The Most Difficult Decision

The Most Difficult Decision

Guest post by Rich and Ginger Kruiswyk, MAA Colombia adoptive family

Buckle up … this is a long post, full of twists and turns. When we last updated you, we were facing a four-day mandatory lock-down, which we are now on the second day of. We are confined to our hotel room during this time. No one is allowed to be out in the city, with very few exceptions. Our hotel does not have cleaning staff or restaurant service. There are a few food services that are allowed to deliver food (restaurants and grocery stores). But, all in all, the city street we can see from our hotel room, that is usually crammed with people and vehicles (and lots and lots of motorcycles), is eerily quiet.

Thursday morning we had another little adventure as Naomi was complaining of pretty intense tooth pain. Naomi has some minor disabilities, including speech delays, and is not always easy to understand. Plus, she has some processing delays that make it harder for her to understand what we are asking. We understood the pain to be pretty bad (she had mentioned it to Rich the previous day when Ginger was not around), and, knowing the lock down went into affect the following day, we messaged our agency. These people are truly amazing!! One of our local contacts reached out to her dentist, who was only a 5 minute walk from here. Ginger zipped over there with Naomi (made sure they had their masks on) and we were in and out in about 20 minutes. Praise God it was nothing serious and she is doing just fine now.

But, while Ginger was there, she received truly devastating news … the Colombian president decided it was in the best interests of his people to close his borders to all incoming traffic beginning Monday, March 23rd … FOR 30 DAYS!!! This means no planes flying in for 30 days. So while there is no ban on leaving the country, there will not be any planes here to take people home.

We were put in a terrible position … do we stay with the girls, knowing we have no way home to our other children for 30 days at minimum, or do we return the girls to FANA (transition home) and fly home to our other children?

When we were together again, we had the one of the most difficult discussions (if not THE MOST difficult) we have ever had. At the end, after looking at how rapidly things have changed over the last week, we made the decision that it was best to return to the United States at this time. This was primarily influenced by several big factors: the thought that 30 days might turn into 60 or 90 days, or more (this seems a very real possibility when schools and universities are canceling activities 2 months out) and the fact that we know the girls will be very well cared for at FANA. They are truly the most amazing and loving people, and we know the girls are loved by the staff. They will get to be with friends, continue with some education, and will receive love and counseling. We will get to Skype with them weekly as well. Yes, we considered having one of us stay here while the other returned home, but rejected that option because 1) we didn’t feel living in an apartment for 30 or more days (with no opportunity for social interaction with peers or semi-formal education) would be a good outcome for the girls, and 2) we had not yet completed integration, which means the remaining parent would be able to do very little to advance the adoption process until we were both together again.

Next we had to tell the girls. We cannot tell you how absolutely horrible it was to have to tell them .. no words can adequately describe that conversation. So so so many tears cried by all four of us as we talked. We are all truly devastated at this turn of events. We tried to emphasize to the girls that we will be back AS SOON AS WE CAN, as soon as the borders are open, we will be back. Again, we are blessed because the girls have the BEST counselor at FANA who will help them understand, especially where our Spanish cannot get across to them all we really want to say.

Just when we were settling into the reality of leaving, we were given the news that we might not be allowed to leave. We are not going to go into the details of the reason behind that so that we can protect the privacy of our girls, but after preparing the girls to get picked up Thursday afternoon and making flight arrangements for Saturday, we were told to change our flights to Sunday, and then, that we might not be able to leave AT ALL….that we might have to remain in country indefinitely, until the travel ban is lifted. This was too much for Ginger, who basically had a meltdown (behind closed doors, so the girls did not see or know).

Our expectation was that we would find out for sure on Friday. After waiting all day, we received word that our agency made arrangements to be sure we could get out of the country on Sunday. We were simultaneously relieved and crushed. So, our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 7:30. The girls went back to FANA this afternoon. To say it was a difficult good bye would be an understatement.

The people at our agency have been absolutely amazing throughout all of this. They sent us groceries Thursday morning to help us get through the citywide lock down (before the travel ban was announced), they have kept in constant contact with us as we have waited for news, they answered all our questions, and have been a very understanding and sympathetic ear as we have struggled with (and continue to struggle with) the decisions we have had to make. Several of the local staff have even taken the time to talk to and reassure our girls. And, mind you, we are not the only family here! There are several others at various stages of the process that they are working with and we know are helping in similar and other ways throughout this nightmare. We are truly blessed by them! And, the psychologist at FANA has also been in contact and is very supportive.

