As you know, I am involved in a ministry called Taiwan Xi En (formerly His Hands Taiwan) that serves women and children in Taiwan. One of the ways I volunteer with this ministry is by writing and/or revising brochures, website content, letters, etc. Recently, I had the privilege of helping to write the story of a dear little child who taught us the hope and love of Christ through her life and death. Several friends contributed to this piece, but I was tasked with weaving together the full story of baby Sunshine. I asked the director of Taiwan Xi En if I could share this story on my blog because I want as many people as possible to hear about Sunshine and about God’s hand at work in Taiwan. You can visit the original Taiwan Xi En post to view more photos of Sunshine’s life.
This is the story of Sunshine.
At 26 weeks, the doctors knew there was something wrong with the baby, but they were unable to pinpoint exactly what it was. Due to the abnormalities they discovered, doctors suggested terminating the pregnancy, but the mother chose to give life to the child. Doctors expected that the baby would eventually stop developing and the mother would miscarry, so as the pregnancy progressed, the primary doctor continually asked if the baby had stopped moving. Again and again, the mother said, “She is very active; she is full of life.” Though this surprised the doctor, he continued to believe that this baby girl would not be carried full-term and survive. However, God had other plans.
At 39 weeks, baby Sunshine was born alive. She was small, a mere five pounds, but during her first few hours of life, she appeared healthy. Still, because of her unique facial features, a missing kidney, and the problems detected in the womb, doctors pursued genetic testing. This genetic testing showed chromosomal abnormalities but left doctors grasping for an accurate diagnosis.
As the hours passed and more tests were completed, Sunshine was found to have respiratory issues, and these complications led the doctors to discover a heart defect as well. A cardiologist urged Sunshine’s family to consider heart surgery for her, but by this point the birth parents had decided that they could not care for the baby because of her health issues, so they declined the surgery. Sunshine’s family hoped that the hospital could find a loving family or organization to watch over their little girl.
Over the next few days, it became more and more apparent that Sunshine desperately needed surgery for survival, so the hospital performed an emergency surgery to correct her heart defect. A few days after the heart surgery, Taiwan Xi En was invited to take over Sunshine’s care and find an adoptive family for her. Sunshine spent one more week in the hospital, and then the Taiwan Xi En team picked her up.
As hospital nurses trained us on how to care for Sunshine, we quickly realized that her care would be very different than that of a healthy baby. This was the beginning of a difficult but blessed journey for Sunshine and Taiwan Xi En, a road down which Sunshine had already been traveling since her first breath of life.
Though she had been discharged from the hospital, on the day that Sunshine arrived at the House of Hope, she did not look well. The Xi En staff administered oxygen to her and checked her pulse and oxygen levels. Her numbers were frighteningly low, and we knew immediately that there was something wrong with Sunshine. So, after only five hours at the House of Hope, Sunshine was rushed to the hospital again. In the ER of this new hospital, doctors and nurses hastened to stabilize our precious baby who was in respiratory distress.
The pediatrician that took over Sunshine’s care was a cardiologist. As he searched for the cause of Sunshine’s distressing condition he discovered a fatal heart defect that needed immediate attention. By the world’s standards, Sunshine had very little hope of surviving the operation. The doctor told us, “The success rate of the surgery is only 50%, but if God wants her to live, the success rate is 100%.” By God’s standard, Sunshine had perfect hope. As the Taiwan Xi En family prayed, Sunshine endured heart surgery and God saved her life.
Sunshine came through the surgery safely, but the risks were far from over. The next days and weeks were critical. Sunshine fought for survival, but following the surgery her condition was at times grim. Her critical situation brought the Xi En family to our knees in prayer again and again. Sunshine’s condition began to improve, and we saw God’s hand at work in her life. After a few months in the hospital, Sunshine was able to return to the House of Hope because she had recovered so well.
After such a great report from the doctors, you can imagine our shock at the turn of events later in the day. On the way home from a beautiful day of outings and doctor’s visits and hopeful prognoses, Sunshine quietly slipped away from this world and awoke in the arms of her Heavenly Father. While Sunshine’s caregiver was anticipating the story she would tell to the nannies about all the miracles taking place in Sunshine’s body, God was writing an even more perfect ending to Sunshine’s story. Only a week later, Sunshine was taken to the doctor for a follow-up visit, and we could not have asked for a better report. After petitioning the Lord for Sunshine’s health and recovery for so long, it seemed that all we could have hoped for was being done in her body. We had hoped that her eyes worked, and she could see. We had hoped that her ears worked, and she could hear. We had hoped that her voice box was not damaged, and it was healthy. Most amazingly, we had hoped that Sunshine’s one kidney would compensate for the missing one, but at her most recent examination, two kidneys showed up on the scan where there had only ever been one. Praise the Lord that the hope He gives is so much greater than what we could often dare to dream!
For so long the Taiwan Xi En family had prayed for Sunshine’s little body to be made perfect, and on that day, our prayers were answered. We certainly did not imagine that Sunshine’s death would be the answer to our prayers for healing, but we realize that in death, God has given Sunshine a new and better life. In heaven now, Sunshine is eating, laughing, crying, walking, and dancing, and she has no pain; Sunshine has been made perfect. As most of you know, we often refer to a baby’s adoptive family as her “forever family.” We had wondered about which forever family God would choose for Sunshine. Today, our sweet Sunshine is with her forever family for eternity, and she is in the care of the best Father of all. We cling to the promise that Jesus spoke in Mark 10:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” We mourn our loss but rejoice in Sunshine’s gain. Sunshine is a new creation in Christ and has been made perfect in our Creator; this is the greatest miracle for which we could ever hope.
A friend once said that it is not always what people contribute to this world that matters; it is what they bring out in others. Our precious little Sunshine brought out the best in so many people. She taught us to hope—not a worldly wishing, but an earnest trust in the promises of God. She drew us closer to God as we petitioned Him on her behalf and watched Him work miracle after miracle in her life. Her life caused us to sacrifice and love and grow. God used little Sunshine to work in mighty ways in our lives, and we are blessed to have known her.
Friends, we ask that you will lift up those who loved Sunshine and are grieving our loss. Pray especially for her birth parents who made the difficult and loving decision to give her up for adoption and who now grieve their daughter’s death. Pray that in the midst of their pain they will find the hope of salvation in Christ. Pray for the nannies and Taiwan Xi En workers who loved little Sunshine and are missing her today. Pray that God’s purpose will prevail, that Sunshine’s testimony will not be wasted, and that God will fill those who trust Him with His joy even in the midst of sorrow. Finally, let us praise God for Sunshine’s life and her beautiful story that taught us hope and love.