by Samantha, mom to Nicholas from China with cleft lip and cleft palate
My son Nicholas is 3 and we adopted him from China at 22 months old. He has a cleft lip and cleft palate. When he was 5 months old, he was transferred from Tianjin SWI to Langfang Children’s Village, part of the Phillip Hayden Institute — a wonderful place which very sadly has been shut down by the Chinese government (probably due to politics surrounding the Olympics).
My dh and I started the adoption process with a NSN baby girl in mind in July 2005. We are one of those families that ended up adopting a SN child mostly because the wait got SO long for healthy baby girls. Actually, a SN was always fine with us, but we had hesitations about adopting an older child and about adopting a boy. We had always pictured bringing home our baby girl from China, and it took us a while to get our minds and hearts around the idea of a different child. During the long wait for our adoption to go through, we named our baby girl Ellie and decorated her room. We told our dd (not adopted) about her and she was very excited about having a baby sister. It was very hard to let go of this dream.
Then God stepped in! Like you say, our dreams and plans are certainly not supreme and I know that for sure now. I was reading my DTC Yahoo bulletin board when I came across someone talking about Small World’s waiting child list and included a link to their website. I don’t know why I looked — we already had an agency and a plan. But I looked at the list and immediately saw my son. He was named Nicholas — that caught my eye because it was the name my dh and I had always planned to name a son one day. He was so beautiful and I felt a pull to him right away. Then, I noticed his birthday — it was the due date of a baby I had lost to miscarriage. I really believe these were little things that God used to grab my attention; to tell me that this is my son.
Through a series of miracles, we were able to have Nicholas transferred from Small World to Holt International, where we had initially started the adoption process. In January 2007 we traveled to China to bring him home. We were blessed to be able to see his finding spot and meet the woman who found him. We also were able to spend a lot of time at his group foster home, talk to his ayis, and we even have pictures of him since he was 5 months old!
Nicholas’ needs have been mostly what we expected: he needs speech therapy and is in a SN preschool. He has dental issues and has had surgery to further repair his lip. He has had ear tubes placed twice. The biggest issues have stemmed from him being almost 2 when he was adopted, and he needed time to adjust and to bond to us. This took extra TLC, some time to learn trust, to learn how to sleep without worrying we would disappear, to learn how to obey the house rules. But these are all really minor issues in comparison to all we have gained. He is a joy to be around – a funny, bright, energetic. happy, spunky little boy! Thank God for him!
Since Nicholas’ adoption, we have been blessed with a surprise (!) pregnancy and birth of another son, and we are now starting the adoption process for Ellie, the little girl from China who I know is my daughter. We will be adopting with Small World — we had such a great experience with them as they selflessly and energetically helped us bring Nicholas home.