Skip to main content

How You Can Support Post-Adoption Families and Adoptees

How You Can Support Post-Adoption Families and Adoptees

Dear Friend,
What a year it has been! We pray that you and your family have weathered this crazy COVID storm, and that this letter finds you and yours healthy. We surely are living through history, with the pandemic affecting every aspect of life, adoptions included. While many countries are allowing adoptive families to travel, others have not yet reopened, and our hearts break for the families and children waiting to be united. Despite the closures, despite the painful delays, and despite the unknowns, MAA remains dedicated not just to finding families for the children who wait, but supporting those families and children for life, and this is the reason I’m writing to you today.

We know that when an adoptive family finally meets their child, that’s not the end of the journey, it’s just the beginning. Attachment, culture shock, and challenging behaviors of all kinds are the norm for adoptive families, and the uncertainty of the pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges. Prior to the pandemic, we were already busy working behind the scenes to strengthen our post-adoption support for all of our families, and now that work is more needed than ever.

Over the past several years, we have recognized that the face of ‘the adopted child’ is changing. The children in need of adoption are almost all older, medically fragile, and/or sibling groups, all with histories of trauma, and families frequently need support and guidance to successfully emerge as a bonded family. Adriana Chaves initially joined the MAA team as the Hosting Coordinator, but as hosting became impossible this year due to covid, a new purpose emerged. Adriana has her master’s degree in Clinical and Family Psychology, so it was a natural fit for her to step into a new role as MAA’s Post-Adoption Wellness Therapist. She has been running virtual support groups for adoptive parents and adoptees, helping families identify needed resources in their area, and providing one-on-one post-placement support to families going through significant challenges. Additionally, she’s provided cultural education for families in our Colombia program, with 30 families attending her recent webinar on Colombian culture!

The Colombia Kids Group has been a great safe place for our daughter to socialize during these unusual times with kids just like her. She has been able to connect with children that she interacted with at her orphanage and has also been able to talk with other children with similar stories to her. It is a unique, friendly, no pressure group that she looks forward to participating in.

-Michelle, MAA Adoptive Mom

So on this Giving Tuesday, we are reaching out to ask for your help in supporting our mission to bring hope, love, and connection by serving children, individuals, and families in the areas of adoption, foster care, and support services. Thanks to a generous donation this summer, we were able to offer our post-adoption support groups to all families, whether they adopted through MAA or not, but for that work to continue and grow, we need donations to continue too. Visit our new donation page, and when you select “Post-Adoption Services” 100% of your donation will go to our work supporting post-placement families and their children. For those who can, please consider a recurring monthly donation, so we can consistently provide these essential services to any family who needs them!

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of adoptive families and children, thank you for your consideration. We are all ‘in this together’, in more respects than one.

Please stay safe and God bless!

Sincerely,
Diana Bramble, MBA, LMSW
Executive Director of Operations

National Adoption Awareness Month: Adoptee Voices to Learn From

National Adoption Awareness Month: Adoptee Voices to Learn From

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and who better to share about adoption than adoptees? We’ve gathered a variety of resources from adoptee voices below, and encourage adoptive families to check some of them out, whether you’re in process for your first adoption or have been home with your children for years! Even when an adoptee is not from the same country as your child or of the same race, they will likely share some of the same experiences and feelings. Some of these voices will challenge you, as adoptees share their sadness and grief around their adoption, but we encourage you to sit with their experience and see what you can learn. These adoptees take the time to share their stories to help the next generation of adoptive families and adoptees.

