According to the papers we were given, Eisley was found on May 8, 2014, at an intersection of two roads in Datong, a city in the northern province of Shanxi. For those not familiar with China’s orphan crisis, it is illegal to abandon a child there. The reasons that a family would give up a child are varied and complex and more involved than this post intends to cover. Often, the parents, a relative, or a family friend will leave the child in a public place to ensure the child will be found quickly. The medical staff at the institute where Eisley was taken determined she was around two months old when discovered, and therefore they listed her birthdate as March 8, 2014. They gave her the name Rui Yuan, which means “lucky, auspicious” and “graceful young lady.”
The report, which was prepared when Eisley was six months old, also listed her medical condition, daily habits, and vaccination status. When reviewing these records, a prospective adoptive family is wise to take the information with a grain of salt. Sometimes the records appear to be accurate, and sometimes they are far from the truth.
The report said Eisley liked smiling, was quiet, had a quick reaction, and preferred musical toys best. They also noted she was fond of listening to music, and her favorite activity was playing with her foster family. She lived in the orphanage with the foster family until she was 18 months old. In Spring 2015, she traveled to a facility called Chunmiao Little Flower in Beijing to have a heart catherization procedure to determine if she would be a candidate for surgery while she was in China. They concluded that due to her pulmonary hypertension, she was not a candidate. Her best hope was to be adopted and see if a family elsewhere could provide the surgery she so desperately needed. The kind people at Little Flower sent her back to her foster family and orphanage because they said she grieved so hard while away from them.
I saw Eisley’s sweet face for the first time on May 5, 2015, on a China Waiting Child Advocacy board. They had chosen to call her “June” in her advocacy posts. Those big, brown eyes grabbed me right away. It was like those eyes reached into my soul and held on tight. The post mentioned that there were no families interested in her file, and that her country would offer no medical assistance for her damaged heart. I remember feeling so strongly pulled towards her that I was fearful another family would come in and lock her file before us. I emailed the agency that held her file and asked if I could review it.
If you were to read her medical file and talk with a cardiologist, it would be easy to see why a family could be scared away from adopting her. The report listed “Congenital heart disease, Tricuspid Atresia, Single Right Ventricle, Atrial Septum Defect, Ventricular Septal Defect, Left Heart Enlargement, Pulmonary Hypertension.” Scary, confusing, overwhelming medical language.
When we started our second adoption process, I thought we weren’t open to considering a child with moderate to severe needs. Knowing our first daughter had several surgeries ahead of her, I decided I didn’t want to face any more surgeries with our second daughter. I knew of others who had adopted children from China with serious heart conditions, and I admired their strength in the face of scary diagnoses. I was thankful for those who stepped forward and said a brave YES to those heart babies. But I believed I could never be strong enough to do something like that. I wasn’t the person who could say that brave YES.
But those eyes … oh, those eyes … .those big, brown eyes … they captured my heart and wouldn’t let me go.
I told my husband I had seen a picture of a beautiful baby who desperately needed a home. He asked about her special need, and when I told him she had a serious heart condition, he immediately said “No.” I continued to pray about it, talk him through it, and inquire more about her condition with the agency. Everyday we asked ourselves, “Should we play it safe and wait for a child with more minor needs? Or should we say YES knowing that there could be great risks involved?” There was no guarantee that she would be eligible for surgery due to her pulmonary hypertension. There were no corrective surgeries for her as ultimately she would need a heart transplant. As we continued to talk over her file, we kept coming back to the idea that we didn’t want to continue to be “safe.” None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. This child needed a family NOW. She needed love, she needed help, and more than anything she needed a family. By stepping out of our comfort zone, we decided to choose faith, hope, and LOVE.
We said yes. We said yes to her. We said yes to love. We said yes to hope.
Was it an easy decision? No! There were many, many days I broke down in tears at the thought of what might lie ahead for our family. I came across this quote in July 2015 and kept coming back to it for inspiration and encouragement:
“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
And my heart held on to those soulful brown eyes. We started the paper chase to bring Eisley June Ruiyuan home to us. The process promised to be fast and furious, but we took deep breaths and went for it.
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