Dancing This Leap Year

Leap Year Day is quite a day of celebration in our home…it was four years ago on Leap Year that I met our precious Birdie in China.  Remembering that day, her facial expression was one of complete emptiness, her hollow eyes revealing deep sorrow. She painstakingly walked toward me when pushed by the woman accompanying her. IMG_7576-1224x816

As most will remember she was not fond of me at all (and that’s an understatement).  Anytime I came near she would scream and wail.  Of course it was hard as I had longed to hold her from the moment I saw her picture but she definitely wanted nothing to do with me.   It was a long, long two weeks till we could head home.  Reaching home, things didn’t really get much better.  I remember wondering how we were going to make it.  She despised me.


Over the years we’ve certainly had others who have struggled with bonding and so I refer to the privilege of bonding as a “dance”…and in reality some days we just dance better than others.  Because frankly, wounded little souls who have experienced trauma, rejection and often times abuse, whose very  foundation knew the devastation of abandonment, can have walls that are heaven-high around their broken little hearts.  And our little Birdie was no exception.  The walls around her broken heart were steel-clad and tightly super glued together.

I had taken my sling to China but she wasn’t a fan of that either and after coming home I felt the Lord whispering to try it again.  She actually loved it this time. and it was the only thing that really began to break down her walls.  Every time Birdie would see my sling she would scramble into my arms.  Her bonding to me began slowly, slowly, slowly to take place and we truly couldn’t thank the Lord enough.  After about a year of use I hung the sling in the closet and life went on.


Well recently Birdie seemed to be struggling and as I was praying I felt the Lord whisper to get the sling out again.  When she saw it she immediately scrambled up into my arms and we began to “dance” once again.  So now, throughout the day, I carry her around in the sling, walking even to the mailbox with her (our neighbors love us even if we are “that crazy big family”) or at times Birdie and I sit (with her still in the sling) while she eats a snack or we just snuggle slung together as one.  Somedays she brings the sling to me herself, no doubt, wanting to “dance” the day away.  The change in her soul has been incredibly astounding since we went back to using the sling a couple of months ago – I cannot thank the Lord enough.

And so here I am baby wearing my 7.5 year old and considering it the most amazing privilege to watch her broken little heart continue to heal.  And really, truly, it doesn’t matter how old she is, she needs to know her mama loves her with all her heart.


So twenty-five years from now if you should see a silver-haired 86 year-old mama baby wearing her beautiful little 32-year-old daughter with Down syndrome just remember – we’re still dancing.

7 thoughts on “Dancing This Leap Year

  1. I give God thanks and praise that you remain, and may remain, physically strong enough to dance with your Birdie. I find now at 77, I can’t lift my nearly 4 year old grandson. He is a big boy.

  2. The bonding dance is beautiful, and hard. I remember learning to sit on my mom’s lap as a teenager, after many years of pushing her away. Keep dancing!
    If I may ask, what type of sling do you use, and what are the weight limits? A friend has offered to help me make one, and I want to be sure I will be able to use it for as long as possible. We’re waiting to adopt a 0-6 yr old : ).

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