Ethan: Adopting a Son with Cleft Lip and Palate

August 14, 2019 adopting a boy, cl/cp, Craniofacial, Family Stories, July 2019 Feature - Craniofacial, pre-adoption, reluctant husband, should we adopt? 2 Comments

Early in our marriage, my husband showed interest in the idea of adopting.

“Wouldn’t it be great to be able to give a family to a child who doesn’t have one?” he said one day.

I remember thinking, “I don’t know if adoption is for me. I don’t know if I could do that.”

Throughout the years, the idea of adopting came up periodically; looking back I can see that God was watering the seed He had planted in my heart. After we had our second biological child, my husband’s friend was adopting an older special needs child, and my husband said to me, “We need to be open to adoption. We need to pray about this.”

At that time, in the midst of working over 40 hours a week and having two young kids, I remember thinking, “I don’t know if I can handle any more kids.”

But over the years, the desire to adopt continued to grow in my heart. Shortly after we had our third biological child, I brought the idea of adoption up with my husband. His reply? “That was before we had three kids.”

In the following year and a half, we spoke about adopting, and prayed about adopting. I really wanted to pursue knowing God with all I had, including his heart for the orphan. What I believe was a call to adopt became so strong; I knew that I needed to move forward if my husband said yes, but, if he said no, I needed to accept his no and let it go. This time period included a lot of earnest prayer, and laying the desire to adopt down over and over again at God’s feet.

My husband is a high school math teacher turned stay at home dad and I am a full time OB/GYN physician with a very busy work schedule, including nights and weekends. He is the primary care giver of our children. He had his hands full as a stay at home dad of our three biological children and he knew what a huge commitment it would be to bring another child – especially a child adopted from another country with special needs – into our family. He wanted to be sure he was ready for this lifetime commitment before we proceeded.

During this period of waiting on God and waiting on my husband, my husband and I had conversations about how we could lay down our comfort for God’s sake – and if one way of doing this was through adoption. I am truly grateful that my husband is committed to following Christ and that he was willing to earnestly seek God’s will in our lives.

In early 2017, my husband said that he wanted the two of us to fast and pray about starting the adoption process. We met the elders of our church to talk to them and pray together at the end of our fast. Shortly after this, my husband agreed that God was calling us to begin the adoption process.

We began to process to adopt from China in February of 2017. In February of 2018, we were officially matched with our son, Ethan, who was 18 months old at the time. I traveled to bring him home in June of 2018.



Overall, we feel that Ethan has transitioned very well into our family. He was welcomed warmly by our two older daughters. Our youngest daughter took a bit longer to warm up to him because she was used to being the baby of the family; she is only one year older than Ethan.

For about the first nine months that Ethan was home, he woke up three times a night. He seemed to be having nightmares and he would wake up seemingly not aware of where he was. Thankfully, this improved and now he is sleeping through the night. Ethan also scratched himself when falling asleep at night to the point of causing bleeding and scabbing, likely a way for him to cope with his anxiety. This has also resolved, although it still happens with certain stressors such as traveling, sleeping in a different place or recovering from surgery.



Ethan had surgery at eight months of age in China to repair his cleft lip, but his cleft palate was not repaired in China. He had surgery to repair his cleft palate here in the United States in January of 2019. His lip had to be fully reopened and repaired again at that time in order to repair his palate.

Ethan healed from his surgery and started speech therapy once a week. His speech therapist says that it will take time for him to learn his consonant sounds, but he is working very hard. Ethan’s surgeon says that his next surgery will be a bone graft between ages 6 and 8.

Ethan is truly a delightful child. He loves his three older sisters and he loves his parents! He is very active and loves to ride his bike and play in dirt or sand. He also loves to dance.



He is our treasured son. We are very grateful and blessed to have him in our family. I am grateful for how God placed adoption in our hearts and fulfilled this part of His plan in our life through entrusting us to be Ethan’s parents.

–  guest post by Ani: facebook || email 




2 responses to “Ethan: Adopting a Son with Cleft Lip and Palate”

  1. Lisa says:

    Adoption….heart to start and even harder to stop. I love you all kept your hearts open to God and adopted. 😁 Adoption has been an amazing way to grow my family too, 2 bio sons were teens, when we adopted our daughter then we adopted a son, then another daughter and then this February brought home another daughter. All from China. Hubby and I are still desiring to adopt another son, but only time will tell if we can….but wow…we definitely want too.

    We learned God is always in control but ya…adoption…best choice ever!!!

  2. What a wonderful testimony, Ani. You two are lovely parents and it is clear you have worked hard and trusted hard in this process. Ethan is a trophy of your love even as each of us is a trophy of our Lord’s.

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