We received LOA today which is a letter of approval from the CCCWA in China saying they approve the adoption of our daughter. This is a HUGE step and puts us 8-10 weeks away from traveling. And, now I am able to share some info (and a picture!) of our sweet girl! But, first... a long story :)
We started the adoption process over three years ago. Adopting from China has always been on my heart, but the adoption needs there have changed. This is a good thing! Back when I first decided (in high school) that I wanted to adopt a girl from China, girls were being abandoned by families so they could try again for a boy, keeping with the one child per household restriction. China's laws have progressed and, thankfully, that is just not happening anymore. So, when we began exploring Chinese adoption, we knew we'd adopt from their special needs program. Medical care in China is expensive and without insurances to help, if your child is born with a medical need that you can't afford to care for, you're left with few options. Back when we began, I felt in my gut that we were to have a daughter with cleft lip and palate. We had taken some classes about the varying special needs that Chinese children frequently had, and clefts seemed the "manageable" choice. Plus, I fell in love with a few babies online with their cute little cleft lipped smiles and I felt pretty sure one of those special smiles was in my future. So, we set our medical profile to a baby girl, less than 3 with a cleft lip and palate or a very minor heart condition (meaning one that would not require surgery) and we waited. The wait for a child that matches that "profile" is about 2 years.
Fast forward a little over a year and Crosby is born with a heart condition. You all know the story, we decide that adoption, at least for now, is off the table. We never pulled out of the program though, we simply removed the cleft lip and palate option and now were left with only minor heart conditions, for which the wait is significantly longer... so long in fact that we had virtually zero chance of ever being called on. Which, at that time, was what we needed.
Fast forward two years. Crosby is two, we're back on the adoption track! We had considered so many variables that led us right back to our path of a child with a cleft lip and palate from China. So, we added that back to our checklist and started getting ourselves current with our home study and immigration so that we could be matched! They keep your spot in line, so we were first and ready to go as soon as we were current on everything.
Now, the medical checklist does have a need listed as moderate/major heart conditions. We had never been open to that need. In the classes, there were several things about the heart discussed and, honestly, most of it scared the bejeezus out of me. Tetralogy of Fallot was one that I specifically remember being like... "ooooh no, that sounds really scary".
Can you guess where I'm going with this?
It had been 3 years since we'd taken those classes, and I had not thought any further about any of those needs since. We had decided on cleft lip and palate. BUT, as we began saving money, doing our home study, and preparing to be matched this time around, I bean having dreams. Well, not dreams I guess, just WORDS. Three little words coming to me over and over again in my sleep. TETRALOGY OF FALLOT. This happened for over a week before I worked up the nerve to talk to Ritchie about it. Ritchie has always been up for adoption, but it's my dream, not his. I didn't want to add to it or make it more challenging or scary than it already is. But, the words. They were calling to me. Crosby had a cardiology appointment coming soon so we decided not to change the medical checklist yet, but to ask our cardiologist about the major heart conditions that China typically sees in their children (I had gotten a short list from our agency), including Tetralogy of Fallot.
There was one specific condition that she warned was pretty complex, but other than that we left feeling pretty confident that we were now open to moderate/major heart conditions. It's crazy to think we didn't consider it at first because A. Crosby has what is considered a major heart condition and 2. we have a children's cardiologist and are already in that world!
Anyway, so we added that to the checklist and finished up everything we needed to. The words in my sleep had stopped, but in my gut I knew we'd have a daughter with a heart condition, specifically Tetralogy of Fallot. Now, we still kept cleft lip and palate on our checklist and were told several times by our agency that is was more likely we'd be called about a child with a cleft than a child with a heart condition, they just see more of those. So, I did some diligent research and made sure we remained open to cleft lip/palate, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that, after those words, TETRALOGY OF FALLOT sinking their way into my mind and heart, I was hoping for a baby girl with just that.
Fast forward to Tuesday, June 28th. WE GET THE CALL. I see the (303) area code pop up (our agency is in CO) and I promptly freak out and run around my living room in circles. "Guess what happened at CCAI today?" Cue tears. I was shaking and trying so hard just to hear EVERYTHING she was telling me about my girl. I knew this was her. Before she even said it. But she did say it. "She has something called Hexalogy of Fallot, which is basically Tetralogy of Fallot but with two more things added to it." What my heart did in that moment.... well, I can't even tell you. I already knew, but then I KNEW. (Wanted to add that we have since had her records looked at by two different drs, one who specializes in internationally adopted children, and Crosby's cardiologist. Both have confirmed that she just has standard Tetralogy of Fallot. They have no idea where this hexalogy business comes from. This is common with translations of files... it's easy to change things a bit through translation).
So, what can I tell you about our girl? She's currently 15 months old. Her birthday is 5 days after Crosby's, so they're 1 year and 5 days apart in age. She began WALKING at 13 months which makes her my youngest walker to date! The Dr's say her development and growth are all right on target which is quite impressive for a child who is both in an orphanage and has a pretty major heart condition. Basically, our daughter is amazing. She says mama and baba (which is what they commonly say for Dada). We've seen a video of her where a child tries to take a snack from her hand and she promptly screams, tears it away from them, and then is happy as a clam. So... she's got some spunk. She is very attached to her ayi (nanny) and loves to be held and cuddled which is heartbreaking because they will be separated, but a very good sign in terms of her ability to attach well to others. She had her first surgery for her heart in May and we're still getting more information about that, but we have heard that she recovered well and it was deemed a success, so now we just wait on the actual records of the surgery to be reported. She may need one surgery once home or later in life, she may not. A lot will depend on what they did in China for her. Other than that, she will just be a normal girl. Running, jumping, playing, etc.. she'll have checkups every 6 months just like Crosby. Our two little heart babies.
I'm showing a picture, so I'm not going to give her Chinese name or location. The Chinese give two names and hers mean "of language and culture" and "hibiscus" like the Hawaiian flower. We will keep a portion of her Chinese name as her middle name.
We think there's never been a more perfect girl. To be so in love with someone you've never met but is out there just waiting in a foreign country is the wildest thing. We're coming for you, June! We LOVE you!