Sunday, September 13, 2009

August 17: Mercy

Princess was a little girl who desperately needed mercy.

I wondered if she'd ever smiled. Her glassy eyes stared past us, when her thumbs weren't stuck in her mouth, her arms dangled lifelessly at her side. She screamed whenever we put her down, so we weren't sure if she could walk. She was more like a newborn than a two year old.

Susan, our guide, had managed to talk the orphanage into giving us the report from Evie's surgeon that noted the extra vessels in her lungs. We went back to the Beijing clinic early the next morning. Susan handed the radiologist the report. This time, the radiologist smiled and signed the TB certificate. In doing so, she gave us the freedom to bring Princess home.

According to the US consulate, all orphans must have a medical exam before they immigrate into the United States. This includes getting all immunizations even if it means getting six or more at a time. Thankfully, Princess was mostly up to date. But she needed blood tests and the clinic didn't have any pediatric needles. So we had to lay her on a gurney, Jonathan held her head and arms, I held her legs, Susan had her hand on her stomach. Then a nurse jammed a large needle into her teeny tiny vein. Evie's glazed over eyes were suddenly filled with fear, terror, and anger.

Still sweaty and screaming from the blood draw, we took her to the next station to get her immunizations. Since her birth certificate said she was two years old, she was scheduled to receive her two year old shots. But at 16 pounds, Princess looked more like a 12 month baby. As the nurse lined up the needles, I prayed, "Lord have mercy on this child."

The nurse who was supposed to give her the shots, took one look at Princess and shook her head. "Not two," she said in broken English. "Won't do it." She took the needles, tossed them in the trash, signed the forms, and sent us on our way.

We took Princess back to the hotel and she fell asleep in Jonathan's arms.

Two hours later she woke up and smiled at us. It was the picture of mercy, beautiful, beautiful mercy.

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