We have such good news: we’re in the final stages of adopting a little boy in China.
His name is Wenxuan and he’s 2.5 years. He’s in an orphanage in Jiangxi Province in China. After a nail biting few months of waiting for China to give us final approval, on Friday we got our official letter of approval. We should travel to China to get him in 2-3 months. We couldn’t be more thrilled!
As you may notice in his pictures, Wenxuan has bilateral aural atresia and microtia, which means his ears aren’t completely formed. This is a moderate special need that is very manageable (even correctable!) in the U.S. He also has a severe congenital inguinal hernia, which will be fixed shortly after he gets home. At the same time they fix the hernia, they’ll test his hearing. We do know he has some hearing, but he has conductive hearing loss from the atresia and microtia.
Wenxuan will have a lot of catching up to do in the next several years. Because he hasn’t had hearing aids in China, as far as we know now he doesn’t speak and he only knows one word: his name. Because of his severe hernia, the nannies limit his physical activity and carry him most of the time. He can walk, but we don’t know how much beyond that. These needs are on top of the developmental delays found in children who live in orphanages, roughly one month for every three months he’s been in the orphanage (in his case since birth.) Kids typically flourish and catch up quickly once they join a family, get the medical care they need, and have improved nutrition. (He currently gets an egg a day, which is huge for an orphanage. The orphanages in China do the best they can.)
In the fall, he’ll go to a school in San Antonio that’ll help him get to where he needs to be with his hearing and speaking. He’s already got a wonderful team of doctors waiting for him in Texas. (His medical posse!) His longterm prospects are fabulous!
The only word we know he responds to is his Chinese name, and it didn’t seem right to change his name if that’s the only word he understands. We’ll combine the two names and eliminate “Fu,” one of the last names that denotes an orphan in China. His legal name after the adoption will be “Wenxuan Schmeidel Randall.” (That’s a mouthful!) At this point, we suspect a lot of people will can him “Wen.” That could change. Who knows?!
On a related note, yes our new dog’s name is Winston – which is also a name he came with – and the two DO sound a lot alike. We figure since Winston’s job is to help Wenxuan, we’ll just go with it. It’s a happy coincidence!
UPDATED: Graham wants me to add – “If it’s bad luck to rename a boat, then surely it’s bad luck to rename children and dogs.”
What’s he like?
Unlike some other countries, the adoption process in China is completed in one visit to the country. We don’t meet him before hand. The day we meet him he becomes ours – which is crazy and mindblowing and wonderful all at the same time. We’ve refrained from having any preconceived notions about his temperament, how he’ll feel when he meets us and shortly thereafter, and how the attachment process will go. Anecdotally, we know most kids attach to one parent first – usually the father. (Really!) We know he is the orphanage favorite and the nannies regularly spend their spare time holding him, which is excellent for his ability to attach (the ability to form relationships and be part of family). Being an orphanage favorite also has a positive impact on his health and growth.
While we’ve been working on adopting him since August, we’ve remained mindful about the fact that we don’t know him and how he is – slow to warm or easy, how resilient he is, and even where he is developmentally – even as we’ve made a series of major decisions on his behalf. We’re excited to learn all about this little person who will soon join us, and we’re looking forward to our journey together.
We’ve been planning to adopt and in various stages of the process since before we got married. I’ve wanted to adopt since I was a little girl, and we both agreed that China was a good fit because we know a fair bit about the country’s history and culture. My undergrad and masters theses are in China, and Graham went to Chinese school as a kid. When we first started the adoption process ‘lo many years ago and they told us about the special needs program, Graham felt called to that after his work at the Pasadena (California) Crippled Children’s Society.
Parenthood, and the ways to get there, are too complicated to fit any one situation. -unknown
While the adoption process is long and arduous, the bulk of the work has been done in the past year. We can’t leave Oregon until the process is complete, which wasn’t something we knew about when we decided to do our homestudy in Oregon for convenience while working on a contract with one of Normal Modes’ clients. We’ve been quiet about the process because it is long and there are many, many unknowns.
We understand you may have questions, and we’ve tried to cover the most common ones here. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us directly. We’re happy to answer any. If you want to read a book about adoption, we recommend In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends. (Mom’s Choice Award Winner)
by Elisabeth O’Toole.
We’re so happy to finally be able to share this news with everyone. We can’t wait to meet Wenxuan and we can’t wait for you to meet him too!