!
"Sure." I said and I nodded for Jake to run get the tool we used. She took it in her hand and frowned.
Sherry, blushing with consternation, quietly explained our reasons for using this particular instrument. It was flexible and thin enough to not cause bruising.
Just then Tom came in. For the next hour she and Tom had a strong discussion about whether the Bible told us to use physical punishment with a rod or whether the rod was only a shepherdís crook used to lead "sheep" gently along.
She left our home in a lofty huff, saying for added information, that we really ought to get our very pregnant cat spayed.
We didnít fail our home study, but after waiting for an answer for 6 months with the adoption agency in Seattle, they turned us down. Requesting a copy of the homestudy, we were horrified at what the social worker had written. We talked candidly with the Christian agency who had sent the social worker out. They confessed that they had let her go, as she was interested more in finding trouble than placing needy children. Her previous job was with the state of Oregon as a child abuse investigator. The Christian agency was very apologetic. For us it was too late. The non-Christian agency in Seattle had reviewed our homestudy to adopt a blind baby, reading more on our discipline procedures than our familyís adoption history. They swallowed her negative report hook-line and sinker.
The very same day we were notified of our "failure in the adoption field" by the agency in Seattle, an agency in Oregon contacted us. We had called them a few weeks earlier inquiring about their over-seas program. We explained our "failed" homestudy and what the social worker had written. Chuckling with understanding, they said they had a baby for us. A 6 month old baby who was blind. A sister for Sheela.
What a roller coaster day. How the Lord had it all planned. We sank into bed that night with a whole range of emotions. Mostly elation at how God had moved on our behalf.
It took a lot of prayer and trust in the vision God had given us to be a special needs family. Should we bother getting another home study done? The agency in Oregon sent out their social worker. She loved us (and still does!), passing us in just a few days. Gauriís paperwork moved very quickly....until the orphanages in Gauri's city decided to sue each other for single rights to place children in their area. It was a very frustrating time while we waited for the Hindu Indian court system to make a decision.
In the mean time, Sherry realized that without doctorís progesterone and the whole infertility game she had just gone through with the last pregnancy, she was carrying a baby. The obstetrician pronounced her fine and the baby doing great.
We immediately called our agency in Oregon and told them of our situation, including the very real chance that the baby would not live.
"Oh," they groaned. "You should not have told us. India will have a fit!"
Praying, we sent a letter to India telling the orphanage and court of our situation. (We should have caught onto something extraordinary about Gauri when the court officials replied.. "No problem, sheís yours!")
Lots of families were waiting. Six long months later (by now it was 3 weeks until the due date of our baby. No traveling to India this time. Sherry was as big as a house.) Gauri was 14 months old and the big arrival day dawned. We flew with Jake and Josh to San Francisco to get our new baby girl who was blind.
Off the plane came Gauri in a tummy back nestled closely to her caregiverís chest.
One look and Sherry whispered in panic to Tom... "She has cerebral palsy!!!"
Indeed she did. Her foot jiggled with colonic seizures as it dangled down from the pack. Gauriís left arm closed tightly in a fist, tucked up against her chest. We picked her up, legs stiff as a board, both toes pointed as a ballerinaís and her torso floppy (fluctuating muscle tone). It was obvious that she was not blind. She followed her caregiver across the room. She was not deaf either, as she responded to the airport noises.
We left the airport confused, with the wrong child. At least that is what we felt like. Yes, Gauri looked just like her pictures. But the medical description was very wrong!
We renamed Gauri "Sherlynn Gauri-Lee Bushnell" calling her "Lynny" for short.
On the plane flying home, Lynny screamed. All the way. Jake and Josh were sure we were going to get kicked off the plane in mid air. Tom walked and walked up and down the isle of the airplane with his new daughter, plying his tender fatherly experience to no avail.
From the moment Lynny arrived home she took turns screaming for her meals (orphanage behavior) or staring vacantly at the side of her crib or floor blanket in a fetal position.
The agency in Oregon was very apologetic. What could they do? They were willing to place her in another family for us if we wanted to give up.
3 weeks later Sherry gave birth to Zephaniah and was as weak as a kitten due to blood loss from a cervical tear.
