Abandoned at birth, in a laying room for her first four years, rocking back and forth in a crib with nobody to love her, severely neglected, and then by some miraculous event, a place in a special needs orphanage opened up in the country outside of Kharkiv Ukraine. She was sent to Vysoki Special Needs Baby House.
One of the workers there saw that she had potential. She worked with her, teaching her how to walk and talk.We did not meet this woman on our trip to get Erika, but we met her two years later when she tearfully came up and hugged us and shared with us how worried she was when Erika left. She was so thankful that Erika was doing well and thanked us again and again. It is strange being thanked, when we feel so thankful.
Erika is a treasure. She was hidden from us for nearly 8 years, but God knew..... He was with her.
I do not understand suffering, nor do I pretend to. But I know that Erika knew how to pray. She felt the presence of God in that awful laying room. She remembered, and told us when she learned to speak English.
I remember when Papa Dima
went with us to the orphanage he asked her, "What are you thinking about today?" She said, "I'm thinking about Jesus." It wasn't until several months later that she fully understood the Gospel, putting the pieces together of Jesus coming as a baby, dying on the cross, and taking our sin upon himself. But when she did, tears began to flow out of a thankful heart.
Erika was smart! She knew that we were not the same people who had picked up Sarah nearly 2 years before. She told us, "You aren't them." We had to explain to her about Sarah's disruption with the other family, and then showed her pictures of Sarah and Anna, and she poured over them with reserved excitement. Her smile was so precious.... a nervous smile, one that was holding back out of uncertainty, yet wanting to let go and break free.
She told me that she never thought anybody would ever come for her. She cried at night after each child left or had visitors. She had none, except Papa Dima who had been coming for a couple of years to minister to the children twice a month.
She couldn't believe it was her turn, and in true Erika fashion, she was sweetly relishing and enjoying the moment.
(at the Atlanta Airport, a new American Citizen)
That is something I really admire about her. She doesn't forget to enjoy the moment, take it in, smell the flowers and ponder it in her heart.
We didn't know all the physical needs Erika had, nor the ones she would have. It didn't matter.
She is a person, not a list of disabilities. What we have found is that she is more abled, than disabled! And she is more abled than many who do not have any physical disability! She is lovely inside and out. There is nothing she won't try, sometimes to a fault. :)
(Erika standing on her own for the first time after her feet amputations)
She is a good teacher.
Erika we love you more than you will ever know! Happy Familyversary!