February 1, 2009 clubfoot, Family Stories 1 Comments

By Heather and Ryan, parents to Emma from China with unrepaired club foot

Faith, hope, fear, trust, uncertainty, joy, wonder, astonishment, patience, love, laughter…these words describe just some of the emotions we felt throughout our journey to our precious Emma.

My husband and I always knew we wanted children. We planned and waited for what we thought was the “right” time in our lives to have children. We graduated college, bought our first home, and had stable jobs. All of our planning and waiting meant nothing the day I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.” We were crushed, to say the least. God had put a major roadblock in what we thought were our otherwise perfect plans to build a family.

After being unable to conceive on our own, we sought the guidance and expertise of a Reproductive Endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, to help us make our dreams of having a family become a reality. We were lucky enough to become pregnant fairly quickly and with very little medical intervention. Our dreams of becoming parents came true on the day our son was born; one of the happiest days of our lives.

It wasn’t long after we had settled into our routine of being a “family” that we realized that we wanted more children. Once again we turned to the Mayo Clinic with our hopes of conceiving another child. This time, however, would be different from the first. I quickly became tired of the long drives to appointments, having my blood drawn, and having hormones injected into my body that made me feel miserable. My husband was tired of watching me suffer and tired of the “ups and downs” that we experienced with every passing month. It was after receiving yet another one of those phone calls (the ones where a nurse informs you that you are not pregnant) that both my husband and I paused and asked ourselves and each other “What are we doing?”

It was an awakening of sorts – we both knew, all along, that we wanted more children. But for whatever reason it wasn’t until THAT DAY at THAT MOMENT that we realized that we didn’t care how we expanded our family, just that we did expand our family. God had planted the seed of adoption in our hearts and minds and from that point forward we knew that we were meant to expand our family through the miracle of adoption.

Once again, we found ourselves planning and waiting. We researched day and night to learn all that we could about adoption. What were our options? How could we find a reputable agency to work with? How would we afford adoption? Where would we find “our” child? Would we consider adopting a child with special needs?

Eventually, everything just seemed to fall into place. Our agency called the day after we had returned from a vacation to tell us that they had a little girl in China who was waiting to meet her forever family – and they thought that we would be the perfect match. We were overjoyed and scared all at the same time. This was the moment we had been waiting for, literally, for years. We were moments from learning more about this child who would eventually become our daughter. We reviewed her file, saw her beautiful face, and we were hooked! It was then that we felt God lift the roadblock he had previously laid before us. We felt,we knew, in our hearts that this was the end of our journey. We had found our daughter.

It just so happen that this beautiful little girl was born with a condition called “club foot.” Again, the questions surfaced. Could we care for a special needs child? Did we have the medical and financial resources available to treat a child with this condition? Did we have the time and energy? What effect, if any, would this have on our son? Would our daughter have a chance at a “normal” (whatever that is!) and “productive” life?

Fast forward six months – – we have traveled to China and back to be united with our daughter, have bonded as a family, and completed what we refer to as “phase one” of Emma’s medical treatment. Our son has a sister whom he loves dearly and, as parents, we now have a home filled with twice the love, twice the laughter, and twice the chaos. But we wouldn’t trade a single second of any of it!

We have been told that the treatment for club foot varies from child to child but overall we have found it to be very manageable. Emma’s treatment has consisted, thus far, of her being placed in a series of five casts over a period of six weeks. After the second cast, and before the third was applied, her tendon was cut to allow her foot to be casted in a more “neutral” position. After her last cast was removed she was fitted for orthotics. These are custom made “shoes” with a bar running in-between them that keep her feet in the desired position so that she doesn’t experience a relapse of her club foot. (I equate it to getting braces on your teeth and then being fitted with a retainer!) She currently wears her braces 20 hours per day but she has a check-up in February and we hope that at the time we will be allowed to drop her “wear time” down to 16-18 hours per day. Eventually she will not need the braces anymore and her doctor will determine whether any further treatment is needed.

Now to answer your question (or one of them anyway!)…would we do it all over again, knowing what we know now? Without a doubt!! We absolutely, positively cannot imagine our lives without this precious little girl we have come to know and love.

One response to “Emma”

  1. Tricia says:

    Hi Heather,
    I read recently on Ni Hao Y’all that your daughter has been diagnosed with fibular hemimelia. My husband and I just got home with our son who has club foot and since home we found out he has bilateral hemimelia. I would love to connect with you.
    Tricia triciad888@hotmail.com

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