Blogs/Websites

  • Red Thread Broken: Grace Newton was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, and adopted by an American family when she was three years old. Her site has myriad resources, including blog posts, film and book reviews, and more. Be sure to check out her recent post about using the game Jenga as a conversation starter with your child!
  • Lost Daughters– “Lost Daughters is an independent collaborative writing project founded in 2011.  It is edited and authored exclusively by adult women who were adopted as children… Our authors come from a variety of walks of life, world views, religions, political stances, types of adoption, countries of origin, and countries of residence. Our ages span from early 20’s to late 60’s. Although we cannot possibly cover every experience and perspective of adoptees on our blog, we try our best to provide insight on what it is like to live adoption from the adoptee perspective.”
  • Dear Adoption– Founded by Reshma McClintock, a transracial, intercountry adoptee from India, Dear Adoption accepts submissions from adoptees of all views and backgrounds to share their experience.
  • Only Black Girl– Rebekah was adopted domestically; she’s Black, her adoptive family is white. She writes about her experiences being the only Black person in her town, and shares the stories and experiences of transracial adoptees.
  • Therapy Redeemed– Cam Lee Small was trans-racially adopted from Korea. He holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed clinical counselor, focusing specifically on adoptees and adoptive families. He offers many resources online in addition to his counseling services, including workshops, and shares essays on a variety of topics.

Films

  • Closure– Angela Tucker is a Black woman, adopted by a white couple at one year old and raised in a large, multiracial family. Her adoption was closed, and this documentary follows Angela for two years as she searches for her birth family.
  • Side-by-Side– 100 short films, each interviewing one Korean man or woman who was either adopted internationally, or who aged out of orphanage care.
  • Somewhere Between– Filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowles adopted her daughter from China, and made this documentary to learn more about the experience of older adoptees. It follows four teenagers adopted from China to the US as children, as they journey back to China and attempt to understand their own identities and stories.
  • Lion– Based on the book (listed below) by Saroo Brierley, detailing his experience getting accidentally separated from his family in India at five years old, before being trans-racially adopted to Australia. Twenty-five years later he begins to search for his birth family.
  • Calcutta is My Mother– This documentary by Reshma McClintock tells her story of being transracially adopted by a family in the US, and many years later returning to the city of her birth, to try to connect to her roots and culture that she feels so distant from.

Books

Podcast/Youtube

  • Yes I’m Adopted, Don’t Make it Weird– Brett and Daveaux were both adopted from Korea, and have a ton of videos covering a wide range of topics, which they discuss with honesty and plenty of humor!
  • The Adoptee Next Door– Angela Tucker (of the film Closure, listed above) interviews adoptees of all different backgrounds on a variety of topics.
  • Adoptees On– hosted by Haley Radke, she talks with adoptees from different backgrounds as well as adoptees who are therapists to gain their expertise.

Social Media

We hope you enjoy and learn from these varied voices from the adoptee side of the adoption triad! If you have questions or want to discuss what you read reach out to your case worker or email us.

Max’s Story

Max’s Story

In honor of October being National Visual Impairment Awareness Month, we are privileged to be able to share Max’s story! Thank you to Max and the S family!

The morning of March 19th, 2018 we had the amazing blessing of becoming the forever family of Max Xiaonan, who had fought, at his short age of 4 years old, a battle with cancer (bilateral retinoblastoma), he had won the battle but had lost one eye, his left eye.  He received numerous treatments, including systemic chemotherapy and doctors in China were able to save his right eye, though it was left with poor vision.

Our precious Max came home with us March 30, 2018 and we started the journey of becoming his new family, his new life. He is always smiling and happy! Asking all kinds of questions and wanting to touch and smell everything! Haha!

After getting adjusted a little bit we took Max to his first eye doctor appointment, which went well, the doctor said he could see there was something but couldn’t tell if it was scaring or something else, that Max needed to see a specialist and be checked under anesthesia.

The day was finally here…his first EUA (Examination Under Anesthesia)…as a side note when he was asked what kind of smell he wanted for his mask (they have different smells for the kids: bubble gum, strawberry, cotton candy, etc.) he said chicken!! I want chicken smell)..LOL.

Anyway the EUA was supposed to take 30 to 45 minutes but instead took 1 hour and 15 minutes and when the doctor came into the room he had two more people with him and their faces said it all…Max had 4 active tumors!  4!  And they were big ones!

Wait..what???..our son..the little one we just brought home??!..the one who barely understands English and is just learning to love his family?! The one who asks why daddy’s face is dirty because he doesn’t understand that men can grow a beard?! ..The one learning to eat cake? The one who can’t eat ice cream because is too cold?! Noooo! He can’t start fighting cancer again….not again!! He is only 29 lbs ..4 years old and 29 lbs! He can’t fight cancer when he is so tiny!

