Coach Chapman's Blog

It’s time for a new blog post. Fahlin has begun swimming lessons. Now, to be clear, in the Chapman Family, if you are not swimming by age 4, you are basically waaaaaaaay behind. It’s part of life in our family. When you spend your life around water all the time, it is imperative to know how to swim. Period.

Fahlin has been the exception. If you have spent any time reading any of these blogs, you know that physically, she simply could not exert the necessary energy to swim. Her heart wouldn’t allow it. Her body could not do it. She was physically unable to perform. That was then…

…This is now. Fast forward from 2015 to 2019. We began lessons with Coach Amy. Amy Caulkins. Amy is probably the most knowledgeable swim instructor in the world. We go back a long-ways. At one point, she was the American record holder in 100 freestyle, that is until her more famous sister, Tracy Caulkins broke that record only a mere hour after Amy had set it. She swam in the Olympics and was on the inaugural American Women’s Olympic water polo team. AND, she is quite a character! Loud and boisterous, yet loves the sport of swimming and the kids she teaches and coaches.

She loves Fahlin. Lovers her story. Has a compassionate heart for how far she has come and what all she has been through. She gets it. She understand the trepidation on Fahlin’s part. Amy has seen it all, dealt with it all and overcome it all.

So, she is now Fahlin’s swim instructor. Now, mind you, learning to swim at age 10 is much more difficult than learning at a younger age. We are now two lessons in and of course, Fahlin is progressing slowly. I think she can do more, but that’s just because I know how Fahlin can be. It will just take Amy a little time before she figures out Fahlin’s nuances. But for now, the lessons are what they are. Amy is great. Fahlin will learn…

THEN it’s on to summer swim team! Every time we mention it, Fahlin simply rolls her eyes and says, “Ugggh!” Hahaha!

Read More about April 10, 2019

Happy birthday Fahlin! Yes, it is Fahlin’s birthday. She turns 10! The big 1 – 0. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago today, this little girl was born with a heart that would be later diagnosed to be very, very sick. She arrived at Maria’s Big House when she was about 4 months old and was immediately diagnosed with a congenital heart problem. She would have what is called: Complex cyanotic congenital heart defect with truncus arteriosus, pulmonary valve atresia with collateral vessel formation. In other words, Fahlin would not live very long, let alone 10 years. She was immediately placed on the palliative care floor, where she was loved by a very caring staff as they waited for the inevitable to happen.

Yet, she lived to see one. Then two. Then three. She was still purplish-blue. Always had been, still was at that time. Then she turned four, then five.

Then a family in Nashville Tennessee decided she would be theirs. It was a rather large family, full of crazy people. A bald-headed Dad, a Mom who had been praying for this little girl without even knowing her name, four fully grown brothers and sisters and three other sisters also from China. She had no idea what was about to happen, but she longed for a family, and we were it. Haha. Surprise!

Well, here we are, four years and untold numbers of heart echo-cardiograms, a ton of heart catheterizations, and three major open-heart surgeries later and we are now celebrating a little girl’s 10th birthday who once had no hope at any kind of life. Wow! If anyone tells you there is no God or no such thing as a miracle, you tell them you know a family who can show them otherwise. We live with little miracle every day. We see how far she has come. We know who we should thank, and we do every day.

She had her most recent follow-up check-up last week. I will end with this quote from Dr. Janssen (with a smile on his face), “Fahlin, your heart sounds BORING!”

Read More about April 1, 2019

Who is this child?

I am referring to Fahlin, of course. The past month has been quite interesting. Fahlin has changed. Since the surgery over four months ago, we have been watching to see if we would notice any difference with the new heart re-construction. Boy, in the last month, her energy level has just exploded. Either that or we just all of a sudden noticed the difference. She is happy, energetic, helpful, runs up and down the stairs, runs around the house; she’s even doing P.E. in school.

She was acting particularly crazy the other day when I looked at my wife and asked. “Has she all of a sudden gotten new energy?” Our thought is that her body has been adjusting, adjusting, adjusting, trying to figure out how it is going to handle all new oxygen. We think it has finally figured out what to do with it all and it is showing as energy.

We could not have prayed for a better outcome. To borrow a well-used cliché, she literally has a new lease on life. And it shows in everything. Her brain is even exploding. The vocabulary is expanding at an alarming rate (in a good way). She doesn’t get pooped like she used to. She is even going up and down stairs without holding onto anything. She has always been uncertain. Her strength has improved as evidenced by the fact that she can carry heavier things in from the car from the grocery. She has grown two inches since the surgery. Everything is great.

God is good all the time, all the time, God is good.

Read More about March 5, 2019

Our friend, Mariah, who was a nurse at Maria’s Big House was on staff the day Fahlin arrived at Maria’s. She has begun sending us (Fahlin) letters chronicling the journey of Fahlin “Pre-adoption.” Fahlin’s first five years. As we get those I would like to share the highlights with you. The first one we received has insights about her name that we never knew.

Here are some excerpts. The originals letters are written in beautiful handwriting compete with little hearts:

“[Fahlin’s first day]…You, dear one, arrived at our Big House with several other very sick little ones from the orphanage. Each of you wrapped in more than you imagine for that hot summer day. Your head, shaved and bald, was sweaty from the heat, yet you were blue all over, a very tangible measure of the condition of your precious heart…You were assigned to my special unit on the 5th floor…We asked my sister, Melissa to help us with selecting names…As I listened to your heart, checked your oxygen levels, weighed you, counted every finger and toe, measured you from top to bottom, held you close, and examined ever inch of you, she began watching you closely as she flipped through the pages of the baby name book, carefully scanning the lists of names and their meanings…”

[Scripture says in Isaiah: 56:5, “I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”]

“…Your Chinese name was Xue Fang and so Melissa started with the “F” section of the baby name book, scanning the pages filled with little girl names and their meanings looking for the perfect fit. Suddenly her finger stopped, she looked up at me and smiled, “What about Daughter of the King?” …It was perfect you were the “Daughter of the King.” God had already spoken, He would be your defender, your strength, and your salvation. His mighty hands would direct your path and we would have the joy of watching your grow…”

Anyways, here we go with this new series of blogs.

Read More about February 12, 2019