Lynnyís behavior toward us did not improve. Our visions of the wonderful hours getting to know our new daughter, welcoming her into our happy home, vanished. Mommy, Daddy, and the boys tried their best to comfort Lynny. She hated her crib. She hated her food (what we could get down her), and was comforted by no one. She stiffly pushed away from all of us if we tried to hold or rock her. Oddly enough she would tolerate attention from strangers or Grandma, even cuddling (until they crossed her), but did not reach out or initiate communication with them. What a blow to our aching parent hearts. We later came to understand part of this was typical attachment problem behavior.
We remember filling out a form for an adoption agency stating the disabilities we would NOT be comfortable with. We specifically put moderate to severe cerebral palsy and autism as handicaps we did not wish to deal with. We were an active family and did not wish a wheel chair hampering camping trips. Autism frankly scared us. We were intimidated by a few older children we had met in the past who had autism. The self-stim, the vacant look... how mystifying. We did not see the symptoms in Lynny as autism. Perhaps we were in denial. Not autism!
Our family pediatrician deemed Lynny basically healthy, outside of the cerebral palsy. He shrugged his shoulders and gave us a look that said, "What have you gotten yourselves into this time!?"
We thought Lynnyís strange behavior toward us was due to our parenting. Thankfully the rest of the children were flourishing. Home schooling was going well with interludes of success sandwiched between rotten weeks with Lynny. We blamed ourselves. Perhaps we had "too many young children" as some folks eluded to.
2 years later things had gotten even worse. Our household was stressed beyond any level we had ever experienced. Everyone was VERY tired of Lynnyís anti-social behavior. We could not meet her needs nor satisfy her. She would not eat with the family without pouting, but if placed in a high chair in another room, would woof food down with her one good hand.
This made a really hard situation for us. We LOOKED like "child abusers" because she didnít want to be around us, yet tolerated eating in a strange restaurant, or friends house, as long as things went fine and she was not confronted or scared during the meal. We LOOKED like bad parents! It was a dangerous time for our family.
Because she would cry if we all sat around (group of 3 or more, any combination of the family) together anywhere, church was impossible. She yelled when the sound system squeaked. If she liked a hymn she screamed when they stopped singing it. We stopped going.
Eerily she laughed hysterically until we tried to stop her... the giggles then turning to screams... all hours of the day and night. This was not the happy laugh of one who was enjoying life, it was the release of emotion, sad, hopeless... without control.
Refusing to give eye-contact, she reverted into a semi-sleep, slumped over, when made to look us in the eye or challenged to change behavior. Things had to get better.
The Lord again blessed Sherryís womb and she became pregnant with another baby without going through the medication/fertility gauntlet. She was very sick. (We did not know this at the time but she was having appendicitis attacks and actually had her appendix out in the 7th month of pregnancy.)
9; We gave up trying or even wanting to be Lynnyís parents. We made a call to a family back east and delivered Lynny to them in person. It was a relief to leave her and the hate behind.
Over the next 3 weeks, the Lord began convicting us. He had placed this child in our arms. Lynnyís physical and SPIRITUAL future was in our hands. With the distance and some relief time, the Lord allowed us to discern more clearly His will for all our lives.
We asked for forgiveness from the family we had left her with, as we felt we had made a big mistake in placing her out of our home permanently.
Trouble had arisen. The family, in the couple weeks they had cared for her, had become attached to her and her "attitude". They loved her and really wanted to keep her. Portraying her as an extremely handicapped child, they felt we were unable to care for her.
They were right. We felt totally incapable. Only by Godís grace could we obey what He had asked us to do. There was no denying the fact that we felt the Lord strongly urging us to bring Lynny home. To choose not to would have been disobedience.
Tom flew back east and brought her to Washington. There was no exciting fan fare when the car drove in the driveway. Our whole family groaned.
Surprisingly, in the few weeks that Lynny had been away in another environment, her world view had changed. The people, places, smells and sounds in our home that set her off pouting, crying and into screaming fits were gone. God had given us a fresh start.
The Lord opened our eyes to see Lynny as the truly damaged child that she was instead of the normal blind child we wanted her to be.
After consulting with a neurologist immediately when she got home, he told us she probably had severe autism and moderate to severe cerebral palsy. She had only the use of her right hand. Contrary to the doctor in Indiaís diagnosis, in spite of a nystagmus that caused her eyes to jiggle and drift to the side, her eye sight was good and her hearing was fine. We were not surprised.
The Indian doctorís test for hearing had been Lynnyís reaction to a horn honked in her ear. The baby "Gauri" did not respond. The lights flashed in "Gauriís" eyes elicited no response either..hence the diagnosis of blind and deaf. She was neither. Just autistic.