Finally, a shout out to our kids at home!! We skyped with them yesterday, at the request of the girls, and filled them in with what was going on. We did not know the final outcome at that time, so we had to tell them we might not be home for 30 – or more – days. They are troopers. While they may also be struggling with the current situation, they understood and were willing and are very able to hold down the fort for as long as needed. We know we have several friends who have checked in on them while we’ve been gone this last week (so much has changed at home since we left, it is unbelievable), and we are beyond grateful for them, too. We hope to be pressing everyone back into service in a little over a month so we can come back down to Colombia and BRING OUR GIRLS HOME!!

In the meantime, we have a list of prayer requests:

1. Pray for the girls, for their peace and that they know in their hearts that they are loved, that we are coming back, that they are Kruiswyks now.

2. For our safe return home. We are flying through Houston, and we will immensely grateful to be back on US soil. We will be wearing masks, gloves, basically keeping our hand in our pockets, and taking every conceivable precaution.

3. That the measures being taken, by people all around the world, are enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to Colombia ASAP

4. That the 30-day ban is enough, so we can be back with our girls sometime in late April or early May

5. For peace for us – this has been incredibly difficult, we have questioned our decision more times than we can count as we have looked into the eyes of our daughters here in Colombia and into the future.

6. That we won’t be judged by others for our decisions. If only people could understand the agony experienced by us and others in similar (and different) positions, maybe there would be more empathy and less judgment. In fact, shouldn’t we always strive to leave judging up to God and instead just love? We’re pretty sure that is what God calls us to do.

This journey has not gone how we expected it to go in any way .. ANY WAY!! However, we know that God knew about this all along. While Ginger definitely struggled, she also stated that if we have to remain here, then God must know we need to be here in Colombia more than we need to be home. She would be lying if she didn’t admit that she is still very grateful that she gets to return home. Happy … no, not happy. Happy only if our daughters were coming with us. But grateful to know the girls are loved and safe here, and we can return home to make sure our other children stay safe as well.

Finally, one last little push – if you feel God is leading you to adoption … DO IT!!! These children are worth every bit of it. These last few weeks have been scary – including, no toilet paper!! We have eight (soon to be ten) people living in our house, so we need toilet paper! What we are facing is nothing compared to what many orphaned children around the world face. We miss and need toilet paper, they miss and need a home. We are blessed, and we should do something with all we have been blessed with.

Thank you for your prayers, and we ask you to pray us home. God willing, we should get home by 8:00 pm Sunday evening … hopefully we’ll be coming back to you in about 30 days to tell you our next departure date.

Blessings, Rich and Ginger

Interested in adoption?  Complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form today, and an adoption specialist will be in touch with you to discuss potential adoption options.  Not in a position to adopt right now?  Please consider donating to Madison Adoption Associate’s general grant fund.  Every dollar goes directly to finding families for waiting children.

Shifting

Shifting

We’ve all made some monumental shifts over the past two weeks.  Shifts from school to home-school.  Shifts from office to work from home.  Shifts from fellow-shipping with loved ones to being separated by a screen.  The list goes on and on.  And those dramatic shifts will continue, indefinitely, until we get to the other side of this thing.  We at Madison Adoption Associates are experiencing these drastic shifts just like all of you.  We are working from home.  We are trying to juggle our work responsibilities with our personal responsibilities.  We are relying on electronic connectivity now more than ever.  But perhaps more challenging than the physical shifts, are the emotional ones.  The shifting of our thoughts, and the questions swirling in our minds.  Will my loved one working on the ‘front line’ remain physically healthy?  What about emotionally healthy?  Will my child’s newfound anxiety subside when this is all over?  Will my brother’s business survive?  These questions, and many others like them, plague us all.  But a couple more that our staff is faced with are: What does all of this mean for the children who wait?    What does this mean for the future of adoptions?

Part of me wants to put those two questions out of my mind.  Part of me wants to just focus on the now, and worry about getting through this crisis, and get back to the children when it’s over.  Because right now, it’s all just too much to comprehend. 

But the other part of me….the part that dedicated itself long ago to children who wait, won’t ever let that happen.  You see, at MAA, the children are always forefront in our hearts and on our minds, no matter what else is going on.  And in times like this, especially in times like this, times when it would be so much easier on our mental health to be able to let just one worry go, is when the children who wait are even more so embedded in our every single thought.    People worry because people love.  Don’t the children deserve to be part of someone’s worries?

So wherever we find ourselves right at this moment….be it ‘paused,’ worried, locked down, front lines, etc….  Please don’t forget about the children who wait.  The children who would give anything to be part of someone’s everything…  The children that deserve the love of a family….

