"If we had not moved to the special needs program, we wouldn't have our precious daughter, Hope." This truth keeps ringing in my ears and my heart these days. She is the only one for us. No child could be more perfect for our family.
At the end of 2009, with the non-special needs program in China inching along, I knew that God was moving in our hearts. I knew we needed to at least rule out the special needs program as an option. I thought, "Let's at least research it, look into it and once and for all settle in our minds that special needs is not for us." What I found instead was a myriad of misconceptions. Misconceptions about what is considered a special need in China vs. what is considered special needs here in America. I found that I had misunderstandings about how medical technology and good healthcare can really make the difference in the life of a special needs child.
Most profoundly though, I had failed to really grasp the need. The special needs children are the least of the least in China. If no one steps forward to help them reach healing, both physically and emotionally, they will live a life devoid of purpose and care because of something that could be fixed within a few months here in America. They will have no chance in life and will never know the love of a family. All due to something beyond their control, something most people here wouldn't even consider a “special need”.
Shocked at our lack of education on this subject, I reviewed the medical checklist with my husband and we met with families who had either adopted special needs children or had biological children with a special need. Their lives were much more normal than I thought they would be, once again putting an end to another misconception I had. We met with the doctors who specialized in the special needs we were considering. They educated as to just how many medical options existed for special needs children. We also discovered how we would be able to fix the medical problems she had, once Hope was home.
Two months into the new year, we completed our medical checklist and were standing in yet another line to, you guessed it, wait. That's when something within me changed. I knew that the waiting child program was exactly where God meant for us to be. It wasn't a way to get our child sooner. Special needs children deserve much more of a commitment than that. The waiting child program had become our family's mission. When we entered the adoption process over 2 ½ years before, we thought we were headed toward a perfectly healthy little girl. Now we found ourselves headed for a little girl who was perfect for us.
We logged in with the WCP in February of 2010 and got our long awaited, highly anticipated referral call on July 14, 2010. We were in shock. They had found us a precious two year old girl, with a repaired VSD (hole in the heart) in the Henan province. Our family had prepared to bring a child home for heart surgery and hers had already been done. Every doctor that has looked at her or her medical records have given us a terrific prognosis. Once her cardiologist signs off on the repair, she will live a normal life with no restrictions to her activity level. Hope was also a little older than we had expected. I felt a little sad at all we had missed, but once they placed her in our arms I knew she was exactly the right age for us.
Her referral pictures, though precious, did concern us a bit. She never smiled and there was no light in her eyes. We prayed she was healthy mentally and that God would put the light in her eyes Himself. Within 48 hours of her being in our family, Hope was laughing, smiling and playing. We had prepared our hearts to wait a while before we saw such beautiful smiles and heard such belly-tickling laughter. She literally erupted with joy and life. She was finally free. Free to be exactly who she was created to be. Free to be loved and cared for like every child in this world deserves. Free to come home to a family who is crazy about her, grandparents who dote on her and friends who are inspired by her story and her smile. I cannot imagine our lives without her. I shudder at the thought that we could have missed out on Hope had we not ever considered special needs. She is truly and completely the only Hope for us.