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Unexpected Daughter

BY DAWN SULLIVAN — The unexpected can do two things.  It can smack you on your… well… face.  Or it can pull you right up into a cloud of intense delight!  And sometimes you can get a little bit of both!  The cool thing is that when you get smacked and end up on your face, it can draw you closer into the presence of the Lord… and that is always a bonus.  And when you get thrown into delight… you see Him there too.

There has been a lot of unexpected in my life.  A. Lot.  Some have brought deep pain and deep growth.  Some came and left quickly and some linger and demand more time and attention.  But one of the most precious unexpected moments of my life brought my daughter.  And she is one of the sweetest blessings in my life.

I have been an advocate for children for many years.  I was given the heart for adoption in the tenth grade.  I remember the incident like it was yesterday.  But that is another story.  I always knew that my life would have an impact on children.  I wasn’t really sure how… but I knew it was my calling at a very early age.

One of the ways I advocate for children is by volunteering for a hosting program that brings older orphans over to be hosted in homes.  Two years ago, my husband and I were feeling God leading us to host.  We had just adopted our second child 6 months earlier and so it was our every intention to host a child and try and advocate for them while they were here and find them a forever family.

We selected our host child, a 10 year old girl from Latvia, and turned in all of our paper work.  I felt confident we would find her a home.  I looked forward to crafting with her and sharing life with her and had such peace about the situation.

Blog Post from December 19, 2009-

My heart is a flutter.  My soul is aching to hold her.  As she sits, this moment, on an airplane, traveling across the world, what is going through her mind, her heart, her soul?

She is on her way.  Brenda is on her way.  Her plane is scheduled to land at 12:30 a.m.  Just six hours.  And then she is on her way… on her way to our home… on her way to a room filled with love for her with pink flannel snowman sheets on the bed and a pink pillow and pink flowers on the dresser… she is on her way to be flooded with the love of God… on her way to never being the same… on her way to a new hope… a new chance… a new family… a new world.

Abby prayed for her at lunch today.  Abby is at the store with daddy picking out a Barbi for her new friend.  Daddy is at the store… and he is smiling… his heart is smiling and it is the most beautiful thing to my soul.

She is on her way and I get to hold her in just a few hours… I know we will never be the same.

Before we knew it, the day arrived and we met our host child at 1 a.m. in the Atlanta airport.

My mind reeled at how brave she was to fly across the world and get into the car and go home with complete strangers.  My heart hurt for her and just wanted to make her feel as welcome and comfortable as possible.   We got home after 2 a.m. and had a snack and gave her the tour of our home and her new room.

The next day is a day I will always remember.  It is the day my heart collided with hers and I became her mother.  It is the day I realized I was standing in front of my daughter.  It is the day the unexpected became one of the greatest gifts.

Blog Post from December 15,2009-

The L Word

I don’t have a picture today of what I am about to share.  You’ll have to use your imagination.  But I promise to have more photos tomorrow… or even tonight!

Yesterday morning took a turn from what I had planned.  My plan was to take Brenda and Abby shopping to get her some clothes.  She came with one outfit… on her back.  We knew this is how it works and so I was prepared.  Luckily the pajamas I had already bought at the consignment store fit perfectly and she loved them!

So she took a shower.  When she came out of the bathroom with wet hair, I thought, “A mother would fix her hair… I wonder if a woman has ever fixed her hair for her… maybe she will let me.”  And so I asked… and she gave me a big smile and sweet nod and we were off to my bathroom for some girl time!

I put some of my gel in her hair, brushed it, and started to dry it with the hair dryer.  Immediately I saw it, lice nits in her hair, most of them behind her left ear.  I turned off the hair dryer and asked her to wait one moment for me and went downstairs to tell my husband.  He was so precious and left to get what we needed.

As I walked back down the hallway to my room, I wondered how in the world I was going to communicate this to her and not hurt her.  How would she take it?  So I went back in and just started pulling them out with my fingers.  I could see she was watching me in the mirror and could tell something was up and so I pulled out a strand with a nit on it and showed it to her.  Then I tried to communicate that it was ok and I was going to get them out.

I went right back to work and started humming.  She started tearing up and then the tears started to fall.  My heart broke into a million gazillion tiny pieces.  I got down on my knees in front of her and wiped her tears and told her “no”… “no tears”… and I smiled.  “It’s ok… it’s ok,” I said but she wouldn’t even look at me.  So I kissed her hand and then kissed her cheek and held her.  I was praying that the love would just flow through me and give her peace.  I then went out and pulled up my blog on the laptop so my music playlist could play… and went right back to work… this time singing.

I decided to look all over her head for the little culprit and his buddies.  I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for as I have never seen the actual lice itself.  Then, on the other side, there one was… like a little dirty flat piece of rice clinched to her scalp.  AW HAW you little varmint!  I got it and showed it to her and she understood and I washed it down the drain and looked for more.  There were NO MORE!  Just one.  And just one side of her head had nits.  I PRAISED the Lord for his sweetness in being so sovereign and letting me find it on the first day!

My knight came back with the shampoo and when I walked into the bathroom with it… she started to cry again.  I reassured her again, holding her face in my hands and caressing her cheeks… “It’s ok” I said.  I stroked the sides of her mouth up into a smile and then put the shampoo on.  After I set it for 10 minutes… I painted her nails, gave her some earrings, and introduced her to some yummy body spray I have from Gap.  Then I just sat on the side of the tub and held her… hugged her… and she knew… and I knew she knew…. there was LOVE and peace… and smiles… lots of smiles.

After two hours of combing and picking and going over every inch of her head… I dried her hair and fixed it into two cute messy pony tails with flying sprigs and twists… she loved it.  And I loved her… loved her in every way I knew how to… and she accepted it.

Yesterday morning was the sweetest morning ever.  My husband stripped her bed, washed everything, and took care of everything while I had those two hours with her in my bathroom.  A precious little girl got her first dose of God’s love in the fullest… and my heart grew about ten sizes.  We then went shopping and had a VERY lucky day at Red Door Consignment Store!  There were many more smiles!

The L word was flowing through the house yesterday… Love… Lots of Love!


From that day on, I knew she was my daughter.  I knew it in the deepest corners of my soul.  Nothing could part me from this child.  It came so suddenly but as if it had been there all along.  And it had been there… waiting for the God appointed time to spring forth!

She became my daughter… our daughter.  We adopted her.  We went from one child to three children in one year!  She changed her name and she changed our lives.  I am forever thankful and humbled.

The unexpected was a divine appointment, written on the calendar before any of us were even born.  That is what I refer to as “holy ground.”  It is intimate.  It is a gift.

Even though something can be unexpected to us, it always must pass through the Father’s hands first.  I find peace and comfort in that.  Especially when it is one that smacks me down!  The next time you are faced with an “unexpected”… embrace it and find the Father in it.  He is there.  And will walk every moment of it with you!

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