Well..here we go…July 30, 2018 we traveled to St. Jude in Memphis, TN, August 1st we got his second EUA, doctors couldn’t understand how he could even see because his eye was so damaged but they said they were going to do their best to save it as it was his only eye. They started treatment right away, they also ran tests looking to see if the cancer had metastasized, which it hadn’t , thank God!.

Every 10-14 days we went back to St. Jude in Memphis for treatment, or to the ‘Big House’ as Max calls it…because to him it just looks like a big house and it has toys everywhere, the nurses and staff love Max…he always has a smile or something funny to  say…oh!..always hungry..wanting to eat chicken and discovered St. Jude’s cafeteria tater tots! Ha! His favorite! The volunteer from the EUA playroom said she has never seen a kid as full of joy as Max, even when his eyesight was getting worse and worse he was still so happy and didn’t mind playing and just living his life to the best!

Unfortunately, September 19, 2018, yes, six months from Gotcha Day! We got some sad news, Max had some new tumors, these ones were looking really bad and the doctor was really concerned that the cancer could spread to the brain if we didn’t enucleate his remaining eye soon enough. Although the decision was really hard, we didn’t want to take the risk of metastasis so we scheduled the surgery for October 10th, 2018.

We went back home for the next two and half weeks and decided we were going to help Max experience everything we could and give him all the fun visual memories so that he could remember all that before going blind. With the help of family and friends he got to see a police car, fire station, fire trucks, went to Branson, MO and the amusement park, got on a monster truck, he saw a Christmas tree, we painted pumpkins, we celebrated his birthday (early) so he got to see his cake and blow his candles. He had so many good memories! We pray he will never forget them!

On October 10, 2018 Max had enucleation of his remaining eye, which left him completely blind, he has reacted amazingly well, he is as joyful and perky as he has always been! Nothing stops him! Not even a week after surgery he was bouncing and jumping around singing and praising God singing one of his favorite worship songs.

Although he has a few bad days, where he feels a little overwhelmed, the majority of the days are excellent, our child is teaching us that no matter the circumstances we have the choice to be happy and play or to stay in a corner and cry and even though doctors and experts have told us that we saved his life by adopting him, we believe that God brought Max here and in the right time for a reason and our son will show the world living his life as a testimony.

In celebration of National Visual Impairment Awareness Month, Madison Adoption Associates is pleased to be able to offer a grant of $1,000 to any family who applies, contracts, and commits to adopting a child with a visual impairement during the month of October.  Please email lindseyg@madisonadoption.org for more information.

Why Not Us?

An advocacy post on Facebook changed my life forever.

In the spring of 2016, God broke my heart for a little girl who was waiting for a family in China. She was precious – an adorably chubby baby sitting on the floor, arms stretched above her head, sweetest little joyful grin on her face. My heart shattered as I realized when she reached up to be held that there was no Mama (or Dada) to pick her up and love on her. This precious little one also happened to have Down syndrome.

Before her little face, we’d always talked about adoption. “Some day.” When we were more ready, when our children were older, when we had more money in the bank. Before her little face, I never thought that WE could say YES! to parenting a child with Down syndrome. Only “special” families were called to do something like that. We weren’t spiritual enough, rich enough, brave enough to walk that road.

After her little face, I began to wonder “Why not?” Why not adopt? Why not Down syndrome? If not US, who?

Many tears were shed, many prayers said on behalf of a little girl whose joy-filled face I could not forget. Were we missing out on our daughter? God eventually granted me peace through a dream that this little girl’s family would give her older brothers (something our family could not provide) and that she would be HOME. Over the years, I’ve continued to think about and pray for her.

A week before we left for China to meet our own darling girl, I connected with the Mama of the child God used to crack my heart wide open. She does, indeed, have a Mama and Dada. And two older brothers (and two big sisters to boot!) who love her dearly. I am so thankful that God orchestrated her story so beautifully. I will also be forever grateful that God used her face, and the idea of her, to change me and my family forever.

