They need a family…
When we adopted Ben we knew he was from a nice orphanage, much different than many of our other children. We also knew he had a foster family for many years. Once he was home we found out he had been with them for 6 of his 7.5 years.
From Ben’s perspective his life was good in China. He had no complaints.
When we met him he did not have orphanage behaviors that we saw in many of our other children. He was more civilized and had a peaceful continence about him. He knew how to love because of his foster family. He knew how to obey and be respectful. He knew about siblings because he had a foster sister for 6 years.
Having Ben join our family was relatively easy. He just fit right in. He watched the other children and took note on the “how to’s” and then did it “that way”.
But there was a part of Ben that didn’t come so easily…
He held on to his heart for the first eight months he was home. For a child only 7 years old he understood much more than the others and integrated into our family with ease.
However, there were a few issues that he did not understand.
He would often tell us stories about his foster Mommy and Daddy. He would tell us things he did in school at the orphanage. He would share what life was like in China for him.
We could see that he sometimes wondered.
“Why did I need to be adopted? I had a family.”
“Why is life here in the USA considered better? This life is fine but I liked my life in China.”
Life in China for Ben, was good.
Soon things would change. A foster family is not a forever family. Ben’s sister was adopted and at the same time Ben was sent back to the orphanage. It made sense to him because school was at the orphanage. He continued to think of his foster family as his forever family, they were kind, nice people and they loved him. Once he was living at the orphanage they rarely came to visit and they had a new foster baby.
Ben was well liked in the orphanage. He was smart, kind and personable. He was favored. Outwardly, he was doing well in the orphanage. His best friend had a serious heart condition and his future was uncertain. Ben’s disability was not life threatening like his best friend’s but Ben’s disability could be progressive without medical care. Many of the other children in the orphanage seemed to have a more serious special need. Our son may have gotten perks that other orphans did not receive. Everything about Ben and everything he did was successful and positive in their eyes. The nannies and the director were encouraging and treated him well.
So in Ben’s eyes, all was right in the world.
But, not really.
Our son was born with spina bifida. He walked with a limp and he was incontinent.
When my husband and older son met him, he wreaked of urine. A beautiful amazing little 7 yr old boy that smelled horrific. Both my husband and son were smitten with him and once they got him back to the hotel, put him in the shower, got new clothes on him and a fresh diaper they could finally begin the bonding process.
He was a wonderful little boy. Slightly spoiled at times but still wonderful!
Ben went with the flow. He did everything the right way throughout their time in China and it continued once he was home.
As the months went by it became clear to us that Ben’s heart was not completely with us. It was still in China with his foster family.
Because after all…
Why did he need to be adopted? He had a family.
Why is life here in the USA considered better? He liked his life in China.
Ben would tell us story after story about his life in China and his China Mommy and Daddy. We have children that share very little about their lives in China so this was a gift. But, it was also a sign that our son had not completely given us his heart and come to terms with being adopted internationally.
Ben came home in early December.
In early August our son quietly said to me, “Mom, I am so glad I am part of this family. I love you and Dad”. Those words were said with deep conviction. They were said from his heart. We cherished that moment because we knew he had reconciled his adoption and embraced his life with us.
For a moment time stopped and those words floated in the air, it was music to my ears. My heart leapt and thankfulness filled my soul. It was a moment to remember. It was the day that we officially (in his heart) became his Mommy and Daddy.
We want our son to remember everything positive from his life in China. We want him to embrace his past and his culture. We want him to have a good sense of self-esteem and have “his story” uplift him.
But, there also needs to be a dose of reality in this situation.
His foster family could never have adopted him.
At some point he would have to leave the orphanage and fend for himself.
He would never have received any medical care for his spina bifida and related symptoms throughout his life (incontinence, a limp and all related health issues).
Because of his special need his education would not have been able to continue past the orphanage education.
Once part of the community he would have been shunned due to his special need.
A job would be hard to come by and his future would not have looked promising.
We knew when we adopted this dear child that his life in China was good and he was valued (unlike many orphans). But we also knew that his future life in China would not be good.
Ben and orphans like him, have so much potential. We are all so thankful he is home and doing so well. We are excited for Ben’s future! We are so thankful to be his Mommy and Daddy.