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The best update I’ve ever seen…

It all started with a celery emoji.  You see, we got the Chinese written update in.  I don’t read Chinese.  Occasionally I will try to run some of the characters through a translation app, to get a sense of what it says while awaiting the translation.  You could imagine my surprise when I opened the document, and in among the characters, was a bright green little celery emoji.  Ok, now I HAVE to know what this report says!!  I run it through translation, and see phrases like, “good boy,” “teacher,” “smart.”  Of course, the translation was so rough, that I couldn’t really get a sense of the whole document.

Fast forward to the next day.  We get his updated pictures in.  I didn’t think it could get any better than the celery emoji from the day before.  Boy was I wrong.  I open the first picture and the face of a gorgeous, handsome boy is smirking back at me.  Then comes picture number two.  A whole lotta pink (including a pink helium tank of sorts??), but there he is winking at me.  Be still my heart!  This boy exudes charisma!

Ok, there has to be more to the story here.  I have to read the translated update to figure out why this gorgeous, charismatic boy still waits.  My email dings, and there it is.  Open it, and immediately see words like ‘clean and tidy,’ ‘very smart,’ ‘clever, take study seriously,’ ‘takes care of others, never bully younger children,’ ‘good helper with mopping, playing with younger children, washing dishes,’ ‘good eater, eats meat and vegetables (there’s our celery emoji),’ ‘excellent capabilities of speaking, understanding,’ ‘loves study and reading with good performance at school.’

And then I get to the end.  Just when I thought this boy couldn’t be any more perfect: “Seth’s dream is to be a teacher.  We trust you the best!  You can make it come true!”  A conclusion filled with love and hope by the caretaker who wrote it.  We trust you the best too, Seth!  And we agree with your caregiver….you can make it come true!  You keep up the good work in school, and in being the best you can be; and we’ll keep working on finding your forever family!      

Seth is almost 10 years old, with his only medical special need being a possible inguinal hernia. If you are interested in learning more about Seth, and about the China adoption process, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form, or email

Extended Adoption Travel – A Family’s Perspective

by Lindsey Gilbert, Family Engagement Coordinator for Madison Adoption Associates

MAA’s newest adoption program opened in the Dominican Republic recently, and we expect it to be a small program. This is partly because it is a small country, but also because it requires a longer period of travel than other programs: anywhere from two to four months in the Dominican Republic. Such long travel just isn’t feasible for many families, but in today’s world, with endless ways to connect, you might be surprised at your family’s ability to live somewhere else for an extended period of time- and what better reason to do so than giving a child a family?

While it wasn’t two months, and it wasn’t the Dominican Republic, my husband and I had a somewhat long trip for our daughter’s adoption from India.  We were there for six weeks. The logistics are easier than you might think; many jobs these days can be done remotely, as my husband did on our trip, and we had an apartment to stay in for most of the time. There were aspects of our long stay that were amazing, and aspects of it that were very challenging.

The biggest positive was that we got to know our daughter in an environment that was comfortable for her. We could spend days visiting her in her foster home, seeing what she was like there, and letting her get used to us before we took custody. Even after we took custody, we were in a place with all her familiar foods, smells, and sounds, so she could adjust to being with us for a while without having to adjust to many other changes at the same time. She needed some low-key days after we took custody, so had we only been in India a short time we probably wouldn’t have been able to sightsee. We were able to wait until she was more comfortable with us, and then go see some of the famous sites in her city, which are precious memories for all of us! All the time also meant we could afford to spend days just walking around our neighborhood and seeing what India was like on an ordinary level. We got to build relationships with people in India, like our neighbors who invited us over for dinner and helped us when we were fruitlessly trying to order our own takeout the first few days. Ultimately, it was a really sweet time just being a family of three- we celebrated Christmas, New Years, and her birthday as a family in India!

That said, while there were so many blessings, it wasn’t a period of time we would call easy. While we were in a familiar environment for our daughter, my husband and I were away from everything familiar to us: friends, home, bed, dogs, foods, etc. Many of the things we usually turned to for comfort or to de-stress weren’t options in India for one reason or another, so we had to learn to cope in other ways. Everyday things were more challenging and required planning: going to the grocery store, doing laundry, making dinner, etc. The time difference was also hard for us when communicating back home, but fortunately the Dominican Republic usually has the same time as the East coast of the US!