Thank you.

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Meet Jordan. Jordan recently turned 4 years old, and is described as quite intelligent! He loves to go to the pool and play with toy cars. Jordan is waiting for a family!

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Interested in adoption?  Complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form today, and an adoption specialist will be in touch with you to discuss potential adoption options.  Not in a position to adopt right now?  Please consider donating to Madison Adoption Associates’ Grant Fund.  100% of donations will go into this grant fund aimed at finding more families for children! !

Don’t Give Up

Don’t Give Up

It’s a strange time to be alive, and a very strange time to be adopting internationally. At a time when everyone is drawing in, staying home, closing borders, you are longing to bring someone far away near.

I see you, family who is staring at a room prepared for a loved child when you don’t know when they will fill it. I see you, family who traveled across the ocean for the first adoption trip and now has the second trip postponed indefinitely. I see you, family who waited years to be matched to your child only to have travel cancelled at the last minute. I see you, family in-country who has held your child and may now have to make the heartbreaking decision to leave because there’s no end in sight. I see you because I am you.

Credit Jeanna Rice Photography

We are in the midst of adopting our son from China, and have had our own process slow to a crawl, heading towards a standstill at the rate things are going. I’m feeling all the feelings you are. Frustrated and angry at the things out of my control. Guilty that I am upset about this when there are people losing loved ones to this disease. Embarrassed about the tiny baby clothes purchased that now probably won’t fit. Worried when our son had to go through urgent surgery a few weeks ago without parents there to be by his side. And mostly, just terribly sad about it all.

Lately, a new feeling has started to creep in: hopelessness. Seeing the outbreak finally dying down in China, a light at the end of the tunnel, only to have it explode around the world sending our timeline spinning out even further. A tiny voice whispering that we will never get to him, that we should just give up now.

But here’s the thing: that voice is a lie. I firmly believe we will get to our son. This outbreak will end. Families will be together. No, I can’t guarantee when it will happen. Adoption has never been the realm of guarantees. The only promise I can make is this: we will never get to our kids if we give up now.

They are still there, waiting for us. For those in Colombia, they are waiting for the families they know are coming, for the first time or returning to be reunited. For those in China, they’ve already survived the worst of this crisis there, and made it through. Surely we can do the same for them. So I beg you, don’t give up. Keep fighting. Hold onto hope.

Lindsey Gilbert, MAA Family Engagement Coordinator and Waiting Mama

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.

-Emily Dickinson

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

My county ‘shut down’ on Thursday.  Now, Monday, my entire state is ‘shut down.’  I am still going through all of the emotions and questions, “Do we have enough food?”  “Will my parents be OK?”  “How will I work at home AND teach my kids at the same time?”  And a million other questions.  Ultimately, “What will tomorrow bring?”  And I couldn’t help but realize the significance of this question.  A question that waiting children might not consciously ask themselves, but one nonetheless that they live out day in and day out.  What.Will.Tomorrow.Bring?  I’ve been living in this current uncertainty for four days now.  Only four days.  (And yes, I fully acknowledge that people around the world have been living this new reality for much longer).  But the children who wait live it every single day, and they always have.  So when I find myself panicking about toilet paper (14 rolls left and counting), or wondering if the kids were on screens too long today, or worrying that my husband will bring home germs from his essential job, I think of the waiting children.  The waiting children who always wonder what tomorrow will bring.

While we are all trying to figure out this ‘new normal,’ while we’re trying to figure out how long this will last, please, I beg of you, please, do not forget about the children who wait.  Because we WILL get through this crisis.  But will they get through theirs?  They won’t without families stepping forward to say Yes.  Especially in a time when that Yes might be harder than ever for a family to say.  But we need you to say it.  The children need you to say it.

So over the course of these next few days, weeks, months we will be sharing photos of waiting children with you.  Children who have been wondering for years – What Will Tomorrow Bring?  Please consider being the answer to their question.  A family.  Tomorrow will bring a family.

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Meet Zander. Zander is 6-years-old and loves the outdoors, listening to music, and smiling. Zander’s orphanage said that his cognitive abilities and development are on target for his age and they desperately want him to find a forever family!

Interested in learning more about Zander, or about any of the other children who wait? Please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form, or email Lindsey at lindseyg@madisonadoption.org.  And please visit our website to find information about all of our programs.

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 2

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 2

Hosting an older child from a foreign country, who has been living in an institution, can seem intimidating and full of unknowns. Read Part 1 of Niki H’s story here, about they came to decide to host a child in order to advocate and find their adoptive family, then come back for Part 2 below, and learn how in searching for the adoptive family for a child, they found the missing piece of their own family- twice!

