Nov 28, 2015

An Angel Awaits Us In China

"Well, you never did the baby update - at least not HERE. The only way you will update HERE is if you go BACK to China :)" 
This was one of the last comments from friends who we met in China when we adopted Leah six years ago. Well guess what? I'm updating HERE :)

On December 6, 2008 we posted our itinerary for our trip to adopt our first daughter. We flew out of Charlotte on December 10 and returned on Christmas Day. Little did we know that our 2nd daughter was already 4 months old and nearby when we were in Zhengzhou meeting Leah in person for the first time.

"Leah has been clamoring for a sister for a couple of years."

Now, almost 7 years to the day (we fly out December 3rd) we are going back to Beijing to adopt an adorable 7-year-old girl. I recently sent an email to family and close friends explaining how we made the decision to once again grow our family and a few important details about our 4th child. Here are the details for all to enjoy:

Leah has been clamoring for a sister for a couple of years -- seems her brothers don't always want a social butterfly joining them for play time. Angela has always been open to 12+ children of any nationality with any special need. The log jam was with the husband/father who wasn't sure he was ready for whatever God had planned. After much prayer and soul-searching, I finally fell in line. We opted to go back to China given our familiarity with the process and the adoption agency.

The adoption process began several months ago, but as it was mostly paperwork and meetings with a social worker, I didn't want to bore anyone with details. Only in the past couple of weeks has the process picked up steam as we received a match, did some research, approved the match and received Chinese approval.

Meet Seraphina Na Smith:

Na was born on August 10, 2008 (not quite another 8/15 birthday!). Yes, we are adopting a healthy 7-year old girl. We decided on the name Seraphina (Na will become her middle name) to accurately describe this sweet, angelic little girl.

So what's the catch? As is typical of most adoptions these days, "Sera" has a special need. Unlike Jeremy and Leah, this one is a bit more noticeable and will require surgery. Seraphina has a deformed left leg. Per the x-rays and advice from doctors, she does not have a femur (thigh bone) or kneecap. Instead her tibia (calf bone) extends from her hip with her left foot where the knee would be. X-rays suggest there is little or no bone in the foot. She will need to have an AKA (above the knee amputation) and be fitted with a prosthetic (artificial leg). Currently she wears a makeshift device that straps to her pseudo-foot.

"I specifically remember the father telling me that among all the special needs children might have, a deformed limb was the EASIEST to deal with."

Obviously we didn't make the decision to adopt her lightly. First I spoke with a friend who is an MD and shared with him the information and x-rays we were given by the agency. He mentioned the AKA which I researched online. That led me to the website of Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates in Orlando, FL ( 

On Labor Day morning I sent them an email and 5 minutes later (on a holiday!) I received a phone call from one of their employees. Stephanie spoke with me at length about children and prothetic technology. She assured me that they have worked with many families who adopted Chinese children with the same or similar disability. She explained how their business worked to treat every child as an individual case and to treat each patient as family rather than a client. She provided names of three families that would be willing to answer any questions we might have. 

Two of those families contacted me by phone before I had a chance to call them. One lives in Cary, NC and adopted a 6 year old who just turned 14. They shared pictures and invited us for a visit before the call was over. I specifically remember the father telling me that among all the special needs children might have, a deformed limb was the EASIEST to deal with. Having a false leg was not life-threatening nor did it require further surgery or impede the child from growing up and taking care of themselves as an adult. By the end of the conversation I had decided this was something we could handle.

"Sure things won't be 'normal' but since when are we called to be 'normal'?"

I imagine right now you're where I was a month ago -- somewhere between shock and speechlessness. I suggest checking out POA's website ( and youtube videos (start here: Once the tears dry up (I'm still a wreck after watching the video, but I'm getting better) I think you'll agree we (all) can handle this. Sure things won't be "normal" but since when are we called to be "normal"?

I'm sure the initial weeks after we arrive home won't be any easier as we overcome a language barrier and try to bond with an older child prior to telling her about a necessary surgery. We recognize the work cut out for us (and her) when Seraphina is in public and people are curious or disturbed seeing a child with a prosthetic leg. We anticipate having lots of questions while trying to provide lots of answers to everyone else. 

So there it is. We're finally doing what our friends apparently knew all along -- returning to China for another daughter. I had not planned to blog during this trip but so many people asked about it that I figured I should bring redbrownhound out of retirement for a reunion tour. Stay tuned!