When my daughter Clara was 4 years old, a very odd, disturbed little girl joined her pre-school in the middle of the school year. The woman who brought her in looked rather freaked out so we got to talking, and this is what she told me.
When the woman, Wendy, went to visit some relatives out of town, she felt obligated to spend some time with an aunt who was a permanent huge mess. She was a drug addict, in and out of jail, etc. The aunt asked Wendy if she would take care of her daughter for a while. “How long?” asked Wendy, “Well permanently I guess” answered her aunt.
So being the wonderful soul that she is, Wendy went on this vacation as a single, childless computer programmer and returned with a seriously neglected 4 year old girl, Ana. Ana couldn’t walk or talk, and she spent most of the time hiding under tables. Who knows what conditions she’d endured those first 4 years. Wendy had to go to work, so she brought her to my daughter’s preschool.
My daughter Clara is a maternal sort and she immediately put herself in charge of Ana. She talked and sang to her, and helped her come out of her shell.
Fast forward a year and Ana and Clara are at Kindergarten together. Ana is still very shy, but she runs around with the other children and her speech is hugely improved.
Fast forward 2 more years and both girls are in 2nd grade. Ana is reading and doing school work at normal grade level. She take gymnastics, is active in her church youth group and is on the junior soccer team. She is shy around people she doesn’t know, but most 8 year olds are. She seems in every way a totally normal, happy little girl.
And today, this morning, Clara and I went to watch Wendy adopt Ana. It was a privilege to see the law make official the relationship that has been real for 4 years now.
It amazes me to this how different Ana’s life would have been if she’d stayed with her basket-case of a mother. Now, with lots of love, patience and attention, she’s gone from being a backwards, damaged child to a confident, smart, energetic girl. And her future is boundless.
Yea Wendy and Ana!