I admit, committing to adopt AiJun was probably the scariest thing I have ever done, but by faith, I agreed. On the way to the St Louis airport at the end of the hosting stay, we saw one of the most beautiful, full, vibrant rainbows we had ever seen. I felt in my heart that it was God’s promise to me that everything would work out. I was no longer anxious about adopting AiJun, and I felt a peace about our decision.

Niki and family in China finalizing AiJun’s adoption

The next year was full of the necessary paperwork and preparing to go get AiJun. AiJun had been bullied in Kindergarten, and had been permitted to drop out of school for three years after the bullying took place. After the hosting visit, he went back to China and told his caretakers that he wanted to go to school again. We were thrilled to hear that he had a good experience at school during the year we were going through the adoption process. What’s more, our church immediately began raising money for our adoption. We received $6000 from our church, $2500 from a matching grant through Lifesong, $4500 in donations from friends and family, and $5000 from a ShowHope grant. We also received an adoption tax credit. After all my worrying about the money given to adopt AiJun instead of helping our son Peter with college, I felt that we had given Satan a black eye!

We have now had AiJun two full years. He is the same kid now that he was three years ago when we hosted: fun, caring, loving, and always ready for an adventure. He has blessed our family in more ways than I can count, and I feel beyond blessed to be his mom. Adopting an older child turned out to be the perfect fit for our family, as he is only six months older than our last child, Aimee. They are even in the same class at school. It is almost like having twins! As a matter of fact, I find it ironic that both their names begin with “Ai” and both their names are five letters long. The four cousins that came over are now all grown up, but we still see them often. Our first calling was to help out our niece and nephews, but our second calling was to adopt AiJun, and we are so glad that we answered God’s calling.

Our kids are 20, 18, 15, 12, and 11. Peter, our oldest, is attending our local community college this semester for cyber security certification and he also attended a training for four weeks in February in WI to become a sergeant in the National Guard. Emma, who just graduated high school, works at a local nursery and is making plans to take a gap year to volunteer at an orphanage in Haiti this winter. Ashley will be a sophomore in high school, and AiJun and Aimee will be in sixth grade. Our perspective on adoption has definitely changed drastically. Now we see it as God sees it. Adopting AiJun took something painful, hard, and sad and turned into something beautiful, happy, and healing. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days of heartache and sadness for AiJun, but I have learned that adoptions are stories of redemption. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t marvel at what a blessing AiJun has been to our family, and even though we knew he needed us, we now realize that we needed him more.

Meeting Sara, Melany and Bryan at the airport

But our story doesn’t stop there. This past spring, I felt the urge to do more for orphans. I decided to let the social worker who wrote our home study know that if the hosting program needed a family to host, we would be willing to host again. By late May, we were asked to host a sibling group of three: Sara, age 13, Melany, age 11, and Bryan, age 9, from Colombia. When my husband heard we were hosting again, he said, “You know we’ll end up adopting them.” I told him we were just advocating and being helpful and that we couldn’t possibly adopt three more children! But, just like three years before, within days of hosting the three children, the thought of adopting them began to enter our minds.

However, the logistics of providing a home for three more people was daunting. Our house only has three bedrooms, so our sleeping arrangements would be tight to say the least. But, as usual, God was at work to make sure everything was taken care of. Our pastor, who has always wanted a pond and who is also a skilled carpenter, offered to finish our basement in exchange for the pond he always dreamed of having.

Sara is sweet, smart, and very mature for her age as she has had most of the responsibility of her two siblings. Melany is adventurous and fun-loving, and Bryan is a typical boy who loved to fish in our pond. They aren’t perfect, and we won’t be perfect parents, but God’s handiwork is evident, and we rest in Him and His truths. It has been fun to watch AiJun’s face when we ask him if we should adopt, as he is on the other side of the situation now. He just beams and says “Yes! We should adopt them. They don’t have a family!” We are looking forward to spring of 2020 when we will travel to Colombia to get our three new children. We will be parents to eight children, but God will be with us every step of the way, because God is good, and He loves the orphan. Thank you for reading our story.

Interested in hosting? Read more about hosting on our website, or email Adriana@madisonadoption.org to learn more and get started!

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 1

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 1

Many families are interested in hosting but are scared of the unknowns- what will the child be like? Will the language barrier be too challenging? How on earth will we say goodbye at the end? Read one family’s experience with hosting and how it changed all their lives for the better…

As a teenager dreaming of my future family, I wanted children and I wanted a big family. I also remember thinking how neat it would be to adopt a child someday. But for many of us, myself included, life doesn’t play out exactly as planned. As the years began to pass (eight years to be exact), God blessed us with three children, Peter, Emma, and Ashley, and a thriving business.

