From a home for the blind in India, to the Hubei province in China, Paula and Alan Sprecher are giving their daughters the opportunity to learn skills that will enable them to be independent and successful.
In a house fill with dolls and toys, you can feel the joy and pride that parents Paula and Alan have for their girls.
"We always wanted to adopt children who are like us," said Paula. "We could have had our own natural children, but we knew that through genetic counseling that they would have visual disabilities, and we knew that there would be children out there waiting for homes. So it's always had been a dream of ours."
Ten-year old Rupa was adopted four years ago.
"She's visually impaired. She can see colors up close, and she's in 4th grade," said Paula. "She's very outgoing and rambunctious and full of life. She likes to be funny. She likes reading things that are funny, and telling jokes, and she's brave."
In February the Sprechers traveled to China to adopt 6-year-old Aihua.
"She is learning very quickly, and she's able to say single words and phrases and some sentences, and the thing that's amazing about it is she's learning so quickly," Paula said.
Both girls are bright and happy. Rupa has great music talent. Ailhua tries but is not quite there yet.
Alan has adapted well to his role being a dad.
"It's nice to come home from work and have more people say hello to you that are looking forward to see you come home, and spending time with them is nice," said Alan. "Teaching them new things, watching their progress, it's always fun. Even the small steps are fun, to realize that they're making them, and you hope in part that you have a little responsibility for it."
Outgoing Rupa tells us a bit more about herself.
"I like to push a doll in the stroller with my mom and my dad, and mom once took me on a bike and my sister and my mom and dad took me on tricycle," Rupa said.
She is also enjoying being a big sister.
"She was scared when she got home from China," said Rupa. "I helped her, and then the next day she knows how to say words like 'wolf wolf' and 'kiss kiss,' and she knows how to say get over here."
Chicago's Lighthouse's child development specialist and therapist, Susie Kuranishi, has being working with the girls since they came to America.
"I was so impressed with Rupa when I first met her," Kuranishi said. "She's charming, she effervescent, she has a little glow about her...I saw Aihua take her finger and very carefully outlined the edges of the box in order to know what this was to figure out what she was touching, and I said 'A-ha, this child is a bright child,' and she has never stopped surprising us in all the things she can do.
"Paula and Alan are very conscientious parents: They don't watch a lot of TV or video-- they're doing things with their hands and exploring and experiencing. Rupa is playing piano, she's taking part in all kinds of activities, and Aihua's close on her heels, she really following really very well."
We asked Rupa what she wants to do when she grows up. "I want to be a teacher," she said. Just like her mom.
For more information on adopting children with disabilities and Chicago Lighthouse go to www.ChicagoLighthouse.org.
La Vida International
- entrusted to seek adoptive families for special needs children.
The Cradle in Evanston
2049 Ridge Avenue