Sandy’s Story–I Took A Second Look

I’m going to work on featuring some moms who took a second look at boys over the next couple of weeks.  Currently, in China, it is estimated that 2/3s of all children waiting for someone to take a second look are boys.  This is at odds with what people picture when they picture Chinese adoption.  But sadly, it is actually boys that are the most overlooked.  Darren, and his mom Sandy, hold a special place in my heart.  When we were waiting to adopt Dolly, Sandy was my ‘Secret Pal’.  She sent me little gifts every month as we anxiously awaited Dolly’s arrival.  It turned out that her son waiting in China had a similar diagnosis to our girlie, and that he would need to undergo a similar surgery.  Sandy and I bonded immediately.  Now we’re cheering them on as they take a second look, yet again, at a little boy who is missing from their life.  Boys ROCK!!!

We didn’t set out to adopt a preschool age child from China with complex heart defects. We gave birth to four children. We adopted two children domestically. We updated our home study in hopes of adopting another child domestically. I am not sure how I even stumbled upon the blog with a mom who was advocating for Chinese orphans. I am not sure why I even bothered to read that post. I didn’t have a passport and never intended on getting one. We don’t travel internationally. We never, I emphasize never, even talked about or considered adopting internationally. We have a huge heart and love for orphans, but didn’t consider ourselves ideal for adopting a special needs child.


When I saw his face I knew I needed to show him to my husband. When I read about his complex heart defects, my heart broke for him. China had deemed him inoperable. He was turning blue. You could see his blue lips and blue fingertips in the pictures. We had six kids. He was all the way on the other side of the world in China. But we learned that we live minutes away from one of the best pediatric cardiology units in the world. The leading surgeon is world renowned and has done over 10 thousand (10,000!) pediatric heart surgeries. How could we turn our backs? The agency and the doctors told us he would die without surgery. We prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. In the months we took to pray, get doctor’s opinions, and get a necessary financial waiver from China, not one other family even asked to see his file.


We took that leap of faith and expedited him home. We learned that not only did he need a family and heart surgery but we needed him! He helped to alleviate a painful loss our family had suffered the prior year, plus, as with all our children, once he joined our family we could no longer imagine life without him. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t snuggle up to me and tell me “mama, I love you”. He also frequently shares how in China he didn’t have a mama and a daddy and says he is so glad to be home. “Sweet boy, we are so incredibly blessed to have you home too.”


Darren received his life saving heart surgery two months after he arrived home. Thankfully he was operable! He spent 16 days in the hospital recovering from his complex heart surgery. He now runs, jumps, climbs, and eats like any other five year old boy. A year after his surgery he had a stent placed in his left pulmonary artery. It is true he has had a complex repair on his heart and will require lifelong cardiology care.


It is also true that our deep, deep love for him is such an incredible gift. It brings me to tears to think I might have missed out on that. Our local news station did a wonderful story on our journey to Darren.  You can watch it here! You can also follow Sandy’s journey as she heads back to China for another very special little boy!  To share the journey, go here!

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