In the spring of 2006, we received the devastating news that our sister-in-law had died unexpectedly at age 37, leaving four children ages 11, 9, 7, and 2, whom she had been homeschooling. At the time, our children were 6, 5, and 2 and I had chosen to homeschool as well. Even though our hearts were broken, God had a plan.

I knew when we had found our house that it wasn’t a coincidence that God provided us a home within walking distance of where they lived. So I followed God’s lead and reached out to them by inviting them over to homeschool with us twice a week that fall of 2007. On September 13, 2007 our fourth and final child, Aimee, was born. I was happy to help out my niece and nephews, but as the years passed and my children grew, the prospect of adopting seemed less and less of a possibility. It had always been a dream to adopt a younger child, not a child half grown, and my children were no longer babies or even toddlers. Adopting an older child entailed a set of circumstances that I just wasn’t comfortable with.

However, time has a way of changing things, and it wasn’t too many years before some of my kids were high school age and we decided their current needs would be best met in public school. By this time I had dismissed the prospect of adoption entirely. However, my second child, Emma, had not. By the age of five she had begun to express interest in our family adopting and at a young age had a huge heart for orphans. In the summer of 2015, our church began promoting a hosting program. Emma was 14 at the time. She enthusiastically showed me pictures of the host kids and begged for our family to host an orphan. As we would arrive to church on Sunday mornings that spring and early summer, people would comment and giggle about Emma’s enthusiasm that they had seen on Facebook and ask if we were hosting. I would laugh it off and reply no. At some point during those crazy years of building a business I had given up the dream of adopting a child. But God hadn’t given up.

One morning I received a text message from a close friend named Kea who had adopted a boy named Brody from China two years earlier. She said that she knew we had been somewhat interested in hosting the year before (little did she know that I actually hadn’t had any interest in hosting) and was wondering if we would “co-host” with them this summer? After further discussion, talking it over with John, and praying, we agreed to co-host one child, with her son Brody as our helper and translator. The child would be at her house a week, then our house a week, then vice versa until the host period was over. Emma was beyond excited, and promised she would help out with whatever we needed.

Then I got a phone call from Kea. The hosting coordinator did not like our idea of “sharing” a child. She told us respectfully that these children are orphans, who have never experienced family life before. They were coming all the way from China, and even if they were never in their life to receive the gift of a family, at least they got to experience one for four weeks while in the US. She said that she understood our desire to help each other by babysitting for appointments, etc. but that we each needed to host our own child. Reluctantly, we knew in our hearts that she was right, and agreed to host a child on our own.

On the way to the airport, Kea began to describe what our Chinese child would most likely be like from her experience with her own adopted son. I was surprised to hear that our host child would have only experienced inner city life. Kea informed me that he most likely won’t want to play outside. He probably won’t like our big dogs. He will be afraid of bugs. Since we live in the country and spend a lot of time outside, I braced myself for the longest four weeks of my life.

Upon arriving at the airport in Springfield, we met our host child, AiJun. He was small for his age, nine years old, and very, very tired. He did not smile at us or try to speak. Brody tried speaking to him, but could not understand the few words AiJun said. There were many Chinese translators there, helping families speak to their host children. Several came up and tried to speak to AiJun, but he wouldn’t respond. Then one of them began to play with AiJun, to get him to say something. Soon he giggled and spoke. “He speaks Cantonese,” she told us. My hopes and dreams of Brody translating for us for the next four weeks diminished as Brody only knew Mandarin.

The next morning, AiJun quietly walked down the stairs. He saw our youngest child, Aimee, who was then eight. She began to play cars with him. I was relieved to see him smile at her and enjoy the interaction. I began to make breakfast and I set out a can of sweet milk, a Chinese children’s drink, that we had bought at an Asian grocery store in Springfield the evening before. AiJun’s face lit up when he saw it. After eating a hearty breakfast, he and Aimee played more. I was hesitant to let them play outside, assuming he would be scared of the dogs, but he wasn’t. As a matter of fact, AiJun wasn’t scared of anything we assumed he would be scared of, and we were humbled as we realized how wrong we were to label AiJun as the problem child we assumed he would be. AiJun soon proved to us that he was just like any normal kid, and it wasn’t long before he was having the time of his life going on boat rides, catching fireflies, jumping off the dock into our pond, playing with the dogs, hiking, and simply being a kid and enjoying the summertime.

