Adopting abroad is a rewarding challenge

March 11, 2010 10:07:33 AM PST
Adopting children from a developing country can be both rewarding and challenging. That is especially true when parents are not told that your child has some developmental disabilities.

A Naperville couple adopted two children from the same orphanage in Vietnam. They thought both children were "healthy" but soon discovered that one child had some problems.

Three-and-half-year-old Grace and Jack Gibson are adorable. Although they are not biological brother and sister, they came from the same orphanage.

"We went to the orphanage and the orphanage didn't have clean water, didn't have toilets, running toilets, no electricity...and we were able to see where the children were kept, and they had three children to one crib," said Michelle Gibson.

Michelle and her husband were able to spend some time with Jack and Grace before coming back to the States. That is when Michelle noticed something different about Jack.

"Jack had a very flat affect. He did not engage. He did not look at us. Grace was very personable, and the other children in the orphanage would engage, laugh, smile," Michelle said. "Jack was a blank slate.

"He didn't want to take any food by mouth, and so we struggled and had several trips back to the orphanage, and I asked the caretakers there, 'How did you feed him?' I can't feed him and I am a NICU nurse...They said, 'We don't know. We ere able to feed him at one time. Keep trying.'

"Eventually Jack ended up with a gastrostomy tube so that we could provide nutrition, and that's where Easter Seals helped with his therapy and developmental delays," said Michelle.

Jack has made great progress since receiving services from Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox River Valley. He is also learning to take food by mouth.

"His gastrostomy tube fell out accidentally about a month ago, so he no longer has a feeding tube," Michelle said.

Jack and Grace are two happy children with a bright future ahead.

"He's probably slightly delayed, but so slightly delayed that he doesn't even qualify for state services any more," said Michelle.

But Michelle wonders if caretakers really knew what was wrong with Jack.

"And I wonder if they were afraid we would not take him if we knew the truth," she said.

Michelle said there are a lot of children with disabilities that need homes. For more information you can go to and