Did They Ever Notice?

Miss A has been with us for about 4 months now. As time goes on, as I watch her playing and interacting, I find myself wondering, did they ever notice?

I mean, she spent 7.5 months in an orphanage being cared for by nannies. It was, as far as I can tell, a really good orphanage. We visited it and got a tour, and it was lovely–for an orphanage. It was clean and bright, and the directors and nannies were cheerful and welcoming and friendly. But, it was still an orphanage. She was still cared for by nannies. And that makes me wonder, did they ever notice?

Miss A likes to feel a blanket or burp cloth with her fingers as she drinks her bottle. Propped up in the crook of my leg so we can see each other face to face, her hands are in constant motion. Seeking out and then rubbing and feeling the piece of cloth. Did they ever notice this?

As her eyelids get droopier and droopier drinking her bottle, she will usually begin lifting the cloth to her face. Covering her eyes, then dropping it down, then bring it back up to her face. She will grab a corner and rub the side of her face as her eyelids close. Did they ever notice?

Should she finish the bottle before drifting off to sleep, she has been known to almost nibble on the fuzzy side of her blankie to fall asleep. Did they ever notice? And, if so, did they ever give her a soft cloth to feel as she drank her bottle?

We first noticed this in China. She would hold her shirt or my shirt as she drank her bottle. Then she would grab her bib or burpcloth. So, when we came home, I got out a blankie square with a silky side and a furry side. She loves it. Peeking in at her at night we will find her laying on it like a pillow. And, it sometimes makes me sad. Sad because I wonder what she did at night when she was (presumably) all alone in her bed with nothing to grasp or cuddle or snuggle.

In all likelihood, given what I know about orphanages, given that the nannies (caring though they be) are taking care of many children at a time, I know that they probably didn’t notice this quirk of Miss A. They didn’t have time to notice. They couldn’t notice.

Instead they had to focus on taking care of each child’s basic needs. Feeding, changing diapers, and sleeping. Straight forward caretaking. Judging from Miss A, they seem to have done a fantastic job of caring for her basic needs while in the orphanage. On Gotcha Day she was a well-fed, healthy, happy, clean, chubby cleft baby who had already been given her first surgery. Her basic needs were well met.

But, just getting your basic needs met isn’t what we were designed for. God created us to know Him and to be intimately known. And He sets the example for us–He knows His children intimately. He knows how many hairs we have on our head. He knows our deepest fears and struggles. He knows our gifts and talents. He knows what makes us laugh. He knows how we laugh. He knows our heart and soul and mind and spirit, for He created us. He notices it all.

There is so much more to be had than to just have your basic needs met. So, God places children in families with parents who, if they are intent on doing it, will know those children intimately. Through relationships and time and noticing we get to know one another intimately. Think of your closest friends, your spouses, your family. What makes those relationships so valuable is that each of those people knows you intimately. They can “read you like a book.” They know your quirks and your looks and your fears and your joys. And, isn’t that a comfort–to be known intimately?

This is what has brought me so much joy from being a mother. To spend every day with my daughters has given me the opportunity to know my girls intimately. Knowing that Miss E will probably need extra reassurance when she hears a loud car go roaring down our street. Knowing that Miss A likes to crawl around with a block in each hand. Noticing and knowing the little things, the looks, the cries, the giggles, the quirks. I love knowing–really knowing–my girls.

So, as I watch Miss A, as I study her expressions and movements and quirks, it makes me sad to realize that they probably couldn’t notice them. She had great basic care for the first 7.5 months of her life. And, for that, I am forever grateful. But, she didn’t have the care of a Mommy and Daddy. She didn’t have someone who took notice of how much she liked soft blankies and, in turn, made them available to her. She didn’t have someone who knew her intimately.

Now, she does.



Stephanie has been married to Matthew for over 5 years. She “retired” from teaching after 18 years in the classroom when she had their first child. But, she continues to do a lot of work with school-aged children by teaching science to home-schooled children each week and being involved in children’s ministry in their church. It is through their two children that God has revealed Himself most clearly. He not only worked a miracle in enabling them to have a biological daughter who is 2 ½, He continued to show Himself in a mighty way throughout an adoption journey that was anything but normal. Her days are filled with all things “toddler,” and she loves the blessing of being a stay-at-home-mom. You can read more about their family here.

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