Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Life Redeemed By LOVE

Sam weighed in at a little under 4 1/2 pounds when her birth-mother left her in the hospital.

I don’t fault her. Sam was this woman’s 14th pregnancy. And if the stereo-types are true, as a woman of Roma heritage (Gypsy, as many would say), the odds were truly stacked against her. I don’t doubt that she struggled to keep food on her family’s table, and that she probably really believed that someone else could give her special needs baby a better life. 

Regardless, seven years and five months ago, a frail, tiny baby set out on life’s journey...alone.

For two months, Sam made her home in a hospital crib. Although I don’t know if anyone in that facility truly loved Sam, I’m thankful to God for this gift of time. I have a feeling that it was in this hospital that Sam learned how to eat. If this is the case, it was likely this simple, yet vital skill that prepared her to survive what laid ahead. 

Upon being released from the hospital, Sam was transferred to an orphanage just one town away from her birth place. Her life was signed over to the care of the Pleven baby house. Baby Sam, still just as tiny as could be, quickly learned the ropes of her new home. Rule #1.) Lie down. And #2) Don’t bother crying; no one will come. 

So that's what she did. She lay on her back in her crib day in and day out. No one came to visit her except the woman in the white coat. But she never stayed very long. She came once a day (if that) to change Baby Sam’s diaper (and only her diaper). And other times she would come just long enough to prop up a beer bottle full of sludge for Baby Sam to drink. Sam would gulp down the fast-flowing, rancid liquid as best as she could, not knowing when she would see the woman in the white coat again.

Even despite the lack of love and human contact, slowly but surely, Baby Sam began to grow. And even without a teacher, she began to learn! She taught herself how to move about her crib, to kneel and pull herself to a stand. She learned how to rock herself to sleep and how to comfort herself when she was afraid. For entertainment, she would study her own hand, and use her voice to experiment with a variety of sounds.

But no one applauded for Baby Sam when she uttered a new sound or attempted a new skill. In fact, the woman in the white coat wasn’t pleased with Sam at all! She moved too much. She made too much noise. She had way too much life in her.

The woman in the white coat gathered together with the other White Coats and decided to do something about this life-filled baby girl. They labeled her “crazy”. An “anomaly”. Her movements and sounds were deemed “symptoms” of a “disease” which could not be cured. 

They moved Baby Sam to a new floor where they keep the “hopeless cases”. To a room where she would hence forth be kept in solitude. The horizontal scars on the insides of each of her arms and on the sides of her neck, indicate that she was restrained. Tied to her crib. 

Left in this state for a period of time, Sam’s body began to atrophy. Her weight declined. She could no longer stand up unassisted. In fact she was hardly even aware of her own body anymore, flopping about like a fish out of water.

The White Coats were determined to break her. To steal the life right out of her. 

And they nearly did. 

Until Hope walked in. 

And Mercy. 


Because all of you prayed and HE answered.

The prayers of thousands of people all over the world changed Sam’s world. They changed the atmosphere in her crib. They prepared her broken and bound up little heart for a mommy who loves her more than words can say. And for Jesus, who loves her far bigger than even her mommy ever could. 

And they prepared her for freedom.

The LORD looked at Samantha with LOVE and spared her life. And not only so, He protected her sweet spirit. She can now be found free from her chains, and thriving in her new life.

Thank you, Jesus, for LOVE'S RANSOM.

Thank you for saving this precious, oh-so-valuable, and very much loved little one.

I am so grateful.

Neither of us will ever be the same.

Here is Sam and me in our boat :) After an overwhelming, overly stimulating day, I pulled the couch right up to the windowsill, creating a small, enclosed space where we could retreat from the big new world. Sam learned that Mommy will respond to her when she is afraid. She doesn't have to comfort herself anymore! 
This is Sam rocking her appointment at the Children's hospital in Omaha. The doctor could not believe how calm and trusting Sam was. When she read that she was going to be seeing at 23-pound 7-year-old, this was not the little girl she expected to see.
When it all gets to be too much, the koosh ball makes everything all better :) And of course, Mommy.
...And a bottle! Sometimes taking a bottle is enough to make Sam burst into giggles. She is SO happy to finally have a full tummy.
After only two weeks of good nutrition, look was Sam can do...
...all by herself...
...leaning against a wall...
...and standing up like a big girl!
Giving mommy kisses :)
Giving in to sleep after chattering up a happy storm!
She may be tiny now...
...but she is growing!!! Look at that belly! She's already gained two pounds since her first doctors appointment one week ago.
Enjoying the scenery outside her bedroom window.
Trying a new food...green beans!!! She's still a little on the fence about them...
And now, saving the best for last...take a look at what my little genius can say:

