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!  :)


  1. I love this post!
    We're praying with you! I can't wait to see who God has chosen as your new child. We are so excited.

    1. Thanks Debbie! We LOVE prayers and are so thankful for you guys walking alongside us and sharing your vast experience with us!!!

  2. brought tears. so glad we reconnected on FB so I could hear all about your adoption journey. and you're so right--every child God adopts has heart defects and still He embraces us passionately! wow.

  3. Sniff, sob, cry. That was beautiful. You go BRAVE mama!!! SO happy for you!

    1. :) You seriously need to write a book - you could encourage so many more to move forward Sonia! God is using you in amazing ways as you keep on inspiring and advocating!!! :)