Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 28 - Benjamin Dohner

At one point in my life I never would have dreamed I would be sitting on the other side of the world waiting for my son to be brought through these big doors. But here we were. We were anxious to meet our new son and mentally struggling to feel connected to the son at home who was at the same moment undergoing emergency surgery... on the other side of the world...without us.

Every family has a different story when adopting a child. Every child has a different story when their family finds them.

In May of 2010 my husband and I were exploring the possibility of adopting a little boy. The idea was not completely new, but this little boy had a face. We were not able to proceed at that time because it would mean several trips to the country. This would prove to be too costly because of the expense of travel and the time off from work unpaid. We have been parents since 1991 when our daughter Emily was born.  Becoming a parent for the first time wasn't our goal but adding to our family was important to us. We had 3 awesome kids and felt adding a child would just make each of them better people. Each child was all for it. Our youngest son kept asking when we were going to adopt.

I continued to look at waiting child pictures on . After a year of torturing myself by looking at all those waiting faces Keith and I had a "reckoning" talk. We were either going to need to move forward and begin an adoption or I was going to have to deny the tugging on my heart. Together we decided it was not possible to ignore the waiting boys and we committed to adding a child to our family.

Each step for us had some difficult speed bumps that could have caused us to walk away from our eventual son. In late August we were given a surprise MRI on a child we had committed to. The information in the report was completely contradictory to what we had been told in the file. The toughest decision we ever made was to let that boy go. After more than a week of debating and turmoil and prayer we contacted our agency to let that little him go. The same day I received the joyous news that my sister was pregnant after years of trying for a second child, with triplets!

We soon submitted our letter to adopt our son Benjamin. We were somewhat afraid of heart issues because, "Hey, you only have one heart." In addition, We had a church family who lost their son named Ben to hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It seemed a fitting tribute to name our heart baby "Benjamin".

Our Ben was born in the right part of China to have Transposition of the Great Arteries. He was able to have an excellent repair at the best hospital for CHD repair in all of China. His parents tried to care for him for a few weeks until he became too ill and medical help was needed. We were told his repair, an ASO, was excellent. He should do very well. Most parents evaluating a child with CHD are warned about unknowns of behavior and learning difficulties. 

We received our invitation to travel a few days before February 28, 2012. On this day a year ago my sister gave birth to 2 healthy girls and 1 healthy boy! What beautiful babies! Within a month my parents were to be blessed with 4 new grandchildren!

4 days before we were to leave the states our oldest son was taken ill and admitted to the hospital with a spontaneous pneumothorax. WHAT? The doctors insisted it was a minor illness, they would insert a chest tube and get the air out of his chest cavity and he would be home recovering before we left the country. I sat by his bed and watched the bubbler continue to drain air and fluid from his chest. For 4 days I watched that chest tube drain. Finally on the morning we were to fly out we got a call from the hospital. They wanted to talk to us. Everything started to move in slow motion. Our oldest son was being transferred to a regional medical center and we were leaving the country.

It's amazing when I think about our story that so much of it was minutely crafted by God to care for our family. Our son turned 18 just a week before he got sick and was able to make his own decisions for his health care. Our daughter was a huge hero in being able to care for him while we were gone along with his grandparents. Our church supported them with prayer and meals until we could get home.

 As we were welcoming a new son to our arms, 

our oldest son was having thoracic surgery to inflate his lung and stitch it to his chest wall. 

Benjamin's adjustment has been so smooth. He adores his siblings and grandparents nearly as much as his mommy and daddy. At this time he is considered healthy, with no restrictions. He needs to have a sedated echo to confirm what our cardiologist saw on the kicking and screaming echo from last June.

A year ago he could not go up or down a curb. His sad period only lasted for a few moments while we were in China. 

He did not have an inkling what a family was. He couldn't speak any Chinese or English. He didn't know he was going to give it all up. But he hasn't slowed down from those first few moments we first embraced.

As I became a new parent at the age of 47 I think about Ben's Chinese birth family who chose life for him when they could not give it to him themselves.  I wonder if they know he lived? I wonder if they know how wonderful he is? I wonder if they know how healthy he is? I wonder if they know how loved he is?

Remember the first lines of this story? In May of 2010 we looked at the face of a little boy. He was not to be our son. But, on May 1, 2012 our family celebrated Ben's 2nd birthday. Two years had passed since that first little face nudged our hearts to the fact our family was not complete! We have never doubted that Ben was meant to be in our family. Is there a little boy or girl in need of a family in your future? Were they born today? Have they been waiting a long time for you to say "Yes".  Do not deny your child a future. Your story will be unique. You will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination.


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