by Robin Munro, Senior Writer
Born in Africa, DOB: January 15, 2003
I saw her face, and I just knew. That’s my child.
This is a story told time and again by adoptive families. They see a face, just a face, and they know. This is a special child. This is my child.
In an article for Holt’s winter 2011 magazine, adoptive father Sean Yarger explains how he and his wife knew that the girl then identified as G09-211, now Gemma, was their daughter. “(My wife) had found a face – just a face on the photolisting that she knew she’d be united with at some point in the future,” writes Yarger. “That’s how strong and immediate the connection can be.”
Recently, while browsing through the photos of children still waiting for families, I too came upon a face – just a face, radiant and joyful – and I knew, this is one special girl.
Eight-year-old Danielle’s child reports read like those of a girl with a different background – a girl treasured by a loving family, showered with affection, supported in all her endeavors. She is “outgoing and loves people,” shows affection with ease, and is considered “a very social, friendly and receptive child.” She attends the top class at her care center, communicates well in both English and Lungara – her native language – and is always available to help other children with their homework. She “writes really well at school and her teachers are proud of her.” Every report is glowing. Every one reinforcing the last.
But Danielle has no champion at home. No father to beam with pride when she succeeds. No mother to comfort her when she fails. No family to guide her way.
Danielle is her own hero.
And “home” to Danielle is an orphanage – the only home she’s known from the time a probation officer brought her in at 3-months-old, dressed in rags, found abandoned at a local bar. When she arrived, she had skin rashes all over her body and cried from the pain of scratching them. With treatment, she recovered well. Five months later, she was admitted to the hospital with severe malaria.
Given time to heal, and nurturing care from attentive caregivers, Danielle began to blossom. Her report at 14 months states that “she looks well and is growing steadily.” Years pass without incident, with steady growth. Her asthma occasionally acts up. But mostly, she’s focused on the business of growing — “growing strong and beautiful,” as her report describes Danielle at age 7.
Danielle, now 8, is already strong and beautiful. You can see it in her captivating brown eyes and big, confident smile. This is the face of a girl who loves, and knows she deserves to be loved. A girl whose favorite activity is skipping. Who likes to read books, tell stories and sing. Who loves to draw, color and paint. A girl who is “always seeking how to get involved and seeks responsibility.” A hard-working girl, helpful and neat, whose “bed is the most organized at the center.”
A girl with a face – just a face on the photolisting, waiting for a family.
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