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South Jordan family reflects on adoption that almost wasn't

(Ray Boone/KSL TV)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SOUTH JORDAN — They fought red tape in a foreign country for a mission of love. Now the Bonner family is reflecting on the past year and life with their new daughter, who they adopted from Russia.

Jaymi Bonner had no trouble fitting in with her new American family.

“She’s adjusted really well,” said Jeana Bonner, Jaymi's mother. “She kind of just jumped in. ... She just started picking up English, and we used sign language to bridge the gap between Russian and English.”

Jaymi, who has Down syndrome, recently celebrated her seventh birthday and a year with the Bonner family. The couple brought her to the U.S. on Feb. 14, 2013.

“She was very loving, very accepting of our family,” Jeana said.

Jeana and her husband, Wayne, have two biological children, including their firstborn, 4-year-old Kaelyn, who also has Down syndrome.

“Through that experience, our eyes were open about the world of Down syndrome,” Wayne said.

They knew they wanted to adopt a child with special needs, so they worked with Reece’s Rainbow, an organization that advocates and finds families for orphans with special needs.

“We saw a picture of Jaymi, and that’s kind of how it all started. (I thought) this is our daughter Let’s go get her,” Wayne said.

But getting Jaymi home wasn’t easy. After more than a year the adoption was approved in December of 2012, only to be followed by uncertainty when Russia passed a new law banning American adoptions.

“It was really heartbreaking,” Jeana said.

Still, it didn’t keep the Bonners away from Jaymi.

“I just woke up one morning feeling like I’m going to go, I’m going to do everything I can,” Jeana said.

Jeana and Rebecca Preece, an Idaho mother who was adopting a son with Down syndrome, spent five weeks in Russia. Their case went to the country’s Supreme Court, which ultimately gave them clearance to bring the children home.

Without that decision, the Bonners say Jaymi could still be in that orphanage.

“I think about that all the time because of all the friends who are still there. They’ve rarely left the orphanage, so (they're) spending every day inside the same four walls,” Jeana said.

Now, Jaymi is thriving.

“Her life is just so much fuller of all the people that love her and all the different things she gets to do,” Jeana said.

And the family, the Bonners say, now feels complete.

“It just feels like it was supposed to be,” Jeana said.

The Bonners say they’re adjusting to a new normal. Jeana Bonner was open about some of the emotional challenges of adopting. You can read more about their journey in Monday’s edition of the Deseret News.

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Sandra Yi

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