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Out of the Overflow

July 26, 2011

Looks tranquil, doesn’t it? This is a pond in the park five minutes’ walk from our house.

If you walk about a minute beyond that spot and turn left, you’ll see this.

At the pond’s outlet, water flows through a culvert running under the walking path. But this year, we’ve had so much precipitation that the water level in the pond rises higher than the culvert each time it rains.

The excess runs over the path to the girls’ delight. They call this place, “The Overflow.”


“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b NIV


Often, adoption and/or disability lands on a family like an island dropped into a previously open pond. The new land mass displaces  a lot of water, but eventually the waves calm. Like the pond in the photo, the family finds a new normal. But “normal” is fuller than it used to be; it takes less to make the pond overflow.

Overflow it will, the water carrying along with itself anything floating on its surface.


I spent the weekend puzzling over Joy’s mobility choices because our request for a wheelchair came back denied as a ‘transit option.’ Yesterday, the helpful service rep at our insurer was stumped, too. In her experience, they had never denied a child a medically necessary wheelchair and she could tell at a glance from Joy’s previous claims that she has the medical record to match her diagnosis. She put me on hold and started looking into it.

She returned with terrific news. Our insurer had broken down the wheelchair request into parts. It approved all of them except one: the ‘transit option.’ The entire chair was not disallowed as a ‘transit option,’ only the transit option, which is insider lingo for the metal loops through which tie downs are fastened to secure the chair in a vehicle.

But for some reason, the letter denying the transit option landed in our mailbox at least three days before any of the letters saying, “Congratulations! Your daughter will soon be the owner of a new wheelchair!”

Another phone call confirmed that MA (our secondary insurance) always pays for tie down loops and that our supplier expects our MA authorization shortly. So we’re still on track to take delivery in time to give Joy about two weeks to begin learning to use her chair before school starts.


So, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Or the fingers type.

My friends who are waiting to bring their children home from Korea and who find their cases indefinitely held up lay awake at night imagining the next shoe to drop will be a memo saying, “We regret to inform you your child will never be coming home.”

That resonates because my heart understood the letter that said “we won’t pay for loops” to mean “we won’t pay for a wheelchair.”

The flotsam of words skimming over the paths in our lives tells us something about the water level in our pond.

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