Our adoption journey began in January of 2006. We felt God leading us to adopt from China so we contact a local, Christian adoption agency and began the process. We were so excited when our agency contacted us letting us know that our dossier was logged in. At the time, we had no idea that it would take 4 years to see a picture of our beautiful daughter. My husband, Todd and I were always open to a special needs adoption, but at the time our agency didn’t participate in the special needs program. All of that change in December of 2009. Our agency contacted us about considering a “special needs” adoption and we didn’t hesitate. We prayed about the needs we felt that we could handle and a congenital heart defect was one of them. After all of the waiting, we were hesitate to become excited. We were so ready to be parents. On January 21st, we received a file of the most precious little girl. The second Todd saw her picture; he knew she was his daughter.
Sarah was 22 months at the time and was a post op Tetrology of Fallot. She was abandoned at 10 months on the steps of a technical college with blue lips, hands, and feet. She went to the local orphanage for one night and was placed with a foster family. Three months later, she received open heart surgery to repair her heart. Sarah was also born with an extra thumb that she has since has removed surgically. Once we saw her beautiful face, waiting to meet her became agonizing. We worried about her health, how she was doing emotionally and developmentally. We were just so ready to hold her in our arms and kiss her beautiful cheeks.
On July 11, 2010, we finally meet the beautiful, sweet daughter we had prayed for and dreamed of for so long. She was healthy, chubby, and so so beautiful. Although, that day was magical for us, it was heartbreaking for her. She grieved so much for the family that loved and cared for her for 18 months. She felt lost and confused. Her grieving continued for months once we returned home. I often tell people that Sarah’s real special need is all the loss she has had to experience in her short life.
When returning home, Sarah saw her cardiologist and we found out that her repair was done well and that she had no restrictions. She will have to have her valves replaced sometime in the future, but we are praying that it will wait until she is older. She does take medication for an enlarged aortic root. The hope is that the medication will stop the root from enlarging and that her body will grow into it. Sarah did have surgery to remove her extra thumb in November 2010 which was successful.
Sarah is developmentally on target except in the area of speech. She struggles with articulation, but is making progress. I can’t believe it, but she will be 5 next month and will enter kindergarten in the fall. She is playing soccer this season. She goes to preschool, loves to play, and has so many friends. She is strong willed and determined, yet so sweet and compassionate. She is the greatest blessing of our lives.
I had someone ask me why I would CHOOSE to parent a child with a heart defect. For us, Sarah’s heart defect is just one part of who she is. She is so much more than a medical condition. Sure, we worry about Sarah’s heart, but we also worry about all the other things parents worry about. We have been so blessed that Sarah has been so healthy, but we know that that could change. The hardest part of taking care of Sarah’s physical health is how terrified she is of doctors and medical professionals. She had to be sedated for most medical procedures, even an echocardiogram. It is heartbreaking to see her reaction when we are at the doctor’s office. We are not sure why she is so scared, but we assume it is from all the trauma she has had to endure.
Never once we have thought twice about our decision to adopt Sarah. Being a parent is difficult and exhausting at times, but never have we felt so fulfilled. It is hard to imagine what life was like before Sarah. She has taught me so much about myself, faith, love, and determination. We love and adore her. We are so often in “awe” of her and who she is becoming. She is the answer to our prayers.