The Rathbone Family’s Journey to Elijah

We hear countless stories of the way God moves in family’s lives as He opens doors and faithfully guides a family in preparation for the child who will become part of their family. We are excited to share one of these stories today from David & Megan Rathbone. They traveled to meet their son Elijah in January this year, just 10 months after submitting their application to America World!


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When considering the orphans of China, many think of the One Child Policy and specifically the incredible number of girls who were abandoned as a result.  When my husband and I began our adoption process, we too thought that it was the girls most in need of homes and loving families.  Like many others, we were surprised to learn that currently in China the wait for a healthy or special needs girl is much longer than the wait for a boy. 

On the CCCWA Shared List (the list the Chinese government has of waiting children who are paper ready to be adopted) there are about 2,324 children- there are generally at least 2000+ children waiting to be adopted at any given time. This number fluctuates daily as children’s files are matched and other files are registered, but there are consistently more boys than girls available.  Agencies around the world have access to these files and work to match these children with a family. Often children who are on the shared list have more moderate medical needs or are older children, but agencies work diligently to advocate and match waiting children.  Of the children on the shared referral system, 1,692 (72.8%) are boys! (Red Thread Advocates). This does not even include the children who are part of adoption agency partnerships, like the many boys’ files that America World will be receiving and hoping to match with families in the coming months. Often referrals received through agency partnerships are referrals for younger children who have more minor correctible needs. As you can see there is a great need for people who are willing to be forever families for these little boys

My husband and I wanted to share our journey of adopting our precious three year old son in hopes that it would encourage those who are waiting for a referral or thinking about adoption to consider bringing a boy into their family. 

When we first began the adoption process we were drawn to a baby girl with minor special needs.  We already have two biological sons, one with Autism and a repaired Cleft Palate, and one biological daughter.  A girl, we thought, was the natural choice and the younger the better.  Our biological daughter would have a sister and minor needs seemed like all our busy family could handle.

However, as our eyes were opened to the many little boys on the waiting list who were ready for families, we felt our hearts open as well.  We couldn’t believe that there was no wait for these precious children, and that some of them had been on the shared list for years.  As we worked on our home study and application we decided not to specify a gender and instead remain open to a girl or a boy. 

Rathbone 3Additionally, during this process God opened our hearts to a much broader spectrum of special needs than we had previously considered.  I remember sitting in front of the computer with the daunting list of medical needs on my lap researching each one and finally realizing at the end that we actually were open to many of them! Having a son with special needs who was already in need of various therapies and medical interventions, we felt equipped to deal with an array of special needs.  Medical appointments, advocacy, therapies and interventions were already a part of our daily lives.  A child with more significant special needs would fit into the life we were already living.

When our home study and application were finalized, our Family Coordinator pointed out that if we were open to a boy or a girl the wait time for a boy was often shorter than for a girl.  By that point we were excited about welcoming a third boy into our family and realized that God had completely changed our original plan.  Within days we were contacted to consider reviewing the file of a little boy who seemed like a great match for our family.

Rathbone 2Elijah was 3 years old (older than what we had imagined), had Cerebral Palsy (CP), and at the time his file noted that he was unable to walk.  We requested an update from the orphanage, talked, prayed and sought advice from doctors. We were trying to make a wise informed decision, but deep down we knew he was our son.  We decided to wait until we received an update to make an official decision, but we knew that we would accept the referral regardless of whether or not he could walk.  To our shock, a few days later, we received an update of precious pictures and videos of Elijah walking and talking!  We knew he would need various therapies, leg braces as well as have some developmental and possible cognitive delays, but despite the uncertainties, the update confirmed in our hearts that he was our son. 

We said yes on June 15 and met him on January 10– only ten months after we began the adoption process!

Our son Elijah has been home three months now and has already been a huge blessing to our family.  He is working so hard in physical therapy. He keeps up with his older siblings and tries everything they do.  It is crazy and beautiful to see how God takes something that you thought you wanted and molds it into what he wants.  We could not have hand picked a better fit for our family.  Though we have had our struggles and hardships during the adjustment process, Elijah is sweet and loving and adores his older brothers and doting older sister.  Our children adore having a “baby†brother to take care of and have fully embraced him. Though the child we brought home was very different than the child we imagined when we began the process, we could not be more thankful that God showed us how much higher His ways are than our ways.

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The China Waiting Children Program currently has several new children available for adoption who have cerebral palsy and more children’s files are in process now. There are also a large number of children with CP who are available through the CCCWA’s shared system. Your family can view these children on the waiting children website or contact the China team with more details about other children who are available through the shared referral system who are not listed on our website.

America World previously shared another family’s adoption story and their adoption of Jane Katherine who has overcome many obstacles and is thriving with the care and physical therapy she has received for cerebral palsy. To read their inspiring story and God’s work in her life click here.

Lastly, we’d like to share a personal testimony from an adult with cerebral palsy and her encouragement to families considering opening their lives to a child with this need.

Want to learn more? 

Webinar –  Register for our free China Program Webinar today, May 10th or May 25th. Our China team will share details about our China program as well the amazing things happening in our orphanage partnerships.

Connect  Email our China team with questions at

Call our China team at 800.429.3369

Visit our China website pages: China Information


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