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South Jordan couple reflects on first year with daughter adopted from Russia

Published: Sunday, May 4 2014 3:16 p.m. MDT

"We all thought that they all … had it all together and everything was perfect, and to be like, 'No, this is hard. We're struggling with this,'" Jeana Bonner said. "I think that's been the biggest help — talking to other adoptive parents that have had the same feelings just to be like, 'Good, these are normal feelings to have, and I just have to work through them.' That's been really helpful."

She also credited her husband, their families and neighbors for their help and support. She said there were so many kind and generous people throughout the state who offered their help, including a woman who volunteered to take The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints family's picture after they were sealed together in the Bountiful Temple.

The family has also been met with complete love and acceptance in their community.

"I think it says a lot about our society, too, that it's to the point where 11-, 12-, 13-year-old kids are going out of their ways to say hi to a kid with special needs instead of being ashamed or embarrassed that they know a kid with special needs," Wayne Bonner said.

For her part, Jaymi has taken to her parents, siblings and extended family. Jeana Bonner said Jaymi taught them unconditional love because she loved her new family fully, before she really knew them.

"Now I feel normal, like she's in our family. I feel like she's our daughter, and I know that will get even better as time goes on and we spend even more time together," Jeana Bonner said, noting that now it's hard to imagine life had the adoption not gone through.

"I probably would have felt like I had lost a child," she said, "because that's what would have happened. It does make me grateful for even the hard days to stop and think and just kind of hold her and realize what a miracle it is that she is because it so easily could have gone another way."

Wayne Bonner said Jaymi has helped the family gain a new perspective. Last year, Jaymi struggled to make her way across a wobbly bridge at the park. Now, she runs across it.

"I think a lot of things that we would take for granted, she's opened our eyes that it's a big deal," he said. "She takes so much pleasure in the little things."

Jaymi started Kindergarten in the fall and loves school. Jeana Bonner said they hope to encourage that love and provide Jaymi with every possible opportunity. To families considering a similar adoption, she said to take each day as it comes.

"It's hard, but it's absolutely worth it," Wayne Bonner said. "She came with a lot of baggage and trying to break all that down and bond with her was not the easiest thing mentally or emotionally, but the rewards make it absolutely worth it."

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

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