October 15, 2010

My Denial Envelope

When we found Jubilee and requested her file, we were well aware of her diagnosis of  "Lower Mental Development".  In fact, it drew us even more to her.  

Somewhere in there though, I wondered if maybe Ch*na had it wrong.  I mean, "Lower Mental Development" could be just learning delayed, right?  We already had other kids with special needs, so it wasn't that I cared that she might be mentally handicapped. In fact, we had always dreamed of Dw's mentally handicapped oldest brother coming to live with us for the duration of his life, {which he did a few months ago and I wrote about that here.}  

But still, somewhere in there, I wondered.  
What exactly would "lower mental development" look like according to Ch*na's standards?

I remember the day of the health exam in Guangzhou{a few days before her 8th birthday} , the Chin*se doctor asked her to write her name.
She could not. 

 I think I just tucked that safely in my denial envelop and ignored it.  
{No doubt, needing some time to process it. 
People have always said that I am really, really, really good at denial. 
 I guess this experience with Jubilee is proving them right!}  

Jubilee had quite a few urgent health needs {including surgery}
 so all that took precedence.  We also live in a small city, 
the nearest big city being Denver and that is 8 hours away.
Isaiah{6}, Jubilee{8} and Elizabeth {4}

In the midst of all the health issues, we learned {to everyone's surprise} that Jubilee is also hearing impaired.  Whew.  Well that explained alot as well.  No wonder when she would be heading up the stairs and I would be calling, "Jubilee, Jubilee!"  she would not even turn around!  

Over the months she has blossomed.  Her sweet personality has endeared us all to her.  Her name fits her well. She runs with reckless abandon to those she loves and throws her arms around them.  

But all along I was filing little incidents of things Jubilee had done into my denial envelope.  Until one day, while driving in the car with our 15 year old Graham, I turned to him and said, "I think Jubilee might be mentally handicapped."   He turned to me, and with utmost kindness yet couple with a large dose of reality said, "Ya' think?" 

I started to almost laugh.  He wasn't being rude at all.  He just isn't one to mince words {which I am thankful for!}  I said, "Graham do you really think so?"  He said, "Mom, it's so obvious."  Huh?  Even  our 15 year old could see it.    I kept our little conversation to myself.  I needed to ponder the reality.  It's amazing how God made our minds to process things - and enables us to take the most difficult things in life to be processed in tiny bits.   So thankful He does it like that!

A month or so after the conversation with Graham, dear friends came from Canada to visit us in Colorado. They had never been to our home, so their kids did not know us.  They stayed with us for 5 nights.  One of their daughters is four years old.  One of the nights, the mom told her kids that the parents were all going out to dinner.   She also told them that our Emma was going to babysit for all the kids while the adults were gone. 

Their daughter burst into hysterical tears.  Since Emma is 17 years old and one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet, the mom was dumbfounded.  Why was her daughter hysterical?  When she calmed down enough to talk, the mom asked her what was wrong?  She said, "She can't babysit us, she's only THREE.  I'm four, I should be in charge." 

It turns out that her daughter had gotten the names of the kids mixed up and she thought Jubilee was Emma!!  And she clearly thought that Jubilee was only THREE.  Another dose of reality.  A visiting four year old thought my almost 9 year old was really THREE. 

My denial envelope was getting mighty full.

Even a four year old could see that Jubilee acted more like she was three!!

So here I am, finally opening the envelope and talking about it on here.  I think I am still processing why this envelope was so painful to open.  It has nothing to do with Jubilee being with us the rest of her life.  


       I think it has to do with the reality of what she will have to deal with in life.  The way outsiders treat her. That part just kills me.  I know, I know, it's reality, but this mama can easily turn into Mama Bear if anyone messes with one of my cubs!  

Anyway, slowly, my envelope is being opened and although it's a good thing, it's not necessarily easy.

 A Place Called Simplicity   



  1. Living something so very, very similar with our Vivienne. It's hard not to grieve... but God knows what He's doing and sometimes that's all we need to know :)
    oxoxoxo to you and all your beautiful kiddos!

  2. I have denial envelopes myself....and I think you worded it perfectly, how merciful the Lord is to give us things in small doses at times...slowly so that we can process it with His guidance.
    I love this post, Linny. Thank you so much for sharing...and your Jubilee is a treasure for sure!

  3. Linny thank you for putting into words what I've felt. Didn't know I had denial envelopes until you penned this. Beautiful and profound.

    Thank you for putting this down on *paper*. Leslie

  4. Thanks for sharing, and I totally understand. We brought our son home with 2 club feet. It took me a long time to accept the fact that he actually is NOT just like any other child his age, and he does have "disabilities" (whoa!!! soooo did not want to use that word!) It took a good friend who basically catagorized him w/ children w/ CP to finally wake me up to the realization (after many other "little" hints that I filed in my "denial envelope") Why is it just so much easier to live there? haha

    (note from Stefanie: This comment is from Amy Murphy... somehow I hit delete instead of publish... sorry!)

  5. I've been there with you. And still am in some ways.

    And honestly (don't take this the wrong way), I was somewhat relieved by the hearing impairment diagnosis for Jubilee... it just seemed so, I dont know - overcome-able. If that makes sense? That other things would fall in place once she was able to communicate easier?

    (Please take that in love - knowing that this deaf chick is incredibly grateful for the loving family she grew up in).

    So very, very thankful for her blossoming with you. So thankful for the loving kindness and "fit-in-ness" she has with a real family.

    And how much she adds to that family! :) We love you - and we're not denial about that!

  6. Hi, Linny! I read at your blog all the time. Thanks for sharing about Jubilee. What a great way to explain how this feels! We have a child so much like Jubilee. She is 8 now 6 at adoption. Her severe dev.delays were a surprise to us and this was not her stated special need. Denial? Yes. Grieving? Yes. Sometimes confused as tho how to parent her? Yes. Loving her like crazy? YES, YES, YES!!!
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. I think my "denial envelope" was about bursting for two years. Laura was supposed to be healthy...her file said so. But God...He just knew the blessings this sweet girl would bring us. We needed her so much, even more than she needed us, I think. This little princess has done so much in our lives, including opening our hearts to more children with special needs. Praising God for His extra special children!

  8. Linny I had the same little denial envelope for my birthson who inherited a genetic disease from his dad. It was heartbreaking even though he accepted it with grace and humility and has not let it negatively shape his life. I am so proud of the Godly young man he has become. Jubilee is so blessed to be in a Godly family full of love and to have the perfect teacher for her! So glad and envious that she is blesssed with a stay at home homeschooling mom!

  9. Linny, what a beautiful post, Jubilee is such a blessing to your family!!

  10. Yes, I think I've been there is whole year. My son has Sickle cell anemia. Now, I know he's had it, but have been in denial about how serious this truly is. "Maybe he will'outgrow' it" has been my thought...I know that would be a miricle but I'm a believer in miricles! But reality is setting in, my son has a disease that could take his life away with a simple infection. It took me one year and 4 hospitalizations to "get this". We are so very blessed to be his mom and dad. And this makes no difference to us. We love him. Period. And God chose us for raising this blessed little man in the way he should go :)