Our family has been involved with Bring Me Hope since they first started opening camps up to those outside the Bolt family. Our first camp was in the mountains of Nanchang in 2006, and since then we have in part or whole attended camps each summer.
I (Jeff) cared for orphans, but had no desire to actually adopt. In 2007 my compassion for orphans became a passion for one orphan. In April of 2007 my wife, Lisa, and I began our adoption paper work. On October 17th of 2007 after completing all our paper work, we were “logged in” with CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) and began the second phase of our adoption: “the wait”.
This is where most grow weary and discouraged, as the adrenalin and emotion dies down. The months turn to years and all the while you keep that calling alive which compelled you to this decision in the beginning.
We had asked for a special needs baby with a heart condition and figured we would get our match soon. By the summer of 2008 we were next in line for a match, but because we had requested a baby girl we were being passed up by the many other families behind us who were open to other special needs or older children. We doubted our original desire for a baby girl and wondered if we should we be more open, but the Lord continually gave us a peace to wait.
Finally in September of 2009, I received a phone call from my wife while I was at work, “Jeff, you will not believe who just called…We have a match and her picture will be on your computer in a few minutes!”
Two and a half years and the moment was finally here. With tears of joy and emotions we met our Jubilee for the first time, via two pictures sent by e-mail.
There was a catch however; she had a heart condition known as Tetrology of the Fallot. This is a congenital heart defect that has a series of four problems within the heart. TOF is surgically correctable, but serious in nature. The biggest issue was a large hole in her septum that separates her right and left ventricle. Because of the hole, her body processes mixed blood, with and without oxygen, making her more blue in color.
We did all the research we could, including meeting with our biological daughter’s Pediatric Cardiologist so we could fully understand what we were facing. We felt satisfied that, even with limited medical information from China, we were willing to take the risk and accept our match. On November 20th 2009, my wife and I boarded a plane for China destined for Zhengzhou, which is in the Henan province, ironically where the last two years of BMH camp have been at SIAS University.
When we first saw Jubilee, or at least who we thought was her, we were so excited because she was so pink and healthy looking, but in a moment we realized this was not our daughter. Jubilee came out next, and she was tiny, fragile and blue like a Smurf. Her appearance made both Lisa and I gasp. In fact, the lady running the registry was equally alarmed and kept checking Jubilee to see how she was.
The day went from bad to worse and by the afternoon of the same day we were in the local hospital with Jubilee, who was blue and panting for air. Later in the evening the founders of our adoption agency drove to the hospital and sat with us late into the night. The hospital was primitive and the help Jubilee received was limited yet gave her the ability to come home the next afternoon.
Prior to our leaving the hospital I had spoken with our Cardiologist back in the US and he recommended getting updated tests done while we were in the hospital. This proved to be a life saving decision that gave him the information he needed to tell us that her condition had worsened and he felt we ran a 50/50 chance of getting her home on the airplane alive to the US. We had not been able to file the official documentation yet accepting Jubilee as our daughter and were now faced with a decision as to what to do.
Two days after arriving in China we received a phone call at 5:30 in the morning that my Dad had unexpectantly passed away, just two days after we were losing our daughter we had waited nearly 3 years for. We felt at the bottom and raw with emotion, but God had a different plan.
The founders of our adoption agency were still in China and the four of us met to discuss what to do. Lisa and I told them that we did not feel comfortable playing with a 50% chance of survival, 12 hours on a plane over the Pacific Ocean. So in an act of desperation we hatched a plan to take advantage of a 90 day window that China gives all approved adoptive parents to come to China to pick up their child.
Prior to this decision our friends, Ana and Bill Moody, who are physicians at Philip Hayden Foundation in Beijing, had offered to take Jubilee on our behalf and get her a life saving surgery that would allow her to fly home with us. The problem was that Jubilee was not our child yet. We would have to refuse her adoption and leave her with the orphanage. So we prayed that God would influence the orphanage director to let her go to Beijing under the care of PHF. We gambled that IF, the orphanage would let Jubilee go to Beijing, Bill and Ana could get her surgery in time, Jubilee could recover within the 90 day window, and the local registration official would not send our refusal letter we had had to write to CCAA, we might be able to fly back to China in time to get her and stay with in our 90 day window of travel approval.
November 26th, 2009, on Thanksgiving day, we flew home. We left China a week earlier than planned feeling dejected, exhausted and emotionally spent and without our daughter. We hung onto the hope of a “long shot” plan to come back and get her.
Saying good bye to her was agonizing as the orphanage director took her from our arms, not knowing what would happen to her and wondering if we would ever see her again. We missed our connecting flight in Hong Kong, requiring an eight hour layover for the next plane. Lisa was so spent she could hardly walk through the airport and finally lay down on some empty chairs and went to sleep. In an effort to kill some time I pulled out my lap top and checked our e-mail. In it was the best thanksgiving gift ever. An e-mail from our friend Bill Moody saying that the orphanage had agreed to send Jubilee to PHF, she would be on a train with an orphanage worker with in five days. The first of several hurdles was underway, what a miracle!
The doctors in Beijing examined Jubilee, they discovered she not only had TOF but also a second very serious heart defect. This condition would have guaranteed her death on the plane ride home had we chanced it. Over the next 6 weeks Jubilee received her surgery which gave her a new lease on life. She recovered in record time, allowing us to fly back to China on January 22nd .
We flew directly to Beijing and were reunited with our daughter. We flew with Jubilee back to Zhengzhou to finish the adoption that had abruptly ended two months prior. The registration administrator had held onto our refusal letter, hoping to hand it back to us when we returned to China.
We flew home on February 4th , our 90 day window with China ended February 5th. We serve a big God, and He delights to show us just how big He is.
Jubilee is now thriving at home and gaining weight. This summer she will face her big surgery that will ultimately fix, not only her TOF, but also give her a pulmonary artery and valve. We went to China to save an orphan and came home wit
h our daughter, never to be called “orphan” again!