What does it mean to be courageous? My three year old daughter Mackenzie, who has only been in my arms for 45 hours, taught me late last night what it means to be courageous.
On Gotcha Day, once Mackenzie settled down, the orphanage director and our guide came over to me with very concerned looks on their faces and explained that Mackenzie was admitted into the hospital on Friday, April 27th and discharged on Friday, May 4th so she could be back in her orphanage and ready for her Gotcha Day. The director went on to explain through my guide that Mackenzie has a severe double middle inner ear infection and was very “weak”, which I come to find out meant dehydrated. I read up a lot on Chinese culture before we came over here and the literature said that the Chinese are very expressive with their facial expressions and that is one of their key ways of communicating. I could tell by the look on the director’s face that she was concerned that I would reject Mackenzie based upon her physical state.
Mackenzie is extremely malnourished. The first time I held her in my arms the initial thought I had was, “am I really feeling all of my daughter’s bones popping out from under her skin?” The 12 month leggings that I brought her for pants fall down the instant I place them on her. Size 3-6 month would more than likely be the best fit, which of course I did not anticipate or bring clothing that size. There is not one ounce of meat on her body, and if I thought my newborn baby girls were fragile and tiny, the weight of my third daughter in my arms gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be fragile. I was instructed to clean her ears with hydrogen peroxide, and told to place antibiotic drops her in ears. There were also two small vials of white powder that the orphanage director and our guide could not tell me what I needed to do with it. As a matter of fact, our guide told me it was “optional”. As the hours ticked by, Mackenzie continued to have a rancid smelling pus ooze from her ears, primarily her left ear. While I was bathing her last night, I noticed blood dripping out of her left ear. I quickly finished her bath and took her out so I could re-clean her ears and access what was going on. Sure enough, I used cotton swab after cotton swab that I pulled out of her ear covered in blood. I called our pediatrician’s office back home, and the doctor said that I should arrange to take Mackenzie to the ER because it sounded like she ruptured her eardrum. The doctor wanted me to get her started on an oral antibiotic.
I called our guide and she came to take us to the Emergency Room. The ER was unlike any other experience I have ever had. The "Therapy Room" of the ER was open to all of the patients who stand in a line outside of the room. A man was having a facial tumor removed through his nose, and the poor guy puked, gagged, and spewed blood everywhere for over an hour. While this was going on, another man walked in with a towel over his face drenched in blood. The nurse gave him a new towel, which was almost instantly saturated with blood. I thought for sure both of these men were going to die right before my eyes. When it was Mackenzie's turn to be seen, I was ushered over to the chair that the puking, bleeding man used. There were piles of puke and blood all over the floor that I had to walk through to get to the chair. The cabinet and computer station were also sprayed with blood. I think I went into shock because I didn't even think to ask them to clear me a spot, I just walked through the mess only considering the fact that my daughter was in desperate need of help.
In China, the doctors do not prescribe oral antibiotics for ear infections. They give ear drop antibiotics, which obviously did not help Mackenzie. The doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic for Mackenzie, only because I was insistent. Unfortunately, we did not have antibiotics for the girls with us because our pediatrician's office would not do it, and told us that if they needed it we could take them to the clinic here and get them one...NOT SO EASY!!! I understand their reasoning, but I plan to meet with them and explain to them why we really needed these antibiotics so that no other adoptive family ever has to go through this again. So, for any of you out there planning to adopt or leaving soon to pick up your child, please do yourself a favor and get an antibiotic for them in the USA!!!!
Over the short time that I have known Mackenzie, she has modeled for me far too much bravery for a 3 year old. To think that I was sick to my stomach during our 3 hour ER visit, when Mackenzie was dropped off for an 8 day hospital stay the week before I met her. In comparison, I am a wuss. I know that she doesn't understand me yet, but I constantly whisper to her various things like, "you will never be alone again", "it's ok to cry", "momma will never leave you", and I will continue to do so until she does understand someday.
Particularly during this adoption trip, I am constantly haunted by the fact that there are 150 million orphans all over the world who have not known the tender love of a mommy or the strong, protective arms of a papa. The wheels in my head have been spinning at warp speed. I am convinced that I need to do something about this, and Jacques agrees too. I am excited to see what God plans to do with this fire that he has ignited in my heart.