Elizabeth was born with club foot, scientifically known as Talipes Equinovarus. Hers is bilateral, and more severe on the right foot than the left. Club foot is the most common birth defect, and fortunately, it is treatable with a very high success rate.
We of course knew about this before we adopted her. Part way through our adoption journey, we joined the waiting child program, which matches orphans with special needs to adoptive parents. One of our motivations for adopting was to provide a loving family to a child who might otherwise never have one. Kids with special needs are less likely to be adopted, so we felt like this was the right thing to do. We are fortunate enough to have the means to correct Elizabeth's condition, but if she were to stay in China, there is no saying when or if she would receive treatment, and how good her treatment might be. While finalizing our adoption in Guangzhou, it was inspirational to meet several other couples who were adopting kids with even greater needs than Liz - including conditions such as cleft palette and deformed limbs.
We are opting to treat Elizabeth using the Ponseti method, which is a non-surgical way to manipulate the tissues back to a normal position. Although Ponseti is usually started at a younger age, it also has been very successful on older patients. Liz will go through a few months in casts, and then spend many more months with a brace. With a little luck and God's will, she will be completely normal when the treatment is finished.
Liz's first appointment is this week, and I'll be tracking her progress in the blog as she goes through the process. Here is a photo of her feet now.
Since Mia Hamm, the famous US soccer player, was born with club feet, we know that people can fully recover and live normal - even extraordinarily athletic - lives after treating this condition.