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It Takes a Village

Community.  What does the word mean to you?  To me it means relationships, support, comradery.  It means there are people ‘in my corner’ who I can turn to not only when I need help, but for general connection as well.  And here at Gladney Center for Adoption and Madison Adoption Associates, we realize the importance of communities and connection, and we do all we can to be a part of, contribute to, and nurture the communities we are a part of.

Because we believe in the connection of community so strongly, it is the reason that we structure our hosting program the way we do – rooted in community, rooted in supports, rooted in connections.  We only work with host families in the states that we are licensed in and/or have strong partners – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Missouri, Utah, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.  We understand the magnitude of what not only our host families are undertaking, but what the children will go through as well.  And, because of this, we believe it is crucial to nourish our families and host children with support, connection, and presence.  We keep our families ‘close’ for their sake, and for the sake of the children.

Throughout the hosting session, our host families are provided the opportunity to connect with each other, for the children to see their friends, and to have the support of trained professionals who are all just a quick drive away.  Our staff routinely visit the children and families during the hosting session, providing guidance, counsel, and whatever supports that family needs to thrive during the host session, and beyond.

Live in PA, NJ, IL, MO, TX, FL, or UT?  We would love to welcome you to our hosting community with open arms.  Contact us today ( to learn more about changing a life – yours and theirs – by hosting.  Or visit our website.

Thanksgiving: Building Core Memories with Your Children

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, families everywhere will gather to celebrate gratitude, unity, and the enduring bonds of love. For families who have opened their hearts to children through adoption who have a history of trauma, this time of year holds a special significance as well as unique challenges. Building new traditions can be scary, but it’s an opportunity to build core memories that can foster healing and attachment.

Thanksgiving Family Dinner.

Why Core Memories Matter for Adopted Children

Children who have experienced trauma, particularly those who are adopted, frequently face a tangle of deep emotions. The warmth and support of a family during festive occasions such as Thanksgiving can be pivotal in their path to healing. Crafting joyful, lasting memories through shared family experiences does more than just fortify family ties; it lays down a stable and affectionate groundwork crucial for the emotional well-being of children.

Thanksgiving Crafts: Creating Together

Crafting together as a family is a wonderful way to engage and connect. Here are three simple craft ideas that are both fun and therapeutic:

BONUS: These require very little prep work for the busy Mom and Dad! You can use items around the house to create these crafts.

  1. Gratitude Tree: Have each family member write what they are thankful for on a leaf cut-out and attach it to a homemade tree. This visual representation of gratitude is a beautiful reminder of the love and appreciation within the family.
  2. Thankful Placemats: Let each child design and decorate their own placemat for the Thanksgiving table. This activity gives them a sense of contribution and belonging.
  3. Family Memory Book: Create a scrapbook filled with family photos, drawings, and notes. This project allows children to reflect on happy memories and anticipate creating new ones.

Cooking Together: Nourishing Body and Soul

Mother and son rolling out sugar cookies together

Cooking is far more than a mere act of preparing food; it is a heartfelt journey of creating warmth and togetherness. In the kitchen, amidst the rhythmic chopping of vegetables and the harmonious sizzle of spices, people come together, breaking down barriers as they cook together. It’s a space where stories and secret recipes are shared, where laughter and aromas blend seamlessly, creating an atmosphere of familial warmth. Aromas possess a subtle yet profound power to heal and comfort. Never underestimate the power of vanilla!

Each stir of the pot and roll of the dough becomes a shared moment, a memory etched in the family narrative of those in the kitchen. Cooking, in its essence, transforms an everyday necessity into a celebration of connection, love, and the timeless art of feeding both the body and the soul.

  1. Baking a Pumpkin Pie: Involve your child in the baking of a traditional pumpkin pie. The act of measuring, mixing, and tasting can be a delightful sensory experience. Pumpkin Pie is simple enough to allow even the youngest of children to participate in making.
  2. Decorating Cookies: Bake sugar cookies and let children decorate them with icing and sprinkles. This allows for creativity and expression in a fun, tasty way.
  3. Assembling a Fruit Turkey: Create a fruit platter in the shape of a turkey. This healthy and creative activity is perfect for younger children and promotes healthy eating habits.