We were also literally amazed to discover that AiJun was super easy going and had a great sense of humor. The only thing we couldn’t get him to do was speak into our phone to try to communicate, but he made up for that with the hilarious things he would communicate with just body language. After just two weeks of hosting AiJun, John mentioned the prospect of adopting him. And I had to admit the thought had crossed my mind as well. He just seemed to fit so perfectly into our family and he was just such an awesome kid. But I was also reluctant and scared wondering how would I teach him English? Where would he go to school? How would we pay for the adoption? Is the paperwork really as bad as everyone says it is? But I had been wrong already in so many ways, that I wondered: could God possibly be was at work in this situation? Maybe we were the family that was to adopt him all along?

To Be Continued…

-Story from MAA family Niki H

Want to learn more about hosting? Visit our website for more information about hosting, or email hosting coordinator Adriana@madisonadoption.org

URGENT! Help for China!

URGENT!  Help for China!

Friends – We come to you with a plea.  A plea for help.  Help for our friends in China.  And help for some of the most vulnerable – the children.  Due to the Coronavirus, China is facing a shortage of much needed supplies to continue to fight the virus, such as medical masks and gloves.  These items are currently non-existent in China, and that shortage has spread to neighboring countries.  Our friends and colleagues in China have reached out to us for help.  So we are reaching out to you.  PLEASE, if you have access to any of these supplies (new and in original packaging), mail them as soon as you can to our home office.  We will be gathering a shipment to send to China as soon as we can.  The sooner the better. 

Please note we can’t accept further donations of hand sanitizer due to shipping constraints.

Please send to:

Madison Adoption Associates

1102 Society Drive

Claymont, DE 19703

For those of you who do not have easy access to these supplies, we humbly ask you to consider a monetary donation so we can purchase more supplies, and to assist in covering the shipping costs.  With the goal of getting supplies to China as soon as we can, the shipping costs will be significant.

On behalf of our colleagues in China, and the children, thank you.

Please email contact@madisonadoption.org with any questions!

Finding Family

Finding Family

We are in the midst of Lunar New Year celebrations, a holiday that emphasizes spending time with family, when people all over China typically travel across the country to reunite with loved ones. In that spirit, here is one family’s story about finding an extension of their family, and what it has meant to them…

Our first two children had been home for about 7 and 9 years, and we had often gone back and forth about whether to adopt a third child or not, though we knew we wanted to adopt an older boy (between 3-6 years old) if we did adopt again. Our middle daughter’s best friend has Beta Thalassemia Major, so we had direct knowledge about it through her family, and that was a special need we were open to.  Our middle daughter also had significant attachment issues when she was adopted at almost two years old, being diagnosed before she turned three with RAD, which is why it took us so long to get to adoption number three- our daughter needed our full attention to be able to heal, and not only did she heal, but she is thriving.

The three siblings

However, because of that experience with helping our daughter heal from her RAD diagnosis, we learned a lot about the importance of brain development in children.  We saw a file of a seven-year-old little boy who had beta thalassemia major, and who had only entered the orphanage at the age of five.  Because he was five when he entered the orphanage, there was an “older child questionnaire” where they asked him his name, his age, and his parents’ names. He could answer that he was five (but Chinese age five, not chronological age five), his name was Wu Zi Long, and his dad’s name was Wu Cai Hui.  China decided he was “nearly six” and assigned him a birthday. We guessed he was closer to four when he entered the orphanage. Our assumption was that his family must have tried to take care of him as long as they could, but ran out of funds and had no other choice.  We decided pretty quickly to move forward with the adoption and he joined our family in September 2018 at the age of seven. 

While we had already planned to search for birth family after adoption since we had his dad’s name, it surprised us when, on the day we met him, the orphanage director told us “you have his dad’s name, you can find him…”  While so many people in China say, “forget what is here, look forward to your future,” she recognized what we already knew: your future and your past are not mutually exclusive. Your past is a vital part of who you are and should not be discarded or forgotten.

Kelli’s son as a toddler with his “China Baba”

In January 2019 we celebrated his 8th birthday.  In February 2019, we posted a “poster” on WeChat searching for his Chinese parents.  Within two days, I received a message from a Shenzhen new station, and over the next 4 days, they interviewed me three times on TV.  The producer told the reporter that they should keep on the story until we found his family.Six months after we adopted him and eight days after hitting “post” on WeChat, I was on a 3-way call with the reporter and our son’s dad in China. We were both nervous, but had a brief conversation.  The reporter connected us by WeChat and within three days, I had over 200 photos of our son’s first four years, including some with his mom before she left (she was extremely young), his birth certificate, and our son’s father’s official ID.  We now knew he was really only six years old.  In August, we celebrated his 7th birthday (eight months after celebrating his 8th birthday!)

