By Susie Nix
Elizabeth Mihika. Her name means “God’s promise.” Everyone knows her as Mihika, Mika, or Meeks.
We first met her when she was 2 ½ years old while we were touring the orphanage in India where we had traveled for the adoption of our other daughter, Anna Dola.
As we entered one of the rooms, an ayah said to us, “No one wants these babies.”
And there was Mihika with her bright eyes, little crooked legs, and a smile that left an imprint on our hearts forever.
On a rainy October morning two years later we returned to bring Mihika home to our family.
Her diagnoses were periventricular leukomalacia, cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment, and astigmatism.
When Mihika first came home she was malnourished, weak, and extremely insecure. She held her head down all the time. She did not know how to play.
The transitions that lay ahead were DIFFICULT!
Her cerebral palsy was so bad that, other than “W” sitting, she was unable to sit up on her own. She would not eat or drink. We had to hold her in our lap, pry her mouth open, squirt in formula through a bottle, and close her mouth so she would swallow.
When we tried to sit her in a chair a terrified look came across her face and she would not do it.
She cried and screamed most of the day. At our wit’s end, we almost considered respite care. We didn’t know if we could care for her, and we didn’t know if we could love her, but we didn’t give up.
Despite these initial struggles an instant bond seemed to form between our children. Our kids bonded with each other in a way that kept us going.
We are forever thankful to God for all the support we received from Dillon International. All hours of the day, they were there for us. They helped us get through and overcome this difficult time.
We started her on a muscle relaxer and we began to notice a difference fairly quickly. As her physical pain decreased she began to interact with us in a healthier way.
After a few months home, we started her in a preschool program for children with special needs. Mihika loved it; she thrived. We all started to heal, to attach, and we were learning to love each other.
After she was home for six months she went through an eye surgery. When she awoke from surgery she said “Momma” for the first time. My heart melted. I was feeling closer to her every day.
Mihika started Kindergarten in the Intensive Support Program (ISP) in the fall of 2010. We were all amazed at how well she was doing. She was becoming more confident. She was happy! As we celebrated her first year in our family, we were so happy to say that we were all crazy in love with this precious child of God! This love kept growing.
In January 2011, Mihika went through her second surgery, a procedure to help her become more mobile, permanently reduce her spasticity, and improve her speech. We are happy to say the surgery was a success. Mihika is now able to walk with a walker. She can sit up by herself. She can sit pretzel style. She can long sit and touch her toes without bending her knees. Her legs do not scissor when she stands. Mihika can dress herself without assistance. She is no longer on muscle relaxers and shows no sign of pain!
Mihika is now in the second grade with an amazing teacher. She continues to attend our local public school and remains in the ISP as well as an inclusion classroom with mainstream students. She receives all her therapies at school including occupational, physical and speech therapy. She can count to 20. She can sing the alphabet. She is learning sight words. She is confident and outgoing. One of her favorite activities is swimming. She also enjoys music, coloring, books, and eating! Mihika has no problem eating and is able to feed herself.
She plays very well, especially with her younger brother, Simon. She gets along great with all of her siblings and has a special relationship with each of them. Her older brother, Elijah, is always looking out for her. Anna Dola likes to brush Mihika’s hair and help her pick out her clothes. The other day I found Simon washing Mihika’s hair!
Mihika is easy to get along with. She likes to help as much as she can. She is a social butterfly and very popular at school. When we are out and about in our community we always seem to run into someone Mihika knows! Mihika is on an adaptive cycling team. Recently her physical therapist came over to bring her a new bike and said, “I can’t believe this is the same girl I met 2 ½ years ago.”
Mihika is so loving and full of joy, such a delight to be around. She is helpful, cooperative, and loves to give out compliments and hugs. Her speech is amazing. You will often hear her saying, “I like your shoes.” “Nice hair.” “Can I help?”
When we picked up Mihika in Kolkata the director of the children’s home told us that Mihika cried most of the time. She is the exact opposite of that now. No one believes us when we tell them that she used to be fussy most of the time! It is rare to find Mihika without a smile on her face and without her baby doll close to her side!
From time to time Mihika will have days in which she needs some extra tender loving care and reassurance. We are grateful that she looks to us for that reassurance. We are able to hold her and remind her of what a special child she is.
We cannot imagine our family without Mihika. When we first set out to adopt in 2006 after the loss of our daughter Ruthie, we had no plans to adopt an older child with special needs. Thank goodness God’s plans are bigger than ours! Mihika is such a gift to us. She teaches us so much. She is our daughter and sister in every way possible. We love her so much! She has come so far in the past three years, as we all have, and we can only imagine what the future holds for Mihika. We are so thankful that we are privileged to be a part of it!