 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:1-3


  1. What a beautiful little girl, and now so loved. It brings me to tears. Congratulations to both of you.

  2. Oh, she is just perfect! What a testimony to God's unending love. :sniff, sniff: Beautiful!

  3. Oh, what a joy she is!!!! You are one lucky mama! xoxo

  4. What a total darling sweet bunny!! Way to go mummy being there for her, just totally amazing, sweet Sam has stolen a giant bit of my heart.....big love hugs and prayers to you,both from new Zealand.

  5. Awesome!! It was a joy to meet you both in Sofia. Praise God for such encouragement in just two weeks!

  6. Grace,
    I am a friend of your Aunt Gail's from church and have been following your and Sam's journey for s long as I can remember. I have shared your story with my family and we have prayed for your and your precious Samantha over and over. As much as my heart breaks for Samantha's past, it rejoices even moreso for her future.
    I cannot thank you enough for sharing precious Samantha with the rest of us and for allowing us to be a part of your journey.

    God bless you and your beautiful daughter!
    Michelle Crum

  7. I just want to reach through the computer screen and hug you both! What a joy to follow Sam and Grace's journey of LOVE.

    Sally R

  8. what a smart little lovey!!!!!

  9. WOW--what a joy to see. Sam's eyes even look more alive and comprehending of the world around her. May God continue to bless you both!

    P.S. (We met at His Kids Camp this summer when you were waiting to hear about the adoption. I'm soooo happy to see you together!)

  10. Oh how I love this! She is growing! This post brought tears to my eyes! Praise the Lord for He is good!

  11. Absolutely precious! All praise and glory to God our Redeemer!

  12. She is soooo cute??? Can you share a little piece of her smile? ;)

  13. Grace,

    This is just such a great reality. (I'd say story, but that makes it sound like it isn't real) It has been so fun to watch you and pray with you and see the reality of joy in this little girl's world after what she has been through. It gives me the continued motivation to help place all children in real loving homes and continue to work for the orphans God has placed in my life.

    I'm just so excited to watch this all unfold.

    She is amazing.

  14. AND...I will NEVER get over the amazement of watching a malnourished child go from not being able to sit/stand on their own to sitting and standing, ALL because of a little food. It is the most amazing moment, and such a realization of how basic our needs can be, and how truly easy it can be to provide for the basic needs of others, and the incredible impact that can have on their life.

  15. She is beautiful!!!! What a wonderful way to start off my day!!!! :)

  16. I've never commented, but have been following your story for quite awhile...
    That video made my day. She has the sweetest smile, and such determination in her eyes. I can see her being such a stinker in the future.
    Love is an amazing thing.

  17. Its a wonder how something like this can make the previous events in your life that seemed to happen for random reasons all make sense.

  18. She's so beautiful! And the light in her eyes....it's amazing how love is transforming her. Thank you for allowing us to follow along with your journey to your precious girl!

  19. Beautifully written, Grace. Two pounds and standing already? I know Samantha will flourish under your love and care.

  20. My favorite is the "big belly" picture! So glad to see she is growing already. Thanks for the photos and updates, I'm praying for you guys every day.

  21. Thanks for your post. She's beautiful and it looks like you're loving your new roll as "Momma"! (It's my favorite title, too!) So glad to see her growing and thriving with you. Praise God for his mercy on Sam!

  22. Your blog is such a blessing to me...to see the both of you together. What a blessing. My family has adopted through RR. Thanks for sharing...I love seeing her transform right before our eyes.


  23. Awww beautiful story and a beautiful girl! I just don't understand how humans can treat other humans like that. I was close to tears reading the story, and the video did me in. Thank you.

  24. Your post and video made my day! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Sam with us!

  25. Oh Grace! How did I miss this party earlier?! WOOOO-HOOOOOOO for Sam saying, "MAMA!" WAY to GO, SAM!!!!!!! Every time I see her, I'm more convinced than ever that we must surely get together at some point with our Pleven princesses!

  26. Grace your blog is so beautiful and you know I've been following it from the beginning, but just finally got around to retrieving my long lost Google log-in, so I could comment, silly me. Samantha's new life shines so brightly against the darkness of her past. I can't wait to meet her next month and, thanks to you, I can't stop praying for the children still living in the Pleven baby house.