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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.