Overall, our six weeks in India were a blessing for our entire family.  The memories will last a lifetime, and we dream of going back someday to explore our daughter’s homeland again with her.  I hope this gives you some food for thought as you consider whether your family might be up for an extended adoption trip! Though it was stressful at times, ultimately we would do six weeks again, and more, because it meant we got the privilege of being our daughter’s family.

Interested in learning more about adopting from Dominican Republic? Please visit our website! Or email for more information.

Parenting a child with Microtia/Atresia

As we wrap up National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, we are pleased to share another guest post! Thank you Mama D for sharing some insight on parenting a child with microtia/atresia!

Microtia/atresia seems pretty easy to manage and it does not stop our son from playing hard and doing his thing. A BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) has given him much better access to sound. He currently wears it on a soft headband.  As it turns out, he really likes music, especially music with lots of drumming! The most difficult thing about the BAHA was getting it approved by insurance (that’s a whole other advocacy post!).

Our son gets speech therapy through school and through a private provider, and we work on speech activities, songs, reading, etc., to increase his exposure to language.  He seems to be picking up speech fairly rapidly. The decision about whether to have reconstructive surgery is some time off so we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

By far, our son’s biggest need was a family and the safety and love that provides. It has been amazing to watch him go from a very timid, fearful and reserved boy to a happy, loving boy full of smiles and hugs (and the usual punches for his brothers).

Thank you for sharing about your journey!!

In honor of National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, we are happy to be able to offer an additional grant of $1,000 for a family who commits to adopting a child with a craniofacial diagnosis from any of our programs.  Please email for more information, or complete a Prospective Adoptive Parent form.

Interested in Adopting from Colombia?

Why you should choose Madison Adoption Associates!!

Colombia sees the great gift international adoption can bring- more families for more children! As the central authority, ICBF, grows international adoption and approves new agencies, it can become overwhelming for families considering adoption to figure out what agency to work with. Does it matter which agency you choose? The short answer is yes, absolutely! The long answer is there are several reasons families should carefully choose their agency, and five reasons why Madison Adoption Associates should be top of your list for agencies to consider!

  1. Relationships– Colombia is a relational country, and MAA has invested the time to build those relationships! We have worked with the central authority, ICBF, and have built relationships with various Iapas. These institutions know us and we know them, and we have built trust through our time working with them. We do not take the responsibility of matching children with families lightly, and because we nourish these relationships, one of the most important outcomes is how these relationships impact our matching process.  Because of our close ties, we are able to work very closely with your family in terms of determining which matching process best suits you, be it a waiting child, a certain Iapa, or submitting a Dossier for an adoption committee to match your family with a child.
  2. Our Colombian Representative– Soraya Diaz is MAA’s representative in Colombia. She has strong relationships with ICBF, defenders (attorneys who act as social workers), and Iapas.  Soraya is very active in the international adoption field in Colombia, and routinely visits with other child welfare professionals, as well as with available children.  For families who are seeking to adopt a young child or siblings with mild to moderate needs, Soraya’s constant communication with ICBF and Iapas regarding available children helps keep wait times short!
  3. Grants – While we work hard to match our waiting families, we know that many of the children in need of adoption in Colombia are already waiting; they are children who are older or who have special needs families may consider significant. For families open to adopting these children, we provide grants to open the door to adoption for more potential families. Every family who commits to adopt a child on our waiting list will automatically get a $500 grant, as well as more potential grants depending on the child’s circumstances. We also have grants available based on family circumstance, regardless of the child being adopted, and partner with Brittany’s Hope to award grants twice a year.
  4. Support In-Country– Soraya also provides support to our travelling families; she meets with families who arrive in Bogota, and will be present with families adopting in Bogota or nearby areas for the entire process, including meeting your children, going to court, and applying for the passport. For families adopting from other regions, Soraya will have a representative accompany you.  She also arranges transportation to and from the airport and appointments, and coordinates a translator whenever needed. Regardless of the area you adopt from, Soraya and MAA are always available by phone and can help with any issues that arise.
  5. Support Once Home– MAA knows that meeting your child is really just the beginning! Misty Lucas, the Colombia Program Director, will be in frequent touch with you while you are in country and once home. MAA also created a position for a Post-Adoption Wellness Coordinator because we see the need for someone who is dedicated just to families who are home with their children. Lindsey Teefey is an adoptive mom herself, and helps families navigate the behavioral and emotional challenges of adjusting to life with their new child.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to decide on an agency to use, so please give us a call! We are here to answer all of your questions as you make these big decisions about how to bring a child into your family, and hope you’ll consider MAA for your journey to Colombia.