Her very low weight was another issue of concern. The doctor encouraged us to place a permanent feeding tube. The dietician agreed to give Sherry one more month to get Lynny gaining weight. Once on the tube it is hard to get off. We put her back on the bottle with Ensure (a liquid calorie supplement tasting like a milk shake) with each meal. Lynny liked that. She slowly began to gain weight.
We built a learning environment in a corner of our living room. (See NATHHAN NEWS Issue # Winter 1994\95 Volume 3 No. 2 ). Letting her explore her world at her own pace was very slow at first.
The anger that she used for getting her needs met had to be channeled into some kind of communication. Somehow we had to teach her to work through her irrational fears.
Lynny started to improve. It was grab 3 steps sinking back 2.
Lynny had been with us for 2 years total now. Our family stopped taking Lynnyís anti-social behavior personal. She had no spontaneous expressive verbal language, only echolalia. Nor did we feel she understood what we said. She would fixate on sounds or "words" for days, "cursing" under her breath in nonsense phrases over and over.
We learned to steel ourselves to do what was good for Lynny despite her protests and incomprehension.
We started using Biblical child training even if we felt it wasnít working that day. We kept at it. We lovingly, consistently, spanked her for obnoxious behavior and for pouting, crying, or screaming to get her way. We gave her a very simple verbal response that she was to use instead of screaming. At times we would wrap Lynny up tightly in a blanket like a sausage. She seemed to like this and would stop screaming and start looking around.
We taught Lynny to "come." This active choice to obey was a big step for our independent, "I donít need anybody", little girl.
She could not walk, but had learned to scoot on her bottom, pulling her useless legs along with her good right arm.
It took several days to learn to Ďcomeí. She resented having to move when we wanted her to. Even if our family tried to make it fun she became angry and pouted. We spanked her just like we would any of our other children with a wrong attitude. She did not respond to our loving verbal praise, gentle pats or hugs. Instead she would start pouting all over again. We learned to use food or simple toys for reward.
Tom was home full time by now, running NATHHAN. This enabled us to truly operate in "team parenting". It was the secret for our family. We were able to be very consistent, giving Lynny the amount of daily training she needed along with the rest of our crew of 8 children, ages 12 to new-born Sheraya.
Lynny was 4 1/2. Life settled into a flexible routine with less emotional stress. Our whole family was on our first NATHHAN trip down the west coast. Visiting a family for a couple days, we decided to try Lynny in their swing. She really seemed to enjoy it, actually smiling for real. Each time I lifted her up letting her go, I would say "Go!"
I stopped her momentarily to talk to our friend, suspending Lynny in mid air. Out of this silent girlís mouth came the word, "Go!"
I let her go and stood there shocked. We played this game for another 15 minutes, with Lynny saying "Go," just before I let her go.
Her speech snowballed quickly. Within 1 year she was talking in complete sentences.
We "programmed" her to use phrases to get the things she needed from her family and friends. She mimicked our tone of voice and used those sentences accurately. She still did not make her own verbal requests.
We found that Lynny had a good memory, but little understanding of her world. We used real life, language picture cards, stories and videos to link words with understanding. We subjected her to many kinds of interesting sensory input. She hated some of it with a passion.
Like a fragile flower, Lynny began to open up emotionally. She tentatively expressed her needs in a nice manner and we joyfully met them, refusing to give her credit for angry requests.
We reassured her of our love and held onto any progress we made.
We pulled and pulled and pulled Lynny from her silent, fearful, world into our family. (Youíd have thought we were tugging and yanking on her teeth the way she complained!)
Her brothers hauled Lynny around in a wagon, (amid her screaming protests), swung her in the yard swing, and slid her down the slide. They tickled her till she was as tight as a spring.
We dunked her in those hated bubble baths. We made her eat meals with the family or no food at all, nicely arranging nutritious food on her plate.
We sang the songs she hated, and generally subjected her to all the tortures she was so plagued with.
In addition, we spent the entire year getting her on the toilet and potty training her.
We showed her "pout-face" in the mirror. It looked awful. Now she knew what we meant by "stop pouting".
We kept up the momentum of getting her to do things for herself. She resented the out-of-control feeling of constantly being dressed, fed, carried. For instance, if she got mad because we did not dress her fast enough (or someone else was in her spot in line for help) we assumed she needed to learn to do it herself. It took hours for her to get dressed by herself at first.
