Monday, August 24, 2009

Looking Under the Book Cover

I frequently struggle to be accepting towards those who choose to alter their appearance through multiple face piercings and excessive tattoos. It just makes me uncomfortable to look at them and want to write them off as rebels. But recently I met someone at work who challenged my preconceived judgmental attitudes.

At first, all I saw a was a gorgeous six-month-old baby girl with the sweetest dimples and the biggest grin imaginable. She was dishing out giggles to everyone in the waiting room. Then, when her dad who was holding her, stood up, I saw past the baby to the arms, covered with tattoos from top to bottom and the lip with an earring in it and the ears with those big gauge earrings that stretch a hole into the earlobe. I worried a bit that it would be a difficult session for me as I thought I would struggle to look him in the face as we spoke. I considered myself fortunate that his baby was so beautiful, and I planned to just focus on her. But to do that would have been a grave injustice to this man who turned out to be every bit as beautiful as that sweet little girl he was holding.

Brad was talkative and friendly, eager to tell me about the baby foods that he and his wife had been beginning to offer to Sienna. As Sienna kicked and wiggled in his arms, I could see past her to Brad’s tee shirt, which said “Real Men Change Poopy Diapers!” When I turned to the computer to check on her growth, I noticed for the first time that her last name was simply a series of consonant letters that didn’t resemble any name I had ever seen before. When I questioned Brad about that,thinking we had made a typing error, he shared Sienna’s story with me, and even in this retelling of it, goose bumps break out on my arms.

Sienna was a “safe haven” baby and the initials were used in place of a last name to protect her privacy. It seems that she was found outside last winter with a low body temperature and was covered in feces. She tested positive for opiates. At the time she was found, she was only three days old. Some kind soul had found her and dropped her off at a nearby hospital for care and she entered the foster care system that day.

Brad and his wife, Isabella, had longed for a baby. After suffering several miscarriages, they decided that adoption would be the course they would take to begin their family. Then last winter, they received a call from the adoption agency telling them that a baby was waiting for them at the hospital. They immediately fell in love with Sienna the minute they laid eyes on her. They weren’t allowed to adopt her immediately, but instead, had to take her as a foster child for six months.

During those six months, Sienna not only survived from her horrendous beginnings of life, but she thrived in the loving care of her wonderful foster parents. Today, I rejoiced with Brad at the sight of his beautiful, smart, happy, healthy baby girl. The adoption will be finalized next week and Brad told me that the legal name they have chosen for their daughter after the adoption means “Hope Grace”. What a perfect and fitting name for a perfect girl in the colorful and loving arms of a perfectly proud father!

*fictional names


  1. Awwwwwww God bless them. Thank you for sharing.
    I love that "Read Men change Poopy Diapers". ROFL.

    God's blessings to you too!

  2. This is a heart-rending and beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it. And it's true, real men do change poopy diapers! May God bless him!

  3. Anne,
    Your job is definitely not an easy one, but God seems to send you these precious little reminders of Himself in the disguise of the poor and struggling and sometimes ink stained. Thanks for sharing these moments of grace with us. Praying little Sienna's days get a little easier from here on in.

  4. What a beautiful encounter :)

    It's so so true - we should never judge by appearances.

    I love 'body piercing saved my life' :)

  5. I see this family every night I work!!! Thanks for sharing this beautiful encounter with these angels on earth.

    Mary Catherine

  6. How beautiful. God bless them.
    When my kids and I discuss this aspect of our lives (i.e. "outward appearance") we always focus on the fact that what we show to the world reflects the state of our soul...and that if we present ourselves in a very "extreme" way such as multiple tattoos, piercings, spikes, etc...we are focusing on "self" for we are "trying to be seen" if dressing this way...this then, places the focus on "us" instead of "Christ"...and although in some cases (such as the one in your beautiful post) one can "stumble upon Christ" if we look hard enough for is usually difficult to see Him past all of the road blocks that this type of appearance sets's hard to SEE THE SOUL when so much clutter is in view on the outside. I also reflect on the fact that Jesus presented Himself in the manner of a "faithful and good Jewish young man"...though His message was radical...He did not present His outward appearance in any extreme manner (surely if He had, it would've been written).
    Thanks for this great post that encourages us to remain open to Him...even if He's been shrouded in clutter a bit.

  7. Love this story - you have such great insight!

  8. Anne,
    That was a awesome story! I am exactly the same way when it comes to tattoed and pierced folks, and I need God's help to see past it. I'll remember this story next time I encounter someone whose appearance is more "decorated" than I'm comfortable with. By God's grace, I'll see the soul, not the other stuff.
    Thanks for sharing! You have quite a ministry, my friend.

  9. What a beautiful story. How could it be anything else, when it is about such a beautiful man.

  10. What an awesome story. It's true, you just never know! I tend to be so judgmental myself... it makes me think of how many wonderful friendships I might have passed up because I couldn't get past something like that.

    You have a great blog!