Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 12 - SaraGrace & Kate Prunty

After adopting our 5th child, we were sure our family was complete.  However, God made it very clear that He had another child for us.  I knew she would be a child with a special need so I asked God what He wanted me to look for.  Every day verses about "out of the dark, into the light," kept showing up when I read my Bible.  Not quite understanding what that meant, I thought maybe I was looking for a child with a vision problem.  A few months went by and I noticed a precious little girl named, Chou Chou on an agency list.  She caught my eye because our oldest daughter's favorite doll was named Chou Chou.  I told the whole family about her--just kind of joking because of the name.  A few months went by and I went to the agency site again to see if she had a family.  To my astonishment, she did not.  I started to get this feeling--deep in my gut.  I surprised myself by calling the agency on a Friday, only to be told that there was one other family considering her.  That family would be making their decision over the weekend and if they did not move forward, we could review her file.  They told me that she had a heart defect.  I hung up the phone and began to pray.  I asked God if she was the one.  She obviously didn't have an eye problem and that is what I had been focusing on for months.  The following morning, I decided to look up her heart condition.  I clicked on a link and at the top of the page was a tagline.  It was, "....out of the darkness, into light."  I felt like a bolt of lightening went through me as I sat riveted to the spot, staring at the screen.  After that, it didn't matter what the prognosis was.  I knew she was my daughter.

I called the agency Monday morning.  There was one caveat. . . We already had 5 children and China had implemented a new policy stating that no one could adopt if they already had 5 children.  When I called the agency, the woman who I had spoken to the previous Friday, was on vacation.  The new person had no idea who I was and told me that another family had called that morning to put a hold on Chou Chou's file.  I wanted to plead our case but since we needed a waiver of our 'too many children' situation', I didn't feel it was fair to Chou Chou.  She needed surgery as soon as possible and I didn't want to hold her back.  But I was so puzzled. . . because God had seemed to make it SO CLEAR that she was our daughter.

I kept her picture up on our fridge and kept up with her story.  A few months later, news came that she was going to have heart surgery in China while she waited for her family to come.  The day of the surgery, I prayed . . paced . . prayed . . . . hoping that little Chou Chou would be healed.  Late in the day, the woman who was supposed to be adopting her sent an email saying that the doctor had rejected little Chou Chou for surgery and they would not be adopting her.  Chou Chou was labeled 'inoperable' and sent back to the orphanage to be kept as comfortable as possible until she died.  I could not stand the thought of that!  When my husband came home from work, I tearfully told him that she was going to die.  He said,"No she isn't.  This just happened so that the other family would choose not to adopt her so that she can be in our family."  I called the agency the next day and told them we wanted her no matter what her prognosis was.  No child should die without a family.  They put the wheels in motion for us to be able to adopt Chou Chou.  Meanwhile, a charity called Love Without Boundaries moved her to a specialized care center to improve her health while they tried to get a second opinion.  

While she lived in the care center, it was feared that her pulmonary pressure would be too high for her to be a candidate for heart surgery.  All tests came back with high pressures.  However, when she went to a surgeon in Singapore, her pressures were no longer high.  She had received no medication so either God miraculously healed her or her test results were wrong.  Her surgeon did open heart surgery on her to correct Tetrology of Fallot and pulmonary atresia, and she came back to the center a few weeks later, pink and healthy!

We renamed her SaraGrace and she is full of life and passionate about everything she does.  If she's happy . . she's REALLY happy.  If she's sad . . REALLY sad.  If angry . . well, you know . . I call her my little ray of sunshine and know she will keep us on our toes forever!  She has no restrictions and enjoys life to the fullest.  She sees the cardiologist once a year to monitor her heart--and may at some point need to have her homograph valve replaced.

