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To Her Future Parents With Love….

This letter was written by the parents of Maleah’s best friend from the orphanage, who so adore Maleah, and who know what a gift she will be to her future parents.

                                                                                                                        September 2023

Dear Maleah’s future Mom and Dad,

It is our great pleasure to share with you about our time spent with the girl you are so incredibly blessed to be able to soon call daughter – Maleah. 

We were able to pick up and adopt our now 14-year-old son from the orphanage in 2014. It was also on this occasion that we met his best friend, Maleah, and since then we have been able to meet her several times on trips to Thailand.

Before we saw Maleah for the first time when we received placement of our son, we already knew her from photos together with him. When we asked the social worker about both kids, she said that both children were “easy going” and therefore get along well. A nice compliment and that’s still our son today.

Since we didn’t want our son to be a stranger to his homeland and loved ones, we have since then made three trips to Thailand together and thankfully have been able to meet the social worker and Maleah each time. During the first two trips, we were able to meet Maleah at the orphanage on two consecutive days, the children had a lot of fun and were still very close. We ourselves immediately took Maleah to our hearts and would have loved to adopt her, which unfortunately wasn’t possible at that time. Today, years later, the reasons are unfortunately ours. Another adoption is not possible for us. Unfortunately, especially since our son would love to have her as his sister.

In between our family trips I traveled alone to my son’s homeland and visited Maleah for a day at the orphanage, which was also very nice and fun.

A month ago we were together again in Thailand and had rented a small house in a nearby district, near friends of ours staying across the street. This time we were very lucky that Maleah was able to stay with us for three days and nights.

We did a lot together with our friends, their 12 and 15 year old sons, our son, and Maleah and were in no way restricted by a “foreign” child. Thanks to the Google translator app and using hands and feet, it was easy to communicate. We already knew that from the adoption of our son. Communication is so much easier than you think!

All four children immediately enjoyed being a group of four and it may not have been obvious to outsiders that Maleah was just a guest child. She enjoyed playing water polo with the boys, they went to 7-11 together or a nearby bubble tea shop and we all explored the city together. We thought it might be difficult in some way as Maleah doesn’t know family life, certainly not that of a western family who is on vacation. It wasn’t difficult for a second, but completely uncomplicated and we enjoyed being together immensely. 

We also noticed the right closeness. To me, she was like my second child. She walked by my hand, leaned against me, let me hug her, but was never intrusive or asked for more. Dealing with my husband was just as nice, but with a natural distance.

Also, there wasn’t a single awkward situation between the children, strange looks, or competitive thinking. Her closeness to the children was also very natural. She was close with our son, like with a brother.  She was nice and polite to our adult friends, but nothing more. Her behavior was always appropriate and never obtrusive.

Maleah loves sports and activities, but like any teenager, she can also chill out on the sofa and laugh at TikTok videos. She understands quickly and solves the magic cube in a flash. She likes to laugh but could also show her sadness on the evening before saying goodbye, she can be lively just as calm, she is polite but also cheeky to the kids in a funny way and she is outgoing without being intrusive. She always saves a few baht left for beggars.

You can tell from her, as always from our son, that she was brought up lovingly and well in the orphanage. We trust her and she only accepts material things that she knows are meant for her. Unfortunately, she didn’t take a present for her in her room because she wasn’t sure, and she didn’t touch any money lying around openly.

We cannot express how much we adore Maleah and how incredibly blessed you are to soon be able to call her daughter.  She will bring so much joy, love, and life to your family!

With kind regards,

Mary & Tom

Maleah is almost 14 years old and is waiting in Thailand. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an Adoption Specialist will be in touch! You can also find more information about Maleah and other waiting children here. For general information about our programs, please visit our website.

ISO: Backpack packer, Lunch maker, #1 Fan

Supply lists checked off, lunches made, first day outfits picked out, bus schedules issued, locker combos memorized.  It’s back-to-school time!  A time of excitement – fresh starts, seeing old friends, making new friends, exploring new subjects!  Also a time of angst – worries over unknowns, stress over finding classroom locations, dysregulation due to new routines.  The beginning of the new school year brings with it SO many feelings! 

Maleah feels all the same feels at the start of the school year too.  But without a Mom and Dad behind the scenes to ease her worries.  To go to Back to School night and help her with her locker.  To help her organize her backpack and make her lunch.  To reassure her that she’ll make friends.  And to consistently encourage her each and every day to always try her best.  Year after year, Maleah shoulders the many emotions that come along with back-to-school all on her own – something that no child should have to do.

