by Mary, mom to a daughter from China with Hepatitis B
It all started after watching three beautiful Chinese girls in dance class with my daughter each week. I had time to sit and chat with the mother who adopted these three beautiful girls from China. Each week we talked more about the adoptions. Adoption began to weigh heavily on my heart more and more. I had discovered that I could no longer have any more biological children. I had one biological daughter and after she was born I was diagnosed with something called Premature Ovarian Failure. I was really devastated and had come to the realization that I would only have the one child. My husband and I had discussed adoption, but I was not for it at all. I didn’t think I could love someone else’s child as my own. After many talks with this mother at dance class I realized that a Chinese adoption was God’s way of sending me a beautiful daughter that I wanted and needed.
In February 2006 we signed the contract with Living Hope Adoption Agency in PA. We began the paper chase that lasted until August 2006. We were not logged in until November 2006 after much dispute over getting papers translated to go to China. We were so relieved to finally be able to finish the paperwork and begin our wait time. Little did we know that the wait time was now up to 2 years. We were told it would only take 6 to 9 months after we were logged in. I was so sad by this news. I didn’t feel I could wait this long. Each day passed and the wait time kept increasing. After the third home study update we had to make a decision of whether we were going to continue with the adoption. It was draining us mentally and we didn’t want to continue to wait. I had seen a lot of children that were adopted from China with very little special needs appearing on our adoption agency website. I begin to ask the special needs coordinator about these children. She advised us we could complete paperwork to be put on the waiting list for a special needs child. She said it would not interfere with our normal log in date if we didn’t choose a child. We completed the paperwork and after mailing it back discovered we were now way down the waiting list. We had 32 families in front of us waiting for a special needs child. Again the emotions were draining us. We knew we would probably get our referral before we were offered a child with special needs.
In the fall of 2007, we decided we were only going to give ourselves to January 2008 to have a daughter from China. We just felt we could not continue this roller coaster anymore. In December 2007 I received a call from our adoption agency on my voice mail at work that they wanted to talk to us about a little girl that needed a forever family. I called the agency back and they were all gone for the day. I just could not sleep that whole night wondering about this little girl. I called first thing the next morning to find everyone in a staff meeting. I had to wait hours for someone to call me back. When I got the call I begin to take notes and I was so nervous I didn’t write everything down. Our agency said they had a 4 year old girl that had Hepatitis B and needed a forever family. I had no clue what Hepatitis B was. We told the agency we would review her file.
When we got the file we feel in love with this little girl. We were so nervous and skeptical after reading all the issues with Hepatitis B. I had already made up in my mind that we would pass and wait for another child that did not have a contagious disease. I was very frightened that if I brought this little girl into our family that my biological daughter would catch the disease or that some other family member would catch the disease. I had already spoken to two doctors and both were discouraging about this disease. I was very scared to be honest with you. Then Christmas day my biological daughter got a very high fever. I called the doctor the day after Christmas and they wanted to see her. At the end of the visit the doctor asked me if I had any other questions. I said yes I do, and asked her to explain Hepatitis B. I told her that I had already spoken to a doctor in the office but I wanted another opinion. She begin to explain that Hepatitis B was spread from one person to the other by blood. She said it was not easily spread. I had read on the CDC website that it was spread through salvia and other bodily fluids. I was thinking that sneezing, coughing, and eating after one another would spread the disease. It was misleading on the website. It is spread by blood not with everyday casual contact of the individual. This doctor told me her personal opinion that if she had to make a decision of adopting a child with Hepatitis B that she would not hesitate in any way. It was as though my biological daughter had gotten sick for a reason. I needed to speak to the doctor to make my decision. I knew in my heart I must continue with the adoption of this 4 year old girl.
My husband had already known from the beginning that he wanted to adopt her. I knew after that discussion with the doctor that there was no way I was not going to adopt this 4 year old girl. She had waited in the SWI and foster care for 4 years of her life for her forever family. She had seen friends come and go and she remained. She needed a family to love her forever regardless of her health. We signed the paperwork to accept her and the time went by so fast. In March 2008 we received our daughter in China. She was not like the other children who were crying in the crowds. She came running to us and gave me the biggest hug you have ever seen. She melted our hearts away with her beauty and love for us. She has adjusted wonderfully with our family. She gets blood work every 3 months. It is tough to watch her get the blood drawn but she is a real trooper. The GI doctor is watching her blood work closely to see if her body if trying to fight off the disease. If and when she begins to fight her disease is when liver damage can occur. This is the reason for the blood work every 3 months. When she begins to fight the disease she will begin medication at that time to help protect her liver. We just pray every day that her body will overcome this disease. Please open your hearts to adopt from China and don’t hesitate about Hepatitis B. It will change your life forever.
If you decide to adopt a child with Hepatitis B please do keep in mind that their medical condition needs to be protected, and their medical condition does not need to be shared with everyone. We have only shared her medical condition with immediate family. You will be surprised how many friends you may lose when they discover your child has a contagious disease. It is those who do not understand the disease like me at first that are scared of the disease until they are educated. Educate those you share your child’s medical condition with. We were advised by our doctor to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B, and when our daughter gets a cut or scrap we use gloves at all times. Your child will have this lifelong disease and she/he should not be treated any differently than any child, so think first before you share their medical condition. It is something you can never take back once you share.