Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Special Needs? Why a Heart Baby?

"Special Needs" in China means some very different things than we think of as "Special Needs" here.  It could mean anything from an extra finger or toe, a heart murmur, to cleft lip/palate or congenital heart defect or down syndrome or cerebral palsy...  It could just mean they are healthy but not a baby - an "older child"...the list is endless.  

It currently is taking 6+ years to adopt a healthy baby from China.  Why?  In 2007 China made a new law stating that the people of China could still only have one child, but they could adopt one child.  THEY DID adopt in the thousands and still are.  They of course are adopting the "healthy children." Still leaving THOUSANDS of children with mostly correctible or manageable needs waiting for a family. 

Why specifically a "heart baby" (a child with a congenital heart defect)?  Well, once we realized through prayer that God was leading us to love a child who was waiting for a family, we looked at the LONG list of options for "special needs."  

That was hard.  When we were pregnant with Aili and Ian we were not given a list from God asking, "Will you be willing to take a child with a cleft lip or a deformity or ...a heart condition..."  We didn't get to choose those things.  What would we have checked - NOTHING!  No one wants to go into a pregnancy thinking that their child will be sick, need surgeries, medication, countless doctor visits...    It is hard... SO HARD... to go through this list.  

We researched various medical concerns listed.  The more we read, the more we prayed. We both felt independently that conditions related to the heart is where our family was most comfortable.  Why?  

Well, God didn't ask us if we'd accept the responsibility but he blessed us with two amazing children that we love more than we could've imagined who BOTH have a genetic heart 'defect'.  We have to see a cardiologist every six months, with traffic drive an hour each way, appointments last at least three hours each time.  The kids have to wear a 24 hour halter monitor every six months, they can't play competitive sports, they can't do water sports or activities (besides leisure swimming), we can't even have an alarm clock that beeps too loud because that may cause them to have a cardiac arrest....  We have our own AED in our home....  Aili and Ian would be considered "Special Needs" in China...  

We already have two heart babies. We already have visits every six months with a fantastic congenital heart defect practice here....

I came to realize - Maybe God allowed me to be a pharmacist with a specialty in cardiology to prepare me for this.  Maybe God allowed us to have special children with a special diagnosis for this. Maybe God placed us in Tampa alongside a military family who adopted a "terminal" heart child for this.  Maybe God showed me Kelly to give me a desire to love another child like this. Maybe...

...BUT heart surgery is different - that is HUGE!

Yes, it is.  The Air force wife who has the "terminal heart child" (who is not terminal but very much full of life after his surgery) told me - "Be Brave.  We can bring these children home and they can have a life saving surgery that they would not get in China.  Be Brave."  

I kept pondering..."Be Brave..."

My kids' cardiologist is awesome.  He is also brutally honest.  He is so excited we are adopting a heart baby.  He grabbed his nurse this week and another physician explaining how important it was that when we get a referral for the child, that we get an answer that day from him.  He said if he were in surgery she was to page the other doctor so that he could review the child's file ASAP.  See, when we do get a referral we only have 72 hours to review their file before making a decision.  He also already started planning the logistics of doing surgery, who would do it, when they'd do it, options for where they'd do it...

He says, "When talking about a younger child - ASD, VSD, PDA - we can fix, they will live a normal life. TOF, truncus arteriosis - we can fix, may need another surgery later, but we can fix.  Even single ventricle patients often have a very good life..." 

....yes, he really talks like that...
We can fix these conditions here.  What I read about some of these heart defects, they sound so scary; of course so does our heart defect.  Yet, he was so calm and collective when discussing them, very matter of fact.  This is an everyday thing for him.  He fixes little hearts - so the children can live...  

Reminds me again of how God adopts new children daily into His family...  How He fixes our hearts - making us new and able to live life more abundantly...

We feel God brought us to this place.  He has blessed us with experiences and resources, given us peace that this is the direction we are to go.   Will it be easy? Probably not, nothing wonderful ever is!

"Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deut 31:6

...Be Brave!  :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Most common question people ask me - Why China?

Honestly,  it took lots of researching and praying.  Neither of us had ever though we'd adopt from China.

I asked so many people the same question as we tried to glean from other friends' journeys.  The things we both felt strongly is that we wanted a child who was younger than Ian as we'd like to keep our birth order.  We also knew this is probably the only base we will be at longer than two years.  We wouldn't want to be faced with a move during or right after bringing home our child.  So, the time required for the process was important.

When the door for Korean adoption was shut for us, we started exploring all the options including domestic.  Once we decided we didn't feel infant nor foster adoption was the choice for us we started looking at international again.    The Department of State was a starting place for us to learn about the international options (  Lots of great info here.  

I started looking at waiting children on lists such as This is where I first saw "Kelly's" picture.  That is also where God started reminding me of my heart for Asia.  Brian and I both share that heart.  So that helped narrow considerably.

We started looking at agencies to see which ones served in which countries and got many information packets.  We looked seriously into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan, but two of these are currently closed for adoption and the other is new and could take up to 3 years to bring the child home. Philippines, Mongolia and Thailand take years for a younger child.  Vietnam is closed currently.....  We looked into Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the special needs there were less commonly heart defects which is what we feel led to.

