FULTON — Just six months ago, 3-year-old Leah Grace wouldn’t walk. Speak her native language. Look people in the eye. Play with other children.
She was one of China’s “waiting children,” those with special needs who live in the country’s orphanages until an adoptive family brings them home. But now, she’s a Fulton County resident with three rambunctious older brothers.
Fulton residents Aaron and Christi Rush adopted Leah in April the day after they met her. On “gotcha day,” the family wrapped up a process that began 18 months before, and realized a dream they’d had for more than a decade.
Around the time the Rushes married about 16 years ago, they had discussed adopting a child from China — but put it off. Christi Rush had just finished college and began working as a teacher with the Caston schools. Aaron stayed on at the Logansport Sears store, where he’s now manager of the clothing department. The couple went on to have three sons. Then the question of adoption resurfaced.
“Aaron came home one day from work and said there were these two little boys that needed a home,” recalled Christi Rush. The boys eventually found a home with another family, she added, but “we decided that was our hint from God.”
They began looking into adoption from China through a U.S.-based adoption organization, Bethany Christian Services. Its Indiana office facilitates 10 to 20 adoptions per year, according to staff there. However, the wait to adopt a Chinese child usually stretches six or seven years.
“We wanted our kids close in age,” said Christi Rush. “We thought there was no way we’d do that.”
The couple almost gave up on the idea, instead looking to adopt from Haiti. However, their caseworker brought up an alternative route to adoption: the “waiting child” list.