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updated: 6/2/2018 8:08 PM

Constable: Chinese orphan brings love and challenges to empty nesters

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  • Video: Parenting years after adoption

  • With their six daughters grown, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted their son David from China in 2005. Discovering that David, now 20, has developmental disabilities and a mental illness has created many challenges in the past 13 years and forged the Ogilvies into passionate advocates for David and others.

      With their six daughters grown, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted their son David from China in 2005. Discovering that David, now 20, has developmental disabilities and a mental illness has created many challenges in the past 13 years and forged the Ogilvies into passionate advocates for David and others.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Their six daughters are married, but Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie's son, David, has lived in their Schaumburg home since he was adopted from China as a 8-year-old. With developmental issues and a mental illness, David, now 20, requires his parents to be full-time advocates to get him the care he needs.

      Their six daughters are married, but Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie's son, David, has lived in their Schaumburg home since he was adopted from China as a 8-year-old. With developmental issues and a mental illness, David, now 20, requires his parents to be full-time advocates to get him the care he needs.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Since the day in 2005 when he got off the plane from China, David has been the much-loved son of Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg. But it took years for the Ogilvies to discover that David, now 20, has hearing issues, developmental disabilities and a mental illness.

      Since the day in 2005 when he got off the plane from China, David has been the much-loved son of Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg. But it took years for the Ogilvies to discover that David, now 20, has hearing issues, developmental disabilities and a mental illness.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Knowing only that the boy had open-heart surgery at some point and was living in a bleak orphanage in China, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted their son, David, in 2005. During the past 13 years, the Ogilvies have become passionate advocates for their son, who has hearing issues, developmental disabilities and a mental illness.

      Knowing only that the boy had open-heart surgery at some point and was living in a bleak orphanage in China, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted their son, David, in 2005. During the past 13 years, the Ogilvies have become passionate advocates for their son, who has hearing issues, developmental disabilities and a mental illness.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The signs greeting David when he stepped off a plane from China in 2005 were written in English and Mandarin, but the 8-year-old boy couldn't read any language because he had developmental disabilities and other issues. Now 20, David laughs often and can read his version of how and why Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted him.

      The signs greeting David when he stepped off a plane from China in 2005 were written in English and Mandarin, but the 8-year-old boy couldn't read any language because he had developmental disabilities and other issues. Now 20, David laughs often and can read his version of how and why Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg adopted him.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Abandoned as a toddler on the streets of Hohhot, a city about the size of Chicago in the Inner Mongolia section of northern China, David Ogilvie was 8 when he was adopted by Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg in 2005. In addition to gaining loving parents, David, now 20, got six instant sisters and now has 18 nieces and nephews.

      Abandoned as a toddler on the streets of Hohhot, a city about the size of Chicago in the Inner Mongolia section of northern China, David Ogilvie was 8 when he was adopted by Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg in 2005. In addition to gaining loving parents, David, now 20, got six instant sisters and now has 18 nieces and nephews.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Having raised six daughters in their Schaumburg home, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie were empty-nesters when they adopted their son, David, from China in 2005. When they discovered the boy had developmental disabilities, hearing loss and a mental illness, they developed a new set of parenting skills.

      Having raised six daughters in their Schaumburg home, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie were empty-nesters when they adopted their son, David, from China in 2005. When they discovered the boy had developmental disabilities, hearing loss and a mental illness, they developed a new set of parenting skills.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Developmental disabilities make it difficult for David Ogilvie to read, but he recites by heart the story of how he was adopted from China in 2005 by parents Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg. Now 20, David loves showing photographs from that time, and even notes that one of his favorite memories was "the White Sox won the World Series."

      Developmental disabilities make it difficult for David Ogilvie to read, but he recites by heart the story of how he was adopted from China in 2005 by parents Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg. Now 20, David loves showing photographs from that time, and even notes that one of his favorite memories was "the White Sox won the World Series."
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Standing outside the Schaumburg home where he has lived since Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie adopted him from China in 2005, David Ogilvie says he would like to move into a group home for people such as him with developmental disabilities. But it's not that easy.

      Standing outside the Schaumburg home where he has lived since Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie adopted him from China in 2005, David Ogilvie says he would like to move into a group home for people such as him with developmental disabilities. But it's not that easy.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The six daughters of Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie -- Valerie, Heather, Kelly, Christy, Elisa and Becky -- were grown and out of the house when their parents adopted a son from China in 2005.

      The six daughters of Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie -- Valerie, Heather, Kelly, Christy, Elisa and Becky -- were grown and out of the house when their parents adopted a son from China in 2005.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

By Burt Constable

Blessed with health, good jobs, lots of energy, the experience of seeing their six daughters grow into happy, productive adults, and the desire to do something to make the world a little better, Bob and MaryAnn Ogilvie of Schaumburg jumped into a second parenthood in their 50s by adopting an adorable little boy from China in 2005.

