It's been more than a year since I saw the face of a baby named Dang Nan on ASIA's waiting child list. I am glad I listened to the small voice urging me to inquire about her. I expected to be told there was a long list of families wanting her. A young baby girl with such a sweet face! I was sure I had waited too late because I wasn't sure we could even afford another adoption so soon.
Imagine my surprise when the agency told me we were the first family to request Dang Nan's file!
Perhaps the reason Dang Nan was still waiting was because she was born with a medical need known as Tethered Cord Syndrome, a type of Spina Bifida. Her future was uncertain and her condition had required one surgery in China already.
We felt comfortable with Tethered Cord as a special need immediately. I never doubted we could handle whatever needs she had immediately and in the future. I did some research on my own and then set up a consultation with an International Adoption Pediatrician.
I sent the doctor the scant report on her surgery and followup at age 18 months. It was about a paragraph in length, so he didn't have much to go on. He also requested her growth report including head circumference measurements and any photographs we had of her.
On the morning of our conference, the doctor was straightforward. For some reason I thought he would be bowled over by the same cute face I had been staring at day and night. But he was professional, honest and thorough. Tethered Cord Syndrome could be severe or mild. It could bother her now or later as she grew. The complications stemming from spinal deformities or spinal surgery might be serious.
I pointed out how active the reports said she had been.....running, jumping, and even potty trained already and dry at night. Yes, the doctor agreed, these were all positive signs....... if they were completely true.
The doctor's gravest concern was her eyes. One eye appeared crossed toward her nose in all the photos. The doctor wanted to be very sure I understood the implications. Along with the eye position, Dang Nan had large head measurements. Some of the measurements were missing, so it was impossible to know if she genetically had a large head or if she had suffered hydrocephalus, which can be a side effect of spinal bifida. And if hydrocephalus is not treated, pressure can build in the brain, and in the worst case permanent cognitive damage can occur. And the funny eye position might be an indication of problems caused by the pressure on the brain.
Again I pointed out the reported accomplishments of my smiling girl in Inner Mongolia. She could draw a circle, speak in sentences, and she knew the color red. But the doctor, doing the job we asked of him, declared the information we had about this child to indicate "moderate risk".
To this day, I really don't know what we were at moderate risk for, because even before the phone call with the doctor we had decided. Dang Nan would become our daughter.
But I have to be honest and tell you I looked closely at her eyes in every photo I received. I was more than a little concerned about the eyes the entire time we waited. I worried she was not getting medical attention in China and her head was growing larger with hydrocephalus. Since this complication had been the main concern of the doctor, it remained on my mind during the long wait for travel. I worried far more than I should have.
God was watching over the whole story. There were invisible hands holding onto to all of us.
As miracles go, Dang Nan was one wrapped in giggles and adventure. We knew when we met her she was smart and quick. In fact, we spent the next several months trying to be smarter and quicker than she was!
And today, the memory of her worrisome eyes, came back to me, full force, full circle. Today I took Delilah Dang Nan to an evaluation with a pediatric ophthalmologist. As it turns out, her vision is perfect, her eyes are healthy and stable. What looks like turning in of an eye in some photos is the result of having wide spaced Asian eyes and a tiny baby nose. The movement of her eyes is fine.
But imagine if I had not be flying by the seat of my faith that long ago day when I first saw Delilah's referral picture!!! What if the unknown head measurements and the turned in eyes and the what-ifs and the maybes had been the voice we heeded. What if we had not been sure of the invisible hand of God guiding us and holding us. Oh, what we would have missed!
There were times during our adoption wait when I was afraid, but never a time when I considered turning back from the path leading us to Delilah. And today I was reminded of the power and the glory of the God who led us down the path and entrusted her to our care.