This week Vivian will undergo a heart catheterization procedure.
Let me back up.
When Rob and I first looked into adopting from China, one of the things we learned was that a large majority of the orphans waiting in orphanages in China are labeled "special needs" children. They are labeled "special needs" because they have a medical need or needs. If you are willing to adopt a child with a medical need, you go through the "waiting child" program. When this was first presented to Rob and I our initial reaction was that this was not something we were interested in. I mean, we have three kids and we felt like our hands were full and how could we take on a child with a special need? We wanted to say no, but we both agreed that we couldn't say no until we looked into it further and gave it some more thought. So we did. And we quickly learned that the list of commonly seen needs in these children varies from very minor (a birthmark can land you on the special needs list in China), to correctable (club foot, cleft lip and palate, heart defect) to more moderate and severe needs (Down Syndrome). We also learned that Chinese culture is not always kind to those with "special needs" and many of these children are considered unadoptable in China. It is very difficult to survive life in an institution as a healthy orphan, but these "special needs" children are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and, in their culture, basically considered "the least of these".
After much thought and research, Rob and I decided this path felt like the way we needed to go. While the decision to adopt was a hard one for us and took months to make, this decision was an easy decision and we made it very quickly. It just felt right. Of course there was added risk involved, but we had already come to terms with that. There is not much you can do in life that comes without risk. So we signed on to the waiting child program and waited to see where this would lead us.
As you know, in March, we received the call about Vivian and it finally felt like this was the child for us; this was the one we had been waiting for. We learned in her file that Vivian was born with a heart defect (patent ductus arteriosis). In simple terms, she was born with a hole in her heart. We consulted our pediatrician who felt her prognosis was very good. Of course, no one could give us any guarantees, but we simply couldn't say no. Not to her. So we said yes.
Thank God we said yes.
We never intended to share this information as we felt it is Vivian's business and not really important that anyone know. I still feel it is her business, but now I think there are some important reasons for people to know this about her.
The main reason we are sharing this is because I know that there are people out there reading this blog who are considering the road of a special needs adoption (or who may know or love someone considering this path). I think people are quick to say no to this path because of stereotypes about "special needs" kids. I want people to see past that label. Instead of worrying so much about how a child might burden, or "take away" from their family, I hope people will consider the ways in which a child like this could bless their family. These kids are SO WORTH it. They are no less deserving of a family than perfectly healthy children. And so I am sharing this because it felt dishonest NOT to share this. When you think of a "special needs" child, I hope you will think of Vivian. There are so many kids like her out there waiting for someone to take a chance on them. I have said this before, but the biggest "need" these kids have is for a family. Without that, they can't become as "special" as they are meant to be.
Instead of looking at Vivian's heart as something we have to fix, Rob and I see it as something we get to fix. Had Vivian been born in the US, this repair would have been done almost immediately after she was born. But, she was not. Instead, she has lived with this burden on her heart for almost 3 years. One more thing that makes her so amazing. One of the many burdens on her sweet heart she has carried over these years.
This week, we hope to heal this part of her heart.
But, what worries me more is healing the other part of her heart. The part that was broken when she lost everything she ever knew.
We just don't know when, or if, that part will heal.
I am once again reminded of those words her nannies used to describe her in her file. "She is strong in heart". Oh yes she is. Because on top of a new family, a new house, a new bed, new food, new smells, new routines, and no one that can speak her language and explain ANY of this to her; this child has had to endure not only routine doctor visits, but extra visits to pediatric cardiologists. We are so grateful to the wonderful doctors caring for Vivian. Have I said before how brave this child is?
I am also sharing this because we would love for you to keep Vivian in your thoughts and prayers. She is going to be so scared and so confused when we wake her at 5:00 am on Thursday and bring her to the hospital. We will spend one night in the hospital and, if all goes as planned, should be headed home on Friday. We hate to put her through this. But, we are keenly aware that if Vivian were not here with us, she would not be getting this procedure, and it is hard to even think about what that would have meant for her future. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to do this for her. We are so happy that she will have a family to be with her as goes through this. It is just the beginning of her healing.
I will continue to hope that more people who are considering adopting will open their hearts to these wonderful and deserving children, who should not be labeled "special needs", but should be labeled simply, "special" because that is what they really are ....so very special.
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."