Adoption is a word that has been discussed and considered in our family since we have been married. Noel and I just recently celebrated 17 years of marriage, and early in our marriage, we thought it would be how God would grow our family. We experienced a very trying time of infertility, but God did choose to bless us with two biological daughters. Adoption was put on the shelf, and only mentioned occasionally in passing.
Thru the years we saw a few of our friends adopt both international and domestic, but I still pushed back. No, I was happy with our family size. Noel would say if there were a need, we would consider it. I was secretly thinking, NO! I don’t want to. I was content with our two girls, and I did not know if I could handle adding to that.
In 2005, God moved our family from all we knew down South, to the Midwest. I was the first time for us to move as a family of four. Little did I know this move would be the first of many changes to come. We were in a new church, new homeschool group, new friends, new everything. God also started gently nudging me to begin considering adoption again. I just gave more excuses.
God blessed our family in the coming years – paid off debt, purchase a new home, and too many others to count. In July 2010, our family was attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando. It just so happens that that year there was an emphasis on adoption and orphan care. God totally changed my heart while one of the pastors was talking about little girls in Asia and what could potentially happen to them if no one would come to take care of them. I just sat there and cried. While at lunch, I had planned on bringing it up, but Noel beat me to the punch. I told him that I was ready – let’s do it, and our girls were happy with the decision as well. The adoption ball was rolling.
After we got home, we started researching agencies and countries. We were just praying that God would guide. Who did God have for us? We knew we wanted to meet a need in some child’s life, and we also learned about special needs programs for several countries. By August we were ready to submit our application, we applied to our agency’s China Waiting Child program for a SN 4-7-year-old girl. Now the hard decision – what special needs were we willing to accept. Both of our girls had experienced health issues – heart defect and hernias. Filling out that sheet we approached with fear and trembling, but we knew God would choose the right little girl for us.
After many months of filling out forms, our home study, and finally being DTC in July 2011, we were matched with a beautiful little six-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura) and strabismus. Not exactly what was on our list, but after talking with medical doctors, we felt we could handle it. She was born in Zigong City, Sichuan province of China. She was with her family for her first few years, but she was found on the street a few months after the 7.9 earthquake in 2008. We could not imagine what her life had been like after surviving this massive earthquake, and then likely losing her parents and having to enter the orphanage. Also after seeing her pictures, we knew we needed to go get this girl.
December 19, 2011, was Gotcha Day. Yang Rui became Rae Michelle. It was perfect that we were there during Christmas – all five of us. While her first night with us was very rough, due to her grief again of losing what she knew, morning came, and she was this almost happy little girl. She was starting to accept us and her new sisters. We were ready to get home, and to start our new lives with a new “normal.”
After arriving home, it was time to start figuring out her medical plan. We were presented with a need that we were not aware of – dental decay. While in China, we realized that she had horrible breath, but we did not know how bad her teeth were. Before we could get her checked out by the adoption clinic, we were already meeting with hematologists and dentists. With her blood disorder, we had to be careful with spontaneous bleeding in her gums, so both departments had to be on the same page. So, within in a few weeks of being home, Rae was having dental surgery which resulted in them pulling eight teeth and having three capped. She was not too happy with her new silver teeth, which thankfully were all baby teeth.
In the past nine months, our daughter has endured many medical tests and procedures. With ITP, life consists of monitoring her platelet level via CBC and seeing what treatment works. The doctors have tried to find the antibody that is killing off her platelets, but as of now, they have not found it. It took several months to determine what worked or to at least keep it up for a little while. Every needle stick Rae would be brave and not cry as long as she could watch what was going on. We found this out the hard way of holding her and not letting her look when they drew 21 vials out of her. Monitoring this count determines if she can live life normally or is unable to ride her bike or other things rambunctious little girls like to do. We have to watch for bruising, headaches, or before we had her nose cauterized – nosebleeds. Her nosebleeds could last only a few minutes or not stop at all, and we would have to go to the ER. These were often a sign that her count was low. Right now with her ITP, we usually do finger sticks almost once a week to check her platelet count. When they drop too low, she goes in for an IVIG treatment at the hospital. We do not know if she will ever be cured, but we will see what happens and make the necessary life changes that will need to be made. Right now the only cure is to have your spleen removed, but Rae is not at that stage yet.
This past April, we had a morning that changed everything and scared us half to death. One of our daughters could not wake Rae up, and when I got upstairs, she was in the middle of having a seizure. I did not know when it started and to our knowledge, we knew of no history of them. After getting her stable, which seemed like forever at our local hospital, she was taken to Children’s Hospital where it was determined that in her early life either in-utero or before entering the orphanage she had suffered two strokes. We just sat there shocked. She was in the hospital for three days of which the first day we wondered if our daughter would be able to talk or walk again. We trusted the Lord and knew this was not anything new to Him, and He would get us through this.
After a day and a half, Rae finally started talking and being her almost-normal self. We still do not know what triggered her seizure, but she is on meds to not have them. She is truly a miracle child, because according to her neurologist at her last checkup, she does not understand why she has not had any more seizures, and she is not having to increase her medication. She is not showing any signs of her stroke that we are currently aware at this time. Her brain has rewired itself despite missing 10% of it. It has definitely changed our lives, but thankfully she has no memory of that day.
We joke with the nurses of the different clinics we see that we are frequent flyers. We know our way around the hospital. We were happy when the new one opened. Rae is not scared when we do have to go, but I think it is because of the chocolate milk. All the staff just love her and take care of the entire family. We have been able to share our story with so many people. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this little girl. To know what she has lived through and seen before coming to the U.S., and to see her now is truly amazing.