When we met Maleah back in February, we asked her to show us some arithmetic. Simple stuff – 2+2, 4×2. She did the problems with ease, and rolled her eyes at our ridiculous requests. While we continued to chat with the orphanage staff, Maleah sat calmly with the pen and paper. Several minutes later, she was adamant to show us what she was working on – much more involved addition and subtraction problems. Maleah was adamant that we left there knowing what she was capable of!

And capable she is. Capable, kind, sassy, shy, and filled with potential. Craving the love, attention, and nurturance of a Mom and Dad. Desperate for a family to love and encourage her, and tell her ‘great job’ not just at back-to-school time, but always and forever. In search of her #1 fan – Mom and Dad.

Maleah is almost 14 years old and is waiting in a country in southeast Asia. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an Adoption Specialist will be in touch! You can also find more information about Maleah and other waiting children here. For general information about our programs, please visit our website.

The Journey of Adoption and the Role of Certificates of Citizenship (COC)

We want to say a big thank you to attorney Irene Steffas for constantly advocating for the importance of the COC over the years.

USA passport and citizenship naturalization certificate of US flag over wooden background

Every adoption journey is a testament to parents’ boundless love for their children. This love transcends borders, cultures, and legalities. While the emotional connection is immediate and profound, the world of international adoption is intertwined with legal intricacies. One such document at the heart of this is the Certificate of Citizenship (COC). Understanding its significance isn’t just a bureaucratic formality—it’s an act of love, ensuring your child’s future is protected in their new homeland.

1. Guardianship vs. Full Adoption

Many adoptees with an IR-4 visa have never transitioned their guardianship into a final order of adoption. This isn’t just a legal nuance; it affects the child’s well-being. Agencies ask for COCs not to burden parents but to secure the child’s future.

2. Passports and the Department of State (DOS)

DOS requirements for the COC before issuing a passport aren’t arbitrary. It’s about ensuring that the threads tying your child to their new country are unbreakable.

3. US Citizenship and USCIS

The actual affirmation of US citizenship stems from the USCIS, which issues the COC. A passport is essential, but it doesn’t narrate the story of your child’s journey to the US. No government body can know how someone entered the US with a simple passport.

N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship blank form lies on United States flag with blue pen from Department of Homeland Security close up

4. DMV and Immigration Laws

DMVs are becoming enforcers of immigration laws. Having a COC can help you navigate these unforeseen challenges smoothly.

5. Proof of Citizenship

Your child’s Final Order of Adoption is invaluable. Yet, in legal terms, it’s the COC that stands as an unwavering testament to their US citizenship. Universities and many other agencies require proof through evidence of citizenship, and the COC is the document that provides that assurance and evidence.

6. Voting and Citizenship

The act of voting is sacred. This sacred right is only granted to citizens. Ensuring your child’s right to participate in the democratic process later in life begins with a COC now.

7. The Weight of Citizenship Claims

Legal intricacies can be daunting. The Immigration and Nationality Act has no tolerance for anyone wrongly claiming citizenship. It’s heartening that Congress created an exception for adopted children to have protections under the law. Be sure to have the COC to prove they are protected under this exception.

In the heart of every adoptive parent is the desire to provide the best for their child. This commitment involves navigating the maze of legalities with empathy and understanding. By educating oneself about documents like the COC, you’re not just adhering to legal formalities—you’re passionately advocating for your child’s rights and future. Because ultimately, every step taken in this journey, every document filed, and every hour spent understanding the process is an affirmation of your unwavering love and dedication to your child’s well-being.


When we told Maleah that her favorite little buddy was matched with his family, her first reaction was sheer and utter joy.  For him.  Knowing he would be going to his forever, and getting the love of a family, made her heart swell.  She couldn’t be more excited for him.  But as the reality started to sink in, we clearly saw the moment come over her when she realized he’d be leaving.  And while her excitement remained for him, her heart began to ache nonetheless.  We continued our meeting chatting with the social workers about Maleah and the other children, all the while she was sitting with her head down quietly drawing.  When the conversation shifted back to Maleah, we all wanted to see what she was working on.

“That’s me.”

“And that’s my favorite little buddy.”

