I have such exciting news to share! On February 1st, Yu Qing* – the boy featured in the summer 2010 Holt magazine – celebrated his 14th birthday with his adoptive parents, Ed and Sandy Kolb, and five new brothers, also adopted.
On the Kolb family blog, Sandy explains the significance of this particular birthday for Yu Qing (who now goes by Lucas):
February First marked another celebration day…Lucas’ 14th birthday! In his honor, God proclaimed a “Snow Day” in Omaha and so, school was cancelled…(so we told him!) We spent the better part of the day in PJ’s, watching movies, eating, playing games and eating some more!
It was especially sweet to celebrate this birthday with Lucas since at age 14 in China he would have aged out of being eligible for international adoption! He became our son, by God’s grace, in the nick of time!!
In some ways we are still getting to know each other, in other ways it is as if Lucas has always been a part of our family.
It’s always exciting when a child finds a family. But actually having met and personally advocated for the child makes it that much more meaningful. When I met Lucas this past summer at the Journey of Hope camp in southern China, I was struck by what a polite, thoughtful and intelligent boy he was. A shy 13-year-old, he avoided eye contact and kept his hands neatly folded in his lap – likely to hide the fact he’s missing fingers. He told us he hoped to one day become a doctor, a feat nearly impossible for a boy with a physical abnormality and no family name – both traits considered “unlucky” in this traditionally Confucian culture. As an orphan in China, his educational opportunities would be limited. When he reached adulthood, finding employment – especially as a doctor – would be even more challenging. With our friendly gestures drawing only the slightest of smiles, Lucas seemed painfully aware of these social stigmas, and the obstacles they would create for him.
Here today, as we interviewed children to advocate for their adoption, Lucas seemed not so much excited, but actually burdened by the gravity of the opportunity before him – the opportunity to join a family, as well as a society that doesn’t discriminate based on your family name or disabilities. At 13, he had only six months to find a family before aging out.
But then something extraordinary happened. The Kolbs opened their hearts to Lucas. He was home by Christmas Eve.
In looking at the photos of Lucas on the Kolbs’ private family blog, it’s heartening to see such genuinely happy, confident smiles on his face. Within the first week with his new family, he grows visibly more at ease – and, once informed that his new family will not judge him for missing fingers, he becomes less self-conscious about his hand. He seems so happy. And relieved. His 13-year wait for a permanent family is over.
No longer a looming deadline, turning 14 is now cause for celebration!
Lucas’ story is a triumphant one. But so many children – especially older children and children with special needs – continue to wait for permanent, loving families. Like Lucas, many of them are on the verge of turning 14 and becoming ineligible for adoption. All children deserve a loving family – as well as every opportunity to work hard and achieve their dreams!
* Name has been changed