Nine and a half years ago, my son was born and immediately diagnosed with Down syndrome.I’ve written about his birth here, but I’ve also written about the four friends who did the most to help us adapt to our new reality. At a moment of grief (we were so ignorant), they arrived at the hospital, well-informed, to shower us with love and congratulations for the birth of our son. I’ll never forget it, I’ll never repay it, and I cannot write these sentences without tears.
One of those families needs help. Laura and David were the first people who we trusted to care for our son. We spent holidays in their home. When they adopted their daughter from Russia (just weeks before the ban!), she and our daughter became best friends. Now they need help bringing their new daughter, Zhu Er, home from China.
Zhu Er was born in China in 2011, and has been living in institutional (orphanage) care since she was a tiny baby. Zhu Er is pronounced “Dju R.” Her name means Little Pearl. She was born with a bilateral facial cleft, and her left eye is missing. She has had one surgery to improve her ability to eat.
Little Pearl plays “family” with dolls. She loves to read, play games, music and singing. She has a sweet temperament, and plays well with other children. She is a charming little person, and we want—so very much!–to bring her home to our family.
Our first daughter came home to us from Russia. Since joining our family three years ago, Nastia has made great strides overcoming the delays caused by institutional care. These delays affect physical growth, sensory processing, language, self-regulation, and social skills. We’ve been fierce, unrelenting advocates to get her the early intervention services she needed in school and through health care to help her catch up. We will do the same for Little Pearl.
Little Pearl’s needs are not insignificant but we are confident we can meet them. We will have the outstanding support of the Adoption Medicine Clinic, and Craniofacial and Ocular specialists at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. During her growing years, Little Pearl will need multiple surgeries to enable her facial bones to grow correctly and eventually to allow her to wear a prosthetic eye. We will hold, love and comfort her through all those hard times to come.No child should have to travel that path alone.
Nastia is ready to be a big sister. This process has been a wonderful opportunity to teach her about her own adoption story. She makes her little sister pictures and sewed her a small quilt. She is learning about what it means to have different abilities, about family members who don’t look alike, and about her sister’s birth country. We have all learned to speak a little Chinese. Nastia is excited for the day when we bring Little Pearl home. They should make quite a pair.
Please go to the site, learn about the family and the costs of international adoption, and help if you can.