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The Gift of Treasured Mountain
Our son Zak’s ‘delivery room’ is the concourse of Terminal C. He arrived into our family on a United Airlines flight from Beijing to the United States in 2003 as a very small 7 year old with a little more than the clothes on his back and a name given to him by his birthparent. This name was Bao Shan.
Zak Bao Shan was born in Beijing, China sometime in the year 1996. His earliest memories are of poverty, ‘broken’ clothes, and sickness. He has described how one can catch, cook and eat a rat. He has described the house he lived in with his biological parents as having no electricity and no running water. He has described digging with his grandpa in the snow for grub to eat when there was no other food. Zak has described memories of being very sick for a long period of time as his parents did not have the means to make him healthy.
When he was just five years old, Zak watched his mom ride off on her bike, leaving him on a bench at a busy train station in Beijing with the hopes that someone would find him and heal him in a way she could not. When Zak was abandoned by his birthmother he was in heart failure and near death. He was sent to Beijing Children’s Welfare Institute soon after he was found.
In April of 2001 Zak had open-heart surgery where his heart valve was replaced with a mechanical one. He spent the following 2 1/2 years at BCWI recuperating. His memories of institutional living are far from fond and to this day he does not talk kindly of his life in a large orphanage in China.
Remarkably, Zak has since discovered an inner beauty that the grey and sorrowful first seven years of his life lacked.
Zak is a constant reminder of what we have to be thankful for in our lives. On the day he was ‘handed’ to me in Beijing, China, he clutched in his hands all of his worldly possessions, all of his ‘stuff’. It fit into a bag the size of an ordinary lunch sack, yet he came to me with a smile. Once again he drew upon something within, an innate gift of strength and spirit given to him by his birthparents to endure the hardships of a difficult young life and an unknown transition to come.
Since that moment several years ago, when we saw Zak’s recognition of beauty and art he has soared with his talents. Simply put, Zak is an artist. I am at times amazed at Zak’s natural gifts and am saddened to think what could have been if he hadn’t been abandoned. Truthfully, Zak would be dead if his biological parents had not made the heart wrenching decision to leave him at the train station. The only way to fix him was to abandon him. We would not have our son and the world would not know Zak’s gifts.
Chinese tradition dictates that a person’s name is not only an identification but also a way of expressing aspirations and expectations. When Zak was born 13 years ago his birthparents must have taken so much pride in giving him his name, Bao Shan, translated Treasured Mountain. They must have expected great things from their first born son. Sadly the path they expected came to a dramatic end because his heart stopped working properly. They were left without that all important son so vital to the Chinese culture. If only they could see their son now, their Bao Shan. If they could witness how he has lived up to his name beyond his years. I know they would be proud of the gift they gave to me, the gift of Treasured Mountain.
This was The Answer for Zak, Be The Answer for another child by supporting Love Without Boundaries, which provides medical assistance to orphans in China. For creative ways to help, please visit their website.