Friday, August 2, 2013

Hannah Elizabeth Ping

I guess it is time to start blogging again since we've had such big news in our family!  On Monday, July 29 I got a call from our agency about a precious little girl in the Henan province.  After hearing about this little one named Ping and about her medical needs, I told the agency that we definitely wanted to review her file.  But first a little background information, to help you understand how we knew this was our daughter.

When we applied to adopt from China, Bryan and I filled out a lengthy medical conditions checklist to indicate which medical issues we felt comfortable with.  We based our decisions as we filled out that checklist on the current needs of our boys, the resources we have available to address medical issues (including time) and our access to pediatric specialists.  When our agency is given the opportunity to match a child with a family they call the family who has been waiting the longest that is open to all of that child's medical needs.  A child's file typically includes some photos, background information about when they were found, medical history and current development.  Based on that information you make a decision on whether or not that child is a good fit for your family.

Over the past 6 months of this adoption process and leading up to our call from the agency, I felt like God was preparing my heart in many ways.  My heart felt burdened for our daughter every day, even without knowing her-- Was she ok? Was she safe? Were her needs being met? Was she healthy?  I looked at those moments when I felt so concerned about her as God's way of preparing my heart to have compassion for her, to realize that the months without us may have been awful and she would need our patience and love.

I prayed that Hannah would be in a foster home rather than in an orphanage.  Only about 30% of the children our agency places are in these types of foster homes.  Many of the foster homes are funded by Christian organizations and they provide individualized, loving care as well as medical intervention that an orphanage cannot provide.

Over the months of waiting and discussing the medical needs we would consider, I told Bryan about 2 weeks ago that of all the things we checked off on our list-- I really felt like Hannah would have an issue with her limbs.  Maybe she'd be missing part of her arm or leg, or have extra or missing fingers... but my heart told me that would be her need.

On Monday we were in Destin on a family vacation and on the way home from lunch I had a feeling that our agency was going to call us that day.  I didn't mention it to Bryan because it seemed silly-- we were only 20 days into our wait for a match, after all.  Our agency had predicted we would wait 6-12 months for 'the call'.  Even though it seemed silly, I took my phone into the room when I put Joshua down for his nap.  Less than 15 minutes into his nap time my phone rang and I could see our agency on caller ID.  There was no other reason they'd be calling us so I knew this was it!

One of the agency representatives, Pam, began to tell me about little Ping whose first birthday was in a few days.  She had two medical needs:  club feet (a need we were always 100% open to) and arthrogryposis, which is a rare joint disorder that causes stiffness and limited mobility in the affected joints.  To be honest, we had added it to our list in June not knowing a ton about the disease but knowing we would at least consider it.  I said we wanted to review her file and Pam said, "Well you may not want to look at her photos... because she is one of the cutest things I've ever seen and you may not be able to say no once you look."

I ran to get Bryan and we looked at her information and pictures together. Pam was right- she is one of the most precious baby girls I've ever seen.  And the feelings and desires God had placed on my heart were true-- Ping had been in an outstanding foster care facility almost her entire first year, she had issues with her limbs, and today was the day we'd get our call.

We had an international adoption clinic review all of the medical information we received and their report was really positive - realistic, but positive.  It reminded us of the tone they used when they wrote a review on Caleb's medical reports!  It appears that arthrogryposis only affects Hannah's feet (hence the club feet) and her wrists.  In pictures, her wrists appear to be flexed downward but she is able to use her hands to hold toys, pick up Cheerios, etc. The foster homes she has been in started addressing her club feet via casting and braces when she was very, very young.  Her feet have improved SO much since she was a newborn.  And baby girl must have some serious strength because she can army crawl with her heavy foot brace on!  We think she is doing amazing, but of course there are uncertainties.  We don't know if any of her other joints are impacted by arthrogryposis.  She will need PT, OT, and potential surgeries -- maybe even with a surgeon in Philadelphia who is the leading expert in her issues.  But in spite of those uncertainties, we knew that she was our daughter.  We read those diagnoses and said, "We can handle that!".

Knowing with certainty that Ping is our Hannah, we submitted all the paperwork to 'lock her file' in China's computer system.  From this point, we begin the wait for a final "Letter of Approval" or LOA from China.  That could take up to 3-4 months. Once we receive LOA, we will likely travel 10-14 weeks after that.  Hopefully we will have her home in the next 4-7 months.

We are so thankful that this dimpled, bright eyed, smiling baby girl is going to be ours!  We are grateful for her life and God's provision for her.  After a year in foster care she was recently taken back to her orphanage, so we are praying for her health and care until we can bust her out of there!  Please join us in praising God for all He has done to build our family-- it is more than we could ask or imagine!