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Medical Condition: Congenital Heart Defect

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Our Story:  (Click here to leave the family a message of encouragement)

After our two boys were born, we thought our family was complete, and we were busy with life.


Then, in 2007, we realized that God had been speaking to us individually, and we felt we were being called to adopt.


We started the adoption process assuming we’d get a healthy infant girl, but, like so many parents, God opened our hearts to special needs, and just over a year later we welcomed home Leah, a four-year-old girl with cleft lip and palate from Louyang, China.


After adopting Leah, we never closed the door on adopting again, but we didn’t really pursue anything, either. However, we were on several adoption email lists, and we usually at least glanced at the waiting children. The kids kept bringing up adopting again, as well.


Then, in February, 2014, a little girl suddenly popped up in our inbox, in an email from our adoption agency. And that was the beginning of a whirlwind week.


This little girl had a severe congenital heart defect. This was something way beyond what we ever thought we could take on, but we asked for her file anyway. Over the next week we talked to our agency as well as to a pediatrician from the U.S. who had been to the orphanage twice in the last year. We researched congenital heart defects, we looked at photos, videos and medical information, and we sought counsel from our family and trusted friends. We also called families who had adopted children with similar conditions. The bottom line was that no one could say what her prognosis was until she got to the United States for evaluation and treatment, and no one could say how long she would live, even once she got here. We agonized over the effect that gaining and then losing a sister would have on the boys and Leah, and on us.


Our agency was outstanding, answering our questions day or night, and they allowed us time to research, think, and pray. At the end of the week, Molly and I both knew that God was calling us on this adventure.


On February 18, we said yes.


We decided to name her “Lybbi,” which means “God’s promise” or “pledged to God.”


Lybbi was found abandoned near the Xiamen Zhongshang Hospital in October, 2012, when she was two months old. She was thin and weak, and her lips and extremities were reportedly black. She underwent heart surgery in January, 2013, and the surgery was reportedly touch and go, but she survived. Since the surgery she had been hospitalized again with pneumonia, and she wasn’t gaining much weight. When we accepted her referral, she was on oxygen and a feeding tube.


Lybbi was in need of a heart catheter to fully determine her condition, but, due to the difficulty she had with her surgery in 2013, the doctors in China were very reluctant to do the heart catheter or any future surgery. If she stayed in China it was pretty certain that she wouldn’t survive long.


Consequently, we and our agency did everything we could to expedite the adoption process so that she could come home and get the medical care she needed. We did paperwork in three weeks that normally takes three months or more to complete. There was miracle after miracle along the way, from finances to amazingly fast paperwork processing, and the adoption paperwork process took four months from start to finish – the fastest our agency had ever done.


God provided everything throughout this process; exactly when we needed it. We learned that people all over the world had been praying for Lybbi, and for us, before they even knew who we were.


Our trip to China was exhausting, terrifying, and amazing. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done, and it was much different than our trip to bring Leah home. But, God was – and continues to be – faithful, and Lybbi was welcomed into our family on June 20 and into her new home on July 2, 2014.


Lybbi suffers from a hypoplastic right heart, which means that the right side of her heart didn’t develop. There is no cure, but the doctors often able to surgically re-route blood flow so that the left side of the heart pumps blood throughout the body and passively to the lungs, doing the work that’s normally done by the right side. Lybbi also suffered a complication from her heart surgery in China, and her right lung was underdeveloped, which is problematic for someone who already has issues with oxygen saturation levels. Due to her inability to keep food down and because she was so weak, Lybbi had a feeding tube placed in China. We also discovered some neurological concerns in an MRI done due some eye issues, but we’re pretty confident that her vision and neurology are fine. She’s developmentally delayed, but she’s progressing steadily.


Lybbi saw the cardiologist within days of coming home, and she had her first surgery on her second birthday. She’s had another surgery and three heart catheter procedures since then. She’s currently stable and is looking at another heart surgery when she’s about four years old. She’s still on a feeding tube, but is taking more and more calories by mouth every day. When she first came home she was too weak to sit up on her own; now she crawls at breakneck speed everywhere and is working hard at physical therapy, learning to stand on her own with a walker.


We hear regularly from people who have been impacted by Lybbi’s story. It is apparent that she is so loved and that God has a plan for her life. We don’t know how long she’ll be with us, but we pray that it’s a long time so that she can know how much she was loved and prayed for. We are so grateful to everyone who has supported and prayed for her – and us.

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