John

By Branda, mom to John from China with a SN of developmental delay

Our sweet, sweet boy

When my husband and I began to fill out the forms to adopt our next child, we knew that we were adopting a “special needs” child. We checked off our checklist of what we could handle as a family and left the rest to God. We didn’t wait long, only 5 months, to hear the words “there is a little boy that needs a family. Do you want to see his file?” “Yes” we said, only to hear he didn’t score very well on his developmental test, that we needed to take a look, review it with a doctor and get back to our agency. So we downloaded his file, viewed his adorable face and then began to pray. We prayed for a week asking God if this was our son and as the days passed both my husband and I felt a complete peace knowing this was our next child, Zheng Jia Kang would become John Blake JiaKang McEwen in only a matter of months.

We sent in our LOI and began to wait. I joined a Yahoo group for children from this orphanage and learned an American family was visiting the orphanage in a few days. I began emailing and asking them to check on our son, kiss him, hold him and tell him mommy and daddy were coming. We were shocked and surprised one Saturday morning to see they had recorded a 15 second video for us to see our son in the orphanage. Surprised that we were so fortunate to see our son move and laugh but also shocked to see how frail, sickly, and weak he was at 13 months old. You see our son was developmentally delayed. His only diagnosis was this. We had checked the mild delayed development on our medical conditions checklist. He was behind in his motor skills. At 12 months, he still couldn’t sit, crawl, stand or walk. From the video he looked very thin, pale, and honestly we were a little scared. Our agency ordered an MRI, without us knowing it, because a few shots of him left them to wonder if he had Down’s syndrome. Everything came back normal and our pediatrician has reason to believe that our son looked to be about 2 months premature based on his health history. This premature birth and being in an orphanage his entire life would explain the delays. We were comforted with this and began praying even more fervently over him.

Fast forward 2 ½ months, we were on our way to China to bring home our son. We were pleasantly surprised when we landed in Xi’an to find out we were getting Jia Kang in only a few hours instead of the next day…YIKES!!! Waiting until 5 pm was so incredibly hard but we did it. My husband, I and 2 children marched to the lobby eager to see our newest family member. Of course, he was absolutely precious, tiny, but precious! We signed off papers, took a few pictures and headed up to our room. What we saw when we got to our room sent our heads awhirl. He needed a diaper change and when we went to undress him we were horrified. He was all of 14 ½ lbs at 1 ½ years old! The next day, I am certain the Lord’s hand was in this, we ran into Amanda who runs the Starfish foster home at the civil affairs office. She leaned over and asked if we were okay and I went on to tell her our son wouldn’t eat. She whipped up a bottle and he sucked it down… so much for my mothering skills. She then offered up any and all help the rest of the week. We visited her foster home and she saw first hand what our son looked like undressed and told us most likely he would not have survived another 6 months in China. She kept offering to take us to the hospital if we needed it during the week we were there. I thought she was nice to offer only later did I realize that she KNEW John was struggling greatly.

Once we made it home and visited our pediatrician, our son was diagnosed with 2nd degree malnutrition, rickets, severe failure to thrive and multiple infections. This past year has been tough but well worth all of the hard times. In 3 days, we will celebrate our family being home for one full year. I watch in awe at a little boy who was so weakened by malnutrition just one year ago run, jump, tackle, kiss, chew food and swallow, hug, color, sing, and dance around our house. All he needed was his family. When I look at the special needs listed below different children’s faces and see that delayed physical development is noted, I just think “if only he/she had a mom and dad it would be different”.

John: home one year

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