Sunday, March 25, 2012

baba's words

I convinced my man to put some thoughts down about his experience. I didn't direct him to any specific part of this journey on purpose. I knew he would not disappoint.

Enjoy Kenyon's debut as a guest blogger and feel free to leave comments or questions :-).

Well I am not the writer in the Sweeney clan, but my dear wife has asked me to put pen to paper….er…fingers to keyboard and share a man’s perspective on our recent experiences in China.

A few disclaimers on the front end:

First, I am a man fully in love with my new daughter so emotion may be a factor in my comments.

Second, I seek evidence for every position I hold in life and “signs” do not routinely figure into my decision making process. If you all are on board with that then here we go…

When Laur and I first started down this path, one of our motives was to give a little one a home that would have few other options. I envisioned the life of a deformed little girl in China, with no vested family members, protectors, educators, or resources contrasted with the propects of this little girl living in Park City with four tough as nails brothers paving the way for her.

Casts a pretty nice picture, huh?

Well fast forward to September 28, 2011 while I am in Colorado Springs on business and Laur calls to share that we have a file of a little girl to review. Immediately my pulse quickens and my mouth goes dry. We talk about the details and Laur tells me she has “beautiful eyes” and an “assymetrical mouth.” In a matter of hours we had four medical professionals reviewing the file and have an initial diagnosis (hemifacial microsomia).

I do what any educated, well read, and data driven individual does…I “Google” it. The pictures and description are daunting and fear takes hold of my heart and the picture of the little girl with a bright new future is dimmed by my own need for a certain kind of daughter, family, image.

Well, we hem and haw, worry and obsess and then finally I begin to pray and talk with some wise friends. My dear friend Gwen challenges me on two fronts. In a way that only she can, she cuts me to the quick on the image concern and says, “That is your issue you need to deal with.” On the real decision (is this little girl our little girl?) she says, "You need to ask God for a sign.” Well I reluctantly begin to pray for clarity and even an improbable sign.

You can read these blog posts to get caught up on the details of the signs that God has put in front of us (two words: “yellow car”).

What strikes me today that I missed in September is how lovely Joya actually is. The words on the referral letter “assymetrical mouth," the pictures on worst case scenario outcomes of HFM on the National Institute of Health website, my own bias and need to have the perfect picture of an American Family, as well as my fear of dealing with the pain of a girl who doesn’t look normal all STACKED up against me and disabled me from making a decision.

I remember verbalizing this to my dear friend David and his emailed response was, “I am sure you will make the right decision, which is to grab that little girl up as fast as you can!” I realize that the depth of the relationship, intricacies in relating, and real value cannot be communicated in a referral letter, from pictures on a well-respected medical web site, or in the dark recesses of your own mind.

Truly knowing and falling in love happens in looking into her eyes as she sits on your lap, comforting her as she mourns the loss of the family she knew, laughing with her as she learns her second English word, and realizing that we may have only known her for five days, but she already is worth protecting no matter what the cost.

Please keep in mind the aforementioned disclaimers and don’t hold me to following this logic or faith in the rest of my life…but I am sure glad that God gave me the sign I needed to see to grasp hold of this little blessing.

Just my two cents- ks


deborah schillinger said...

Thank you Kenyon for sharing. I love your perspective and honest journey. Thank you Joya already for all that you've brought to the Sweeney's so far! We love you guys.

Ps. I just had a dream that I met Joya!!!!!

Grandma Jellybean said...

Beautifully said, Kenyon! I'll look forward to more posts about the rest of the journey from your perspective. We here in Park City are anxiously awaiting our chance to meet Sweet Joya, and to welcome you home!!! Love you all so much!

Diana P. said...

I knew that Joya had finally begun to accept Laurie when we hadn't heard from her as consistently! :) Glad to hear from you and know that you are still the same Kenyon I knew way back in PA! It's so exciting to watch you realize that while you thought you were "saving" her, she is the one who is saving you. People often talk about how "lucky" my daughter is to have been "chosen" to be in a family in America, but I ALWAYS correct them and say, "No, WE are the lucky ones by far." And it is 1000% true. You have discovered those deep brown little eyes, but just you wait - there is more to come! And it's GREAT! Joya is absolutely beautiful and it is such a privilege to watch the miracle of the evolution of your family with the addition of Joya to your lovely clan. Exciting days are ahead - for the two of you, for Joya, and for Joya's FOUR BIG BROTHERS! I'm alredy praying for Joya's poor little future suitors to have courage enough to face 5 men who love her (hee! hee!). Seriously, I can see Jya's expressions softening in each new picture you share with us and it is clear that she is recognizing and investing in her forever family more and more each day. Thank you for sharing this miracle.

Candis Daugherty said...

I don't have a lot of words today (shocking, I know!). I figured I could come up with a few sarcastic comments for the Guest Writer...but I got nothin'. Beautiful words. Sweet love story. Wonderful family. Love you all and continually praying...

me said...

Great to hear from you, Kenyon! As someone who is also definitely inclined to be a "facts and logic" person who wants as much information as possible for every decision and to be prepared for every possible contingency, I especially appreciate your perspective. We also have commented on Joya's softening expressions... and occasional mischievous look in her eyes that make us think she'll fit right in! :) Travel safely!!!

Dave Satre said...

That's the thing about going all in on faith. It defies the data driven decisions we make and throws us and others out of the surety of life, reminding us not to rely only upon ourselves. I'm so happy for your family- what a blessing to welcome Joya. I couldn't help thinking about our 2and half year old daughter as I've been watching your pictures over the last week. There must be so much going through her mind. Her episodeds of grief will continue to be overcome by love. Her older brothers will surely add to the open arms she's experienced.

Great words of wisdom from you, my friend.

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