When you see the photos of little ones waiting for their families maybe you think the same things: “Not now!” or “Not me!” But maybe – just maybe – God will break your heart for that specific child, or one of the MANY other children, who waits.

We did not know anyone with Down syndrome before adopting. In fact, Cora was the first person with DS that we ever knew in person. I found so much support through online groups, where parents had already walked some of the roads we were about to take. There are so many groups, so many resources. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask to connect! Most families in “The Lucky Few” (because WE are the lucky ones!) would love to talk to you about raising a child with DS, or can point you in the direction for resources that may help you. Places to start: The Lucky Few Podcast, the Down Syndrome Adoption Questions Facebook group, or start following families or people with Down syndrome on social media!

The best thing about parenting a child with Down syndrome is getting to see the world from a new perspective. Cora has changed the way we think about almost every aspect of our lives. After our relationships with Jesus, getting the privilege of parenting her has been the next biggest catalyst for adding joy to our days, slowing down to appreciate the truly important things, and having a more eternal view of what our purpose is in this life we’ve been given!

On the flip side, the hardest thing about parenting a child with Down syndrome has been adjusting and responding to how the world views our child. Even though we thought we were prepared, there have been so many instances where I’ve been taken aback by people’s archaic, negative, or prejudiced views of people with Down syndrome. We knew we’d have to advocate for her in certain educational situations, but I’ve learned that advocacy is a day-in day-out process as we navigate the world. Helping others see beauty and worth where the world doesn’t can be exhausting, but what a joy and privilege it is to shout their worth. So much is changing in the world for inclusion. I cannot wait to see what the world looks like for Cora when she’s my age!

I wish others understood that each person with Down syndrome, like every other human who has ever walked this planet, was created in the image of God. We are ALL more alike than we are different. We are all created to contribute good and beautiful things to our world. I’ve had others tell me how tough adopting a child with Down syndrome would be, ALL the things that our child would likely never do, all the “hard” we were walking into by saying yes. But you know what? Zero of that matters. Because every child is worthy and deserves a family. 

Emily and her family are currently on their adoption journey to bring home their second child with Down syndrome. Thank you for sharing your story! Are you considering adopting a child with Down syndrome? Email Lindsey Gilbert to learn about the children who wait, or complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent Form today!

WE are the Lucky Ones {A Family Perspective}

WE are the Lucky Ones {A Family Perspective}

Down syndrome adoption.  It sounded terrifying. There was NO WAY we were equipped to parent a child with Down syndrome. We both work full time and were just a typical family.  Other than being teachers, we did not have a lot of experience with special needs. We also already had 3 very active boys (ages 12, 7, and 3) who were hard enough to keep up with some days. Adding a child with possible lifelong needs, multiple therapies, and learning disabilities was what everyone seems to hope their children DON’T have to endure.  We couldn’t possibly consider this. 

But the need was there. The need IS there. And it is HUGE.  These children are so very worthy of love and a family. They have so much love to give in return. To know someone with Down syndrome is to know unconditional love.  After seeing all of the sweet faces being advocated for, I could no longer say no.  Without families stepping forward, their futures are bleak.  The possible lifelong needs, the therapies, and the academic struggles no longer seemed like such a burden. Saying “no” suddenly became way more scary than saying “yes.”

We adopted Meilyn Joy, our 2 year old daughter with Down syndrome, from China in August 2019. She is an incredible blessing to our family. Our hearts melted the moment we met her, and we knew without a doubt that she was meant to be ours.  She is sweet, hilarious, easy going, and smart.  Seeing her meet milestones and experience new things fills us with more pride and happiness than we ever knew was possible. She loves her 3 older brothers, and they absolutely adore her too. I actually worried about how adding a child with Down Syndrome would affect our other children. But I truly believe that she has already and will continue to make them better human beings. They are more patient, empathetic, and selfless because of her. They see others with different abilities and now realize, that like their sister, they are really more alike than different too.  

