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Free Printable Pages For Chinese New Year

2023 is the year of the water rabbit, which predicts beautiful things like hope, peace and prosperity.

Chinese New Year is quickly approaching and we can already smell the Jiaozi steaming! Delish! This is a time for family to gather and enjoy the foods that bring good luck. It’s also the time for all of us to take a break from working, to rest and gather new energy for this new year. Make sure you sweep the house to get rid of all the bad luck and make space for new adventures.

Rest. Gather. Eat. Clean.

Sounds like the perfect recipe for hope, love and connection! Madison will be ready for this year with our mission to bring “Hope, Love and Connection by serving children, individuals, and families in the areas of adoption, foster care, and support services.” We know that 2023 is going to bring new families together and we are so excited to journey with you this year.

Things you need for a proper celebration:

Red everything, everywhere. Be sure to read about the beast called Nian to understand the tradition behind the color red. Watch a short YouTube video about Nian here.

Chinese lanterns

Mandarin oranges

Red Envelopes

Longevity Noodles

Fish! You need cooked fish and also fish decorations.


Don’t forget the Red Envelopes and decorations around the house. Here is an easy link to purchase all that you need on Amazon. But go quickly so it arrives before Sunday!

We love to see pictures of Christmas trees redecorated for Chinese New Year. We also love any excuse to keep the tree up a little bit longer. Aren’t these rabbit ornaments adorable?

I want to know when Madison has new posts with free printable downloads!

MAA Family in the News: Angels in Adoption Award Nominees

The Anderson family of Decatur, Illinois has worked with Madison Adoption Associates for the past four years. They contacted MAA to do a homestudy for their family as they pursued an adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The family has recently brought home four year old Phoebe and they are doing fantastic together! After a three year wait and two trips to the DRC, the Andersons are thrilled to have their daughter under their roof and in their arms. They have been nominated by Congressman Davis for the Angels in Adoption award for their determination.

Full news article with video!

They stated, “We are so grateful for a homestudy agency that encouraged us along the way while awaiting our daughter from the DRC to arrive home after 4 long years. Madison Adoption Associates was there at the very beginning of our adoption process until the end. The staff at MAA was available for guidance and encouragement if ever needed. Our case worker always went above and beyond to make sure all of our questions were answered throughout the entire process. She fought on our behalf at the state level while assuring us that everything will fall into place. Even though MAA was not our placement agency, they did not forget about us and often asked how we were doing during the turmoil of the 4 year wait!  We are thankful that they stood by us! Thank you MAA!”

If you would like to learn more about Madison Adoption Associates, and the adoption services that we offer, please visit our website at



If you have been there, then you already know that these words are true¦.

No matter how much you wanted to adopt, how desperately you prayed, or how often you checked your email for news, the days and weeks following your child’s homecoming are a strange mixture of elation and exhaustion.

Regardless of your extensive preparation, the books and articles you poured over, the time spent with a caseworker, the blog reading, and the conversations with experienced families, there are still questions and sudden uncertainty after the homecoming.

Here is the truth.  Adoption will rock the boat. The family that you had is introducing a new member.  For some, perhaps a little tilt of the boat here and there. For others, the boat is darn near tipping.

My job is fantastic because when every other person is told that they need to give the family time to nest and bond, to please come visit in a few weeks when the family is more settled, I get to quietly come in and observe for a few hours in those very early weeks.   In most cases I have worked with the family for many months and sometimes years. I have seen their excitement and heard their promises of dedication and determination. I have been the one that they cleaned the house for and tucked in the kids shirts for and put their best face forward during that home study process.  But, my favorite is the day I get to pop in and all is a mess.

For me, this is the day that matters the most.

Recently, I sat at a dining room table full of play-dough, buttons, broken crayons, and tissues. The little girl had been home for three weeks. Her parents and I have worked together for over three years. Let me tell you something. They wanted her. They fought for her. They sacrificed. They hoped. They didn’t give up when all seemed hopeless. After three years of waiting, financially supporting her and her entire orphanage as best they could, and traveling to her country of origin twice, she came home in a whirlwind of activity and excitement.