Celebrating his birthday with both his dads

We are now counting down the days to our son’s Make-A-Wish trip to see his China Baba. The man we now know, and talk with nearly every single week, is kind, loving, devoted, and deeply passionate about being in his son’s life.  The first videos he sent me were heartbreaking; crying sad and happy tears, thanking us for finding him, for adopting his son, for giving him a life and a future.  He used his life savings and ultimately still had to make the horrible sacrifice to get his son the care he needs.  Our son is a loving and happy child because of his time with his dad.  Our assumptions from the beginning may well have been incorrect, but fortunately for us, they were not.  His dad is now a part of our family, and we look forward to meeting him soon.  We didn’t just adopt a son, I now have a “brother” in China (he calls me Jiejie), our son has a connection to a father in China who loves him deeply, and our family has become much more international.  Finding one birth family (so easily) has not come without challenges for our other children who have wanted to know for much longer, but we all move forward day by day, and find the path that presents itself.

Story by Kelli G, three time adoptive mom

Taking the Leap

Taking the Leap

Adoption is always a leap of faith. There is the leap of not truly knowing what your child will be like, how their personality will mesh with other family members. There is the leap of committing to a child with limited information on their health and development. And since the Department of State shared new interpretation of regulations in 2018, for families who hope to adopt a waiting child it means the leap of completing a home study; investing time, energy, and money, not to mention their hearts, before they can be matched to that child, not knowing if that child will still be waiting when their home study is done.  

Since this change, international adoption numbers have dropped, particularly for waiting children. Families are still interested in adoption, and inquire about waiting children, but fear holds them back from beginning the adoption process because they worry “What if that child isn’t available when my home study is done?”

We understand this fear -it’s no small endeavor to complete a home study, and becoming attached to a child only to be unable to bring them home is heartbreaking. However, we see the other side too: the children who still wait. The numbers aren’t going down. 3387 children currently wait on China’s shared list. Over 300 children on the current waiting list for the Philippines. Hundreds more wait in Colombia, Bulgaria, and the Dominican Republic. We worry- who will take the leap for them?

That’s why we’re so happy to share that in 2019, all eligible families who applied hoping to adopt a specific waiting child were matched with that child once their homestudy was done.

Why do we share this? Because we want to remind families that it’s entirely possible that the child who is tugging on your heart will still be waiting three or four months from now, when you could have a home study complete.

“ We hadn’t even started our home study and were actually told that there was a 95% chance that she’d be matched with someone else before we were able to complete our HS.  Instead of discouraging us from getting started because someone else would probably lock her file first, that statement actually ignited the fire in me.”

No, there are no guarantees you will be matched with that child, but when has adoption ever been a guarantee? More importantly, if you don’t take that leap and start the home study for that child- will anyone? Or will that child continue to wait indefinitely, aging out of eligibility for adoption as too many do?

“When the thought of someone else being matched with her before we could be literally brought me to tears, I knew we needed to go for her.  I told myself that if she was matched with someone else then she wasn’t meant to be our daughter.  But I also couldn’t take the chance of waiting until we planned on starting and losing precious months with her if she were still waiting when our “time was right”.”

So if you’ve been watching a waiting child, and haven’t started your home study because you’re afraid- take the leap. Don’t let fear hold you back from giving a child a chance for a family, and your family the chance for the joy of a new child. Make 2020 the year we get to share that MORE waiting kids were matched than in 2019.

Lastly, from a mom who didn’t get to adopt the first child she set out to adopt, let me just say this: if the “worst” happens, and you don’t adopt that child you hope to, once you’re home with the child you do adopt, you won’t be able to imagine any other child in your family. However it ends up, it will all be worth it- so take the leap.

Thousands of children around the world continue to wait for the love and permanency of a family. Email lindseyg@madisonadoption.org today to learn more about the children who are waiting for you.

Dear Auden…

Dear Auden…

Dear Auden,

Where do I begin?  How do I start a letter to someone who has been on my mind and in my heart every single day for over four years?  I guess I’ll start at the beginning….

