by Amy, mother to Moriah from China with scoliosis, kyphosis, and cerebral atrophy
Our three bio children were 9, 5, and 3 when we began our adoption journey in February, 2006. We submitted an application for a NSN girl under twelve months of age. As time went on the wait increased, we discussed submitting a special needs checklist. We were living far from family and had a limited support system, so the timing just didn’t seem right. We continued to wait. Finally, in November 2007, we updated our homestudy and decided to submit a special needs checklist. Between the time that we began our homestudy and this update, we had moved close to both of our families. The time seemed right because we knew we would have a lot of support. It was hard to know which items to check. We struggled over many of them. Looking back, I am thankful that God knew exactly which special needs our special girl would have and He was brining us together.
We got the call on June 24, 2008. It was my youngest son’s birthday. “Would you like to look at the file for a little girl?” Pam asked. She mentioned her special needs: heart problem, thumb/wrist issue and cerebral atrophy. The last one really caught my attention. “What does that mean?” I asked. She wasn’t sure. The kids and I ran upstairs to open the e-mail. Staring at us was a very bundled little girl who looked a little stunned. We thought she was beautiful. I immediately called my husband and forwarded the e-mail to him. After he looked at it, I could hear him telling those around him, “Do you want to see a picture of my little girl?” We consulted several doctors, but her medical diagnosis remained fairly vague. I wavered. My husband held firm. He knew this was our daughter.
We guessed that she was in foster care because of the background of the pictures. And later learned that she was sponsored by Love Without Boundaries. Just before we came for her, she spent some time at the Swallow’s Nest, which was also a wonderful foster care situation. What a blessing she received as she was loved and cared for in these homes!
We traveled to China in September and met Zheng Mei in our hotel room in Zhengzhou, Henan. She was 19 months old. She was tiny and so beautiful. She had been asleep on the ride from the orphanage to us and looked sleepy and dazed. She went to us willingly but was very still and quiet for the first day. Slowly she warmed up and we began to see her personality. I remember watching her sleep in our hotel room and feeling amazed that this beautiful Chinese girl was really ours!
Back at home, we saw doctor after doctor. Her heart, it turns out, has healed itself. But new MRI’s revealed that she does indeed have some cerebral atrophy. There is also evidence of some kind of trauma to her head. We don’t know how it happened or what it means for her development. We will love her and stimulate her in every way we can and know that even this was part of God’s plan for her. She does have some trouble with her right thumb. It is placed on her hand in a way that limits some of its function. OT has helped quite a bit. She uses it a lot now and I am confident that it won’t cause her any significant problems in her life. Interestingly, The MRI also revealed some significant issues with her back. Earlier this month, she had surgery to release a tethered cord. Some of her vertebrae are not correctly formed which is causing curvature of her spine. For now, we will watch how this progresses with frequent x-rays. It is interesting that her most significant medical issue was completely undiagnosed in China. And what seemed significant in her paperwork is not an issue.
Sometimes I think about how we would still be waiting if we hadn’t submitted that checklist. And we wouldn’t have this spunky, funny, cuddly little girl in our home. The Lord knew the plans he had for Moriah and for us, and we are so thankful for her. She is a joy to all of us. We would definitely encourage others to consider children with special needs. As several have expressed here, her greatest need was for a mom and dad. There are so many special children with needs that would be really life altering in China, but are quite treatable and manageable here. We are humbled to have been entrusted with this precious little one.
You can follow our adventure here.