Our world has suddenly become so much brighter because of Meilyn, and we are excited to see how many more lives she touches. Her future is so bright and we can’t wait to see all of the things she is going to accomplish in life. We are so thankful that we said yes. WE are the lucky ones to get to be her family and we can’t imagine life without her. 

In celebration of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Madison Adoption Associates is pleased to be able to offer a grant of $1,000 to any family who applies, contracts, and commits to adopting a child with Down syndrome during the month of October.  Please email lindseyg@madisonadoption.org for more information.

Spunk & Determination {A Family Perspective}

Spunk & Determination {A Family Perspective}

We were deep in the process of adoption from India when I received an email, advocating for an 8 year old boy, who had the most incredible smile. I committed to pray for a family for this little boy, and I was faithful to do that over the next few months, as we received updated emails and pleas for a family for him. In the meantime, India denied our request to adopt due to our family size (we had five children at the time). Though our hearts grieved for the little girl from India whom we had hoped to adopt, we also felt confident that my prayers had been answered for the precious little boy from China. God had found him a family…ours!

We scrambled to update our paperwork for China, and also to learn more about this child’s special need, spina bifida, or myleomeningocele. We learned that it was a complex special need, requiring care from various specialists, but we were so certain that this child was our son, that we did not hesitate to move forward.

After Stephen Yuankai came home, we were on a steep learning curve. We waded through the many appointments and specialists and it wasn’t always with grace. But, our new son’s beautiful smile and wonderful disposition kept us fighting to learn more about how we could care for his needs.

Fast forward five years and we felt that God was leading us to put our knowledge of spina bifida to use again. We contacted friends, who were advocating for children, and asked them to let us know about any children that they knew who had spina bifida. When we saw 6 year old “Laurel’s” video on MAA’s special needs registry, we felt sure that we had found our daughter! She seemed to have a great deal of determination and spunk, and we were absolutely smitten. There were a few roadblocks to overcome before we could give our absolute “yes!”, but God used the time to strengthen our resolve.

On July 2, 2018 we finally met our beautiful daughter, Ruby Xiaohong, in Taiyuan, China. The spunk and determination that we saw in that first video were immediately evident. It was also evident that this little girl was one smart cookie! What she lacked in mobility (Ruby Xiaohong does not walk, but Stephen Yuankai does), she made up for in strength of character and will!

At just three months home, she has stolen the hearts of her siblings and parents. She is quite the dynamo! She chops vegetables with the best of them, plays wheelchair basketball with her brother, sings songs all day long, and knows almost all of the consonant sounds.

Ruby Xiaohong has had many doctor’s appointments over these past three months, but we can honestly say that it is much, much easier the second time around! One issue that is not uncommon for children with spina bifida is that they can have significant kidney issues without certain types of treatment. Ruby Xiaohong has grade 5 reflux in her left kidney that most likely would have caused her serious problems if she had remained in China. For that reason alone, we are incredibly grateful that she is here with us! It is a joy to attend to her medical needs, knowing that we are significantly improving her future quality of life.

Our family has eight children now, seven of whom are adopted. While it’s true that medically speaking, spina bifida is the most complicated special need of all of our children, we can honestly say that it is just a small part of who our son and daughter are, as people. Stephen Yuankai and Ruby Xiaohong are both bright, courageous, strong children who are absolute blessings to our family. We thank God for the privilege of raising these two precious children!

For more information about adoption, and our programs, please visit our website.  We are happy to offer a special grant of $1,000 in celebration of Spina Bifida Awareness Month.  Any qualified family who applies, contracts, and commits to adopt a child with Spina Bifida during the month of October will receive the grant, in addition to MAA’s regularly available grants.  Email lindseyg@madisonadoption.org for more information.