“And these are our houses in America.  Right next door to each other.  Now that he has a family, you must find my family right next to his.”

While we couldn’t promise she’d be his neighbor, we did assure her we would do everything in our power to find her family on this side of the world so she could be either in the same time zone as him or at least close to it.

Over the years Maleah has seen many of her little friends find their forever.  But because her paperwork took longer than usual, she never got the opportunity herself until now.  But now, time is running out.  If her family isn’t found soon, before long it will be too late.  Please share this far and wide so that the next time we tell Maleah a family was found, it will be hers.  

Maleah is waiting in a country in South Asia. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an MAA staff member will be in touch! You can also find more program information and information about Maleah on our website.

Finding the Right Fit: How to Choose an Adoption Agency

One of the most important decisions you will make during the adoption process is choosing the right adoption agency. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Let’s go over some things to consider when selecting an adoption agency.

1. Type of Adoption

Adoption, mother and girl outdoor, smile or happy being loving, bonding or happy together. Portrait.

The first factor to consider is the type of adoption you are pursuing.

There are several types of adoption, including:

Domestic infant adoption

International adoption

Domestic waiting children through foster care

Domestic Identified

Adoption of children with special needs

Adoption of sibling groups

Some adoption agencies specialize in one type of adoption, while others may offer multiple options. It’s important to choose an agency that is experienced in the type of adoption you are pursuing, as they will have the knowledge and resources needed to guide you through the process.

2. Licensure and Accreditation

Finding credentialed adoption agencies should be a primary concern for prospective adoptive parents. Adoption agencies should be licensed and accredited by the required designated authorized organizations. In the United States, the primary Hague accrediting bodies for International Adoption agencies are the CEAS (Center for Excellence in Adoption Services); and IAAME (Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity). Domestic adoption required accreditation and licensure are determined by the state the agency is working in. It’s important to check the agency’s licensure and accreditation status before working with them.

3. Reputation

Customer Experience Woman hand thumb up vote on five star excellent rating on blue background. Review and feedback concept.

Another key factor to consider is the agency’s reputation. Research the agency online and read reviews from other adoptive parents. Ask the agency for references and talk to other families using their services. There are many social media groups to join for prospective adoptive parents. You want to work with an agency that has a good track record and is well-respected in the adoption community.

4. Services offered

Different adoption agencies may offer different services, so it’s important to understand what is included in their adoption services. Agencies should include significant pre-adoption education classes on the types of adoption they offer and cultural education about the countries where they have programs. Learning more about special needs adoption, older child adoption, and sibling adoption should require even more specific education to prepare prospective adoptive parents for the future. Some agencies may provide counseling and support services for birth parents, while others may offer post-adoption support for adoptive families. Make sure you understand what services the agency offers and what their fees cover.

5. Communication

Communication is key when working with an adoption agency. Find an adoption agency that answers personally to your phone calls and emails. You want to choose an agency that is responsive to your needs and keeps you informed throughout the adoption process. Pay attention to how quickly they respond to your inquiries and how well they communicate with you.

6. Cost

Adoption, International adoption as well as domestic adoption, can be expensive, so it’s important to consider the cost of the agency’s services. Make sure you understand their fee structure and what is included in their fees. Some agencies offer grants or partner with organizations such as Brittany’s Hope, so be sure to ask about financial assistance options available with an agency.

7. Personal fit

It’s important to choose an adoption agency that feels like a good fit for you. Adoption is a deeply personal experience, and you want to work with an agency that understands your values and priorities. Schedule a consultation with the agency to understand their approach and how well they understand your needs.

Choosing the right adoption agency is a critical decision in the adoption process. Consider the type of adoption you are pursuing, the agency’s accreditation and reputation, the services offered, communication, cost, and personal fit. By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can find an adoption agency that is the right match for your family. Here at Madison Adoption Associates, we believe in the power of family and work hard to build an ongoing relationship with the families who choose us.

Preparing for the Journey: A Guide to Adopting Children with Special Needs

A boy and his father enjoy playing in the park playground with a special needs swing.

Adopting a child with special needs requires careful consideration and preparation.

As a mom who has adopted children with significant special needs, I am often asked what kinds of things I wish I had been better prepared for in this new life. I am profoundly grateful for the ways that my children have changed my life. They have taught me to fully embrace myself and this beautiful world we live in, to be authentic on every single level. Before you ask, yes, I would do it again. Yes, yes, yes.

