This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Introducing Fu Tan (soon to be Olivia)
For over a year now, we've been preparing our hearts for an unknown baby girl in China who needs a family. A few months ago we changed our course a bit and decided to request a baby with special needs (specifically a correctable heart defect). The original reason we considered requesting a special needs child is that the line to get a healthy infant has slowed so much that our documents would expire before it'd be our turn to adopt. However, as I began to explore what issues were considered special needs, I began to think about Emily, our tiny one pound miracle. She'd had so many health issues that I imagine she would have scared off most prospective adopters--after all, her future was pretty precarious. And yet, look at how she has flourished! Having lived through her success story, we now have the courage to offer hope to another child who might seem too scary to others.
On November 6th, we got word from our agency that they had a new list of Waiting Children (special needs or older/hard to place) and that they just might have a match to our request. . . It took longer than I expected for the list to get translated, but we FINALLY got THE call yesterday. The match they presented wasn't exactly what we had requested so we were a bit surprised at first to be offered a child who will turn FOUR in February! However, once the initial shock wore off, we started to get excited about Emily having a playmate (which was actually one of our original desires). We have the option to wait for a healthy baby, but we had previously decided that we would not reject any child who was proposed to us. Age four was a shock, but I'd already told Andy that I felt like God was gently preparing me to get an older child (toddler, I thought). Although we had requested a baby (due to attachment/bonding concerns), I'd been praying that if God had a different/better plan, that He would match us with the child that He knew was best for our family. Based on this, before we even got her files or pictures, we decided to trust that He is in control and has great plans that we can't even conceive.
Rong Fu Tan is estimated to have been born about Feb. 1, 2003 though she wasn't abandoned (in poor health) until June 19th 2003. She was then taken to be cared for at RongXian Social Welfare Institute in the province of Guangxi where they took care of her and tried to nurse her to health. Her file says she is timid, active, has a ready smile, gets along well with others, is quick in reaction, is fairly introverted and sometimes obstinate. "She loved playing the game 'you throw the object and I pick it up...and is sometimes naughty, climbing on the bed rail or chair for 'climbing competition' which is funny as they are like a group of monkeys...she is sociable and plays well with others, never arguing with them. . .and has recently learnt to hug others to show her affection." According to the checklist, she walks steadily on her own, speaks in short sentences (in Chinese!), understands "no" and is able to understand simple conversation and commands
I think He knew that a double shock of ill health AND an older child might push our limits, so He graciously gave us a child who's rare and complex heart issues have already been operated on :) Based on her file and some internet searching, my layman understanding is that her heart is on the opposite side of her chest than the norm and is a mirror image of the norm (Dextrocardia). Also, instead of having just right and left atria, her left atrium was subdivided resulting in three atria (cor triatriatum). In addition to these, she had the more typical heart defects of holes between the chambers (Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect). As a result of these heart issues, being institutionalized and having frequent upper respiratory infections, she is developmentally delayed both physically and intellectually (sounds familiar!).
The amazing thing, however, is that her records show that last December somehow she was apparently flown clear across the country to get corrective heart surgery at a brand new cardiology hospital!! I'm assuming that her heart is still in an unusual position, but it appears that they were successful at closing the holes between the chambers and perhaps also removing the wall between the left atria. I believe the needed repairs are now complete, but we're having a doctor examine her files to be sure. While recovering, she suffered from pneumonia, but after a stay of 24 days went home as a success and then apparently flew back again for a follow-up in May. I'm amazed by this since orphanages in China don't have the means to take such extraordinary measures with these abandoned kids. I'm wondering if she was a beneficiary of an American surgical mission like you can read about at www.LoveWithoutBoundaries.com/medical.php ?? I hope some day we can find out and thank them.
As you might expect, just like any other expectant parents, we're excited, hopeful, and also a little scared. We hope to travel to China early next year and begin to begin this leap of faith.