The Sibling Perspective: Older Child Adoption

The Sibling Perspective: Older Child Adoption

While adoptive parents frequently share their stories, we don’t often hear from another family member who is obviously impacted by adoption- siblings! MAA is grateful to Jase sharing his perspective on his parents adopting his younger sister from Colombia, read on to hear about his experience…

1.What did you think of the idea of having an adopted sister when your parents first brought it up?
I really didn’t think my parents adopting would have a huge impact on me because I live so far from them, but I was so wrong. Even though there is a 10 year age difference between my sister and I, we’ve bonded and talk about life all the time. I’ve learned a lot about the world from her and look forward to seeing her when I get to see my family.

2. What were you most worried about?  What were you most excited about?
Living across the country from most of my family, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to build a relationship with my sister while she grew up, but we’ve been able to spend time together and communicate over all kinds of technology and social media. Bonding has been so much easier than I expected.
When I met Angie, she couldn’t speak any English and I spoke extremely little Spanish, so our communication had to be pretty straight forward through translating apps or yes/no questions. I was so excited for both of us to grow in our language skills to actually communicate and get to know one another. She has definitely done a better job than I have of catching up to the language barrier, but it is so awesome now to have actual conversations about things that would have just been vague gestures before. Plus, she is constantly helping me learn a new language now, which is special for a younger sibling to get to teach something so important to her older brother.

3. What is your relationship like with your adopted sister?  How has it developed from when you first met her?
I was surprised by how naturally a relationship with my sister developed. It took a lot of time, of course, but I can relate to her now just like I do with my other siblings. She does a great job keeping up with her three grown brothers and sister in conversation and thinking about life, and we can tell that she wants to relate to us just like we want to relate to her. I do think Angie was skeptical of me when we first met, just because I can be so different from the rest of my family who she relates to well, but through visiting my home, meeting my partner, interacting with each other from across the country, and doing activities that she really enjoys, our relationship feels naturally like a brother and sister now.

4. How has adoption impacted your life?
Adopting a sister has expanded my family and changed the dynamic of how we relate to one another. I wasn’t expecting much to change for my siblings and I, with three grown kids out of the house and living in different areas of the country, but Angie brings such a center to us all. We try new languages, foods, and games that she shows us. We talk about and explain concepts like politics and faith that we may not have before. And we have to keep up with a teenager who loves sports and the outdoors. Angie has changed how we do things and what we decide to do, but it all feels natural now, like we were just missing a member of our family before.

5. What would you tell other young adults who are about to have an adopted sibling for the first time?
It takes a lot of time, but it does all come together naturally in the end. It was so hard not to try to force a relationship or overwhelm my sister with attention, but I am glad that we let things progress naturally because in the end, that is how a family comes together. Even for siblings like me who may be far from home, an adoption is still a huge blessing.

So many older children wait for adoption in every country MAA works in: Bulgaria, Colombia, China, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic, as well as Pennsylvania foster care. If you have considered opening your home to an older child, please contact us today or complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent form to learn about the children waiting for families!

The Light of Our Lives {A Family Perspective}

The Light of Our Lives {A Family Perspective}

Our decision to adopt came from a feeling we had over the course of several years.  Specifically adopting a child with Down syndrome from China wasn’t initially part of our plan, but we’re so glad that we made that decision.  Our little Lucy is the light of our lives.  She is the joy we didn’t know we were missing.  She makes every day better and makes every person in our house better.  She makes us smile and helps us to remember the things in the life that are important.  

The decision to adopt domestically or internationally is a very personal choice.  Our family dynamics and personalities led us to international adoption because we knew that once we got our little girl home, it was final.  We didn’t feel like we could handle the emotional roller coaster of foster care and the thoughts of being on a list waiting to be “picked” by birth parents was too much.  We felt the pull towards international adoption largely because of the great need for parents for these precious children.  Why should a child’s country of birth determine their “worthiness” to be part of a loving family?  We decided to act upon what we considered the “greater need.” 

Once we opened our hearts to adopting a child with Down syndrome, we felt a pull that we can’t even describe.  Lucy is quick to hug and offer a smile.  We knew that her joy and happiness would greatly benefit our family, and it has.