Three weeks later I sat and watched her pull so hard at her Momma’s arm she nearly knocked her out of the chair. Three weeks later I watched her lay on the floor and throw fit after fit. Three weeks later I saw her manipulate her parent’s emotions and reject her father’s attention.   The visit, which had begun with œwe are so great turned a corner and finally came the admission of truth.


Once her mother said the words, hot tears began to flow down her cheeks.  She cried and cried. Her daughter has been home only three weeks and this smart, capable, loving woman sat before me and sobbed.

Do you know what she was most afraid of? What she confessed? What had been burning in her heart and mind all day for the past few weeks?

If she told people the truth of the hardships, would they doubt her love for her little girl?  If you have already adopted then you know this part.  There are times you want to tell someone that you have no idea what is going on. There are moments when you wonder if you were the right person for this. There are times when all is overwhelming and it is hard to see the sun rise coming tomorrow morning.  There are days of hot tears streaming down your cheeks.

No one said that the molding and making of a family into something new was easy, but until you are in the midst of it, it is impossible to know just how it might shake you up and wear you out.

This Momma sat with me and confessed that she felt so alone in her feelings. If she told her extended family or friends that these past three weeks had been so very hard, they might doubt that she loved this little girl. What if someone said, œmaybe you shouldn’t have done this?  She would rather keep the hurt and hardship to herself than let that happen.

Just because a family that has adopted says that it can be downright hard, does not mean that with all of their might they wouldn’t do it again and again. Admitting the hardship is not an admission of regret, it is evidence of the resolve.

This is the most important day for me as I get to witness the fulfilment of the words they promised in the home study. œNo matter what, we will do our best, we will give her what she needs to thrive¦..

Once the little girl picked herself up from her third intense fit in just thirty minutes, she looked over at her mother of only three weeks.   I watched as her mother wiped her own tears and put on a sweet smile. As tenderly as possible she opened her arms and welcomed her child onto her lap. She kissed her cheeks and spoke love into her ears.  œMommy loves you so much. Mommy will not hurt you.  Please do not hit Mommy. Our hands are for love. My hands love you. Please show me love with your hands too. She whispered it again and again.

The boat has been rocked and it will be teetering for some time. The family will not be the same.  But, they will grow into themselves the way a child grows into pants that were once a little big.  There will be growing pains, stretching and pulling of emotions, time, finances, relationships, expectations, health, sleep, and more.  But eventually, their growth will finally fit.

On my way home a few days later, I called the family to check in. The mother started crying. The fits have continued, although they have shortened.  She is exhausted and her daughter is testing every boundary. But, she laughed hard and joyfully through her tears because as she was on the phone, out her window she watched her precious little girl still so fresh in her own grief and confusion reach out and grab her father’s hand as they walked down the sidewalk.  This had never happened before.

Resolve, dear friends, not regret.  Both may look like hardship, but the difference is that one hopes and cares to the point of grief while the other bothers not with either.

mom and daughter

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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.


LingLing’s Book of the Week



This week LingLing has a book to share with you all. She is excited.

Because it has chicken and my LingLing loves Chickens!

Because it has a Chinese girl as the main character and my LingLing is proud to be China born!

Because the art is sweet and the story line is fun!

LingLing is an emerging reader. She has just turned six years old and she wants to share this book with all her friends at Madison Adoption Associates. She highly recommends Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett to all of you. If you do purchase this on amazon please use your amazon smiles account to support MAA….but we got our copy at the local library!

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett is a fantastic story of a little girl who is dedicated to the care of her hens. She not only cares for her hens, she diligently sets to the task of caring for them so sweetly and kindly that they are the happiest hens around. Mei Mei is her name and she lives on the Li River. Both Mei Mei and her hen Daisy discover the bravery of their hearts in this story.





A Letter to Encourage

A Letter to Encourage

We all have different motivations for adopting. It can be to expand your family, begin your family, œsave a child, to give a child a future a hope a dream. But what if the reason God called us to adoption is to stretch us beyond our capacity?

