2 Years Out
By Cindy Cloninger
I can’t believe it has been 2 years! I am amazed that it has been 2 years since we brought our sweet Eli home, and at the same time it seems like he has been part of us forever.
Two years ago we were in Kunming, China meeting our son for the first time. Our hearts were beating so fast and our eyes were filled with tears knowing that the time had finally arrived to meet our son and bring him home.
We had begun the adoption process just a short 10 months earlier. We had started out with the intent of adopting a little girl from India. But just as I have heard many times, the right kids have a way of matching up to the right families. And the same was true for us. Shortly after we had put in our application with Wasatch, we received a call from a staff member. She told us she had been thinking about our family and that she wondered if there was any way we might be interested in adopting a 2 ½ year old, special needs, boy from China. It was like a burst of light entered my body and I almost said yes immediately, but decided I should talk with my husband first. Upon calling my husband at work, I barely got the full sentence out when he said, “Yep, he’s the one, that’s who we’re supposed to adopt.” And that began our journey to bring Eli home.
Eli had been diagnosed in China as having Club feet and we knew that he had had one surgery there. I suspected something was wrong with his hands in a photo I had seen, but the orphanage confirmed there wasn’t.
When we got to China we discovered that Eli had had one surgery on his feet when he was 18 months old. He could stand with poor balance and could walk while holding a hand. His feet were still turned in quite a bit and he would trip on every 3rd or 4th step. He preferred to sit in a stroller and we suspected that is what he had done most.
We came home and allowed him to adjust to us for 6 months before we did anything for him medically. He adjusted seamlessly. He spoke Chinese when we got him and began picking up English immediately. He learned about 2 words per day and when we left China after 10 days he had about 20 English words. Eli is very outgoing and wants to talk to everyone. As we passed by people he would say, “Ne-how” (excuse my phonics) and if they wouldn’t answer, he would then say, “He-no (Hello)”
We started off with 8 weeks of casting to further correct his club feet, followed by surgery. The doctors checked is hands and could find nothing wrong. Eli was a trooper about all his casting and surgeries! He never complained and then didn’t slow him down a bit, I think he actually got faster with the stability. After a few more months, he had surgery to correct his tibial torsion (turned shins) which really helped with his tripping. Eli walks, runs, climbs stairs, and plays soccer, everything. We expect he will have hardships in the future and will probably never be a marathon runner but he is wonderful.
On a routine check-up a year later, I addressed the issues I thought he might have with his hands. And finally the 4th Doctor discovered it. He has a mild muscle problem, distal arthgryosis. It doesn’t affect him nearly at all. When we got him he would hold things between his index and middle fingers rather than his thumb and index finger. With encouragement, he has strengthened those muscles and is doing great.
I never would have imagined that life with and adopted special needs child at 2 ½ could be so perfect. Eli is loving, charismatic, curious, and can adapt so well to new surroundings, situations, and people. He has been such an inspiration to my husband, me, and our children. My oldest son had to write a paper at school about his hero, and he chose Eli because of how he handles difficulties with such grace and shows such happiness. Eli is a bit of a celebrity in our small town. Everyone knows his name and kids of all ages run up to talk to and play with him because he is such a joy to be around.
Adoption is such a miracle! You get to live that miracle everyday…that is just amazing for me to be a part of. I wish I could broadcast to the world just how wonderful it is and convince more people to adopt. The fear of the unknown and what-ifs keep so many of us from moving forward to bless our lives and be happier than we ever could have thought. Don’t let fear dictate your life and make it less than wonderful….and having Eli is just that…wonderful!