That list is made up of children with slightly different needs: Some have a deformity of the hands or feet, a birthmark, or a cleft lip and palate, and others may have developmental delays or more severe physical issues. And adoptions of “waiting” children normally take much less time — an average of one or two years.
“Families in China just aren’t equipped to take care of children with these special needs,” said Melitta Payne, coordinator of international services for the Indianapolis office of Bethany Christian Services. “These are the type of children we are seeing referred for international adoption, moreso than young, healthy children. And not just in China but in other countries, too.”
Aaron and Christi Rush discussed the idea. And the more they thought about it, said Aaron Rush, the more they felt that was the direction they would go.
Within two months of agreeing to adopt from China’s “waiting child” list, the couple was matched with Leah, who adoption staff said was born with a cleft lip and palate and may have had some minor developmental issues. The Rushes received her picture Sept. 26, 2012, then flew to China with six other families working through the adoption organization’s Indianapolis office.
When they met Leah, the couple and their Indiana caseworker realized her needs were a bit more involved than they had previously believed.
“Two months shy of being 3 years old, she couldn’t understand any Chinese,” recalled Aaron Rush. She tended to stay at the edge of a room, by herself, and would look someone in the eye only in private — not in the common rooms in the orphanage, where most of her life had been spent.
Leah was born with a cleft lip and palate, explained Rush, and a specialist now believes she exhibits signs of what’s called institutional autistic disorder, indicating that her early childhood environment may have shaped her development toward autism.