It’s a hard decision to take on a child with special needs.  We know that Lucy will most likely be with us for the rest of our lives, and now that we have her in our family, we are so glad!!  It was a scary step to take at first.  We worried how it would affect our family dynamics.  We worried about what would happen when we passed away.  Who would care for her after we were gone?  We worried about placing that “burden” on our other children.  We no longer worry about that.  Lucy is so loved by her siblings.  The immediate bond has been a miraculous thing to witness.  Our other children will have the opportunity to love and care for their sister for many years to come.  Who wouldn’t want that glorious opportunity for their children? To have someone that will unconditionally love them forever?  Priceless.  Our 13-year-old son (who was the most worried about adopting) recently said to us, “I was worried that Lucy would make our lives harder, but she hasn’t!  She makes our family so much better.”  I know that in the future our other children will want to come back and visit us because they long to see their sister Lucy.   

People don’t believe me when I say that things are nearly perfect with her in our family.  But it’s true.  She fit right into our family without a hitch.  Honestly, the hardest part has been scheduling and making it to all the doctor’s appointments that come with a newly adopted child.  But those are mostly just a one-time deal.  The language difference was hard at first, but after about 5 months, we communicate really well.  We aren’t very experienced travelers, so the adoption trip was hard at times, but it was such a wonderful adventure and we would go again in a heartbeat.  We are so grateful for this opportunity and would adopt another child with Down syndrome without question!  

It’s so hard to describe how much joy Lucy brings into our family.  Sometimes words aren’t powerful enough.  We have learned to be more loving, selfless, kind, and understanding.  Lucy loves everyone she meets.  She can bring a smile to the face of anyone.  She has taught us about acceptance and has opened our eyes and hearts to all of those around us.  My children are more kind to those they come in contact with at school who have special needs.  They have more love and tolerance than I could have ever asked for.  Lucy has brought a sense of unity to our family.  We are so immensely grateful for the opportunity to have Lucy in our family and would whole heartedly recommend to any family to open their hearts and homes to a precious child with Down syndrome.  Your life will be greatly enriched and you will love like you never knew possible!   

For more information about adoption, and our programs, please visit our website.  We are happy to offer a special grant of $1,000 in celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  Any qualified family who applies, contracts, and commits to adopt a child with Down syndrome during the month of October will receive the grant, in addition to MAA’s regularly available grants.  Email lindseyg@madisonadoption.org for more information.

Statistics: Special Needs of Special Focus Children in China Age 0-5

Statistics: Special Needs of Special Focus Children in China Age 0-5

International adoption is an ever-changing world; some changes happen quickly, even overnight, and others are slow, gradual shifts over years as culture and societal systems change in sending countries. In China, we have seen a steady progression in the past several years, where fewer young children with needs adoptive families typically consider “minor” are listed for international adoption, especially girls. This shift is happening for wonderful reasons, because children are more often able to stay with their biological families, and more families in China adopting domestically are open to considering special needs. Additionally, in December 2019 the Chinese adoption authority, the CCCWA, made a change to the method for matching children designated “dossier only” or “LID.” These are the children who are typically younger and have needs many families consider minor. Under the new system families may wait years to be matched with a child designated “LID,” so we are encouraging all families considering the China program to be open to the type of needs seen in “Special Focus” children. “Special Focus” children are the children the CCCWA considers harder to place for adoption, due to their age, special needs, or both.

We wanted to get an accurate picture of the children who are in need of international adoption in China currently, so we looked at the last twelve groups of newly prepared Special Focus children’s files, from February 2019 to July 2020. For this first set of statistics, we focused on younger children (listed for adoption before their sixth birthday), since these children are typically matched directly with waiting families, so it’s harder to get a sense of the what the most common special needs are by looking only at waiting children. Most children over six wait for a family, and if you are interested in adopting an older child we are happy to talk with you about the many waiting children!

