The prettiest flower of them all!

Most parents would tell you that the first time they ever saw their children was in a hospital following delivery. Cindy and I will never forget the day we first saw Maria. Rather than starting our family by having a baby, we decided to adopt. Cindy and I decided on international adoption, and soon we had a house full of photo listings of adoptable children. It was quite overwhelming! We wanted a daughter, and many of the photos showed beautiful, smiling little girls wearing pretty dresses. Everything about them cried out, “Choose me!!”

Some of the other children weren’t like that. One in particular caught our attention. “Maria is a smiling child from Russia. She enjoys helping her teachers and playing with her friends. Her right leg is underdeveloped and will require prosthetic intervention.” That’s all it said.

The child in the photo certainly wasn’t smiling. She looked absolutely lost. The more information we received on her, the worse Maria looked. Cindy and I had not gone searching for a “handicapped” child, but we knew from the moment we first saw her photo that Maria was meant to be part of our family. After much prayer and 9 months of paperwork and problems, Maria Elizabeth came home. Maria’s transition from orphan to daughter didn’t begin quite as smoothly as we would have liked. The first few weeks together were a absolute nightmare, but it wasn’t long before we all settled into our new lives.

Maria received her first prosthetic leg 3 weeks after we returned from Russia. She quickly learned to walk- and she’s never looked back! If you didn’t see her prosthesis, you’d never suspect Maria is an amputee. We are very proud of all she has accomplished in such a short period of time. It is a absolute joy to see her run, bike, and skate and do all the things that kids are supposed to do.

There are some rough times every now and then. Stares and comments sometimes bring on moments of insecurity and self-doubt. Cindy and I know that it’s something that Maria will have to deal with throughout her life, and we hope and pray that we’re teaching her the proper ways to deal with it. Thankfully, the “bad times” are few and far between, and most of the time Maria spends her days moving full-speed ahead…forever busy being a kid!