A family story - Adopting our child with Cleft Lip and Palate

 Julee is a Gladney Mom who adopted her daughter prior to adopting her son through Gladney.  She has been amazingly supportive and helpful to Superkids.  Her son Henry was an adorable boy we met in China.  Julee has shared he story of Henry's adoption here on the blog and now she is sharing the story of adopting her daughter Leah. We are also sharing another wonderful family story on the Asia waiting child blog today. click here to read the other family story about adopting a sweetheart with cleft lip palate.   You can read the story of Henry's adoption by clicking here.         

  The story of our first adoption began in 2005. My husband and I knew we wanted at least three children and thought (like many couples do) that it would be pretty easy. I had my son Eric, from a previous marriage, and then Noah, a miracle baby, whom we weren’t expecting (we were waiting to do a round of IVF). We wanted another child right away. Weeks turned into months…months into a year. We felt like we were running out of time, as I was soon turning 35. After much discussion, we decided that IVF was not the way to go for us- so we turned our hearts to the possibility of adopting. After talking to an agency and other adoptive families, we decided that was the path we would venture down to expand our family. We wanted a baby girl and were told the wait was about 10 months. As it turned out, we got the paperwork logged into China at the exact time adoptions (in China) came to a grinding halt. Our 10-month wait turned in a 2-3 year wait. We were stunned and saddened.


  The next day after the news, I saw an email from our agency titled “Waiting Children”. I opened it and saw about 10 pictures of children ranging from 2 -8 years old. I immediately was drawn to the last little face on the page. A two-year-old little girl from Kunming, China named Yi Li Hua. . Her special need was listed as “ III cleft lip and palate” (severe) with a heart condition- and I fell in love with that little face right then and there and decided to research this special need.

  My husband and I reached out to people in the community, doctors, nurses, and families who had adopted “waiting children” (back in 2005, adopting a special needs child was not something that I was familiar with…most people wanted a healthy baby girl) and specifically, a child with the same need as Leah. I admit- I was scared. I didn’t know anything at all about cleft/lip/palate, and the fact that she was a toddler stunned us a bit. But you know what we realized? We never had a clear picture of “who” our child was going to be- just that she was out there- in China. And the fact that this child here, this beautiful child staring at us through the photograph, was here on this Earth, waiting not to be born, but already waiting for a family…well, that was very powerful. And that is when we knew, we really knew, that she was in fact the daughter we had been waiting for.

  That was 7 ½ years ago. Since then, Leah has had two palate surgeries, a P-flap surgery, bone graft and nose surgeries. She has had several teeth pulled, gotten braces and is now in headgear to try and correct her under/cross bite. Chances are very likely she will have to have jaw surgery in her teen years, followed by rhinoplasty, which will be her last surgery. Sounds like a lot, right? The way I see it, is that she is the one having to go through the pain (although my heart hurts seeing her go through these surgeries) and recovery due to this birth defect. As her mom, I have the gift of holding her hand, nursing her back from each surgery, until she can run, jump and play with her friends. None of these surgeries have kept her down for long, and with each one, her speech becomes clearer and her confidence stronger. One day, while I was walking her around Green Lake, an older Chinese man approached Leah and me and just stared. He then looked at me and asked if “this was a big deal in the United States (cleft lip)”. I said, “No, not really. We have a team of people dedicated to kids like Leah who will help her every step of the way.” “Well,” he said, “she is very lucky”. “No,” I said, we are the lucky ones. 

Take a Lump of Clay

Take a lump of clay
Wet it, pat it,
Make a statue of you
And a statue of me.
Then shatter them, clatter them,
Into a statue of you,
And a statue of me.
Then, in mine, there are bits of you
And in you there are bits of me
Nothing shall ever keep us apart.

Kuan Tao Sheng
(Sung Dynasty)