On March 28, 2005 a 9 month old baby girl was found in a basket, abandoned at a bus stop, on the streets of Shanghai, China. She was sick and dying from pneumonia. The person that found her rushed her to the nearest hospital. There the doctors discovered that she had a very critical congenital heart defect. They decided together that this little orphaned girl was "Inoperable"- Surgery to repair her broken heart would be far too risky and far too costly! They declared her "Terminal" and sent her to the orphanage to die. Days... Months... Years... went by and that little girl defied all odds and continued to live!
Finally, when she was 5 years old, the orphanage staff decided to list her for international adoption, in hopes that a miracle might be found for her heart in America. Yet, still, she waited another two years, while each family that viewed her files decided that her medical needs and sad prognosis were more than they could handle.
In April of 2011, while pursuing the adoption of a healthy 9 year old girl, I (Lori) saw this precious girl's face amoung the hundreds of other special needs orphans that needed a home... that needed HOPE. Each time I saw her photo, I'd open her file and see those words... "Critical Medical Needs". I'd remind myself that such needs were far more than I could handle and quickly close the file to move on. It wasn't until we lost that healthy 9 year old girl to another family that I was able to distinquish God's whispering in my ears... He was drawing me again and again- back to the little one whose needs were so great, I was convinced she belonged to someone else...
I reluctantly peeled myself from the recliner and forced myself to the chair in front of the computer. I pulled up the photo I'd been avoiding for several days and I willed myself to dial the number of the adoption agency. In what seemed like an "out of body experience", I inquired about that precious little girl with critical medical needs. When asked if I understood that she was considered "terminal", I smartly spurted back... "Aren't we all?" Less than 5 minutes later the HOPELESS details of this almost 7 year old orphan girl's life filled my computer screen. There was little doubt what God was asking me to do.
I took my computer straight to Doug. I turned the screen around, revealing the face of one of the most precious orphans he'd ever seen. I told him her story and asked him what we should do. He asked one simple question... "Are you OK with letting that little girl die in that orphanage alone without ever knowing the love of a Mommy and Daddy and without ever hearing about the love of Jesus?" "No"... I was quick to answer! I was not OK with that! "Neither am I," he said, "Let's bring her home!" And that... was that!!! She was OUR daughter! Soon to be Rachel HOPE McCary! And whether it meant we'd have her for a year or for a life-time,... this precious child would know the love of a family and the love of Jesus Christ with whatever time she had!
Valiant effort was made to get Rachel home as quickly as humanly possible, and only 5 months after that fateful night, we were on a plane to China to make her a part of our family. I will forever marvel at the many miracles that took place within those months to make it all possible. It seemed that everyone that heard Rachel's story wanted to be a part of bringing her HOPE. And with the help of so many- God let us be a part of that too!
We saw Rachel waiting for us the moment we got off the elevator at the Civil Affairs Office in Shanghai. She smiled and waved and waited ever so impatiently while we filled out the required paperwork before she could officially become OURS! She confidently walked into our arms, called us "Mommy and Daddy", and the rest, as they say... is history!!!
Dr Fricker, the wonderful man who heads up the Congenital Heart Center at The University of Florida, was ready to see her as soon as she arrived home. Tests confirmed that Rachel indeed had a very sick heart- actually, half of a heart! She had survived more than 7 years with a single left atrium, a single right ventricle, and too many other critical defects to list here! All agree... she is a walking miracle!!! Sadly, though, those initial tests were not very hopeful and we had to face the fact that she might really be "inoperable" after all. But less than a week later, a heart catheter brought news of great HOPE! Rachel was operable! Life saving open heart surgery was performed on Oct 18th, and she came through it all with flying colors! She would need a second surgery within the year to complete the work they had begun on her broken heart and to hopefully give her many fruitful years before she would need a heart transplant.
Unfortunately, Rachel's heart began to weaken just a few months following surgery and another heart catheter in March confirmed that she is no longer a candidate for the second surgery she needed. The cardiology team at Shands, that have come to love her so much, decided together that it was time to list her for a heart transplant on March 8th. Rachel's blood type is B+ (how appropriate is that??) and she is presently at the very top of the list. Her doctors have great HOPE that the perfect heart will be found for her soon!
Tonight, the precious little girl from my computer screen, who I thought had needs I could never meet, is sleeping peacefully in her bedroom down the hall. Taking the risk to love her and bring her home as my own has been one of the best decisions of my life! She's taught me so much about LIFE and about what it means to really LIVE! But most of all, she's taught me the true meaning of HOPE... and I'll never be the same!
Rachel's life rests securely in God's hands. I find peace there, because I know that regardless of what lies ahead... HOPE is fully ALIVE!