This is a story of hope. We all need hope, especially when we think there is none left. I’m going through a dark time right now, but it doesn’t compare to what our youngest daughter has been through. She has been through some dark times that most of us will never have to experience. I cannot imagine what it was like for her. She was abandoned by her entire family. Likely the most hurtful part of her experience was being left on a street corner by her mother. She was two years old, alone and suffering from horrific burns. That was the start of a long journey for Daiyu. Her journey is far from over and will take multiple writings to effectively document. If you follow this story, I can promise you it will renew your hope.
Imagine a two-year-old girl, her face freshly burned beyond recognition, lips, eyelids, ears, and nose burned off. One hand and part of one arm burned to the point that the fingers were melded together with half a thumb and one pinky finger left. Her arm shriveled from severe burns. Her pain was unbearable. Even worse, she was abandoned on the street in China and found crying in pain for her mother. She was found by a police officer who took her for primary burn care. Her birthdate was written on a note pinned to her clothing. She was then taken to an orphanage where she would live for the next seven years. This is how Daiyu’s story begins.
They were kind to her, but she cried for her mother for six months. She would never see her mother again. She could not close her eyes because there were no eyelids to close. She never attended public school but was taught basic Mandarin at the orphanage. She does not remember much from those days but just imagine it was you. Severely burned and disfigured, abandoned, no parents, living in an institution, wondering why you were left alone.
It is hard to imagine that other children did not make her life harder because she was different. As she got older, she helped care for the younger children, changing them, cleaning them, assisting them with the activities of daily living. She knew the orphanage director like her father. She knew no other parent figure except the caregivers and teachers.
Hope And Hurt Sometimes Come Together
When she was nine years old, she was found by a not-for-profit organization from the United States. They wanted to help her and arranged for her to get a special VISA and come to Ohio, where she would be put with a sponsor family. At the same time, she underwent seventeen painful surgeries to reconstruct her face and make it possible to use her burned hand. This was great news, but for a nine-year-old girl, it was confusing and came with new emotional pain.
Continued Feelings of Abandonment
This good news came with another harrowing and frightening experience for Daiyu. From her point of view, she was again abandoned. She was taken from the orphanage and the man she saw as a father figure. She did not know how to speak the English language, which made her situation even more incomprehensible. She learned English by watching cartoons and teaching herself. Her sponsor family was good and worked with her as she entered the public school system. They helped change her life for the better and get her through the fear and unknown.
But for various reasons beyond their control, it was necessary to move her to another sponsor family. She was with them for a year and again felt abandoned. How could a girl now about ten years old even begin to understand what was happening to her? It did not work out with the second sponsor family, and she was returned to her original sponsor family.
After a few years, her surgeries were completed, and she had been given eyelids, a nose, lips, and even eyebrows. Her hand was split to allow her to use it to grasp objects and do basic tasks. But now her VISA was expired, and she was almost thirteen years old. Without an adoptive family, she would be returned to China. By international law, she could not be adopted by a family in the United States at fourteen. But hope was never lost.
The Search for a Forever Family – A New Hope
There were few options available to her at the time. Although a very competent adoption agency worked with the sponsor family to find a forever family, it was a very daunting, almost impossible task. It was about this time that my wife saw her story on the internet. We already had five daughters, three biological and two adopted. We decided it was time for one more and embarked on what turned out to be a very long and arduous process.
A Challenging Process
First, we were told by the social worker assigned to us, there was no time to complete the process before her birthday. It just was not possible, or that is what we were told. And then there was our age. We were well past the forty-year-old age limit to adopt a child from China. We were in our fifties. And we barely had the funds at the time to pull off an adoption this expensive.
We were not allowed to meet or see her during the process, and access to only minimal summary medical records was allowed. This would have to be done on faith. Even the social worker who handled our home study questioned why we would want to adopt her. With the limited information, she was concerned that there might be a problem we were unaware of. It would be even more challenging than we thought.
In our minds, however, we could not predict all of the issues a birth child might have until after birth or, in some cases, until they manifested later in life. We kept pushing through, and the day after Christmas, she was brought to us by her sponsor family, and again she felt abandoned. It would be just a few days from that first meeting to leave for China with her.
It was a day before we left that my father died. We had no choice but to continue on with the planned trip. Again, imagine how she must have felt, with a family she knew for a few days. We were getting on a plane and heading back to the land where she was born and could no longer speak the language. At the time, we did not know that she believed she would potentially be left again in the back of her mind, this time in China.
The Trip to China and The Adoption
Our trip to China was a story all by itself. From the beginning to the end, it was fraught with challenges and obstacles. And for Daiyu, it was another frightening experience that she found difficult to understand. Tune in for parts two and three of Daiyu’s story. They take you through some highs and lows. For some, they will leave you in tears. Still, almost everyone will have a renewed understanding of how God works miracles that sometimes are done over a lifetime.
Read about our trip in my next blog.