On October 31st, 2011 in Beijing, China Zhao Ya Qin was admitted to the Beijing Pediatric Hospital for her third and final surgery. We did not know this until early 2012.
That same day my phone rang. A long distance call from a number I didn’t recognize appeared on the screen. I answered and heard the cheerful voice of Sarah, our contact at CCAI in Colorado. The agency had another match for us. Her name was Zhao Ya Qin. The paperwork said she had a medical condition and was receiving treatment, though the current medical status was unknown. She asked if we would be interested in looking at this little girl’s file. I said yes. Sarah said she would send it and asked me to follow-up within seven days.
I called Jenn. She had a migraine and left work early. “We have another match” I told her. She said we would talk about it when I got home.
At 4:37 PM I got an email from Sarah. It said:
Hi Jeremy & Jennifer,
So excited to share with you the file of little Zhao Ya Qin! Please find all of her information and photos attached. As we talked about, most families are able to reach a decision in about a week, and I would also love it if you could shoot me an email back in the next day or two to let me know your initial thoughts. If you find yourselves seriously considering her, please make sure to share her information with a medical professional.
This email includes all the information CCAI currently has for this child. We will certainly immediately forward to you any new/additional information we receive, but please be prepared that a decision will need to be reached based on the information we have at this time. You are welcome and encouraged to share this information with your family, social worker, and medical specialists in order to come to an educated decision about adopting this child. However, in the best interests of the child, please DO NOT share, post, or discuss this child’s information or pictures in any online forum (including blogs, Yahoo groups, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) until such time that you have accepted a match and received pre-approval from the CCCWA. Thank you for your understanding!
The email contained several attachments. Medical records in Chinese and English. Photographs. Background information.
The paperwork said she was a healthy little girl born on April 1st 2010 who smiled a lot. I could see that from the picture.
When I got home from work I had a beer and went to the computer to research the information in her file. Videos of the procedure came up in the search and I clicked on one. The combination of blade and brew sent my head spinning. A few minutes later I was laying on the floor in our back bathroom trying not to pass out. The world was slipping away. It felt like the heat from my body was escaping though a valve someone forgot to shut. I regained composure and went to our bedroom to talk to Jenn. She was ready to look at the file.
The moment we saw Penelope’s photo we thought she was beautiful. However there was no magic moment when we looked at each other and said “that’s our daughter!”. Some families experience that. Three months earlier we received a match for another girl. After reviewing the first match file with our doctor we said no. We knew that was a possibility again.
We were determined to make an emotionally educated decision. A day or two later we were at the doctors office, ready to review Zhao Ya Qin’s file. According to the information we had at the time, Ya Qin would need more surgeries in the future. The doctor felt certain we could have the rest of her surgeries when she came to the US and could live a healthy, normal life. He gave us the number of a specialist to contact.
For the remainder of the seven days we talked about the girl who could be our daughter. I called the specialist and got more information. The question we kept coming back to was “can we take care of her?”. Could we get her the proper medical care? Would we be spending nights in a children’s hospital, anxiously awaiting the outcome of her surgery?
On Monday, November 7th I called Jenn. I chose the three-way call option and called Sarah at CCAI. We asked if there was any more information. There was not. We asked more questions.
You don’t realize how much some decisions will change your life. Others you do. When we told Sarah yes we knew our lives would never be the same.
After all the questions Sarah must have thought we were about to say no because she exclaimed in surprise “that’s great!”.
Sarah was right. It was great. After getting married, it’s the greatest decision we’ve made.