I will never forget the day I met you.  I was in China on an advocacy trip and was given the opportunity to come into your orphanage.  We met many children, took pictures and video, and gathered all the information we could so when we got home we could advocate like crazy.  We went from crib to crib, asking questions and sneaking in as many hugs and kisses as we could.  Then they brought you, in their arms, out to meet me.  I had seen babies like you on TV, in the news, and depicted in movies.  But never had I been face to face with a baby who very much appeared to be dying.  You had nannies and caregivers who were doing all they knew to help you, but your digestive needs were great, and you were very clearly slipping away.  I honestly have no idea how you were even still alive.  We asked questions about you, your needs, and how we could help.  I left that orphanage forever changed, because of you Auden.  So many waiting children weigh heavily on my heart.  But you, Auden, you became so deeply imbedded in there from that day, I knew I had to do something.

Our team contacted several organizations, and we were able to coordinate with Love Without Boundaries to get you not only the medical care that you so desperately needed, but also the love and nurturing from a wonderful foster family.  We were relieved you were off death’s doorstep, and we were hopeful that an adoption file would be prepared for you.  But only time would tell!

Several colleagues were making another trip to China in November 2016, with hopes of spending time in your province.  I begged them to check in on you, and to let me know how you were doing.  Oh how glad I was that they got to see you!  When I opened that picture of a chubby, gorgeous, bright-eyed meatball, I sobbed with joy….initially not even convinced it could possibly be you!  Oh Auden!  You did it!  You hung on, and you persevered.  And, thanks to Love Without Boundaries, you not only survived, but you were flourishing!!!  Our team gathered information and took many glorious pictures of your chubby face!  And we continued to hope and pray that an adoption file would be prepared for you to have a chance at a forever.

July 31, 2017 – the day finally came!!!  You had an adoption file and were now available for international adoption!  We immediately jumped into action and began advocating for you.  Many people were touched by all that you had overcome but still, your family did not step forward.  And we tried Auden.  I promise you, we tried.  We’ve never stopped trying.

Fast forward to now.  Sadly, you had to leave your loving foster home and return to the orphanage.  While the orphanage staff do their best with the limited resources they have, you, understandably, did not handle the transition well.  A Madison family was traveling to China just weeks ago to adopt their second child from your orphanage.  You have been on their heart too.  The Adoptive Mom packed some things for you specifically!  When she saw you, she cried.  But, they were not good tears.  When she sent me your picture, I didn’t recognize you.  Back in November 2016, I cried happy tears as I didn’t recognize you because you looked so wonderful. This time, though, I didn’t recognize you because you no longer smiled, and had scars on your head, likely from banging your head on the crib you sit in day after day and hour after hour.  This time, Auden, my tears were because I was devastated for you.  There you sat in a crib on a floor I’ve learned is no place for any child to be, and the look on your face was not of peace and contentment, but of sorrow and worry.  Oh Auden, after fighting for your life and coming out on the other side, here you were slowly slipping away again.  We just cannot let this happen again! 

So, with the help of many angels on earth, we have reached back out to Love Without Boundaries to see if they are able to provide any help.  And miraculously, it appears they are.  But, as with everything, it will not be free or cheap.  But Auden, you are loved, you are worthy, you are perfectly and wonderfully made, and you deserve care, compassion, and love.  Our prayer for you is, as it has been for years, that you get this care, compassion, and love from an adoptive family.  Until then, we are blessed that Love Without Boundaries is able to provide it for you.  But, they need help.  And I can assure you that I, many others who love you, and Madison, are all prepared to step in and provide that financial help so that you can thrive once again!

Auden, if I had a dime for every time I thought of you, for every time I prayed for you, we wouldn’t be in this position of needing funds for your care.  Many waiting children have touched my heart, but only a few have impacted me the way you have.  You have changed my life.  I will continue to advocate for you, to stand by you, to pray for you, and to ‘rally the troops’ and get whatever funding is needed so you can thrive again.  And dear Auden, I will NOT give up on you until you are flourishing again AND until we find your forever family.  Don’t lose hope sweet boy.  I made a promise to you the day I met you, and I stand by that promise now, and forever.

With Love,

Brooke

Love Without Boundaries is working diligently to provide care for Auden, but they need support.  Please consider donating to Madison Adoption Associates, as we vow to match every single dollar donated to us (up to $10,000) – Every penny will go to Love Without Boundaries specifically to get Auden the help, care, and services that he needs.

In addition, Madison Adoption Associates is offering a $5,000 grant to the qualified family who commits to adopting Auden.  Please complete a free Prospective Adoptive Parent form to find out more about Auden, and the adoption process.

MAA Adoption Programs

Madison Adoption Associates currently offers international adoption programs in the countries of China, the Philippines, and Bulgaria. Our programs mostly focus on placing children who have special medical needs.
April 2020
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