“The adoption took time – the LOVE

arrived instantly.”

— Unknown

One month ago, Mike and Jessica Leeds of Huxley returned from China with their adopted son, Tyeson. For the most part, everything is going well. The family is getting settled in with an additional child; Tyeson makes four. The children are all getting used to each other.

I guess you could say not a whole lot has changed in the Leeds home, except maybe the way the adults are taking a look at the world around them with a new perspective.

“I feel like I have been a pretty callused person,” tells Mike. “When we decided to adopt Tyeson, I thought of adoption as a very common thing. But, when we went to the orphanage to get our son, it really did get my head on straight. The minute I set foot inside that orphanage in China, I had an entirely new perspective on how fortunate we really are. We take so much for granted. Getting out of my comfort zone and seeing so many children with really no options gave me an entirely new perspective on life, and especially now during the Christmas season.”

This story began a year ago, when Jessica and Mike thought they had found a 13-year-old child, from China, that needed a forever family. He was living with a foster family here in the United States and would soon be considered unadoptable.

“I thought to myself, how can this be possible that at the age of 14 a child is considered unadoptable in China,” she explained. “But then the foster family did decide to adopt him, so we were unable to pursue the adoption of this particular child.”

“Jessica and I then had the conversation about having more children,” tells Mike. “We have three children, were we done having more children? We thought we were done, but not fully committed to being done.”

That’s when Jessica became curious and did some research on the possibility of adopting another child from China. She talked to Mike about it and he told her to “give me a week to think about this.”

It was at this point in time that the couple was 100 percent committed and said yes to the process. Two months passed; Tyeson came across the adoption site and Jessica said that he was adorable.

“There was just something about him,” she said. “I told Mike that I think that I found our son. He is so our story. There just isn’t a family more qualified to be prepared for this adoption.”

Mike and Jessica went to China and brought Tyeson back to Huxley. She feels that, within hours, they felt like he was their son as he bonded with them quickly.

For a child who was moved around a lot for the past almost five years, he has settled into his new surroundings very well.

“This is a child, who had been abandoned,” tells Jessica. “He then was in the China social welfare orphanage for two months, underwent heart surgery and lived with foster care, and then was transferred back to the orphanage for almost three years before we got him.”

Language is probably the biggest barrier right now according to Jessica. “We don’t speak the same language, but it feels like he has always been with us. He is handling this so well. All our children play well together and at the end of the day, they are all happy. Our balance has not been upset by adding Tyeson to our family.”

Mike and Jessica would encourage anyone who is considering adoption to reach out to them.

“The United States works on a foster care program, rather than orphanages,” tells Jessica. “We were shocked to hear that Tyeson, at the age of two, was abandoned on the side of a busy roadway in China. He had no family unit and this happens all the time in China.”

Although Tyeson is five years old now, he isn’t ready for school. His first year in the United States he will be staying at home, with some visits to preschool, and many playtimes with other children.

“Until his language develops, and we make sure his heart is healthy, we will be keeping him at home,” said Jessica.

“He’s real,” commented Jessica. “He’s this real little boy and he is handling this transition so well. All our children are so brave handling this. Tyeson is the one that has to trudge through this.”

Mike admits that much of the time he and Jessica were in China getting Tyeson, that he felt like he was walking through a blur of different dimensions. And with the holiday season upon them, he feels like this entire experience has put a new perspective on the “season.”

“One hundred percent I can say that this is our child forever,” said Mike. “This is not a temporary thing. When they gave him to us, I looked at Jessica and I said to her, ‘he is ours.”’

They admit it isn’t all going to be easy — it might become hard work, but not bad work.

“With the generosity of family and the village we have to support us, this entire process has opened my heart,” says the so-called callused Mike Leeds.

“We are changed people,” said Jessica. “What we experienced firsthand that day in the China orphanage has changed me. Those children left behind will never get to experience what Tyeson will. He is our child and he will be with us forever.”

Perspective, change of heart, opening of hearts and one small child that again has changed forever some of the world that the Leeds have known. Yes, Tyeson has truly joined the ranks of the Leeds children.