So here's the scoop on Noelle. Melissa told us that Lu Jia Zhen was born on September 2, 2006. On October 2, 2006 she was brought to the Children's Welfare Institute of Hefei City, Anhui Province, China. She is part of an "assisted fostering" program through a wonderful organization called Half The Sky. Her Chinese name is pronounced: loo - jyah (like 'gee ah', but spoken in one short syllable) - jen. 'Lu' is actually her last name and it represents the city she lives in (Hefei). 'Jia' means "excellence" and 'Zhen' means "precious".
Everything in JiaZhen's referral packet indicates a very happy and healthy little girl who is on track developmentally. Her motor, social and language skills are progressing normally. Her skin is clear, her eyes are bright, and she's got plenty of that good baby fat. She laughs and plays and loves her foster nanny. She enjoys listening to music and loves being outdoors. She is an active and determined little girl with a quick smile. I think she sounds fiesty and strong. That's our girl! She's perfect for our family. :)
Noelle's special need is a congenital heart condition called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). Babies in the womb have a flap, or opening, between the two upper chambers of their heart that allows the flow of blood between them to provide oxygen from the lungs. Typically this opening closes once the baby is born, but usually by age two (this could still happen with Noelle). 25-30% of all adults actually have PFO and most never know it because there are rarely any symptoms. According to the doctor we had review the medical information in the referral packet, our daughter will likely never need any kind of treatment for her PFO. He says she is a very healthy little girl who should live a long, full life. Should she ever need to have this opening closed in the future, it is a very simple procedure that doesn't even involve opening the chest wall.
Amazing! Simply amazing! We had been preparing ourselves to accept a child with much more serious needs, perhaps multiple surgeries, or physical therapy, or who knows what. But instead God chose to bless us with a special girl who, by all appearances, is a normal, healthy little kid! Thank you, Lord!
Another interesting aspect to this story is the fact that Eric's mom also has PFO. We didn't find this out until we called Eric's folks with the good news of our referral. When we started to explain Noelle's heart condition, Eric's mom says "Oh, I have that! I'm 65 years old and have never had a bit of trouble with it!"
The Twilight Zone theme music began running through my head at this point. That's some "coincidence", hu? When Noelle is older and we explain how we got her from China and how the doctors told us about her heart condition, we will say, "Hey, it runs in the family!"