Last night, my daughter fell asleep on my chest. Maybe not all that notable, except that she’s not a baby, she’s six years old. She still needs my husband or I to stay with her until she falls asleep, but last night she crawled on top of me, stomach to stomach, head on my chest, and fell asleep. It was so very sweet (though difficult to escape from!), but mostly, it reminded me how very little she still is. I get at least one piece of artwork from her every day, usually a picture of our family. She loves to hold hands and snuggle. Her favorite outfits these days are too-big t-shirts from her dad’s childhood, paired with jeans so she can stick her hands in her pockets and proclaim “Look, I’m Daddy!” as she struts around the room. When her dad and I both join in a silly dance game with her, she positively beams up at us, so happy just to be with her family. I’m often struck by how much she’s growing up, but truly, six years old is still so little. Six is running in the sprinklers, building forts, playing with baby dolls and believing in magic.
When I talk with adoptive families, they often want to adopt
a younger child, and in many people’s minds “younger” seems to end at five
years old. But six-year-olds still very much need their mommies and daddies, and
there are so many six-year-olds who don’t have any. All these six-year-olds are
still waiting for families. Some have only been listed for adoption recently, but
many have been waiting since they were younger and still haven’t been chosen. Now
they are six- “older,” in the eyes of many, but with so much childhood still to
have. They just need a family to share it with.
One family’s journey adopting a child with Scoliosis
Since June is scoliosis awareness month, it seems only
fitting to introduce you to Madison. Not because she has scoliosis, but because
she is a person whose spirit shines despite scoliosis. Madison was adopted from
China about 4 years ago. Her story is like so many others who have been
fortunate enough to have Madison Adoption Associates involved in their adoption
Madison had been on
the shared list as a young girl, but was taken off that list because she was
seen as “unadoptable”. Not only was Madison’s scoliosis severe, but it was
complicated by a muscular dystrophy that left her in a state where any mobility
at all was severely limited. Fast forward many years and Madison Adoption
arrives to advocate for hard to place children. Our Madison was not on the list
of kids to be interviewed, but the team saw her in the periphery, were drawn to
her smile, and inquired about her. They took a personal interest in her and
convinced the staff that she was indeed adoptable and they would find her a
Madison came home to us and her 16 siblings not long after
that. She is a sassy, loving, considerate and strong individual. Her scoliosis
was of utmost concern as it was so severe it had already caused most of her
left lung to collapse. Her scoliosis put her in a position where any activities
of daily living were impossible, and it left her at a level where she could not
engage in life on the same level as others.
Surgery for scoliosis
was not taken lightly. There were many unknowns and many factors to consider.
Foremost in our minds was quality of life for Madison – that included physical
quality of life as well as emotional and social quality of life. It was 2 years
before we were able to get Madison to a place where she was physically strong
enough to handle the major surgery.
Madison’s curve was the largest surgical correction of its type that her surgeon had
ever performed. Her plan of care was altered from the norm in order to give her
the best chance for the fullest amount of correction. She entered the hospital
and was placed in halo traction for 3 weeks. She underwent another surgery to
release the muscles in her back and continued on traction for another 3 weeks.
She then underwent rod and hardware placement to stabilize her back. She never
lost her smile during all that time. We were looking forward to going home and
getting our family back together, Madison missed her siblings more than anything.
However, there were
complications. Madison had to be taken to emergency surgery for removal of the
rods due to nerve damage. A few other complications occurred and Madison was
starting to lose her smile for the first time ever. We consulted with doctors
and determined a short reprieve at home with halo in place was what she needed.
Family had become so important to her and she was missing that security so
much. After 10 days at home we returned to the hospital once again to start the
process over again. Since her back muscles had been released, she needed to
have stabilizing hardware put in. We
could not just stop at this point in the journey. Madison was the smiling
champion we knew her to be and sailed through the remaining
time in the hospital. After almost 4 months in the hospital we came home with a
much taller Madison who was able to engage in life like never before. She
continues to thrive and build strength. Her smile only gets brighter.
We share our journey because we want to provide encouragement if you are considering adopting a child with scoliosis. Every case is different, but there is a person held up by that bent back that makes the journey so rewarding. One of the greatest rewards of adoption is having the privilege to watch your child grow and become the person they were created to be, and sometimes that happens through the challenges they face. It was so apparent that having a family to support her through the most difficult parts was what gave Madison the strength and motivation to endure. She fills our life with such joy and inspires each of us to live better lives as we watch her live a life full of joy despite her physical challenges.
Thank you to Madison and the Bernadsky family for sharing their journey! In honor of June being Scoliosis Awareness Month, Madison Adoption Associates is pleased to offer a $1,000 grant to any qualified family who commits to adopt a child with Scoliosis during the month of June. Please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form today to learn more about our adoption programs and the children who wait, like Quaid and Legend below!