April 13, 2009 cleft gumline, cleft lip, Family Stories 0 Comments

by Stephanie, mom to Jaxon from China with bilateral cleft lip and cleft gumline

Our son Jaxon joined our family as our first son, but third child. Our first adopted daughter, Jaida, was adopted through the regular program, in 2005. When we went to her orphanage, and since returning home, I was haunted by an image of a beautiful baby girl who sat in a walker, looking through a window at me. She had a cleft lip. She is on a video I have of Jaida’s orphanage, and it just really made a deep impression on me. Our eldest daughter, Maia, was born with a cleft palate, among other genetic issues, and I could not help but wonder what happened to the children with cleft, or other issues, who needed homes.

When we knew we wanted to adopt a child again, the Waiting Child Program has become more familiar to us. It was a year after we had adopted Jaida, and we had our social worker back to start our second homestudy. We told her, we wanted an older child, not a baby, and one with a medical issue, such as a cleft, or heart defect – we were quite
open. Having our own eldest child deal with a cleft palate, and a heart defect – it was a very simple decision for our family to decide. The medical conditions do not define a child, they are just part of who they are. We also had learned that clefts were far more common in the Asian population and many children with clefts were available for adoption.

On a Sunday evening near the end of September 2007, our agency called and told us that a little boy was available who was just over 2 years old, and had a bilateral cleft lip and cleft gumline. We asked immediately for his information. The minute we saw him we knew we had a son.

There were several people who questioned our desire to adopt from the Waiting Child Program. As I mentioned, our eldest daughter has genetic issues – quite severe – and people said, “Why do you want to have another child with “issues”. We didn’t see it that way at all. What we felt was that our family had room in their hearts to love a child who might need a bit of surgery, or speech therapy – such small things compared to what we would receive from our beautiful child. After learning of the waiting child program, we felt that would be the only choice for our family.

When we met our son for the first time – he was so small, and scared, and quiet. My heart was so full of love from the minute I held him in my arms. His cleft had been repaired in China, well – and he will need another surgery as he gets his adult teeth – a bone graft – and braces. His smile is already the most beautiful thing to us. From day 1, his cleft has been a non-issue. Yes, he needs to be followed by a cleft team yearly as he grows. Yes, he needs speech therapy, which he gets through a local children’s treatment centre. You know what? My middle daughter also needed speech therapy, and she is not cleft affected!

Today our son is a typical three year old boy, who loves dirt, food, teasing his sister and hugging and loving his family. He is secure and happy and beautiful. We feel so blessed to have the family we do. We don’t even think of him as having any “special need” – we don’t even see his cleft lip – it is invisible to us – we see our son, so handsome and happy and smiley.

If we had the means to, we would be again applying to adopt a child with a special need. A special need is not scary – it is just a part of a child. A child who will fulfill you beyond measure.

Our family is from Canada, and we adopted using Family Outreach International.

You can follow the adventures of our family, including our son Jaxon, at our Family Blog and read about our journey to get Jaxon at his travel blog.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at steph.stpierre@gmail.com.

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