Rue didn’t smile for 3 days when Holly and Doug first met her in China, and she didn’t speak until she was on the airplane home from China, Holly says. After that though, she has not stopped doing either. Holly says “Rue is just a delight. She is so big and vivacious. She takes over a room. She is spicy, has a great sense of humor, and is so loving.” Every day she tells Holly that she loves her. She is also athletic, and especially loves swimming, biking and more recently, golf. She loves arts and crafts, reading, storytelling and hanging out with her sisters, ages 12 and 15, who she thinks are cool.
“Barker was amazing,” say Holly. “Everyone there is so nice and helpful. We have felt very connected to Barker.” In fact, after their own positive experience, Holly and Doug highly recommended Barker to Holly’s brother and his wife, and they also adopted a child through Barker. Now Rue has a cousin, Lucy, one year younger, who was also born in China, and lives an hour away. The cousins see each other often.
Holly and Doug have stayed connected to Barker and the adoption community. Including their 2 other adopted children from China and South Korea, they have formed an adoption community in Omahawith families of adopted children from Guanji Province, China, where Rue is from, Latvia and Russia. They meet multiple times a year for Lunar New Year, play dates and potluck suppers. Rue’s school is International Baccalaureate (IB) accredited, and 35% of students are of Asian descent. Rue and the family feel completely welcome and included.
Holly and Doug have also become advocates for children with special needs. When children ask Rue about her prosthetic arm, Holly can step in to gently respond, but Rue is usually comfortable responding herself. Much more often, the kids just start playing. The family has also become supportive of the Lucky Fin Project, a non-profit organization “celebrating the wonderfully made, one ‘Lucky Fin’ at a time”, which provides medical information, resources, and education on limb differences. “A child being born with a limb difference is not tragic. It’s extremely important to show our children how capable & wonderfully made they are. If we treat them as flawed or limited that is who they will believe themselves to be- and that would be the tragedy”, Molly Stapelman, founder.
Well said Molly, and thank you, Holly and Doug, for what you do for the adoption and special needs communities. And to Rue, we can’t wait to see what you are up to the next time we check in with your mom. We are here for you all, always.