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October 14, 2013

Fulton family adopts Chinese girl with cleft lip, palate

Fulton family adopts Chinese girl with cleft lip, palate

(Continued)

The couple spent their first night with her in what the Rushes termed a “trial run,” allowing them to determine whether they were really up to the challenge.

“Bless her heart, she was scared to death and she cried and screamed for two hours,” said Christi Rush.

The Rushes decided to bring her home.

They spent Leah’s first two months as a U.S. citizen adjusting her to life in a small family rather than a large orphanage. Gradually, she began to attach to the couple and their sons, and learned to express what she needs or wants.

“She looks at us more — she laughs for no reason,” said Christi Rush.

Leah lunches from a high chair, where her new mother spoon-feeds her or hands her a small plate of cut-up food. When Leah has finished, Christi Rush waves her hands back and forth, moving them at the wrist with palms open toward Leah, to sign what she’s saying — that she’s “all done.”

Leah underwent surgery July 23 at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis to finish repairs to her cleft lip and palate, which has since proven successful. A follow-up surgery to reopen part of her nose is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Christi Rush draws on her experience with autism-spectrum children she has taught to raise Leah, and family, friends and anonymous donors have helped the couple handle about $36,000 in expenses related to the adoption.

The couple feels the adoption has been worth the considerable time and resources they’ve put into it.

“There’s so many kids without a family,” said Aaron Rush. And if it were up to him, the couple would do it a second time.

Christi Rush isn’t quite there. But she might be persuaded someday, she said.

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