Harper was found on a busy intersection in Fengcheng, Jiangxi on April 21, 2009. A police officer brought her to the orphanage and they determined her to be around 3-4 months old. My best educated guess would be that her parents wanted to keep her but then found out she had a hole in heart and realized that the expense was too great to help her. I can hardly imagine the anguish they felt when they found out the news about their baby girl's health. In fact, I really cannot fathom that sort of pain but my empathy for them runs deep. Every night when we lay Harper down to sleep and she looks up at us with those big super dark brown eyes I wonder if she stared at them the same way when they laid her down one last final time.
Luckily due to Harper’s condition they placed her in foster care the day after she was brought to the orphanage. She stayed there for a year and a half until August 8, 2010 when she was placed in our arms kicking and screaming. I rocked and hugged and cried with her that day. She so desperately missed her foster mother. It was hard to comfort an 18 month old who just lost her whole world for the 2nd time in her life.
In China as first time parents we were so nervous and we were not sure how her heart was doing. She was also covered in hives and we were scared to give her any medicine. We also realized in country that she had scoliosis --something not mentioned in her file. This was the beginning of Harper’s unknowns. She was 18 lbs. and she looked perfectly healthy as she does now but there was so much going on in that little body. We were blessed beyond measure to bring her home when we did to begin treatments for all her medical needs.
In China, we had the privilege of meeting Harper’s foster mother. I will never forget that day -- the love and concern in the foster mother’s eyes that filled with tears when she asked us in Chinese if we were going to fix Harper’s heart. Our guide translated back to her that Xia Xia (“Harper”) would receive surgery for her heart and be just fine. The foster mother then grabbed my hands in hers and repeatedly said, “Xie Xie” which meant “Thank you” in Chinese. She was so overcome with Thank you’s to us, as we are to our heavenly Father for bringing Harper into our lives.
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him”. 1 Samuel 1:27
Once home, Harper went through a series of medical tests like every newly adopted child. We learned the devastating news at the time that Harper would need open heart surgery in the coming years for not only her ASD but multiple holes in her heart and a valve issue. She also had severe scoliosis, a lower brain malformation, a severe allergic reaction to milk products and a benign tumor on her head. Harper’s undisclosed or unknown medical needs during our very sleep deprived state those first 8 months were very tough. She also went through an array of genetic testing. We spend days and weeks and eventually months living at the doctors’ offices and putting her under for one test after another. We thought we knew what we could handle. We were very specific on our little medical needs checklist, yet here was this child who could not be more perfect for Todd and me and yet her needs seemed at the time too much for me to handle but not too great for our Lord.
I remember reading so many blogs during our wait to Harper. International adoption is full of unknowns but nothing is unknown to the Lord. There are no surprises, no coincidences; no oops I didn’t see that coming! He knew all along what her file had to say in order for us to say “Yes” at the time. I am not lessening the fact that when you hear that your child needs open heart surgery or multiple surgeries for things you were not prepared for you almost feel like you are having an out of body experience. The doctor talks, your mind goes numb and your stomach sinks. You cannot imagine the feeling when they tell you that your child would not have made it past age four if they stayed in their birth country. However when you offer up your prayer petitions to the Lord he answers them softly and sweetly and He knows what will bring you to your knees and closer to Him. Harper was God’s best plan in our lives and eventually led us to adopt a 2nd child with a heart condition, as well as, commit our lives to Him.
Harper has now been home 2 ½ years and every 4-6 months she sees a cardiologist and undergoes an Echo. She also wears a hard brace 23/7 for her scoliosis and everything else we monitor with yearly CT scans to make sure things are not worsening. She has outgrown her milk allergy…whew! Of all needs that was the hardest one to live with daily! She is such a blessing in our lives and I cannot imagine one day without her and I hope I never have to! She is spunky, smart, caring, well spirited and has a huge heart for the Lord. She is one tough cookie but I always say there are no mistakes with God. He had to make her tough and strong willed because she has to endure not only physical pain in her life but a life of great loss at such a young age. We are so thankful that she is our child and are filled with thankful praises that her surgery date is set for April 11th and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We expect to spend the week in the hospital minus no complications. This should be her only open heart surgery but she may need a valve transplant further down the road. Harper knows she is having heart surgery and the Lord has prepared her little mind so well. She has seen Ms. Lily and Ivy (both on this blog) and always talks about how she will get balloons and have a badge of honor and courage on her chest like they do! It amazes me how God continues to put people in our path to help us and I know Harper also inspires others. Just look at this sweet face and into those eyes so full of life and laughter! She has been given the opportunity to know her creator and to know His love for her is unconditional. I cannot ask for anything greater for my children then to know the Lord with all their heart and mind. She was chosen by Him to have a broken heart and now he will use His powers and His will to heal her via the surgeon’s hands at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We have clearly seen the Lord’s hand work miracles in Harper’s life. We know He will be in that operating room with her holding her hand and her heart in His hands.
“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19
You can follow Harper’s journey via our blog. http://thetalesoftwo.blogspot.com