Can you imagine waiting for ten years for a family to call your own, only to never be chosen?
Ben, who has been a student at our Shantou Believe in Me School since 2004, has watched his friends be chosen for adoption over the years. He has cheerfully maintained his role as “big brother” to the younger kids at the school all the time, never letting it alter his happy outlook on life. However, his last chance for adoption is now here. He ages out in late July 2013 when he turns 14. This breaks our hearts as we feel he could bring so much joy to a family.
Amy Eldridge, LWB’s Chief Executive Officer, found this photo of Ben from 2005, when he performed with the Shantou Believe in Me choir. Ben is in the front row on the far left. Amy has met Ben many times over the years. She writes:
I remember meeting Ben for the first time when he was a preschooler, and he always had a smile on his face. He loved participating in our orphanage school program and would greet me with so much enthusiasm. Many times in those earlier years I would ask about whether he could be adopted, and because he had cerebral palsy, the orphanage felt that he wouldn’t qualify. When many of his friends in the orphanage reached school age and headed off to public school, Ben was not allowed to attend because of his mild CP. I was always so touched at how he tried to always keep a positive attitude about everything. If he couldn’t go to public school, then he would be a role model for the kids in our orphanage school. He threw himself into helping the teachers get the classroom ready each day, and as the years passed he became a real leader for the school. In fact, this year he was elected the class president – a job which he takes very seriously. Ben has watched all of his good friends over the years be adopted overseas, and I know he has to have wondered, “Why not me?” When I learned a little more than a year ago that the orphanage had finally decided to file his adoption paperwork, I had mixed emotions. Of course I was so happy that Ben would finally be given a chance. But for so many years when he had asked about a family, he had been told it was impossible because of his special need. It honestly made my heart hurt a bit to think he now knew his file was submitted. I know when they took his photo for his adoption file, he told the nannies he had to look his best. Now every few months the orphanage will ask me, “Is there a family for Ben?”, and I truly hate thinking that they go back and tell him that no one has come forward for him. These are the realities of orphanage life that are difficult to think about.
While I cannot change that this sweet boy’s file states he has “mental delays,” I know he can do simple math, write characters, and count to 100. I hope so very much that he will have the opportunity to blossom by being adopted and having a chance at greater education. He attends our orphanage school with real joy and does his very best to learn what he is taught. He knows many simple Chinese characters and can do simple addition, but he has not been exposed to the rigors of Chinese public school. He is wonderful at reciting poetry, and his favorite school activity is art. What strikes me the most about Ben, however, is just how kind and responsible he has become. The teachers have told me over and over what a great helper he is to them, and the nannies in his orphanage know if they need a job done, they should give it to Ben. He is wonderful with the younger children in the school, and they all look up to him as a big brother. It saddens me greatly to know that if the rules had been different a decade ago, he probably would have been chosen fairly quickly as a young boy of age three or four. His personality just shone straight out from his face. But now, by not being given a chance at a family until he was 12 or 13, I know his chances of finding a permanent home are so much smaller. I know in my heart what an incredible son he would make to someone. He is hard working and kind, and people are just naturally drawn to his generous and compassionate nature. I know that somewhere out there in the world, there has to be a family who would welcome him with open arms into their home. But now we are down to five months until he becomes ineligible for adoption.
We have many photos of Ben over the years; here are just a few to show how he has grown up into a fine young boy.
Please share Ben’s story far and wide as time is running out for him to find a family to treasure him forever, as he deserves.
Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your local adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.