Lee family gives, receives ultimate gift
While American families with pre-teen children may have visions of video games, gadgets and other goodies dancing through their heads this time of year, Kristen and Michael Lee’s family are deeply grateful for their latest gift: son Ryder Michael Yang Lee, a four-year-old boy from Beijing, China, who joined their family in October.
The adoption process had taken nearly a year but the Lee family never questioned the time and effort involved.
“Ryder is an entertainer. He loves to laugh. He is strong-willed, too,” says Michael, D.P.M.’96, M.H.A., FACFAS, who practices with Capital Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, PC, in Clive, IA.
Adoption also felt natural to the Lees. Ryder’s middle name is inspired by Kristen’s brother Michael, who was adopted from Korea nearly 38 years ago; she also has an adopted sister along with a biological brother.
“Kristin has always wanted to make adoption part of her family, too,” Michael Lee says. The couple had talked about adoption often with their birth children, Karson, age 11, and Morgan, 9. “We gave them an opportunity to process it,” Michael says. “They naturally had questions, but they were quickly on board with the process, too.”
The weeks since Ryder arrived in Iowa have had their challenges – primarily language and the fact that like most boys adopted from China, he has a special need – for him it’s microtia, a severely underdeveloped external right ear. But the challenges are eclipsed by the joys, Michael says.
“Ryder makes us smile everyday. Simple things like running on grass for the first time – literally; Beijing is a big, crowded city – or bringing a Christmas tree into the house always bring big laughs,” he notes. “Obviously, giving a child a home brings joy to us, too.”