"Every time I go to bed, my parents repeat the story," says David, now 20. "A long time ago in a far-off land …"

After that, well, the story veers off in directions no one could have predicted, with many challenges that continue today.

"David was an abandoned child, so there's no family history," Bob says, noting David was between 1 and 2 when he was dumped on a street and ended up in an orphanage in Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia in the northern part of China. Having met a couple at Willow Creek Church in South Barrington who were older when they adopted children from Russia, the Ogilvies first learned of David during an informational meeting of Children's Hope International, a faith-based adoption and aid agency. The Ogilvies were told only that the boy was 8 years old, maybe 7, had undergone open-heart surgery at some point in his young life, and needed someone to love and care for him.

"We had just become empty-nesters and we said, 'What do we want to do now?'" Bob says.

"Do we buy a summer house, get a motor home, travel the world? We wanted to do something meaningful," says MaryAnn, who pondered the purpose of life in a group at Willow Creek Church, which the family still attends.

"We both had a lot of energy," says Bob, who was 54 at the time and working as a manager with the company where he used to operate a crane. MaryAnn was 52 and working as a physical therapist at Northwest Community Hospital. Now 64, she is a manager. Bob, now 67, took early retirement from his job to stay home with David.

Knowing the problems caused by the language barrier, the Ogilvies hired a tutor who spoke Mandarin. But David didn't do well in second grade. He didn't understand much Mandarin. He acted out in class. When it was discovered that David suffered severe hearing problems in both ears, his parents got him hearing aids.

"OK, problem solved," Bob remembers thinking. One problem was solved. More on the way.

An attempt to help David make friends and fit in through youth baseball failed instantly.

"I got hit right in my arm. I ran after the pitcher with a bat and I got kicked out," David says.

His parents thought he must have post-traumatic stress disorder after David told them stories of dead babies at his orphanage being carted off to an incinerator. After years of struggles trying to understand all the issues with academics and behavior, the Ogilvies learned that David had a developmental disability that left him with an IQ far below normal, brain damage from malnutrition in his first years of life, and a bi-polar disorder.

"It's like Ping-Pong. Every time we hit the ball over the net, it comes back with something else," Bob says. "We never look back. We just keep trying to make the best of the situation."

"And now I have reflux," chimes in David, who underwent testing on that gastroesophageal issue this week.

David was an 8th-grader at Robert Frost Junior High when he transferred to Miner School in Arlington Heights, an alternative school run by the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization. He spent his senior year in high school at the newly built Higgins Education Center, a similar school in Hoffman Estates. Now he is part of a transition program at that school, learning skills that allow him to work in the cafeteria this summer. All those programs for young adults with disabilities end the day before a client turns 22.

As they have since the day David stepped off that plane at O'Hare, the Ogilvies are consumed with trying to do what is best for their son.

"There's no playbook. You just have to claw your way through that," his dad says. "And there are a lot of Davids."

Advocates for their son and others, the Ogilvies are fluent in the alphabet soup of Illinois bureaucracy from CILA (the Community Integrated Living Arrangement program of group homes for individuals such as David) to PUNS (Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services, the statewide database of people with developmental disabilities who need services). In the most recent report from April 2017, the Illinois Department of Human Services moved 917 people off a PUNS waiting list of 19,354 people.

"Unfortunately, their son is not unique," says Meg Cooch, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, an advocacy group for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities, and part of an umbrella organization known as the They Deserve More coalition. "There are still people waiting five or more years for services."

The Illinois budget passed by legislators Thursday and expected to be signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner includes a 50-cent-an-hour raise for direct support professionals (DSPs) who care for these people in community settings and currently have an average starting pay of $10.59 an hour, according to theydeservemore.com. A related bill would establish six new "diversion homes" and could help someone such as David, whose occasional need for the psychotropic drug Thorazine has kept him out of existing group homes that require legal guardians or health care professionals to administer those drugs.

As his parents explain the issues facing people with disabilities in Illinois, a smiling David jumps in with a joke, a memory of the first movie he saw ("'Wallace & Gromit.' I didn't like it.") or tales of the fancy footwear he gets only if they are on sale ("I do like my Michael Jordan shoes.").

"After raising six, we thought we had seen everything. But we had missed a few things," Bob says.

"We keep trying," says MaryAnn. She teaches 24 three-hour classes a year as part of her volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental illness Barrington Area chapter. David volunteers with a program for 4- and 5-year-olds at church and walks his neighborhood handing out free vegetables from their garden. "I'm always thoughtful," David says.

For all of his issues, David explains why this often-difficult journey has been worth it for him and his family.

"Every kid," David says, "needs a home."

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