However, I wish I had known how to prepare better!

Here are some important things to consider before pursuing the adoption of a child with special needs:

1. Understand the needs of the child:

Before considering adoption of a specific child, it is essential to understand the needs of the child you are interested in adopting. Different abilities may require different levels of care, medical attention, and support. Become a trauma informed parent! Research the child’s medical conditions, developmental delays, and potential behavioral issues to understand the level of care and support that may be required.

2. Assess your own abilities:

female hand holding a wooden cube with a question mark, concept of answers and questions, suspense and solution methods, close up

Adopting a child with special needs can be challenging, and it’s important to be honest with yourself about your abilities to provide the necessary care and support. Consider your own emotional, physical, and financial resources, as well as your support network. Carefully assess your marriage or partnership to see if there is room for the additional life responsibilities that will come along with this decision.

3. Learn about available resources:

Local resources are vastly different from state to state and even county to county. There are many resources available to adoptive parents of children with special needs, including financial assistance, support groups, and specialized services. Research the resources that are available in your area and make a plan for accessing them. Keep in mind that the future may involve a move for your family and consider how that may change your resources. A favorite starting website for many parents is: Kids’

4. Work with a reputable adoption agency:

This is crucial to the success of the adoption. Madison Adoption Associates is known for their high ethical standards and their passion for finding the right family for each child. It’s vital to have an adoption specialist who will review a child’s file with you and be honest about what they see. Working with a reputable adoption agency can help ensure that you are matched correctly to a child and their needs. It also ensures that you receive the necessary support and guidance throughout the adoption process.

5. Consult with medical professionals:

Before adopting a child with special needs, it’s important to consult with medical professionals who can provide you with a better understanding of the child’s medical conditions and potential challenges. This can help you make an informed decision about whether adoption is the right choice for your family.

6. Educate yourself on special education:

Young student with down syndrome drawing on paper at home and looking at camera.

This could be an entire series of posts all on it’s own, because this is by far the piece many parents are not fully prepared for when adopting a child with special needs.

It’s important to be aware of special education laws, resources, and services available to children with disabilities in your area. Again, county to county, school to school may have different resources. Make sure you call your local school district and discuss the resources they have for your child. This will help you advocate for your child’s needs and ensure they receive the appropriate support and services.

Adopting a child with special needs can be a rewarding and life-changing experience, but it’s important to approach the process with careful consideration and preparation. By taking the time to research and prepare, you can relieve some of the stress that will come from being underprepared and use that energy to bond as a family.



Just the word alone fills me with a calm.  My mind is flooded by memories of past vacations (from childhood all the way through now), and also visions of future getaways. 

Who doesn’t love a good vacation?!?

So when our partners mentioned that they strive to take the children on a vacation when possible, we jumped at the possibility of being able to help make that happen! Everyone deserves a vacation every now and then, but especially waiting children who don’t otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy such ‘typical’ childhood experiences!

So we began asking questions –

When? Where? How many children? Budget? 

And while getting the details, we learned these vacations go far beyond fun in the sun. The orphanage staff utilize these trips to begin teaching and instilling independence and life skills. They utilize public transportation, not just to save costs, but specifically to guide the children on how to do so. They stop at convenience stores for supplies, but have the children budget the shopping, make the purchases, and check to ensure they received the correct change back. 

They include the children in the planning, the preparation, and the packing, all in an effort to prepare the children for their years beyond the orphanage – whether those years are in a forever family, or out on their own.

Upwards of 40 children, ranging in age from school-aged to teens, will participate in this amazing opportunity this spring.

The intentionality and forethought to not only give these children the vacation they so very much deserve, but to do so in a way that will teach them valuable life lessons, left us in awe. 

Of course we will help make this happen! 

And we invite you to join us!

Sweet Little Old {Young} Lady

MAA Colombia Team: “Wait until you hear about Sia who we just met with!  We HAVE to advocate for her ASAP!”

MAA Advocacy Team: “Tell us about her!”

MAA Colombia Team: “She’s like the sweetest little old lady sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch welcoming her friends and neighbors to come take a seat with her and waste away the day chatting, but she’s only 8.”

MAA Advocacy Team: “Well with that intro, we have got to hear more!”

