by Tricia, mom to Sara from China with an SN of congenital heart defect (VSD)
My husband and I had a strong desire to grow our family via adoption and we were soon drawn to China’s program and the idea of adding a daughter to our family. We signed up with CCAI in 2007 and got in the NSN line in November that same year. The following year was when I first became aware of the charitable organization, Love Without Boundaries, and before I knew it I was volunteering for them in late 2008. The adoption community is an amazing on-line community and it didn’t take long to find the resources and personal stories of families who had adopted special needs children from China. As I continued my volunteer work with LWB, it became very clear to my husband and me that we both felt drawn to switch to China’s SN program and bring home a child that had a medical need we felt we could handle. For example, there was such a large and growing number of orphaned children within China with congenital heart disease (CHD). And, without the benefit of adoption or funding for surgery through volunteer organizations, their precious lives would be cut short. We live in Pittsburgh and quickly discovered that we had access to an amazing group of pediatric cardiology doctors and surgeons. My husband and I began to realize that we could really make “the” difference in the life of a child born in China with CHD.
In late 2009 we were blessed to receive a referral for our beautiful daughter (soon to be named Sara AnYe). I’ve attached her referral picture because I couldn’t stop looking at it…. her amazing eyes just grabbed my heart. She was so tiny, which is not uncommon for children born with CHD. Sara had a large, unrepaired VSD. We had her file reviewed by several specialists and of course everyone had a different opinion. In fact, one doctor seemed set on giving us a bleak outlook based on what she saw on paper. I found myself getting very defensive towards her comments and fighting for this little girl…. after those moments it became clear to me that I knew in my heart this was my daughter. Sara has some additional issues within her file that seemed relevant to the medical world such as being very small physically and having a head size way below the growth charts. Plus all the doctors felt she was older than reported which made her physical size more of a concern. I remember that moment with my husband when we realized we could ask questions forever but not really know the answers until we brought this little girl home. So, as with every adoption story, it came down to that leap of faith. We’re so thankful that we said – yes, we can help this little girl… let’s bring her home.
After we had accepted Sara’s referral, but before traveling to China, we were informed that Sara had recently received open heart surgery and that the surgery was a success. This was literally all the information we received on the subject of this last-minute surgery. But at this point, it didn’t matter. We remained focused on getting to our daughter as soon as possible. We traveled to China in January 2010 and were united with her on January 11th. It was an unforgettable day. In fact, our entire trip in China was a wonderful opportunity to have one-on-one time with our daughter. Fast forward to today, and Sara feels like she’s been part of our family for so long now. But, she’s actually been home with us for only 3 months. During that time she has become very comfortable with our family and her brothers. She is a brave, active, beautiful little girl that likes to dance and we feel so blessed to have this opportunity to be her parents.
Her VSD surgery in China was performed very well and she currently has no restrictions. We continue to work on the attachment process and do our best to make her feel secure (especially at night when she has trouble sleeping). She’s been through so much in her young life – including an open-heart surgery on her own. She still shows her fears around doctors (this is a big fear of her’s) and when strangers get too close… but we look forward to giving her continued love, security and time to help her confidence grow. We love, love, love China’s special needs kids and we know that each child that is waiting in China deserves everything we are providing for our Sara.