by Anita, momma to Kaylin Mei Lian from China with Tetralogy of Fallot (CHD)
As we began the adoption of our daughter, Kaylin, we went into it like many families requesting a non-special needs child as young as possible from China. We had already been blessed with three older, biological children who were healthy, and looking at the list of different special needs seemed a bit overwhelming at first glance. Our dossier was logged into China in July 2005 and so we began THE WAIT!
As many of you are aware, the wait for China began to grow that fall of 2005. We should have received our referral in January or February of 2006, but the Lord had this wait in mind for us and for our daughter. You see…. during our wait, the Lord began drawing my heart, especially, to the many special needs children that I would see on waiting children’s lists. I would look at the precious face of a child and learn more about his/her special need, and thus educating myself about various needs. Little by little, the physical needs no longer seemed quite as overwhelming as they initially had…. to the place that we began to get a sense that our child would actually be on a waiting child’s list and no longer a NSN child. As I had worked in Cardiology for several years and personally have a heart murmur along with other family members with cardiac issues, the children with heart issues would spark my attention each time.
And then…. it happened. This precious face of a sweet baby girl came up on our agency’s waiting children’s list on April 3, 2006. I’ll never forget opening up her file on my computer and looking at her precious face with my husband. Oh my goodness…. what beautiful eyes she had and what a hat! She will always be known as the “baby with the hat”.
As we read through her file knowing that she had a CHD (congenital heart defect), we wondered about her diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot and what all that would entail. We were so blessed to have two FREE reviews of her medical information within 24 hours. One review was from a Mayo Clinic Pediatric Cardiologist and the other was from a Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiologist (who would later become Kaylin’s doctor). Both doctors said that she looked to be a great candidate for open heart surgery to repair her ToF should we decide to adopt her. At that point, we knew that we wanted to be her parents and family and sent in our request to our agency….. still with some fear and trepidation.
On April 17, 2006, I received the phone call that would change our lives and her life forever stating that we had been selected among many families to adopt Lian WuLu. As we were at the beginning of the slow down, our agency thought it would take the normal 4 months or so before we would travel though we kept feeling that we would travel in June of 2006. And may I say that we had those “impressions from the Lord” all during her adoption that would encourage us and become God-moments that confirmed her adoption over and over to us.
On Monday night, May 29th, I had a dream that we had received our TA for her and that we traveled quicker than our agency expected. After I woke up that Tuesday morning, I told my husband about the dream and asked him if he thought I should start working on getting our Visas for travel, and he said yes. On Thursday morning as I turned the calendar to June 1st, I reminded the Lord….”if you’ve given us this impression that we are traveling this month, I don’t see how it’s going to happen” knowing that it usually takes weeks from TA to get the travel arrangements made. Let’s just say once again, “God’s plans will NOT be stopped”.
That very day, Thursday, June 1, 2006, we received our TA and it had been approved only 3 weeks after receiving our LOI to adopt our daughter. At that time, it was one of the quickest approvals and TA to have been received. AND…. we were to leave for China only 12 days later on June 13, 2006!!!! Once again another God-moment was in the making as we left on June 13, 2006 EXACTLY one year after our daughter had been found on June 13, 2005!! Over and over again, the Lord would confirm this was our daughter that He had chosen for us.
On Monday, June 19, 2006, we were driven to the Civil Affairs Office in Nanjing and waited to receive our precious daughter, Lian WuLu, whom we would name Kaylin Mei Lian. Her name has special meaning for us as a family, too. Kay is my middle name and also given to our biological daughter, Jennifer. Lin in Chinese means beautiful. One form of Mei means little sister which she was to our daughter. Lian was from her orphanage name, but also means Grace as does my name Anita.
Upon her arrival with her nanny and the other orphanage caregivers, our breath was taken away as she was placed in my arms. She was beautiful and so very healthy looking. We couldn’t get over how big she was at 13 mos old which was very unusual for a heart baby. Then, we received the MOST amazing news! Her orphanage director told us that she had ALREADY had her open heart surgery 6 mos previously in December at 7-1/2 mos old!! We honestly did not know what to think as this information was NOT known to us, our agency or in her medical report. Did she need another surgery? Was her surgery successful? After sharing this incredible information with us, they proceeded to hand us her cardiac meds which she chewed up! Oh my goodness! She’s only 13 mos old!!
Our time in China with her was amazing. She was a bit quiet that first day, but after a night’s sleep and some good food in her belly, she woke up a happy, cooing, smiling baby girl. I would recommend to anyone adopting an infant to take some kind of carrier, such as a Hip Panda, with you to China. She LOVED being in it and would coo and sing and sleep. It really helped in our bonding process. Physically, she could already sit up on her own and crawl, too. She ate everything we tried giving her except for peaches and drank well from her bottles! We were so thrilled to see how incredibly well she had been cared for.
After arriving home, we took Kaylin to her Pediatric Cardiologist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where they performed an EKG, echocardiogram and an examination. Her cardiologist could not get over the expertise of the surgery that was performed in China. He said, “Her surgery is as good as if we had performed it here at Vanderbilt”. We were overjoyed to hear this news along with the news that she only needed to be seen yearly. He also shared that at some point in her future, maybe in her 20′s or 30′s, she might need a valve replacement performed. However, at the point that she might need it, they will have perfected such a surgery via cardiac catheterization instead of another open heart surgery. Again, more wonderful news about her heart and her further care.
Now, let me say, that I hesitated in sharing our story only because it rarely happens that you do not know that your child has had open heart surgery before receiving them. That is a major detail that is usually NOT left out of such medical histories, I would think. Then again, there are many times when information is left out and it’s only after you come home that you find out there are other issues either medically or emotionally. We believe, without a doubt, that the lack of information was part of our faith-walk with the Lord to Kaylin. He was asking us to trust Him for what she needed and what we needed to bring her home. I have shared, on more than one occasion that I am very much a tentative and quite honestly, scared, faith-walker at the adventures that God places before us. However, this is one adventurous blessing that I would not have wanted to miss.
Here we are now, almost 3 years later with an almost 4 yr old little girl who has changed our family and our world forever!! My what a gift….. what an incredible gift from the Lord is this little girl who loves to dance and sing and LOVES Thomas the Train and any and all sports and writes her name and counts to 100 and brings such incredible joy to us each day. We continue to pray for the Lord to heal her heart completely. For as much as He healed it through open heart surgery, she still missed out on having a mother and a father those first 13 mos of her life while living in an orphanage. She missed out on having me with her during her open heart surgery while she was hospitalized for 6 weeks at a very young age which breaks my heart over and over at the thought. She has attached and bonded very well, but still has occasional moments of emotionally and physically needing me close at hand to reassure her that I will always be there for her.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions as well as follow our family journey here as Kaylin continues to grow up and bring smiles to our faces, laughter to our home and more love than you can imagine. As she always says, “Momma I love you…..you are my ever best friend!” Kaylin… your momma loves you more than you know as does your family and your Heavenly Father. What an incredible plan the Lord has for you dear one.
”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11