You can find more information about our Colombia Program by visiting our website, or by completing our free Prospective Adoptive Parent form. With immediate questions about any of our programs, please email Lindsey Gilbert at

That Smile…

We are honored to share this guest post by MAA Mom, Charmon….

Hello everyone. I want to introduce myself. My name is Charmon, and we adopted a little boy from China who has a special need of Cleft Lip/Palate. We choose CL/CP because I have a close friend that has two kids from China that had the same special need. I also worked at an OB/GYN office and knew we had a awesome cleft team that was in driving distance from our home. Kyle had just turned 3 years old when we adopted him. We were prepared when we arrived for him not to be able to drink through a straw or eat noodles that were not cut up and all the other things we had read prior to going. Kyle had NO problems at all with eating or drinking! His lip had been repaired when he was 10 months old, and he had figured out by then how to manage eating and drinking with no issues.  Cleft kids have trouble with speech, so he only spoke a few words in China. In fact, the caregivers only heard him talking to the other kids and this was only one word.  He would look at you or do hand symbols to let you know what he needed and wanted. Our first night of being a family, our guide called to make sure we were ok. He ran to answer the phone and said ‘Hello” and then when she talked back to him he said “hey auntie.” He was not afraid to talk to us even though we had no clue what he was saying, he let us hear his quiet voice! I guess with our southern accent he figured we sounded different like him and wasn’t afraid anymore.  He learned English very quickly and could say “Hey Y’all” by the time we got to Guangzhou. 

Once he was a little older, the biggest challenge was that he would get frustrated when people couldn’t understand him.  He would say it was because he was “from China.” We had to encourage him to speak louder and that it was ok.  Kyle started speech therapy three months after arriving home. We were able to get in the program Kidnet and he went to a local elementary school. He went just for therapy and it was free. We went twice a week for 30 minutes and continued once he started school. Once in 3rd grade he has been cut down to only going to speech for 30 minutes once a week.

Now for the medical history… we had his palate repaired two months after being home. This was an overnight stay in the hospital. Then a limited diet for six weeks. When he was seven his permanent teeth were starting to come into place (development wise), he wore an orthodontic expander to expand his palate. Six months later he had his bone graft surgery. For this surgery they went into his hip bone (about a one inch scar) and took bone out and put it in the cleft area so there wouldn’t be an empty space there anymore. This surgery was an overnight stay too and a limited diet (fluids and soft foods) for six weeks.  Six months following surgery he had a CAT scan (done at the orthodontist office) to see if the graft was successful. His did not take. We had to redo the surgery again 6 months later and they took bone from the other hip. This surgery was successful!! He just finished wearing another device to pull his upper jaw out to correct his under-bite. We now have braces on the front 6 teeth to turn them and get them straight. The plastic surgeon said he is done with surgeries until he is around 15. He has a deviated septum and if it doesn’t correct itself during aging they will repair it at that time. Cleft lip and palate is a genetic disorder, and most insurance will cover this as a medical conditional and will go through medical benefits instead of dental insurance. 

Please do not let this diagnosis scare you. This is a fixable issue and the love these kids have is well worth any challenges you may experience. We can’t image our life without our boy! He is nine now and has come such a long way! Strangers understand at least 98% of what he says. I wouldn’t change our journey for anything! I thank God that he allowed us to be this special boy’s family. His special smile can light the world!

Thank you, Charmon, for sharing your story!

In honor of National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, we are happy to be able to offer an additional grant of $1,000 for a family who commits to adopting a child with a craniofacial
diagnosis from any of our programs.  Please email for more information, or complete a Prospective Adoptive Parent form.