September 22, 2009 Craniofacial, Family Stories, hemifacial microsomia 0 Comments

by Melinda, mom to Meah from China with hemifacial microsomia

When my husband and I were in the process of adopting again, we had looked at all the programs and chose to adopt minor special needs from Vietnam. We also thought we would adopt a 2 to 4 year old… little did we know. While waiting, I would always look at the waiting children, even the ones from the other countries.

In October of 2007, a new China waiting child list came out and I began looking at the list and saw this little girl that I could not quit thinking about. I just felt this instant connection. After 2-3 weeks, I showed my husband her picture and he also felt a connection. I knew that we both felt something, but there seemed to be so many obstacles. For one, she was 7 years old. Our sons were 6 and 3 and our daughter was 4, this would completely disrupt the birth order. Secondly, we knew nothing about her medical condition. The left side of her face was malformed and she had a little ear on the left side of her face. My husband said, “Let’s just look at her file, no one else has even looked at her file.” So that’s what we did. The Monday before Thanksgiving, Mark requested her file from CHI.

We looked at the file and didn’t see any other medical condition, except for her little face and ear. Our pediatrician was out of town for Thanksgiving, but we left the file for her to review. I also had an ENT review the file and the ENT forwarded the file onto a specialist. I think we had all ready made up our minds, but the specialist said, “She will have to undergo several surgeries, but there is no reason that she can’t be a healthy, happy child.” Once our pediatrician returned from the holiday, she said, “This is very do-able, I have another patient with this condition and she does great!” Enough said, oh, but one more obstacle…a little boy who prides himself on being the oldest. I set down with my son and I showed him the picture of the little girl, we have come to know as Meah, and said, “This little girl is one year older than you, but dad and I think she would be a good fit for our family. “What do you think?” He said, “She looks sad and I think she needs a family and we have a great family.” That was all we needed and we asked to adopt her.

That’s when the paperwork craziness started. Since we weren’t even in the China program, we basically had to start from square 1, but it was worth it. On July 28, 2008, we met our Meah for the first time and she was truly incredible. This is not true with every adoption, but Meah had little adjustment. She was very happy to have parents and be on her way home. Once home, we went to the children’s hospital to be evaluated. We were told before we went to China that Meah most likely had Goldenhaar’s Syndrome. Once she was evaluated by the plastic surgeon, she was diagnosed with hemifacial microsomia, which basically means the left side of her face is underdeveloped. She has good hearing in her right ear and we found out that her left side is capable of hearing, but she has no outlet. She has had phase 1 of the BAHA (bone anchored hearing aide) surgery completed and will be able to use the left side to hear at a normal range. We are expecting a surgery in January to start moving her left jaw forward and then approximately 8 weeks after that surgery she will have a major reconstruction surgery. There will be more surgeries and orthodontic care, but we’re taking it one step at a time.

Meah has a truly incredible spirit. Before we went to China, I told my husband, that we all ready know we love her, all she has to do is love us, it’s her choice. She has definitely made a choice to be a part of a family, to show love, and to love God. Fortunately, there has been little adjustment for us, it was like she always belonged here, but hadn’t found her way. As one of our friends said, “She is the missing piece to your puzzle.”

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