Until the night before her appointment, I thought that Zoe's notation of an ASD - atrial septal defect, or a hole between the two chambers of the heart - was a mistake. As I flipped through her records that night, though, I realized the ASD had been properly diagnosed with tests in Taiwan. It was no typo. I wasn't anxious, but I realize that our sweet girl was indeed born with a heart defect and that the appointment was indeed necessary.
Little did I know the sweetness God had in store.
First, I checked in. As a glanced down, I saw a plaque on the man's desk,
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
How those words soothed my heart!
Then, the nurse called us back. Zoe watched her closely, a little more closely than usual. I realized that Zoe had honed in on the familiarity of this precious nurse, a woman from the Philippines who looked more like Zoe than most other people she has seen since arriving here.
As we chatted over Zoe's vitals, the conversation turned to adoption, as it often does when you have fair skin and blue eyes but are holding a baby with olive skin and eyes so dark that you have to look hard to spot the pupils. The nurse asked about the cost of adoption, and I - a chronic oversharer - replied that the total was around $27,000. (I like measurable terms. "Expensive" isn't measurable.)
She told me that she and her husband didn't have any children but that she wanted to adopt a school-aged child from Taiwan or another country near her homeland. Her husband had agreed just that week to move forward with adoption plans, but only if they could afford it. Her exact words to me? "You are an angel sent here today, because you just told me that we can afford it."
Next, she introduced me and Zoe to the rest of the nurses, who oohed and aahed over her. (Let me tell you: I swell with the same pride when people compliment Zoe as I did - and still do - when people compliment Jocelyn or Robbie. Doesn't matter if they came to us through pregnancy or adoption; it's that same momma pride.)
Then, she led us to an exam room with circulatory system diagrams that made me think of Jocelyn and how much she would have loved to check them out.
And then, Dr. M came in. I requested him because he is the heart doc for at least two families we know well, including one little guy we serve in special needs ministry each week. I didn't know when I requested him that he specializes in cardiology consults for adoptive families, reviewing medical records and answering questions when a family is considering a referral or moving forward with an adoption of a child with a heart defect. As we talked about the uncertainty of medical records with adoptions, he shared that two of his children were adopted from Korea. It was refreshing to talk with a specialist who knows more about adoption - both as a doctor and as a parent - than I do.
After a chat with Dr. M, Zoe and I were sent across the hall for an ultrasound of her heart to figure out if her ASD had healed and if anything else might be going on. I took a deep breath as we walked, because I hate medical procedures for my babies. I saw an adult hospital bed and cringed at the thought of lying my daughter on such a big bed. That is, until the sonographer told me to climb up on the bed and cuddle with Zoe to make her comfortable. And then the sweet woman didn't flinch a bit as Zoe happily kicked her legs as she kicked happily as she watched the flat screen with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, each time kneeing the ultrasound wand and requiring the sonographer to reposition.
Then we returned to the exam room, and I got to put Zoe back in her clothes. (That's my favorite part of every doctor's visit. I hate for them to be so exposed and naked in the office, and it makes my heart happy to dress them again.)
It had already been a wonderful visit before Dr. M came in, smiling with the news that we never needed to come back. We got wonderful pictures, he said, and her heart is perfect.
(Side note: a friend pointed out to me that it's not uncommon for ASDs to heal on their own - about 20% heal in the first year of life. No matter how common, though, our girl had a hole in her heart - a.hole.in.her.heart. - that is not there anymore. That, my friends, is pretty awesome, even if it happens for 1 in 5 babies with her condition.)
When I asked if it would be okay for me to share his name with others in the adoption community who might need his advice, he invited me to ask for a card at the front desk and share his info with others. His words? "Just have them email me with any questions they have."
And then, as we walked out, one of the nurses who had admired Zoe asked, "When will we see her again?"
And I got to say, "never."
And you know what? It was a sweet enough visit, that I almost - only almost - felt a little sad when I said it.