Gracie is beginning to understand what it means to be a part of a family. She loves the kids. And the kids love her.
Getting on the plane to head back home -- finally!
We are home!
We finally made it back home late Thursday night after a very long trip from Guangzhou to Shanghai to Detroit to Greenville. Gracie did well on the 3 flights but was understandably very tired and so Jamie had the arduous task of holding her almost the entire time. Any attempt I made to give Jamie a break led to cries of protest from Gracie and in a packed flight with people sleeping all around us, it wasn't going to work. Needless to say, words could not describe just how grateful we were to finally make it to American soil. For all of its faults, it's still a great place to live.
We didn't know what to expect at immigration, but thankfully we breezed right through! We handed the immigration officer the sealed packet we received from the US consulate in China the day before and that's all that was needed. Instant American citizenship! Quite remarkable actually, considering how difficult to impossible it is for a Chinese person to immigrate to America. I'm told it's difficult to even just visit, never mind immigrate. But Gracie became a US citizen the moment she landed.
There's no place like home.
We were finally re-united with our children that evening and it was a happy, happy time. We had never been away from them for more than one night, never mind 2 full weeks! Being together again was an incredible experience. And of course, Gracie got to meet the kids for the first time too. As would be expected, there was a little bit of trepidation on her part, but the kids instantly loved her. What an evening that was. We finally made it home.
A visit to the cardiologist.
After a late night, the very next morning we were able to schedule a visit to our wonderful cardiologist, Dr. Malpass, who is also Martin's cardiologist. It's amazing that we were able to get in so quickly but we are grateful that we did. Jamie spent several hours there with Gracie and apparently she was a real champ as they measured her blood pressure, took her weight, took her sats, and even got an EKG done -- all without a peep! Gracie was totally cooperative and even put out her finger when they got her "sat" reading. I could only smile as I thought of how different Martin was at his last appointment (hint, they gave up on the blood pressure reading because he wouldn't "let" them). We knew Gracie was sick all along, but it wasn't until this visit that we realized just how bad it was.
Gracie has a very serious heart condition.
After taking considerable time looking at her heart via the echocardiogram, Dr. Malpass concluded that little Gracie has something called Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. This is apparently a pretty severe and rare condition where the main artery going from the heart to the lungs is not there (complete obstruction). Children born with this heart condition do not normally survive past 12 months without surgical intervention. But Gracie is 3 years old. How is this possible? We do not know for sure until we get her to Charleston's MUSC for a heart catheterization for a more definitive examination. But we are told that in the absence of the main pulmonary artery going from the heart to the lungs, the body will develop something called collaterals which "make their own path," albeit very inefficiently. This is why Gracie's oxygen levels are so low, and why she has blue-ish lips, fingers, and toes. She does not have properly oxygenated blood. She is in need of medical help and we brought her home at just the right time we believe.
The way forward. One step at a time.
We are moving forward. We have scheduled a visit to MUSC next week for Gracie's post-adoption examination. We are actively seeking to schedule an appointment for the heart cath as well. Once that happens, we will know exactly which way we need to go. Surgery for such a condition is considered high-risk and we won't know which hospital route we will need to take. One day at a time. One step at a time. We will continue to pray for Gracie's heart, as we continue to pray for Martin's heart. We don't control anything. We are easily overwhelmed and overcome. We need grace ourselves and we need to see God work in His own perfect way, and in His own perfect time.
I like to think of Psalm 91:15,16 as being a prayer regarding Martin and Gracie both.. "He [Martin and Gracie] shall call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation."
Jamie and I have been married since April of 2001 and have five children, Katie, Calvin, Justin, Gracie, and Martin. Please be sure to sign our guestbook and drop us a note!
On February 3, 2012 our 4th child was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). He will have 3 "staged reconstruction" open-heart surgeries early in life to reconfigure Martin's cardiovascular system to be as efficient as possible despite the lack of an adequate left ventricle. These surgeries do not correct the lesion, and are instead considered "palliative".
He already had his first (Norwood) and second (Glenn) surgeries at MUSC in Charleston, SC. Let's give God the glory in all things. We learned this Psalm together as a family some time ago and it's very fitting: "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34.
On November 2013, we embarked on a new journey to adopt a child from China that also had a heart defect. We are still on that journey...