All They Need

“Neenada!” My five-year-old spit out the Russian equivalent of “Stop it!”

Now what? I thought. My daughter was having clothing issues again. Pants too loose? Wrong color? Too high in the waist? Too long? Too old? Too new? Her inability to communicate her wants, and my inability to discern her needs, was creating frustration on a regular basis.

When my husband and I brought this child home following her adoption, we quickly realized that her physical special needs would be relatively easy to address. The real challenge was going to be the emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Why? In part because we could only guess at what they were.

Adoption experts differed in their advice. Standard parenting advice didn’t seem effective or appropriate for a child with a rough start in life, but the alternatives were hard to sort out. Her early years loomed like a giant question mark, largely unknown with no way to fill in the blanks.

There comes a time as a parent when you realize you cannot give your children all they need. Not just all they want, but all they need. And sometimes that is accompanied by the realization that you don’t even know what they truly need. That is where I found myself.

I am ashamed to admit that for a long time, I thought I could meet all my children’s needs. For example:

Baby cries. Diaper needs to be changed. All better.

Toddler whines. Time to eat. All better.

Pre-teen is grumpy. Send him to bed. All better.

Teen struggles in school. Get a tutor. All better.

That’s an oversimplification, but you get my meaning. Then my blonde-haired, blue-eyed bomb of energy and strong will arrived with issues I couldn’t fathom.

Every night as I tucked my new daughter into bed, sighing with relief that we had made it through another day, I prayed the same prayer: “Lord, thank you for my daughter. Would You heal her heart, soul, mind, and body? All that she needs, You know. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Years later, I can tell you God has answered my heart’s plea, and I still often pray that prayer, or a variation of it, not only for this child but also for each of my children. Because I don’t know all their needs, but my Heavenly Father does. And He can meet every one of them.

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