By Jennifer, mom to Cainan Tao Pletcher from China with cleft lip and palate
We decided to persue a SN adoption and adoption of a little boy from China almost right from the beginning of our adoption process. Adoption was always part of our family plan. We thought we would have two biological children and one adopted child at the very least. We were on the waiting list for China for a very long time. We had applied for two children in the SN program through our agency and were not chosen either time. In March 2007, I started to look around at
other agencies who had children with special needs referred to them. I loved to look at the little kids profiles and see who was being adopted on different agency lists. This is how I came across Cainan. I found his original agency’s website just by chance. And there was his little face. This is a small agency and they had gotten 5 special needs children to place. 4 girls, one boy. All 4 girls were scooped up immediately, but there this little boy sat. His face – staring back at us on the screen. How could anyone pass him up? I read his profile – he was 10 months old, cleft lip and palate level three, unrepaired. No other health problems. He was the perfect child for us – I couldn’t stop going to that page.
So, I contacted the agency by email. Mostly as a curiosity as to why he had not yet been adopted. I was given the story of how it was because he was a boy, and no one really was interested in the little boys. The agency head and I chatted via email back and forth a few times, and she asked me if we were interested in adopting him. I told her yes, but that we were already signed with another agency and our paperwork had been in China for a year already. So she told me that what she could do was send his file back to China with a note that she found a family to adopt him, the name of our agency, and then CROSS HER FINGERS that the file got transferred. I contacted my agency and asked them if this was possible and they said yes, but very unlikely
that they would ever see the file. My agency also sent a letter to China requesting the file. They told me it was a 1/100 chance that we would get this little boy. They told me that China was starting to close the door on “agency to agency file transfer” so not to get my
So we didn’t.
I tried to put him out of my mind. We went on with business as usual. But I would still think of him – still look at the picture I had saved on my computer, and read his profile. I decided to write a letter to the head of our agency about us and about the little boy we wanted so desperately. (she lived in China). I did hear back from her, and she told me that she was personally going to make sure she did everything she could to make sure that file got to us.
Time went by – nothing.
April, May – nothing.
Then, on June 1st (a day before Cainan’s birthday) we got a call from our agency. The person on the other end of the phone said, “you are not going to believe what I am holding in my hand”. I about melted to the ground – they had his file! It worked. I couldn’t believe it worked. Someone was looking out for us and Cainan because even the people at our agency were shocked!!! We received his complete file, more pictures, and we were on our way!
And we did know at this point that our daughter Finley and Cainan were going to be only 30 days apart in age. That was going to be our biggest challenge. But it worked out the way it was supposed to work out.
Official adoption day – August 13, 2007. Almost 2 years to the day we decided on China as the place we would find our child. They all returned home on August 22nd, 2007 and then the rest, is history……
How it changed our family dynamic: At first it didn’t change it much at all beyond just having another child in our family. Cainan fit smoothly into our routine – he was a very easy baby. But he had 6 surgeries his first year – 4 for his lip and palate and two others (ear tubes and circumcision) and that put a small strain on our busy little family. He wore a helmet for 5 months due to his head being flat. He wore hand braces for 7 months because his thumbs were turned in and he didn’t use them. We saw the craniofacial team every 2 weeks and he had an adjustment to his helmet every two weeks as well. Our first fall that he was home was very busy. But, also very doable. This is what Cainan needed, and we knew ahead of time what we were getting in to. Were there surprises along the way? Sure there were. But nothing that we couldn’t handle. My husband and I had to work together as a team, and with the support of our family and friends, we got through all of his hospital stays, appointments, therapies, and now that we are on the other side, we are better for it. All of the chaos brought us closer. The hospital times gave us time to bond with
Cainan and get him to trust us in the most dire situation for him. And he looks AMAZING. When he first came home he only could grunt. Now, a year and a few months later – he talks in 3-4 word sentences, and is just the most amazing little boy.