MAA Colombia Team: “Sia is 8 years old.  She is kind, smiley, loving, and accepting of all people.  She understands boundaries, but when she knows she’s in a safe space she will open up to you and welcome you to do the same.  She plays a mean game of Connect 4!  She was eager to show us her excellent arithmetic skills!  She’s an old soul in a little girl’s body desperate for a family to call her own.”

MAA Advocacy Team: “She sounds perfect!”

Have an empty rocking chair on your front porch? Sia would be the most perfect occupant of it!

Sia is waiting in a country in South America. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an MAA staff member will be in touch! You can also find more program information on our website.

Cracking the teen shell

She walked in with her head held high, displaying the perfect ‘this is lame’ teen strut.  She was trying her best to let us know this meeting was boring, and she’d rather be doing a million other things.  But she slipped up when she briefly made eye contact with both of us, letting down her tough teen façade just for a moment, and giving us our first glimpse into the amazing young woman that she is.  She knew why we were there, and it wasn’t hard to see her vulnerability behind the valiant attempt of only giving off teen ‘tude.

Maleah (13) beelined straight to the familiar face in the room to sit next to, and geared up for our questions.  At first shy, quiet, and attempting disinterest, she slowly answered our questions with the briefest of answers.  She likes school, loves sports (she’s very tall!), loves helping with the little kids in the orphanage, and desperately wants a family.  Maleah is open to just a Mom, or a Mom and Dad, who will support her athletics, as well as teach her to cook.  With each question, we got a bit more out of Maleah, and little by little we cracked her shell and got to see the real girl under the teen face.  The Maleah who loves with her whole heart, despite a challenging childhood.  The Maleah who tried so hard to give a teen eyeroll at our American antics, but ultimately let her giggles slip out.  The Maleah who takes care of the younger kids as if they were her little siblings.  The sweet, funny, kind, nurturing, hopeful Maleah. 

Maleah started our day together with her armor on and buttoned up tight.  But we ended the day knowing the real Maleah.  And we couldn’t be more grateful and humbled that she let us in to see a small part of her soul.  To see her heart, her hopes, and her dreams.  Dreams of a family to call her own.

There were delays in preparing Maleah’s adoption paperwork, giving us very little time to find her family.  But we vowed to her we would do all we can to find them, and we need your help.  Interested in learning more about Maleah, and about adopting from Thailand?  Please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form today!  Not in a position to adopt?  That’s OK!  Simply sharing this post will help find her family!    

Mr. Personality

When we arrived at the orphanage to meet the children we are advocating for, we were told that Petey was in the hospital with pneumonia. So couldn’t be with us.  We were disappointed, but grateful for the excellent medical care he has access to. 

After meeting with several children, a staff member shared, “Petey was just released from the hospital, so you can meet him after all!”  We expected a weak, tired child to enter the room, as he literally came straight there from the hospital.  Boy were we wrong!  In comes Petey, running in like a dinosaur complete with using his pointer fingers as horns on his head and roaring with all his might.  I had to confirm with the staff, “Wait…..this boy was just released from the hospital?  He just had pneumonia?”  “Yes!”

Group of children playing the drums

To say this boy has personality doesn’ 

The light Petey brings to the room is magnificent. 

He proceeded to entertain us with more dinosaur impressions, singing baby shark in Thai, as well as signing other Thai songs, teaching his friend different animal sounds, and just overall bringing an unbelievable amount of joy to everyone in the room.  The staff shared that this is Petey.  Overjoyed, animated, social, happy. 

Toy Dinosaur on a wooden deck between two children's legs.

His friends miss him desperately when he’s in the hospital, and rejoice the moment he comes back to the orphanage.  On paper he sounds like a very sick little boy (and he does have medical needs that his family must be prepared for), but in real life he is so much more than his needs!  He clearly does not let his needs bring him down or define him!  Petey is not a sick boy.  Petey is a lively, animated, happy-go-lucky, light up the room, loving little boy who just so happens to have some medical needs.  There’s a big difference.   

The family who brings this boy home will be blessed beyond measure with one of the happiest souls I have ever encountered.  We have several pictures and video that we would be more than happy to share with an interested, qualified family.  Please complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent form today to learn more about this special boy! 

To respect the privacy of waiting children, Madison uses representative photos of children. We do not publicly share photos of waiting children in our programs. If you would like to learn more about a child, please contact us for the next steps to be taken.