As you can see the list of Asian countries quickly narrowed to....China!

I am thankful God gives each of us a passion for  different countries, different children, different needs.  There are orphans everywhere.... 
Some countries still do not allow adoption, but so many still do!!
The need is overwhelming for families to open their hearts to these children.
 I want to rescue them all....
but I can't....
We are starting with one.

Why China?  The quick and truthful answer is - God led us to China.
Sure we did our research, but He put the desire in our heart.
Yes, lots of people adopt from China in the US....
There are still LOTS of children who need families there and elsewhere.

On a final note - a friend posted this on facebook and I had to share:

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  
They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  
Its easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms.  
But once you do, everything changes."

David Platt ("Radical")

So so true... that is what happened to us 13 years ago in Korea...

On my sidebar there are some buttons to websites where you can see some of these precious children.  You can click on the buttons and see their sweet faces....
Don't be surprised if their faces put you on your knees in prayer for God to send a family...
... or even your family.  :)

Deidra :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our big news!!

In case you haven't heard - WE ARE ADOPTING!!!! :)  I feel I should say, we are FINALLY adopting. :)  I have started this blog so you can share in our exciting journey with us.  :)

So - how did it all begin?

Well, 13 years ago while Brian and I were stationed at Osan Air Base in Korea we were blessed to visit orphanages to play with the children and take them sledding, playing in snow, just love on them for a little while. Playing with these precious children opened our eyes to the need for families to open their hearts and homes to orphans.  We wanted to take each and every one of them home and love on them forever.  However, we knew that moment was not the right timing.  

Six years later we had our beautiful 'Little Princess' Aili Grace. Three years after this our precious 'Little Prince' Ian Connor.

They are such sweet blessings that we love with our whole heart.  I had complications while pregnant with Ian and was instructed to not try to have children again.  We knew at that moment that was God's plan, for had we continued to have children, we would've been less likely to adopt.  

Last fall we started feeling the time is now.  How exciting!  So, we started looking for an agency that we could adopt from Korea while living in Florida.  Well, we found only a couple and both told us that we were ineligible due to my heart condition which I was diagnosed with in 2010.  Wow!  What now?  We had thought for 13 years that we would adopt a healthy little girl from Korea and Brian would teach her Korean, about her culture and heritage.....  We were so surprised..disappointed...uncertain what it meant...

I immediately started looking at waiting children on the internet.  We started reading books (I highly recommend Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families).  

I found a little boy "Kelly" that I just fell in love with - is that possible- to fall in love with a picture?  With those eyes?  Well, I did.  I began to pray for him, about him daily.  I told Brian about him.  "Kelly" has a heart defect and is from China.  Brian didn't feel he was ours, nor did he feel it was China or special needs that we were supposed to be looking for.  So, I kept praying for him.  Found out soon after that our Pastor was adopting and was through the first part of the paper chase.  I told Melissa, his wife about "Kelly".  They got his file, we found a cardiologist to review it, but he was not their child either.  The doctor said, "I think we have something to offer this chid.  He would have a 'medically good life' here"  He said that without the surgery (which will not be done in China) he would die a painful, awful death.  NOOOOO!!!!  I kept praying for this little boy and his heart.  God, you are the Great Physician.  Please protect his heart Lord, and please find this child a family - fast!!  PS - it would be great if WE were his family, but you gotta work on Brian for that!

About a month later another friend told me to check out this blog - could it be a picture of "Kelly".  Yes!! Amazing out of 1500 children on the waiting child list this lady was advocating for him on her blog!  Amazing!  Even more amazing - Brian had said the day before I read this blog that he'd love to meet an Air Force family who had adopted a heart baby from China.  Guess what?  She is an Air Force wife who adopted a terminal heart baby from China.  Ready for more amazing?  They were just stationed here at MacDill WHERE WE ARE in the last year!  How AWESOME is our God???  By the way, this lady, Sonia - she is also amazing!

So, after I shared her blog with Brian.  He admits that God has been working on his heart, that he is praying about China and about a child with heart issues. Shortly after this, a friend shared some blogs with me written by "Reluctant Dads".  Well, I would never label my dear hubby as that.  He is and has always been totally open and excited to was just the healthy Korean baby girl....  I didn't send it to him at first, but did finally send it.  Again, God is amazing and working.  Brian told me the next day that after reading those men's entries they had the same concerns he did and all their concerns and fears were unfounded.  They loved their children, special needs just means special...  

Then he said it..."God has changed my heart...I think it is China, a heart baby - START the paperwork"!!!  WOOOHOOOO!!!!!  

So, here we are on the paper chase....  :)  God is so good!    There are 5 wonderful families from our church who are adopting 7 children from 3 countries.  Taking this journey with them is a gift from none other than our Amazing God!  Thinking I should rename this blog - Our Amazing God! :)

As for "Kelly" we recently learned that he has found his forever family.  PRAISE GOD!!!  I am so thankful he will be getting his surgery soon!!!  Yes, a little sad he is not ours. Yet, I believe God placed him...his picture..his story...his heart in our life to get us to this point and give us a heart for a child who has a heart that needs medical attention....a heart to love. :)