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A Newbie’s PAR



The Madison team has flown formidable seas to China, tackled terraces of the Philippines, even met the mountains of Haiti, all in the name of family. But no greater risk have they seized, than adopting yours truly into their family as their newest caseworker. Diana saw an aging out girl whose talents and gifts could be used and treasured in this field. She sought me out, looked beyond my inexperience, and asked me to come on board. For that I am forever thankful.

My first days were comparable to arriving in a foreign country. New names and faces, language and terms I didn’t understand, the pace was so fast my head was spinning, jetlagged. It was culture shock. I would think to myself œWill I ever get the hang of this? When will I be like the rest of the caseworkers? Am I really accepted? I felt homesick. But each day, each aspect became more familiar. Every morning I was greeted with encouragement, hand holding, patience, and heartfelt laughs. I was beginning to feel at home.

I speak to you now almost 8 months into my new placement. The good days far outweigh my off days. I still have my moments. Some days I have to refer to my notes, I get caught off guard on a cold call or two, or the printer beeps at me instead of printing packets I need. But I feel like this new family accepts me and walks beside me even on the off days. It means the world to me.

Would you do the same? See a child the way Diana saw me? With patience, willing to see beyond the special need that may require some elbow grease, in hopes that they blossom.

I look forward to getting to know all of you as my extended family.

By Erica Parrish


Traveling Gluten Free

Roger-Amy Bachman's photo.
This picture makes me laugh. It is a snapshot taken by the Bachman family as they prepared last week to travel to China to bring home their precious Hope Meili.  They are still in China as I type and I am constantly distracted by the new photos that they are posting. It is so amazing to stand back and watch God knit a family together. 
Our family also has food allergies. I can be very daunting and rather hilarious to try and pack an entire suitcase full of food that we can eat abroad just in case we can not find allergen friendly meals. I will have to ask the Bachmans if they located some great restaurants in Guangzhou that served up fantastic food and also gluten free options.  
Of all the things we plan for and think about when adopting I doubt packing gluten free foods is one of them until the travel plans are made and the trip is a reality! I just loved that they snapped a photo of this little thought of element of the trip.  …..and I see a lot of peanut butter…..

Special Focus: What We Didnt Know


We had her picture on the counter of our kitchen for two weeks and we were quiet about her.  The information of a little girl that Madison Adoption Associates was hoping to place in a family sat before us.  Adoption was not new to us, in fact it is where we started as we built our family. We had two children, wild and hilarious boys, running around the house. Both were healthy.  What did we know about adopting a child listed as “special focus”?

What did we know about special needs?

We knew we were overwhelmed. We knew we had a lot of learning to do. We knew we had to talk to doctors, and specialists, and seasoned parents. We knew we had to have faith in the Lord and trust in one another as well.

I remember one evening after we had said the YES to her I cried and cried to a friend about the “what if’s” and when the crying was over I straightened my shoulders and resolved that whatever we didn’t know would be ok.

Sure, there have been a few medical procedures we had not planned. Yes, there has been more intensive speech therapy than we knew to expect.  It is true that she is sensitive in ways that the boys are not, some due to trauma of abandonment, and in other ways just because of her spirit.  I don’t want to lie to you.  Adopting a child labeled as “special focus” has had surprises and we have at times walked a road that led to exhaustion and tears together.

But, if your asking. If your asking me what is it like to adopt a “special focus” child then this is what my answer would be.

Last evening as the sun was setting on our farm my husband roared his 1947 Massey Ferguson tractor and the baby of our family, just 18 months old, went wild with excitement. He could hear it from inside and he wanted a ride. It was freezing outside. I bundled him from head to toe in warmth until he could sweat even in a freeze. As I put on my coat I noticed that she was there bundling up too. We walked out together and she took his little glove covered hand and bent low. With one hand around his back so that he could not fall and the other in his she walked him across the acre to their Daddy. She walked so careful, so tenderly, with such purpose. She walked that baby in safety and when they reached the tractor she turned to me and waved. And, from the porch where I had watched intently I melted into a muddle of tears.

You see, there were many things we did not know when adopting a special focus child. And one of those things was that we were saying that YES to one of the most compassionate souls we have ever met. We didnt know we were saying YES to a little girl who would bundle up, stoop low, and walk her baby brother across a frozen field just because she wanted to love.

Special focus children hold the hearts of Madison Employees in their hands. They are special focus because they tend to be more difficult to place due to their age, special needs, and medical needs.  Madison offers grants to help place “special focus” children into loving families.  I dont know what your questions are about special focus children, but I want you to know one thing for sure.

There is more to that child than the special needs glaring at you from the page, and there is more to you than the uncertainty you may feel in your heart about adopting a child with special needs.  Bring their huge capacity for love together with yours and even a frozen field in February can be warmed.


Handle You.

A friend posted this morning on a private facebook page that she is very frustrated with her son. After many weeks of positive behavior she feels that he is sabotaging the good. He has a history of this. He has a history of sabotaging.  Today, this morning, she is angry and worn and frustrated.

She asked for advise and prayer.

This was worth sharing:

Dear Friend,

Draw the closest to the child that is offending you. Draw the closest to the child who is acting out. Draw the closest to the child who is doing wrong. Draw them closer and closer. Whatever they are doing take it for what it is.  You think they are pooping their pants on purpose? I know it will get to you. I know it will wear you thin. I know you will be angry. But, tell yourself that it is just poop. It is just poop. Just. Poop. And most importantly before you parent, before you respond, do one thing.  Let go of the expectations, because they kill the progress. Don’t parent that child as if they know better, or should have learned already, or were setting out to make you mad.  I know you feel like you can hardly handle another thing today. But, don’t say it. Don’t say outloud “I cant handle this.”. The child will hear “I cant handle you.” and the test is over.  Make it clear. You pooped your pants. On purpose. I can handle this because your worth it. Someday you wont do these things and that will be fantastic for all of us. But, until then not only can I handle you…. I want too. 

Some children do have sabotage behaviors. Regardless we will experience days when we want to scream that we cant handle it. But, we can. Reach out for loving guidance, listening ears, and support when needed.  Strongly send the message that your love can not be sabotaged away by letting go of disappointment, rage, and guilt and parenting instead out of hope, grace, and love.