By Cora's Adoptive Mama---
We first fell in love with Cora when she was an eight month old baby who had recently arrived at New Day. She was fighting for her life and no one could predict her future. Some wondered if she would even have a future. The strongest desire of our hearts was that whatever future Cora did have would be with us.
We watched from afar as Cora battled pneumonia, colds, and trip after trip to the hospital. We prayed
diligently for her lungs to clear up and her pulmonary hypertension to go down so that she could have
her much-needed heart surgery. Only they didn’t. I’ll never forget opening the “Knee Time” email from New Day that Cora was undergoing a risky open heart surgery in a “last ditch” attempt to save her life. Without it, her doctors said she wouldn’t survive the winter. We sat vigil that night. It was December 14, 2009 here in the United States and December 15th in China. To this day, it still ranks as the hardest night of my life. The night I went back-and-forth between praying for the girl I loved and checking my email for a progress report.
In what can only be considered a miracle, Cora’s life was saved that night. She was released from the hospital after only 10 days. And we rejoiced. I received every Christmas gift on my “wish list” that year, but none of them could top Cora leaving the hospital healthy and alive.
On October 16th of this past year, the desire of our hearts was granted. In the Civil Affairs building of her home province, Cora became our daughter. She is the most vibrant person I’ve ever met. A petite package of dynamite. So full of life that it’s almost over the top. And the girl possesses a charm that can’t be beat. People everywhere fall in love with her charisma and cheerful spirit. She’s strong willed, determined, and unstoppable. In the words of William Shakespeare, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” There is nothing about her that would ever give you the idea she had battled for her life when she was a tiny baby…except for the scar running down the center of her chest. And boy is she proud of it. It’s not at all uncommon for Cora to lift her shirt and ask, “Mama kiss my pretty scar.” I take advantage of every opportunity to do so. I’m proud of Cora’s scar too. I’m thankful for the life it represents. I’m grateful for the chance it has given us to be her parents.
Shortly after we brought Cora home, we took her to see our cardiologist. He was amazed by her
echocardiogram and told us her heart was “almost perfect”. Then he told us that the girl who was born with a shortened life expectancy due to the severity of her heart defects would probably live to be 100years old. Cora’s “last ditch” surgery didn’t just save her life for a few years. It saved her for a lifetime.
My daughter has the habit of making me catch my breath in awe. She is literally breathtaking in every way possible. And in those moments, I can’t help but wonder “what if?” What if Cora had never come to New Day? What if she hadn’t had her life saving heart surgery? I can’t imagine my life without her. I can’t imagine my family without her. My house. Even the simple pleasure of her singing along to my favorite songs at the top of her voice when we drive around town running our errands. Becoming Cora’s mother has turned my life upside down the best way possible. What if I never got to hear her laugh? Yell out orders for her siblings to follow? Feel her arms around my neck or her kiss on my lips? What if I didn’t have her here to drive me crazy pushing my limits?
Our family will forever be grateful to New Day. Not only for providing Cora the medical care she needed to heal her heart, but the emotional care to heal her heart as well. Unlike so many once-orphans, Cora came into our family already knowing what it was like to be loved and cherished. She knew how to trust. Her heart was full of joy. Not only did Cora’s health flourish under the care she received at New Day, but so did her spirit. And I get to reap the blessings of that for the rest of my life.
Journey: Gotcha Day part 2
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