On or about November 19, 2014 a woman or perhaps a couple dropped a baby girl off at the entrance to a police station in eastern China. An all too common practice in this region of the world.
This child, with a deformed right leg and 9 toes on her right foot, would live her life, in an orphanage malnourished and alone, most likely for the rest of her life.
She failed to thrive; by 19 months old she weighed 10 pounds, her belly bloated from lack of food, with no vaccines to protect her from the evils in the world, no treatment for her leg and foot. Left to lie in a crib and have her ten fingers for her friends, you see she stares at her fingers, she has stared for such a long time it has now become an automatic response to stimulation. This is a well-documented syndrome of being left alone at such a young age.
She won’t make eye contact with anyone and hold it. She will glance at you to see if you are looking at her and then she quickly looks away.
She has never heard the words mom or dad let alone brothers and dogs and houses and cars or the word family.
She is treated at some point for her lack of nutrition, mostly by adding rice flour to the powdered milk she has been getting. Still no prognosis for her extremities, probably never would have.
She lays and waits for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. No one is coming for her, so she stares, waiting…
She has no medical diagnosis, over all she seems fine, except for that bacteria growing in her gut, a by-product of filthy water and neglect.
Days and months go by, she hasn’t gained any weight, and nothing is done about it. No one has said Oh we should do something about her leg. Nobody cares. Or does someone care?
Did I mention she is cute as all get out and that she likes to coo a lot and giggles often? She likes to hold your fingers when offered and sticks her tongue out and rolls around on the floor. Even with all of this, nobody notices, nobody is coming, so she stares and waits. But something has happened, she thinks, my bottle has changed, it tastes better. It makes her feel better. Maybe someone does care?
6,897 miles away in Nottingham, NH a couple with 2 boys, 2 dogs a house and 2 vehicles, work with a wonderful woman named Maureen to help bring you home. Maureen helped us bring your oldest brother Henry home from Korea in 2006. We are not unaccustomed to the work it takes to bring a child home from a foreign land, but we know it is worth it.
June 26th 2016 I met you for the first time and was so overwhelmed at your beauty, you were so small and weak. You wait no more, someone does care and very slowly you will come to realize that, I hope.
I think the nanny’s that take care of the children in an orphanage care, I really do. How could you go to work every day with these beautiful children and not care? The nanny I met cared, even though she didn’t speak English and could not really communicate with me, I could see it in her eyes, she cared.
We spent two weeks together in China doing all the paperwork that had to be done to get you home to your forever family. You were so patient, we went everywhere together, doctor’s visit, adoption finalization, notary paperwork and you took it all in stride. Funny, together we waited.
July 7th 2016 we are on a plane ride back to America for me to be reunited with my family and you to join yours. It was a long ride 15 hrs. to Chicago and then two more to Boston where your Mom and brothers met us. Thanks to a very special friend named Bonnie. Mom and I cried because we hadn’t seen each other and we had both been single parents for two weeks. Then the attention turned to you, everyone thought you were so cute and adorable they all wanted to hold you. Which they did.
You went to see Dr. John the next day. He looked you over and checked you out; referrals were made for your lack of weight and growth, your gods’ kiss on your right leg and foot. Blood was taken to see if you were ok on the inside, x-rays taken of your leg and belly. Oh yea you got shots. Guess what? You have helicobacter pylori in your gut; medicine is going to take care of that. A barium swallow was ordered and you passed that wonderfully. More shots, ugh.
Your brothers love you to pieces! Ryan can’t get enough of playing with you, making you laugh and carrying you all over the house. Henry likes to kiss you and pat your back to help burp you.
You have made such good progress. You raise your head and have gained 5.5 lbs. That’s a 50% increase.
We have a long way to go but, I know we are up to the challenge, no adventure. Because we don’t see you as a challenge, we see a little girl who can be so much more than she would have been.
Sept 12th. Today you met Ms. Diane. She is going to get you on track with head control and the little things that little girls your age are supposed to do. Tomorrow you and I go to Boston Children’s Hospital to meet the doctor that is going to evaluate your leg and foot. We are nervous about what they are going to recommend.
We met Dr. Mahan, she was very nice. We took more in-depth x-rays today and the recommendation is amputation. She referred us to the surgeon that will do the amputation. His name is Dr. May we go see him on Nov 4th in Boston. I think Mom is going to take you this time.
We have noticed lately that your cooing has become more of a babble and OMG that hair, it has grown so fast.
On Ms. Diane’s second visit she brought you a toy to play with. It is called a Happy Apple. You started playing with it immediately Ms. Diane says this is purposeful play, which is a good thing sweetie. So Mom bought you one. You love it. Thanks Mom.
A lot of time has passed Sweetie since I last wrote. You are now in pre-school doing a great job with your new friends and teachers. Everyone thinks you are adorable.
You are working with Ms. Lisa on learning to swallow and eat new foods. You are eating yogurt now. It is pretty cool that Mom and Dad can now feed you. We know in time you will be eating all kinds of different foods.
On March 15th of 2018 you and I went to Children Hospital; yes again, to have Dr. May amputate your right foot. We spent the night there and you never complained, not once even days after you are so good.
We met with the people from Next Step prosthetics to have them build you your new foot. Scott and Dave were so good to you, they are great people. We took all the measurements and you didn’t say a word. 3 weeks later you had a new foot, with my little ponies on it, you were so good about the whole thing.
Now we work with Ms. Annette to get you to walk with your new foot. We go twice a week to help you. You have started speed crawling all over the house, playing with the dog’s dishes banging them on the floor, hanging out in the bedroom at night with your brothers. You are now sleeping with them in their bedroom in your crib. I think we need to think about getting you a bed.
You have most recently started pulling yourself up in the pack and play and the stools in the kitchen. You are amazing. Guess what? We wait no more.
Our second year has been filled with lots of small moments where we have slowed down to connect, heal, and build something new. We will all admit that what we are building is not perfect and the process is often messy. But… it is us weaving our lives together. It is how we define our family.
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