This takes place on a very hot a sticky day in Guangzhou, China. We were on day 4 of our trip to China and day 3 with our newly adopted Georgia Mei. She was a very frail, weak 17 lb almost two year old. Looking back now, I had no idea how very sick she really was. We had traveled in a whirlwind to go and get her, getting the "go ahead" from our agency only the day before we traveled. If we had not gone with that travel group, it would have been at least a month before another group was going.
So there we were, the Grandmas and I standing in the hallway of the medical clinic in Guangzhou, a very weak little Georgia limply laying against my chest as we waited our turn to go through the "medical exam" that every childs must pass to get their approval to enter the USA. Some of you already know this but Georgia had an unrepaired heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. Most children have open heart surgery for this condition within the first months of life and Georgia was just a few days shy of her 2nd birthday. At this point statistics get pretty grim for children of her age with this condition untreated.
The US government had just recently put into place a rule stating that at the medical exam every child's vaccinations must be brought up to date....meaning kids were getting all of their shots in one day. I gripped the little red booklet from the orphanage listing Georgia's shot record knowing full well that they had stopped her vaccinations at under a year old because her heart was too sick for them. Tucked inside the booklet was a letter from our International Adoption Pediatrician and Cardiologist in Seattle. This letter asked the medical center to waive the shots because they could cause a "dangerous Tet spell during travel." A Tet spell is an incident where the child becomes very short of breathe, extremely blue (like a blueberry, face, hands, lips almost black sometimes) and can lose conciousness. In the few days we had Georgia so far, she had already had a handful of these spells (but had remained alert during them). The Cardiologist at home had told us that the only thing we could really do to help her was to pull her legs to her chest (constricting bloodflow) and try to calm her down. In the States, she would have been rushed by ambulance and given oxygen and medications right away. Here, we relied on cuddles and prayers.
I had been told by other adoptive parents that so far no one had ever been approved to waive their shots...every child had to be vaccinated. I counted and was pretty sure this would mean around 9 shots for Georgia. I held her close, tried not to cry and prayed. They called our name for the first examination (there are 3 stations). Our guide Maggie came with us and as I tried to keep Georgia calm the doctor listened and listened and listened to Georgia's heart for what felt like at least five minutes. He would listen and then take some notes and then listen some more shaking his head. He asked our guide if I knew that she had a serious heart condtion and she confirmed that I did. I took a deep breathe and asked her to ask the doctor to please waive her shots. I showed him the translated note from the doctors at home. He read the whole thing and shook his head.
My Mom holding Georgia while I went to the bathroom...So we stood in line, leaning against those white tile walls, trying to sooth Georgia who had cried hard at each 'station' and was looking pretty blue in the lips and face. I so badly wanted to just take her and run away from that hot, stuffy, medicinal place. Finally, we were next in line and I noticed a man standing behind the counter near the front of the office. I asked our guide if we could try one more time. I asked the families from our group to pray and we approached the counter. Our guide asked and the man behind the counter looked at the letter, shook his head "no" but then he walked away down the hallway towards the stations. About 5 minutes later he came back and in broken English gruffly said, "You...here!" and grabbed my elbow. What was happening???? I was terrified that I had upset the staff. He took me to an office and closed the door and through our guide said, "Do you promise to get her shots after her surgery?"
Our sweet protected Georgia Mei
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance...
In my Memorial Box? I will place that letter which I found today asking them to waive her shots...
A Memorial Box is a place to remember the things that God has done...to remind us when things are hard and to tell the stories to our children.
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