Our Adoption Miracle
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.“ 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
Holding Emma for the first time
Intrigued by Daddy’s watch on our first visit
First Family Portrait
Struggling to stand for the first time
Shine down Lord, You are the greatest,
I will pour my love on You.
Shine down on me Lord, I love you,
I will pour my love on You.
Shine with all your stuff .. :-)
I will love You forever.
I love You Lord, please come
to all the people in the world.
You see me with your eyes.
I know You made me, You see me.
You made us all.
You shine down".
One of Emma’s many made up songs
(4 1/2 years old)
The STAFFORD Family
LIVING WELL Romania
-Helping to bring God's restoration to Romanian families
A ministry with Youth With a Mission, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
When we walked into the foster home I saw this little baby girl propped on the couch between two large pillows. I knelt next to the couch and for a few minutes we looked into each other's eyes. She looked at me with the most gorgeous, beautiful, big, dark eyes, yet somehow she seemed very far away.
In February of 2007, full of anticipation and excitement and holding a huge folder of papers, we walked through the doors of the our local government adoption agency and applied for our adoption. We did not have any expectations of gender, race, eye color, hair - nothing. The only expectation we had was that we would someday soon take home a baby that we would love and raise as our own.
We were blessed to be assigned to an amazing social worker. She was understanding and kind, and made the process of getting attested seem easy and pleasant.
Finally, several months later, on December 21st, 2007, we met our beautiful daughter, Emma Estera, for the first time. Sadly, Emma had been abandoned at birth by her birth-mother. By the time she was 2 months old she had been moved to three different hospitals before finally being placed in a foster home. When we met her she had been in foster care for 6 months.
On December 31st, just ten days after we met her, we took Emma to our home. On our first night with Emma, we had to take her to the E.R three times with severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating, and that was just the beginning. These symptoms did not stop for nearly two years. Although we immediately took her off every solid food to try to alleviate what was causing her severe pain and allergic reactions, nothing seemed to work. We tried every formula available in Romania and the US, and nothing eased the severe pain she was in, the bloody stools, and the screaming in pain every 20 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG!!
Ah, how I longed to comfort her through all her pain and misery but it took months until she "yielded" to my embrace and love. I never imagined that an 8 month old baby would know how to reject someone. I was unprepared for a baby that was hurting not just emotionally, but physically too. She would cry in pain and have panic attacks yet when I tried to pick her up to comfort her she would become frustrated and get as stiff as a board.
Unfortunately, in the Romanian culture many people believe the misnomer that if you pick up a crying baby you'll spoil them and then they will always cry for more. With that philosophy as their guide, Emma was left alone by her foster parents to lay on her back 24 hours a day with no toys, no stimulation and no affection. The back of her head was completely bald and flat. This experience taught her that crying will not get her needs met, therefore we did not hear her cry very much. At 8 months old, Emma was still unable to hold her head up properly, support her back, and had no strength whatsoever in her arms or legs.
Her foster parents also took Emma off baby formula and put her on cows milk and adult food long before she even turned 6 months old. Her foster mom mentioned Emma was bloated a lot and had some digestive challenges but little did we know at that point how severe those challenges actually would be.
I put Emma in a carrier even though she did not like it at first and held her close
all day long. I also took baths every day with her because it was the only place where she would cling to me. I attached her crib to our bed so I could be close to her every moment of the night as well. I did everything that was in my power to connect with her heart. For the first few months it felt that no matter what I did to get close, there was always a wall of self protection, I was always at arms length. I still remember saying to her, many times with tears streaming down my face: "Emma, you don't need to push mommy away. I love you! Let Mommy hold and love you!" and singing love songs to her day and night. She slowly relented and put her arms down. I did this for a long time with her even after she let me in because it was a habit that took a while to break.
In November of 2008, after the adoption paper work was all done we were able to take her to the US and treat her there. The pediatric gastroenterologist said: "I have never seen such a tired baby yet. I believe that had you not gotten her here in time, she would have died. This is a very sick baby."
Through the care of generous doctors in the US, we were finally able to get her the medical help she needed. We believe that it was through the prayers of thousands of people around the world that she actually recovered. She is still gluten and dairy intolerant but we are grateful to say that those long painful nights of screaming and crying are over.
Emma is our most beautiful, perfect gift from God! She enriches our lives and blesses us beyond words every single day. She is full of life and energy, and loves to perform her own songs and dances. There is no ounce of attachment disorder left in her. She knows she is adopted and she is proud of it and so are we. No, she did not grow in my tummy but she grew in our heart so deep that I feel my blood runs through her veins. She is ours in every way! What an honor to have been chosen by God to be her parents!!