When you receive a diagnosis that will impact your child's life forever, how do you react? To say there are mixed emotions is an understatement.
The psychologists speak in very technical terms - but the bottom line is that this past week it was confirmed that my oldest daughter Cathrine has a cognitive disability. It's not an isolated learning disability. It's not a health issue we can fix with the right combination of medications. Nor is it an allergy to something we can avoid.
Yes, there is the question of whether many of the dreams we had for her will ever come true. Due to the level of her disability, she will not go to college. Unless God intervenes with a miracle, she will not have a normal high school experience either. At this point, I don't know whether she will mature enough to get married and have children. There are a lot of unknowns.
However, the biggest emotion I feel at this moment is gratitude. First, I'm so thankful she's alive and healthy. The 4-year-old son of a friend of the family is fighting for his life after an accident this past weekend. That puts everything in perspective for me. (Please pray for Jeremy in California)
Second, I'm relieved to have an answer for her challenges. Now, we can let go of some things we've been trying to get her to learn, and instead explore what she can do. This is a relief for her and us.
Third, I can just enjoy who she is without any pressure. I have felt like I had to help her "catch up" in so many areas. I would worry when she wasn't making gains in emotional maturity, or would act sillier than a child her age "should" act. But the truth is, she is delightful just as she is. This diagnosis helps me accept her that way, and release many expectations.
The other emotion I feel is anger. My daughter would likely be mentally whole if her mother had received proper pre-natal care. Or if Cathrine had received proper nutrition and health care as an infant and child. She also needed pre-school and elementary school education, and mental stimulation beyond playing in the dirt. She needed clean water, not a dirty puddle. Instead she was raised in the poorest of conditions you can imagine.
I'm not mad at anyone in particular, just a holy anger at poverty and neglect.
I believe God weeps when He sees His children neglected around the world. The bottom line is that you and I can actually do something about it. If every Christian in America would step up to care for one child, I wonder what we could do.
Today I'm going to make a blatant request for everyone reading this blog to sponsor a child somewhere in the world. And I can personally recommend Compassion International. I've seen their care of pregnant mothers, and the one-on-one training they give mothers of infants as to how to stimulate a baby's mind. I've seen their care of children from toddlers to teens. It's a holistic approach to caring for every part of a child's life - at all stages of life. And they do it in the name of Jesus.
If you can sponsor a child, please click on the Compassion International link on my blog for an easy connection.
My family already sponsors Luis in Ecuador. Now we are going to sponsor a second child - a little girl somewhere in Africa. Sadly, Compassion International isn't in Liberia, Africa yet. But my prayer is they will be someday.
I'm going to end this post as I sit listening to the joyous laughter of a little girl named Cathrine. And thank God I've been given the opportunity to be her mother.