Her 5 brothers treated her like a sibling, not letting her get away with stealing toys or monopolizing an activity. They chided her for reacting in fear instead of fun or joy. She eventually learned her many terrors were unfounded.
We trusted God for wisdom and begged Him for insight on how to reach this damaged child.
At age 5 her favorite thing to do was to color. This she did by the hour. She would color wonderfully expressive pages unaffected by explosions of activity around her.
She started standing, first for 3 minutes and working up to 3 hours at a time. This took lots of encouragement. She hated it, but grew stronger. As her shaky legs filled out in muscle, her newly acquired strength allowed her more variety in amusement. Now she was able to negotiate scooting along on the floor, standing up to a table and sitting in her wheelchair. She grew so independent that she didnít want her wheelchair anymore!
Lynny, now almost 9 years old, operates her wheel chair one handed.
She is learning to negotiate around in her walker. (This takes a tremendous amount of work for her and she pouts, but is getting better. Smile.)
Lynny has started to read some sight words. She LOVES school. She is able to spontaneously communicate almost every feeling and need. She likes to help around the house. Lynny is generally a very happy girl. She loves puzzles, likes to play with dolls and the porcelain tea set with real tea pretending to be "mommy". She comforts her sisters and brothers, showing true empathy.
Lynny isnít perfect. She doesnít give or receive physical affection very well. Lynny has a hard time grasping truth or consequences. In other words, is it real or only what she wishes it to be??? Lynny doesnít understand modesty or most social nuances. ("Mom I have to go to the bathroom!" loudly in Walmart for instance.) Lynny responds to loving discipline very well. It has taken us years to get here. For a very long time we were sure she would never develop a conscience. We were her conscience for many years.
Her willingness now to please Daddy and Mommy make all the hard work worth while.
Our family is not without scars however. There are still those moments when Lynny has a bad day (coupled with mommyís bad day) and the old fear of failure and misunderstanding cloud the present bright future.
The Lord is healing those with time. The emerging of Lynny, a special young lady, is wonderful to behold. ONLY by His grace could we have ever gotten through this.
There is more to adoption than just "loving" a child. Christís love asks far more than warm hugs.
His love asks for steeling our emotions against the painful damage of sin. Who would have ever believed baby Gauri would have the life of love and success Lynny now leads?
His love asks for forgiveness and the ability to let our children try again.. and again... and again...
Watching God repair a broken child is the kind of parenting that is immensely rewarding. For winning little Lynnyís heart, we give God the glory.
(Editorís note: The road to adoption can be very adventurous. Even with birth children, we never know how God will lead our lives and the lives of our children. This is the main reason we decided to be obedient to the Lord and bring Lynny back home. Yes, leaving Lynny back east would have solved a very difficult life situation for us right then. Just as abortion has long reaching effects on the hearts of the mother and father after the baby is dead, so we feared the long reaching effect in our hearts if we were disobedient to God, leaving Lynny.
Life did get easier. We had peace in our hearts about what we were doing. The work load did not get easier at first, but we were resolved. We wish we would have had the foresight to ask a family to take her for a while until we could get our hearts straightened out. Perhaps we needed the finality of leaving her so far away to see how we had been struggling against the Lordís will for our lives and Lynnyís.
It took a bit of adjustment to the idea that we had NOT gotten what we ordered from the OR agency. We know it wasnít entirely their fault and that the Lord had obviously allowed it. God knew we needed to cope with cerebral palsy and autism, despite our fears, to be able to help NATHHAN families. Up till then, our ideas about adopting and special needs had been pretty rosy ósure anybody should adopt a needy child!
Our tune has changed. Only adopt a damaged child if you are willing to be pruned, and made to walk though the fire of refinement. You will grow along with your new child.
If the Lord is calling you to take in an orphan, perhaps this story and the others in this magazine will assure you that it is work, but VERY rewarding. The hardest adjustments come from those of us, like ourselves, that were not prepared for the emotional aspect of seeing ourselves in a new light. The stress and relentless presence of a damaged child can bring out sin habits and tendencies that we never thought we had. Truly the Lord has used Lynny to help purify our hearts, making us more useful to him.
He has filled Lynnyís life and ours with joy, turning a really sorrowful situation into a testimony of His greatness. Only He can do that!