Notes:
We counted each child by their primary diagnosis, and did not list other special needs that are typically a direct result of that primary diagnosis (ie. a child listed with a brain abnormality diagnosis who also has an epilepsy diagnosis was only counted in the total for brain differences, since epilepsy is often a secondary diagnosis caused by their brain abnormality, a child diagnosed with spina bifida and hydrocephalus was only listed under spina bifida, etc). We did not note secondary diagnoses that are typically considered very minor, including hernia, undescended testicle, heart murmur, strabismus, etc. If a child had two apparently unrelated significant diagnoses, we counted both, but only counted the child once in the total number for their age/gender group. Since many of these children were matched directly to a family, we are not able to view the details of their files, and can only categorize as best we can given the basic information on the list of files from the CCCWA. Some additional notes about some of these special needs categories are below.

Down syndrome: Many of the children with Down syndrome had additional diagnoses, including heart defects, gastrointestinal issues, etc. We did not count any of these diagnoses in the other totals.

Heart defects: The majority of these children were only listed with the generic description “congenital heart defect,” so specific diagnoses were mostly unknown. That said, special focus children typically have more complex heart defects, including tetralogy of fallot, pulmonary atresia, complex dextrocardia, double outlet right ventricle, transposition of the great arteries, and single ventricle.

Gastrointestinal: This includes anal atresia/imperforate anus, jejunal atresia, intestinal atresia, necrotizing enteritis, pyloric stenosis, etc.

Developmental delay: We only counted children who did not have another significant diagnosis besides some type of developmental delay (motor, speech, cognitive, psychomotor, etc). Many children with other diagnoses also had secondary diagnoses of developmental delay of some type, these children were not counted in this category.

Brain Differences: This included a wide variety of diagnoses, including agenesis of corpus callosum, arachnoid cysts, widened septum pellucidum, cerebral dysplasia, enlarged ventricles, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, etc.

Urogenital: This includes hypospadias, ambiguous genitalia, micropenis, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, bladder extrophy, etc.

Cleft lip/palate plus 2nd need: While most children who are only diagnosed with cleft lip and palate are designated LID/”dossier only,” there were many Special Focus children who had cleft lip and/or palate along with one or more other diagnoses, so it’s still a need parents should research and consider. Many of the children had needs commonly associated with cleft lip/palate, such as hearing loss or speech delays, others had different birth defects, such as a heart defect or microtia, that could indicate an underlying genetic cause.

Limb Differences: Many children were only listed as “limb differences” so the specific diagnosis is unknown, others included one leg being shorter, missing fingers and toes, and hand deformity.

Partial Vision Impairment: includes glaucoma, cataracts, ptosis, and loss of vision in one eye. Some of these children may be fully blind, it’s unknown without seeing their full files.

Other: Each of these children was the only child with their diagnosis, includes diabetes, widened button hole/low nose root, teratoma, neurocutaneous syndrome, leukemia, spinal muscular atrophy, myocardial enzyme, skull malformation, and Rett syndrome.

Liver: Most of these children had biliary atresia or similar diagnoses, one child diagnosed with hepatocele

Skin: Includes nevus, epidermis bullosa, eczema, ichthyosis, and scars.

Esophageal/Trach: Most of these children had esophageal atresia

Orthopedic: Includes scoliosis, missing ribs, and hip dysplasia

Kidney: Includes hydronephrosis, missing or malformed kidney

Happily Ever After?

Happily Ever After?

Happily Ever After.  We all know what it means.  We all know not everyone gets theirs.  But we also know we only do the job we do for the kids who wait with that goal in mind.  So that they can find their Happily Ever After.  And one of the hardest questions we face – why is it for some that when you think they’ve made it to the After, they then find themselves still in the Before?

Meet Elizabeth.  She is 13-years-old and was internationally adopted and is now in the US, in what everyone involved had hoped and assumed was her Happily Ever After.  But it isn’t always that easy, and she is once again waiting. 

Elizabeth has successfully learned English, loves to read, and loves listening to music, especially Christian.  She loves to go rollerblading, and enjoys all watersports including knee boarding.  Elizabeth likes playing soccer, and did very well as part of a team sport.

Elizabeth should be the youngest or only child in the family.  She will need a family who will be her best advocate, and secure all possible resources that she will need in order to thrive.  To respect her privacy, we have chosen not to share her photo publicly.  If you are interested in learning more about Elizabeth, please submit our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and we will be in touch.