Sunday, February 22, 2015

Day 22 - Callie Hornbuckle




 Since the adoption of our second daughter Callie in 2011, I have had a number of people ask me about adoption from China, stating that they had heard that only children with special needs are available for adoption now and asking how we ended up with two non- special needs kids. This always makes me chuckle. You see, most people who aren’t familiar with Callie’s story have a hard time believing that she was ever considered a medically fragile child with multiple medical needs. 



   When we were in the process of adopting Callie, the medical reports we received were indeed frightening, and at that point there were a lot of unknowns. She had an extensive list of medical  anomalies, including dextrocardia, anal atresia, VSD, ASD, hypoplastic right lung,  multiple spinal abnormalities, missing ribs, Scimitar Syndrome, and pulmonary hypertension, just to name a few. Because of this, she was listed as a Special Focus Child and had been passed over by many adoptive families who had reviewed her file. We know that the reason for that is simple; she was meant to be our daughter. From the first time we laid eyes on her file, we knew in our hearts that she was meant to be part of our family, whatever may come. We researched each individual special need and made a plan for how we would deal with the worst-case scenario for each one.
                                                                        


  The most daunting of these needs was the most life- threatening.  Callie was born with a very rare heart condition called Scimitar Syndrome. Only 1 in 100,000 babies are born with this, and many do not survive long after birth. Callie had survived for 6 years without surgery, which she received only 4 months after coming home to her forever family. Her surgery for Partial Anomalous Venus Return was a complete success. Since that time, she has not only survived, she has thrived.



   If she is supposed to look and behave like a medically fragile child with multiple special needs, obviously Callie did not get the memo. Callie will turn 10 in April, the same age as her big sister. She loves hiking, tennis, dancing, riding her bike, fighting with her brother, and roller skating. She sees a cardiologist only once a year now and has been dismissed by all of the other many specialists who were following her case. She was medicated for a year after her surgery for Pulmonary Hypertension, but her pressures are down now and she no longer takes medication of any kind. She hasn’t even seen a doctor in the past two years except for routine physicals, which is pretty amazing considering that she spent an enormous amount of time in the hospital for repeated illnesses when she was in China. She continues to have only 25% function in her right lung due to the damage sustained before her surgical repair, but this has in no way slowed her down.




  The other day, Callie brought home a brochure for a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser event at her school, stating that she wanted to participate and raise money for kids with heart problems. As I looked over the paperwork, I noticed that it highlighted the story of a child with many of the same heart problems that Callie was born with. What a joy to be able to sign the paperwork for her to participate in a jump-a-thon, when less than 4 years earlier we were unsure if she would ever be able to walk across the room without struggling for breath!


    No one who meets Callie today would ever guess that she has an extensive list of so-called “special needs.” She is so much more than all of the scary diagnoses which were enough to terrify many prospective families including my own.  Most of those conditions still exist, but they do not in any way define who she is- a happy, healthy little girl with a zest for life and a take-charge attitude. We frequently joke that  she is a 16 year old trapped in a 9 year old body; she might be vertically challenged, but have no doubt,  she is large and in charge. And we wouldn’t have her any other way.








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