The Clein Times

On adopting Eli, my second son

I have written about adopting Kai, I always wanted to be a mom, as a guest post on my friend’s blog, but I haven’t written about Eli’s adoption yet. This week I joined a facebook group ‘Families with Boys Adopted from China.’ It has been fun to ‘connect’ with other families that have adopted boys from China. I have even found 2 other families with boys the same ages as Kai and Eli, and one of those families has an 11 year old son named Kai (and no, their 10 year old is not named Eli). That family posted some pictures from their adoption day and it got me thinking about May 28, 2007 (Eli’s adoption day). So here it is, the long awaited post. Eli’s adoption.

After adopting Kai, things were going great, but I always knew I wanted at least 2 kids. So, finally decided to start looking for another son. I told friends that I was looking to adopt another boy about 1 year younger than Kai, cleft-affected, and in foster-care. The most amazing thing happened. Two friends, one who lives in Alabama (and adopted her daughter the same time I adopted Kai)  and the other, a friend in Fairbanks, who has a daughter adopted from China, BOTH SENT ME AN EMAIL WITH A PICTURE OF A LITTLE BOY from the Rainbow Kids website. See the picture in the lower left corner. That was the one.  He was 14 months old, and looked like a mischievous little boy who would be the perfect addition to my family. I received the other pictures shortly after I started my inquiries into his adoption.eli-yan I was very excited. This kid ‘fit’ everything I was looking for. He was 11 months younger than Kai, had been in foster care since he was 7 months old, he was cleft-affected (his lip was repaired in April 2005), and finally, HE WAS IN NANNING. The reason this was amazing is that Kai was in NANNING too. Kai was in the Nanning Social Welfare Institute for over a year, and was with a foster family for about 8 months before I adopted him. Eli was found in a smaller town called Qin Zhou, about 50 km from Nanning. He was in an orphanage there for 5 months, and then was moved to Mother’s Love Orphanage (a private orphanage) in Nanning and then 2 months later moved to foster care. I was feeling like this was meant to be. (We got lucky; when we went to Nanning to get Eli, we also got to meet up (twice) with Kai’s foster family. They were very excited to see him. We hope to travel to China in the next year or 2 and visit with both foster families). So, on to the paperwork. Even though there was so much to be done. It was different this time. I was a mom already, and had gone through the process of collecting all the paper work before. Not that it was any less time consuming, it was just a different type of feeling. More of a ‘I wonder how this will change my family’ as opposed to ‘ oh shit, I am becoming a family.’ I filled out all the forms, took these online classes (the rules had changed since adopting Kai), waited for responses, and just enjoyed my time as a mom. Finally, got word that we could travel in May. Then, about 1 week before getting ready to leave for China, I get these 3 pictures. I was feeling lucky and excited and nervous.eliyanMay2007 I had no idea how the boys would get along. I was a little nervous about being able to communicate. I wondered how Kai, who was used to all my attention, would react to having to share me. I was wondering if I would have enough strength to parent 2 boys. I was wondering how I would bond with Eli (I bonded with Kai almost instantaneously and I know that is unusual). Well, the time had come. Kai and I flew to Guangzhou and stayed overnight before flying to Nanning. As we were walking around, we saw someone selling toy swords. Kai had brought some toys and books to put on the bed for Eli to see when we brought him back to the hotel (I did this for Kai and he wanted to do it for Eli). But he also wanted to buy 2 toy swords to add. We got to Nanning and had a free day in which we got to meet Kai’s foster family. It was awesome. But now we were ready to meet Eli and welcome him to our family. My mom had flown over and met us; she was very excited to be here for the ‘birth’ of my second son. She was also in charge of taking pictures. She did a great job. Here is my family of 2.DSC00097beforegotcha Here is my family of 3.DSC00174-gotchaNotice the Spiderman, Kai gave that to Eli the second he walked in the room. Eli loved it for a long time.

Below, you can see  Eli and I ‘playing’ with the swords, this is after less than 1 hour after our meeting.DSC00218

They started playing fairly quickly.DSC00239 And we enjoyed our time in Nanning. DSC00311-nanningpark I love how Kai is looking at Eli in this one.DSC00351 Then we went to Guangzhou to wait for Eli’s visa.DSC00589 DSC00602 We finally set off back home to Fairbanks, to start our life as a family of 3. DSC00677 We live close to a park and have spent many hours playing there.DSC00731-eliSlide The first 6 months back was a blur, but things settled down, and the we all figured out how to be a family. Kai learned how to share his toys and his mom, Eli learned to speak english and fit right in as ‘little brother’, and I learned that being a parent of 2 is MUCH different than being a parent of one. And I also learned that each kid is very different with their own needs and wants. One of the most important things I learned is that it is OK (and needed) to parent the boys differently. DSC00832-rotated Here we are after 6 months home.DSC01025family   Eli has grown into a great kid. He has changed alot in the past couple years. He loves to build things, be it with Lego, lincoln logs, or blocks. He is an artist with his own style and likes origami. He likes to tell jokes and has a unique sense of humor. He is very much into watching Youtube videos right now, and can remember everything he learns from them, be it about a video game or a documentary on cockroaches. He is interested in all kinds of animals, and he knows many random facts about them. He loves being read too, and and has also written several short stories of his own. I feel lucky to be his mom, and I am looking forward to seeing what his future brings.


And the rest is history. Over the past years, we have all grown. We have played many board games, read many books, gone on many walks and bike rides. We have explored the Sacred Valley in Peru, and ziplined multiple times, rafted many rivers, and swam and played in the ocean. We have climbed Mayan pyramids and swam in cenotes. We have kayaked on Lake Atitlan surrounded by volcanoes and snorkeled with sea turtles. We have had a great life so far, and I look forward to continued explorations with both my sons.

Here we are Dec 2014, after 7 1/2 years as a

Machu Pichu Dec 2014

One final photo, I love Eli’s happiness in this one, as he is saving this fish he found on the sand. (Canoa, Ecuador)DSC01399


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2 thoughts on “On adopting Eli, my second son

  1. Abby

    I remember that little photo so well! Love this story, and like you, look forward to seeing what the future holds for these two wonderful boys.

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