Several years later, we were in the process of adopting another daughter.  I was volunteering for Love Without Boundaries as a foster care coordinator in partnership with the same care center where SaraGrace had lived.   One day I received an email from the Director.   She needed some pictures I had of a sweet little girl in my foster care program.  This little one had been on a waiting list for months and no one wanted to take a risk on her.  LWB planned to advocate for her to try to find her a family.  American doctors who had reviewed her file said she would need a heart transplant.  I couldn't believe it!  She was one of my favorite foster kids.  I had visited her when she was a tiny baby (on a different adoption trip) and had carefully watched her develop and grow through her reports each month.  I adored her.  I sent the pictures to LWB and asked if there was any possibility that WE could adopt her.  Their response....it never hurts to try!

I called the agency and explained that we were in process with a different child through a different agency but that we would be willing to turn right around and do the paperwork for Jin Yang.  They politely told us, "Thanks, but no thanks.  We have many other families interested in her."  I gave them my contact information and told them to keep us in mind.  A few days later, my husband called them to explain how much we wanted her but got the same response from them.  He finally said, 'Well, we just want what is best for her.  If a family comes forward, that's great.  But if not, please don't let her file be sent back, because we want her."

After what had happened with Chou Chou, I had a feeling, deep in my heart, that we would be getting a call about Jin Yang.  We continually prayed for her and sure enough....three weeks later the phone rang.  My caller ID said it was the agency.  I knew immediately why they were calling and gave a little squeal before I picked up the phone.  What they said next, had me dumbfounded though.  After ascertaining that we were still interested in Jin Yang, they went on to say that they wanted us to adopt both girls at the same time!  This was not being done back then.  They had already talked to our current agency and had planned to transfer Jin Yang's file tothem.  This was also rarely done.  It took several extra months but we finally went to China to bring both girls home.  We were the first double adoption in that province and they made quite a fuss over us.

Jin Yang--whom we renamed, Katelyn Joy, went immediately to see Dr. Bove at University of Michigan.  After a heart cath, it was determined that although her heart condition was very serious, she WAS a candidate for a fontan surgery.  She had transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis, and a hole in one of her ventricles that was so huge, it could not be repaired.  We also discovered that Dr. Bove pioneered the surgery and is considered one of the best in the country.  Hmmmm . . and we lived 45 minutes away from him.  We had no idea, but God did, and He placed Kate right where she needed to be.

Kate recovered well from the surgery after a 3 week stay in the hospital.  She has done remarkably well ever since.  She cannot play contact sports--but she has no interest in them anyway.  She is all about playing dolls.  She tires a bit easier than our other children, but other than that, you would never know she has a heart condition.

Would we adopt our 'heart babies' again?  A RESOUNDING YES!  Oh . . and a funny footnote to the story . . When we got Chou Chou's official paperwork from China we found out that our agency had translated her name incorrectly.  It was actually Chao Chao.  But if it had been spelled correctly, I would have never noticed her on that agency list.


LisaE. said...

What a wonderful story.

Mary Sammons said...

Karin I loved reading the in betweens of the story I had only just learned a month or so ago. Amazing!!! So blessed to be friends! What a beautiful family you have!!

LaKasha Strickland said...

I was amazed at all the "God wows " in the girls stories. It goes to show you that no matter the rule and blocks set,if God wants it ,it just is! My husband had a similar "mistake" sign for him when we got her medical file the very first time and I didn't even thing you add it in my story. Since we got married 9 years ago he would look at the clock just not thinking to check the time and it would be 11:11 . He thought that was weird but as the years pass he would do it so more often until to got to where he would just call out "11:11" and I would know exactly what he meant. So to current date reading through her file we miss read (on information over load) that her open heart surgery was done on 11\11 and that was it for him!! A few weeks later we realized that it wasn't her open heart surgey but her cathization and balloon, but by then it really didn't matter. Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey. May God bless all your children hearts, lives, and family.

Lisa said...

Karen, what an amazing testimony to the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit!! Oh my goodness, what a beautiful family you have and how incredibly blessed you are!! Loved reading every word of your open heart journey!

Lisa Murphy

Debi said...

Beautiful story, beautiful family!

Drea said...


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