Couples who plan to adopt often look to other countries with cultures similar to their own. That is why Megan and Keith Nakamoto began the China adoption process in 2005. “My husband is Japanese, so we are familiar with the Asian culture. We thought it would be a smoother culture for [adopted daughter Tessa],” Megan Nakamoto tells the Chicago Tribune.
While most U.S. adoption agencies have stopped accepting applications for China’s traditional program due to a lengthy wait time (up to six years), programs like Waiting Child release children with minor to significant special needs in as little as a year. Couples like the Nakamotos who are perhaps older and do not want the age gap between their other children to grow too large are opting for programs like Waiting Child more and more.
The Nakamotos prepared for a special needs adoption by assessing their health insurance and finances to ensure that they could provide the proper care for a child with health issues. A year after submitting their application to Waiting Child, they were on a flight to China to bring Tessa home. Now Tessa has undergone surgery to repair her cleft palate and ear tubes, and she sees a physical therapist to work on her leg and hip, which are turned out for unknown reasons.
Another woman, Kara Bourke, who was on a waiting list for China’s traditional adoption program for over a year, considered adopting a child with special needs when she realized she wasn’t making headway. As a single woman, Bourke sought the advice of her family physician and her friends and family about how they could help her care for a special needs child. She also spoke with her priest, who told her, “We all have disabilities. Some are more visible than others.” This stuck with Bourke, and she soon switched to the Waiting Child program. She was receiving information on babies with special needs within a week. In 2008, Bourke brought home her daughter Sheila, a 2-year-old with a very short left forearm who was also missing part of her shoulder and a finger on her left hand.
Looking back, Megan Nakamoto tells the Tribune, “Who knows? We probably still would have been waiting. It’s almost like you see this goal and you want it so badly, but it gets harder and harder and you think it’s not going to happen . . . We switched to the special needs program, and then you have a new hope.”
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