We are in the midst of Lunar New Year celebrations, a holiday that emphasizes spending time with family, when people all over China typically travel across the country to reunite with loved ones. In that spirit, here is one family’s story about finding an extension of their family, and what it has meant to them…
Our first two children had been home for about 7 and 9 years, and we had often gone back and forth about whether to adopt a third child or not, though we knew we wanted to adopt an older boy (between 3-6 years old) if we did adopt again. Our middle daughter’s best friend has Beta Thalassemia Major, so we had direct knowledge about it through her family, and that was a special need we were open to. Our middle daughter also had significant attachment issues when she was adopted at almost two years old, being diagnosed before she turned three with RAD, which is why it took us so long to get to adoption number three- our daughter needed our full attention to be able to heal, and not only did she heal, but she is thriving.
However, because of that experience with helping our daughter heal from her RAD diagnosis, we learned a lot about the importance of brain development in children. We saw a file of a seven-year-old little boy who had beta thalassemia major, and who had only entered the orphanage at the age of five. Because he was five when he entered the orphanage, there was an “older child questionnaire” where they asked him his name, his age, and his parents’ names. He could answer that he was five (but Chinese age five, not chronological age five), his name was Wu Zi Long, and his dad’s name was Wu Cai Hui. China decided he was “nearly six” and assigned him a birthday. We guessed he was closer to four when he entered the orphanage. Our assumption was that his family must have tried to take care of him as long as they could, but ran out of funds and had no other choice. We decided pretty quickly to move forward with the adoption and he joined our family in September 2018 at the age of seven.
While we had already planned to search for birth family after adoption since we had his dad’s name, it surprised us when, on the day we met him, the orphanage director told us “you have his dad’s name, you can find him…” While so many people in China say, “forget what is here, look forward to your future,” she recognized what we already knew: your future and your past are not mutually exclusive. Your past is a vital part of who you are and should not be discarded or forgotten.
In January 2019 we celebrated his 8th birthday. In February 2019, we posted a “poster” on WeChat searching for his Chinese parents. Within two days, I received a message from a Shenzhen new station, and over the next 4 days, they interviewed me three times on TV. The producer told the reporter that they should keep on the story until we found his family.Six months after we adopted him and eight days after hitting “post” on WeChat, I was on a 3-way call with the reporter and our son’s dad in China. We were both nervous, but had a brief conversation. The reporter connected us by WeChat and within three days, I had over 200 photos of our son’s first four years, including some with his mom before she left (she was extremely young), his birth certificate, and our son’s father’s official ID. We now knew he was really only six years old. In August, we celebrated his 7th birthday (eight months after celebrating his 8th birthday!)
We are now counting down the days to our son’s Make-A-Wish trip to see his China Baba. The man we now know, and talk with nearly every single week, is kind, loving, devoted, and deeply passionate about being in his son’s life. The first videos he sent me were heartbreaking; crying sad and happy tears, thanking us for finding him, for adopting his son, for giving him a life and a future. He used his life savings and ultimately still had to make the horrible sacrifice to get his son the care he needs. Our son is a loving and happy child because of his time with his dad. Our assumptions from the beginning may well have been incorrect, but fortunately for us, they were not. His dad is now a part of our family, and we look forward to meeting him soon. We didn’t just adopt a son, I now have a “brother” in China (he calls me Jiejie), our son has a connection to a father in China who loves him deeply, and our family has become much more international. Finding one birth family (so easily) has not come without challenges for our other children who have wanted to know for much longer, but we all move forward day by day, and find the path that presents itself.
–Story by Kelli G, three time adoptive mom