Remember, the goal is not perfection but connection. Be present, patient, and encouraging. For children with a history of trauma, the reassurance and acceptance found in these shared activities can be profoundly healing. As we gather this Thanksgiving, let’s cherish the opportunity to build core memories with our children. Through crafts, cooking, and shared experiences, we create connection, love, and belonging that lasts a lifetime. At Madison Adoption Associates, we believe in the transformative power of family and the healing potential of love. Let’s make this Thanksgiving a memorable one for every member of our family, especially those who have joined us through the beautiful journey of adoption.

The Power of Love

Our own Adriana Chaves had the sheer pleasure of spending time with Addi not too long ago. This is what she had to say about this incredible girl…..

In a world filled with challenges, and adversities, there are stories that shine brightly with hope and resilience. This young soul, filled with a sweet, loving, and caring personality, longs for the warmth and embrace of a loving family.

Addi has a strong spirit  that soars despite the fragility of her skin. Addi is a twelve-year-old girl whose life has been a test of endurance from the very beginning. And she has always had her timid and wonderful smile on her face. Addi’s daily life is filled with care , routines, lots of kids around, but without a permanent, loving family to call her own.

 She is always willing to help, willing to support others. Addi has a heart full of love, kindness, and an unshakable desire to belong to a family.

Despite the hardships Addi has faced, her heart remains as pure as gold. Her sweet and loving personality is evident in every interaction. She radiates positivity and kindness, touching the heart of those like me who had been lucky to have crossed her path. Her smile, which lights up the room, is a testament to her inner strength. She’s known for her empathy, always offering to help adults and kids and this is how she seeks for attention. Addi’s greatest dream is to have a forever family who will cherish her.  She yearns for a loving home where she can experience the warmth and the unconditional love of parents and maybe,  the laughter of siblings. Being an only child can also be something she would enjoy. Her spirit is a reminder that her family is still out there looking for her and we are meant to find them.  Her journey shows us all that, even in the face of extraordinary challenges, love and kindness can thrive. She is a source of inspiration for all of us, reminding us of the power of love.

Addi is waiting in a South American country. She will be the greatest blessing to a family! Please complete our free, no obligation Prospective Adoptive Parent form, or email for more information about the adoption process and this amazing girl!

His smile!

Oh how his smile lights up a room! Though humble and private, Adam still has a way to make those around him feel comfortable and at ease in his presence. Once you get to know him, you’ll be lucky enough to see his fun, playful, joking side.

Adam is active, loving soccer and basketball. But like any teen boy, he’s also quite content playing Roblox or Fortnite. But when it is time to turn the video games off, Adam is more than happy to pick up a book and get lost in a new adventure.

Humble, responsible, flexible, wants to please others. Adam has a beautiful heart and wants more than anything to be part of a family.

Adam participated in MAA’s summer 2023 host program. His host family would be more than happy to share about their experiences hosting James with an interested, qualified family. Please complete our free, no obligation Prospective Adoptive Parent form, or email for more information about this amazing boy!

The Full Package

James. Where do I even begin?! James LOVES to dance! And his smooth moves are contagious…’s impossible not to bust a move when you’re around James dancing! But his electric personality doesn’t end there. He’s social, outgoing, extroverted, and gets along with both adults and kids alike. He’s happy, spontaneous, and confident. Somehow he is fun and funny, but yet sweet and tender. He’s truly the full package!

But as much as James would choose to dance and have fun whenever he can, he still understands that rules need to be followed, and chores need to be completed. And he does so without complaint.

James loves being on the move, especially outside. You can usually find him running, swimming, and adventuring. He’s never reluctant to try new things!

When he grows up, James dreams of becoming a police officer or fire fighter. But before he grows up, James needs the chance to be a kid in a family! Could that family be YOU?

James participated in MAA’s summer 2023 host program. His host family would be more than happy to share about their experiences hosting James with an interested, qualified family. Please complete our free, no obligation Prospective Adoptive Parent form, or email for more information about this amazing boy!

To Her Future Parents With Love….

This letter was written by the parents of Maleah’s best friend from the orphanage, who so adore Maleah, and who know what a gift she will be to her future parents.

