While most parents do not get to choose their children, the Lims could have done so before adopting each of their four children.
But they chose not to choose.
They told the agent: Let us adopt any baby who needs a home.
“We couldn’t bear the thought of any child being abandoned a second time just because we chose someone else, let alone decide between two beautiful babies whose existence wasn’t even their choice,” said Mr Dickson Lim, 49, director of individual philanthropy services for Asia-Pacific at BNP Paribas Wealth Management.
His wife Allison Chong, 43, an educator, had gone through eight cycles of fertility treatment before the couple decided to adopt.
The adoption agent, who has been in the business for more than three decades, told them that he had never met parents like them.
Many first-time parents tend to select children who look like them, to minimise questions about their origin. Others would check that the babies do not have any abnormalities or severe medical conditions.
Some would even check the educational qualifications of the birth parents to ensure a higher chance that the child would turn out to be smart.
Almost all would have a look at the baby’s photo before seeing the infant in person and take a few days to make the decision.
This is the usual practice, as adoption is for life and it costs about $30,000 to adopt a child. But the Lims see the children as a gift and were simply prepared to accept them.
In 2009 when the agent called to say a female baby from a poor family had been put up for adoption, the Lims, who are Christians, arranged to go to the agency’s office that weekend without first seeing her photo.
Mrs Lim wept when she first saw the 53-day-old baby whom the couple named Dawn to signify hope.
A year later, the couple called the agent again as they wanted Dawn to have a playmate. This time, the agent already knew no prior photos or viewing were needed.
The baby, named Amanda, looked purplish as she had severe jaundice. After signing the documents, the couple took her to a paediatrician and found that she had G6PD deficiency, a genetic disorder.
Two years later, in 2012, the Lims decided to adopt a baby boy. The 14-day-old, the fourth child of an unwed couple, had such a bad eczema flare-up that he smelt bad when they received him.
At two, the boy, Daryl, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He was later found to have dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). His sister Amanda is also suspected to have ADHD.
In 2014, the Lims adopted their fourth child, so that Daryl has a male playmate.
The agent sent them a photo of the boy as he had a huge lump at his navel.
They were told that he was given away by his young, single mother and probably “left on the shelf” for 77 days due to the lump, which they learnt later was umbilical hernia (protruding intestines).
Fortunately, the boy, Alan, healed from the condition within a year. But he was later found to be unable to recognise letters and numbers, and may also have dyslexia.
Today, Dawn is nine; Amanda, eight; Daryl, six; and Alan, four. They attend student care and childcare in the afternoon, while their parents and their domestic helper take care of them at night. All go to regular pre-schools and schools.
Despite three of their four children turning out to have special needs, the Lims have no regrets.
Said Mr Lim: “Just like how God loves us unconditionally, our love for them cannot be conditional on who they are now because we simply don’t know what other ‘surprises’, medical or otherwise, await us.”
Source: The Straits Times