Perspectives of Adoption: Watching Her Breathe

by Eryn Austin

Things that truly matter. Hope in the face of great adversity. Orphans in families. I’m going to keep talking about it- so bear with me on this one.


I’ve been in my feelings a bit this month. Especially since our girl started the month so sick. So sick and it just took us back- to the first day we saw her in person.

See- when we met her- we instantly knew something was very wrong. She was limp and inconsolable and the heat coming off of her was horrifying. She had no head control, she was terrified and- clearly- horribly ill.

We’ve never shown any of you our “gotcha day” video- because it’s hard for us to even watch. We were handed a baby in crisis on so many levels and the video is not fun to see- even for us.

I want to walk you through those first 3 days.

Meeting her. Begging them to tell me why she was so sick and had no medication. Trying to understand why she was so so limp.

Walking and walking around this unfamiliar city to try to find formula (she came with none) and meds for her fever. 

* I remember thinking we would walk for miles and never find what we needed. I’ve never been so afraid. Our baby was screaming, listless and so very sick and- we were helpless.*

Getting back to the hotel, feeding her, getting her fever down. Messaging with our agency. Sobbing. Wanting to comfort her. Putting on a brave face for our big kids as we introduced them to Prim and explained what was happening. Watching her breathe while she slept for 16 hours- sickness and grief mingle together, friends- and her body just shut down.

We woke up and the screaming began- two Chinese hospitals, WeChat miracles, an American doctor from Prim’s hometown calling the shots to our nanny and getting us the meds we needed. (The whole time I was saying strep- she has horrible strep!!!- final diagnosis was systemic strep with blood work that would have had her in ICU in the states). 

Getting back to the hotel after 9 hours in hospitals. We treat her, we start to see her eyes brighten. We get giggles and smiles. We get a few snuggles. We all sleep that night. 

Waking the next morning to a text from our guide that I’m sharing for the first time- because they wanted us to wait to adopt her. 

You’ll see my response.

Adoption day came.
I cried the whole time and finally held her without her screaming. We signed and finger printed and she was ours. She was ours all along. 

And the world we knew changed completely. I think our family and friends back home breathed such a sigh of relief that I felt it in my chest all the way across the globe.

Our meeting of Primrose still makes me feel very strange. I feel lots of anger that she was so sick and no one had noticed. But I also feel so much love for the people who cared for her. I love them so much. It is the weirdest feeling.

And Chris and I want you to know this:

We had no idea how truly complex she was. We had no idea she’d be critically ill when we met her. We had no idea we’d spend our first 72 hours with her fighting for her life- while she grieved, while she experienced yet another deep loss. 

But we do know this- we’d go again into that turmoil. We’d board that plane and we’d lose that sleep and we’d march the streets of Fuzhou again and again and again. We’d carry her until our arms are numb and lie awake staring at her chest rise and fall. We would and will trade our comfort for her life AGAIN AND AGAIN.

This is our daughter’s momentous entry into our lives. The photos aren’t amazing. But I hope you’ll see the love. And God’s mercy and grace in every single one. Because for 72 hours- God and our support system back home were the ONLY tethers to hope. The only hope. 

And as crazy as it sounds-

We wouldn’t change how it went down. We wouldn’t change one part. Because it was just further proof that God sends us places we aren’t equipped to go so that His glory is the only thing getting the credit. So...I’m happy to say that #wecouldhavemissedthis and I’m so thankful we did not.