                                                                                                                        September 2023

Dear Maleah’s future Mom and Dad,

It is our great pleasure to share with you about our time spent with the girl you are so incredibly blessed to be able to soon call daughter – Maleah. 

We were able to pick up and adopt our now 14-year-old son from the orphanage in 2014. It was also on this occasion that we met his best friend, Maleah, and since then we have been able to meet her several times on trips to Thailand.

Before we saw Maleah for the first time when we received placement of our son, we already knew her from photos together with him. When we asked the social worker about both kids, she said that both children were “easy going” and therefore get along well. A nice compliment and that’s still our son today.

Since we didn’t want our son to be a stranger to his homeland and loved ones, we have since then made three trips to Thailand together and thankfully have been able to meet the social worker and Maleah each time. During the first two trips, we were able to meet Maleah at the orphanage on two consecutive days, the children had a lot of fun and were still very close. We ourselves immediately took Maleah to our hearts and would have loved to adopt her, which unfortunately wasn’t possible at that time. Today, years later, the reasons are unfortunately ours. Another adoption is not possible for us. Unfortunately, especially since our son would love to have her as his sister.

In between our family trips I traveled alone to my son’s homeland and visited Maleah for a day at the orphanage, which was also very nice and fun.

A month ago we were together again in Thailand and had rented a small house in a nearby district, near friends of ours staying across the street. This time we were very lucky that Maleah was able to stay with us for three days and nights.

We did a lot together with our friends, their 12 and 15 year old sons, our son, and Maleah and were in no way restricted by a “foreign” child. Thanks to the Google translator app and using hands and feet, it was easy to communicate. We already knew that from the adoption of our son. Communication is so much easier than you think!

All four children immediately enjoyed being a group of four and it may not have been obvious to outsiders that Maleah was just a guest child. She enjoyed playing water polo with the boys, they went to 7-11 together or a nearby bubble tea shop and we all explored the city together. We thought it might be difficult in some way as Maleah doesn’t know family life, certainly not that of a western family who is on vacation. It wasn’t difficult for a second, but completely uncomplicated and we enjoyed being together immensely. 

We also noticed the right closeness. To me, she was like my second child. She walked by my hand, leaned against me, let me hug her, but was never intrusive or asked for more. Dealing with my husband was just as nice, but with a natural distance.

Also, there wasn’t a single awkward situation between the children, strange looks, or competitive thinking. Her closeness to the children was also very natural. She was close with our son, like with a brother.  She was nice and polite to our adult friends, but nothing more. Her behavior was always appropriate and never obtrusive.

Maleah loves sports and activities, but like any teenager, she can also chill out on the sofa and laugh at TikTok videos. She understands quickly and solves the magic cube in a flash. She likes to laugh but could also show her sadness on the evening before saying goodbye, she can be lively just as calm, she is polite but also cheeky to the kids in a funny way and she is outgoing without being intrusive. She always saves a few baht left for beggars.

You can tell from her, as always from our son, that she was brought up lovingly and well in the orphanage. We trust her and she only accepts material things that she knows are meant for her. Unfortunately, she didn’t take a present for her in her room because she wasn’t sure, and she didn’t touch any money lying around openly.

We cannot express how much we adore Maleah and how incredibly blessed you are to soon be able to call her daughter.  She will bring so much joy, love, and life to your family!

With kind regards,

Mary & Tom

Maleah is almost 14 years old and is waiting in Thailand. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an Adoption Specialist will be in touch! You can also find more information about Maleah and other waiting children here. For general information about our programs, please visit our website.

ISO: Backpack packer, Lunch maker, #1 Fan

Supply lists checked off, lunches made, first day outfits picked out, bus schedules issued, locker combos memorized.  It’s back-to-school time!  A time of excitement – fresh starts, seeing old friends, making new friends, exploring new subjects!  Also a time of angst – worries over unknowns, stress over finding classroom locations, dysregulation due to new routines.  The beginning of the new school year brings with it SO many feelings! 