Each and every child God creates is a gift. Whether a baby, toddler, school aged, or aging out each child can teach us a little something about ourselves or even grow us beyond ourselves. Perhaps we are called to adoption because we were set apart? We may not have the fancy degrees, tons of money, a palace to live in, or the best upbringing ourselves but what if that’s why we are called? If God calls us to follow him in obedience perhaps we are chosen for a reason. God doesn’t choose the proud and mighty but the humble in spirit. We may think we aren’t the ideal parents that maybe we won’t raise our children properly because we don’t have it all figured out. Not that I’m an expert in psychology but from what I have gathered none of us have it all figured out. I believe that’s where we go beyond ourselves and trust in God. The one who calls you to it will see you through it.

I would encourage you today that if you or someone you know is considering adoption to take a moment to pray and ask for guidance. Every child is valuable and I believe every obedient parent to God’s call is valuable as well!


Support for the Beginning of the Journey



I get to see it. The process. Every year I sit with families who have not yet brought a child home, but are trying. They are filling out the papers, scheduling the visits, running to the appointments, searching for a notary (again)….right?!

They have hopes.

They have plans.

They have fears.

They have needs.

As they prepare and process and work diligently to adopt these adopting families have a great need for support.  I think I may know someone who can help.  I mean really help.

Despite the growing number of adoptive families many of us who choose to adopt do so without being surrounded by other folks with adoptive experience. Yes, there is the online community, true ,and this can be very helpful. But there is nothing like sitting across the table from another person and being able to hear their story and ask the questions of your heart.  An experienced adoptive family can naturally build confidence and give wisdom to a family setting out.  Every family will become seasoned as they journey through adoption past the process and into the parenting. But, how wonderful to have an experienced family help point the beginner to issues that they may not have yet thought about.  Beautiful issues that must be talked about such as race, ethics, and healing from trauma.

Many first time adoptive parents are a wonderful  bundle of nerves and hopes, excitement and energy. They are alive with great anticipating about “their child” and they have set out to do a wonderful and life changing act.  A little table time spent with a seasoned adoptive family can help propel those emotions into prepared wisdom for the journey to come.  And, it may help them to not feel so alone.

Alone. This is a word that I hear often from families who are in the process.  The feel alone because their extended family does not understand or maybe even not share the excitement. They feel alone because they go to the government offices and physical appointments so eager and ready to bring this child home, but the secretary behind the desk doesn’t share that excitement. For her, it is a day at work. For the adoptive parent it is a day closer to child in arms.  I remember it myself, the begging for an earlier appointment at the physicians. Yes, yes, they are busy but if we could just get our physicals accomplished quickly then we could finish our homestudy and move on…move closer… to a real living breathing flesh that needs our arms and love and….oh, yes I understand we have to wait and the next appointment is not for a month. Alone.

The process itself is so uncertain. “When will the call come…for referral…for travel…for court…for HOME……”  Very few folks who have not adopted understand the weight of this wait.  Nor should they.  Those of us with experience, though, look how we can encourage here and point to what will come and help teach how this wait can be used for good.  We can help just by being present, simply by nodding out heads with a shared understanding. Those who have not carried their child outside their body and had no control over months and years of their life often can not understand the hardship of this waiting.  I remember laying in bed wondering if he was hungry, and if she was being held, and so wishing I could communicate love to them across the miles. I remember the tears and the hopes.

A new family, in the process, has many needs.   And one of them is you and your stories, wisdom, and experience.

Yes, and thank you for sharing your experience online. Its fantastic.  Many a night I have burned the oil reading and HAVE BEEN HELPED or ENCOURAGED so I do not want to discredit those blogs and online communities as they serve a purpose.  If you can, however, get to know a family that is starting out. Make a connection and sit down together. May the bonds of adoption bring you new friends that you can encourage, support, and help uplift during their process. Because only you can nod your head knowingly as they share. You “get-it” and more than that your experience can help to widen their eyes and make them better prepared to welcome that child home.

You are needed to help those starting out know that they are not alone. And beyond that I believe with all my heart that our stories of the process, and the sharing of every day life as an adoptive family can make those starting out better prepared, more thoughtful, and bring them even deeper into an understanding of the difficult yet remarkably beautiful journey they are on for the sake of loving a child.

And, if your the beginner reading this and you feel alone ~ don’t. Don’t keep living that way, because there is a wealth of knowledge, understanding,  wisdom and humor available to you in the form of an experienced adoptive family!  Make a call. Send an email.

My table is open to you.  And, I would bet most other adoptive families would say the same.