This Month's Featured Family!
March 2005

Jared andSara (Formerly Xin Sha Xia)

No longer waiting...
Our family story really begins over 12 years ago, when I became a mom for the first time.  I was, unexpectedly, a single mom to a precious little son, who was born with a birth difference...a cleft lip and palate.

When my son was born, I got to hold him for about 15 minutes and he was whisked away to another hospital to a NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) where he was fed through a nasogastric (NG) tube and weighed, poked and prodded for the first few weeks of his life.
As I watched Jared grow, I learned courage and strength, patience, resilience, and saw how his self-confidence and loving spirit touched others.  Jared and I both do volunteer outreach through several local and national organizations, and Jared has spoken to audiences in Chicago, IL and Asheville, NC about his birth differences.Seeing all of the wonderful things my son has done, and the joys he has given me made me long for another child.  Being a little “gun shy” after failed relationships, and deeply involved in caring for Jared and my mother during a time of illness, I had little time to focus on finding “Mr. Right.”  Some mutual friends tried for over two years to get me to meet Don, and finally during a “blind” date, I found my soul mate.
A friend of mine from a support network,, talked with me about her three wonderful children, two of whom were adopted from Vietnam.  One day, on a whim, Liz posted a message to the cleftAdvocate's Family-to-Family Connection asking for someone to consider a beautiful girl for adoption, who was born in China with a cleft lip and palate. Without hesitation, I knew this was what God had intended for our family, I just had to learn how to make it all happen.  I read the information, and inquired about the girl.  She was matched with her forever family before we were ready to proceed, as was the next child we inquired about.
Far away in China, Xin Sha Xia waited for a forever family.  Her special need: cleft lip and palate.  We had searched several agencies waiting lists trying to find a child whose medical needs we were comfortable with, looking for a boy or girl around 1-3 years of age, hoping to give our new daughter or son time to adjust to life in America before heading off to school.  When we first viewed our daughter’s file through Great Wall China Adoption, we were not real sure if she was the one for us. Her photo didn’t melt my heart like the first two children’s photos had, but perhaps I was hesitant to “attach” any love to a child who might not become our own, especially after feeling so let down when the first two children were matched with other families.  In just a few days after inquiring and submitting information about our family, we were accepted by Great Wall to proceed with the adoption of Xin Sha Xia.

Today, it has been just over six months since we brought Sha Xia, now called Sara House, into our hearts and home. She has grown emotionally and physically.  She was well-loved and cared for in China, and her foster family was very kind.  She was not delayed in any areas, and other than a surgery to close her palate and lip, she will not need anything other than speech therapy for quite a while.  We have a great team of doctors who will see her through the medical needs through the years, but as we’ve learned through Jared’s life…being born with a cleft lip and palate is just one part of the wonderful person these kids are. I look at the surgeries as “speed bumps” in their lives.
Sara has achieved many milestones in these short few months; she learned how to use a fork her first day with us on her own initiative, survived surgery, can now drink and eat without needing a special diet or choking on her liquid, can use a straw,  is speaking English very well in full sentences complete with humor and sarcasm, has started pre-school and is the only one in her class who is completely potty-trained (she came to us that way!), is learning her ABCs, can count to 5, was Baptized, and is growing like a weed!  (Don says we closed the hole in her palate and created a bottomless pit!)

Bonding with her was a little tough the first few weeks.  She loved her foster family dearly and had to learn to love and trust Don and I as parents.  Her bond with Jared, however, was almost instantaneous.  She fell in love with her brother in her first days with him in China as they played together,  and the bond deepened when he helped her understand her surgery and showed her they shared the same scars and helped feed her when her mouth was healing.  They fight, play, giggle and fill our home with the warmth of a true family.  Eventually, Sara began to open up her heart to all of us and is now happy and well-adjusted. We speak of her life in China, her foster home, and remind her how much she was loved there, and we remind her daily how much she is loved by us.

Both of our children are so full of love, compassion, silliness, curiosity, just overflowing with life.  Sara waited for her forever family, I waited for my daughter, Jared waited for his sister, and Don waited for a wife and children to call his own.  Through the cleftAdvocate group, the Waiting Child Program, Great Wall China Adoption, China, some divine intervention and God’s big plan for our lives…we are blessed to now have two truly “special” kids, and the waiting was SO worth it.
The first 10 years of Jared’s life, I struggled as a single mom to pay the bills, learn what I could about feeding my son with a special bottle, helped him to gain weight, made sure to get the surgeries and speech therapy my son needed, and helped my son to learn and grow as all mommies do.  But the blessings my son has shown me have taught me so much, and eventually led me to our newest family member, a beautiful daughter born in China with the same birth difference.
Sadly, by the time I met my husband, I had been going through the agony of female problems for several years and was unsure if I could conceive another child.  Just when part of my dream for a larger family was before me, I had to make the decision to proceed with further invasive treatments to relieve my condition and pain or try another path.  We prayed together, and decided to look into adoption instead of more surgeries.
I felt sad these children would not be coming into our family, but kept searching for I knew this was where God had led our family. Then, after months of paperwork and all the obstacles that come with the adoption process, we found our daughter.  We waited for our home study to be finished, waited for INS, waited for our pre-approval, for the call to say we had travel approval, and waited to meet our daughter.
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