Maleah feels all the same feels at the start of the school year too.  But without a Mom and Dad behind the scenes to ease her worries.  To go to Back to School night and help her with her locker.  To help her organize her backpack and make her lunch.  To reassure her that she’ll make friends.  And to consistently encourage her each and every day to always try her best.  Year after year, Maleah shoulders the many emotions that come along with back-to-school all on her own – something that no child should have to do.

When we met Maleah back in February, we asked her to show us some arithmetic. Simple stuff – 2+2, 4×2. She did the problems with ease, and rolled her eyes at our ridiculous requests. While we continued to chat with the orphanage staff, Maleah sat calmly with the pen and paper. Several minutes later, she was adamant to show us what she was working on – much more involved addition and subtraction problems. Maleah was adamant that we left there knowing what she was capable of!

And capable she is. Capable, kind, sassy, shy, and filled with potential. Craving the love, attention, and nurturance of a Mom and Dad. Desperate for a family to love and encourage her, and tell her ‘great job’ not just at back-to-school time, but always and forever. In search of her #1 fan – Mom and Dad.

Maleah is almost 14 years old and is waiting in a country in southeast Asia. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an Adoption Specialist will be in touch! You can also find more information about Maleah and other waiting children here. For general information about our programs, please visit our website.

The Journey of Adoption and the Role of Certificates of Citizenship (COC)

We want to say a big thank you to attorney Irene Steffas for constantly advocating for the importance of the COC over the years.

USA passport and citizenship naturalization certificate of US flag over wooden background

Every adoption journey is a testament to parents’ boundless love for their children. This love transcends borders, cultures, and legalities. While the emotional connection is immediate and profound, the world of international adoption is intertwined with legal intricacies. One such document at the heart of this is the Certificate of Citizenship (COC). Understanding its significance isn’t just a bureaucratic formality—it’s an act of love, ensuring your child’s future is protected in their new homeland.

1. Guardianship vs. Full Adoption

Many adoptees with an IR-4 visa have never transitioned their guardianship into a final order of adoption. This isn’t just a legal nuance; it affects the child’s well-being. Agencies ask for COCs not to burden parents but to secure the child’s future.

2. Passports and the Department of State (DOS)

DOS requirements for the COC before issuing a passport aren’t arbitrary. It’s about ensuring that the threads tying your child to their new country are unbreakable.

3. US Citizenship and USCIS

The actual affirmation of US citizenship stems from the USCIS, which issues the COC. A passport is essential, but it doesn’t narrate the story of your child’s journey to the US. No government body can know how someone entered the US with a simple passport.

N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship blank form lies on United States flag with blue pen from Department of Homeland Security close up

4. DMV and Immigration Laws

DMVs are becoming enforcers of immigration laws. Having a COC can help you navigate these unforeseen challenges smoothly.

5. Proof of Citizenship

Your child’s Final Order of Adoption is invaluable. Yet, in legal terms, it’s the COC that stands as an unwavering testament to their US citizenship. Universities and many other agencies require proof through evidence of citizenship, and the COC is the document that provides that assurance and evidence.

6. Voting and Citizenship

The act of voting is sacred. This sacred right is only granted to citizens. Ensuring your child’s right to participate in the democratic process later in life begins with a COC now.

7. The Weight of Citizenship Claims

Legal intricacies can be daunting. The Immigration and Nationality Act has no tolerance for anyone wrongly claiming citizenship. It’s heartening that Congress created an exception for adopted children to have protections under the law. Be sure to have the COC to prove they are protected under this exception.

In the heart of every adoptive parent is the desire to provide the best for their child. This commitment involves navigating the maze of legalities with empathy and understanding. By educating oneself about documents like the COC, you’re not just adhering to legal formalities—you’re passionately advocating for your child’s rights and future. Because ultimately, every step taken in this journey, every document filed, and every hour spent understanding the process is an affirmation of your unwavering love and dedication to your child’s well-being.


When we told Maleah that her favorite little buddy was matched with his family, her first reaction was sheer and utter joy.  For him.  Knowing he would be going to his forever, and getting the love of a family, made her heart swell.  She couldn’t be more excited for him.  But as the reality started to sink in, we clearly saw the moment come over her when she realized he’d be leaving.  And while her excitement remained for him, her heart began to ache nonetheless.  We continued our meeting chatting with the social workers about Maleah and the other children, all the while she was sitting with her head down quietly drawing.  When the conversation shifted back to Maleah, we all wanted to see what she was working on.

“That’s me.”

“And that’s my favorite little buddy.”

“And these are our houses in America.  Right next door to each other.  Now that he has a family, you must find my family right next to his.”

While we couldn’t promise she’d be his neighbor, we did assure her we would do everything in our power to find her family on this side of the world so she could be either in the same time zone as him or at least close to it.

Over the years Maleah has seen many of her little friends find their forever.  But because her paperwork took longer than usual, she never got the opportunity herself until now.  But now, time is running out.  If her family isn’t found soon, before long it will be too late.  Please share this far and wide so that the next time we tell Maleah a family was found, it will be hers.  

Maleah is waiting in a country in South Asia. If you are interested in learning more about her, please complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form and an MAA staff member will be in touch! You can also find more program information and information about Maleah on our website.

Finding the Right Fit: How to Choose an Adoption Agency

One of the most important decisions you will make during the adoption process is choosing the right adoption agency. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Let’s go over some things to consider when selecting an adoption agency.

1. Type of Adoption

Adoption, mother and girl outdoor, smile or happy being loving, bonding or happy together. Portrait.

The first factor to consider is the type of adoption you are pursuing.

There are several types of adoption, including:

Domestic infant adoption

International adoption

Domestic waiting children through foster care

Domestic Identified

Adoption of children with special needs

Adoption of sibling groups

Some adoption agencies specialize in one type of adoption, while others may offer multiple options. It’s important to choose an agency that is experienced in the type of adoption you are pursuing, as they will have the knowledge and resources needed to guide you through the process.

2. Licensure and Accreditation

Finding credentialed adoption agencies should be a primary concern for prospective adoptive parents. Adoption agencies should be licensed and accredited by the required designated authorized organizations. In the United States, the primary Hague accrediting bodies for International Adoption agencies are the CEAS (Center for Excellence in Adoption Services); and IAAME (Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity). Domestic adoption required accreditation and licensure are determined by the state the agency is working in. It’s important to check the agency’s licensure and accreditation status before working with them.

3. Reputation

Customer Experience Woman hand thumb up vote on five star excellent rating on blue background. Review and feedback concept.

Another key factor to consider is the agency’s reputation. Research the agency online and read reviews from other adoptive parents. Ask the agency for references and talk to other families using their services. There are many social media groups to join for prospective adoptive parents. You want to work with an agency that has a good track record and is well-respected in the adoption community.

4. Services offered

Different adoption agencies may offer different services, so it’s important to understand what is included in their adoption services. Agencies should include significant pre-adoption education classes on the types of adoption they offer and cultural education about the countries where they have programs. Learning more about special needs adoption, older child adoption, and sibling adoption should require even more specific education to prepare prospective adoptive parents for the future. Some agencies may provide counseling and support services for birth parents, while others may offer post-adoption support for adoptive families. Make sure you understand what services the agency offers and what their fees cover.

5. Communication

Communication is key when working with an adoption agency. Find an adoption agency that answers personally to your phone calls and emails. You want to choose an agency that is responsive to your needs and keeps you informed throughout the adoption process. Pay attention to how quickly they respond to your inquiries and how well they communicate with you.

6. Cost

Adoption, International adoption as well as domestic adoption, can be expensive, so it’s important to consider the cost of the agency’s services. Make sure you understand their fee structure and what is included in their fees. Some agencies offer grants or partner with organizations such as Brittany’s Hope, so be sure to ask about financial assistance options available with an agency.

7. Personal fit

It’s important to choose an adoption agency that feels like a good fit for you. Adoption is a deeply personal experience, and you want to work with an agency that understands your values and priorities. Schedule a consultation with the agency to understand their approach and how well they understand your needs.

Choosing the right adoption agency is a critical decision in the adoption process. Consider the type of adoption you are pursuing, the agency’s accreditation and reputation, the services offered, communication, cost, and personal fit. By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can find an adoption agency that is the right match for your family. Here at Madison Adoption Associates, we believe in the power of family and work hard to build an ongoing relationship with the families who choose us.