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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!

It Really Is a Big Dream

It Really Is a Big Dream

Dear Madison Adoption,

I have known Ashton since 2014. We were together at our orphanage in Northern China (at Shepherd’s Field). He was one of my four closest friends and I felt like he was my brother. I have always hoped that he could find a family. He has been in the orphanage for a long time. He has watched so many friends get adopted. When I got to our orphanage he had just lost another friend who had been adopted. He was so sad.

I had heard that Ashton couldn’t get paperwork, and when I found out that he could finally be adopted, I was so happy!  Ashton is a kind boy and he is really cute. He always just wanted to live a normal life.

I know that he would be happy to be in a family and he really wants one. It really is a big dream for him.

Love his friend,
Xinlu/Vicki

MAA is advocating for Ashton (known as “Luke” at his foster home, Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village), a 13 year old boy waiting in China. Through his foster home he received desperately needed heart surgery last year, but he still needs a family to give him the love and support every child deserves. Thanks to generous donors we are able to offer a $5000 grant for a family that adopts him through MAA. Email LindseyG@madisonadoption.org or complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent form to learn more about Ashton and adoption!

There Are Hundreds of Mayas

Two weeks ago a Colombian children’s home contacted MAA, along with the other agencies they work with, with a desperate plea: to help find a family for a sweet fifteen-year-old girl who was running out of time. Maya was hosted in the US last year and had an adoptive family in process, but for reasons that had nothing to do with her, the family had dropped out. She needed a new family who could complete the homestudy, dossier, and file I-800 by November, or she would age-out of adoption eligibility. The iapa staff raved about what an amazing kid she was, saying she’s “100 out of 100,” one of the best kids they ever had!

We put out the plea, as did other agencies, and within 24 hours had multiple families inquiring! Thankfully a family at another agency stepped forward almost immediately and submitted Letter of Intent, and Maya should have a family in time. We were so relieved. When we told the families who had been interested in her they were all happy for her, but when we said we’d love to share about the other children in danger of aging out who still wait for families… no one was interested.

I understand how a particular child can grab your heart, and children are people, not replaceable or interchangeable, but Maya is just one of thousands of children waiting for a family, one of hundreds who will age-out of adoption eligibility in the coming months. If Maya’s story touched you, surely it’s possible that another child could too? Another face could call out to you saying “Are you my family?”

Harriet

Maybe it’s Harriet, just a few months younger than Maya. She likes to play soccer, basketball, and swim at the pool, but also enjoys just watching movies- all things she should be doing with her own family! Even though she missed out on two years of school, she is motivated to study and learn. She was supposed to come to the US for hosting this summer, her best chance of finding an adoptive family, but due to the coronavirus hosting was cancelled, and Harriet continues to wait for someone to see her.

Or maybe it’s Edward, whose face we can’t even post here due to his country’s regulations, but who has the brightest smile. His heart is to help and serve, and he often spends hours in the kitchen helping the cooks prepare the food and serve the children their meals. He never complains about dishes or chores assigned to him and genuinely does his very best. A gentle soul, he would never hit another child, and there have even been instances where another child has picked a fight with him and he has stood quietly, without retaliation. He is amazing at Zumba and putting dance steps to any song or beat. He likes to have discussions and talk about life rather than play or fool around like other boys his age. The older he gets, the more anxious he is that he may not get a family, but he still has hope that he could have a mother and father that will love and value him. Though he has until April for a family to file I-800, his country process moves very slowly so a family must be found very soon, or he will run out of time.

Brennan

Or what about Brennan? He helps younger children in the orphanage to get food and wash their bowls. Once he found a hurt sparrow on the way home from school and brought it to the orphanage medical staff to see if they could help. He was due to age-out of adoption eligibility in October, however, due to upcoming changes in China’s adoption laws he has likely gained two more years to find a family. But while we celebrate this news, we also acknowledge that he has already been waiting almost four years for a family. MAA has already advocated for him three times! Will more time make a difference for him? Or will it just be two more years of waiting only to still age out, without the permanency, stability, and support of a family?

Maya is a wonderful girl, but children shouldn’t need to be a perfect “100 out of 100” to get a family. They don’t earn a family by being good, they deserve a family because they are a child. Each of these kids will bring their family joy and challenges, but first they need someone to take the chance to bring them home- before it’s too late. 

Just some of the hundreds of children who will “age out” of adoption in the next two years: Elise, Hudson, Luna and Lily, Davie, Mahlia, Brennan, Timothy, Ruby, Cyrus, Orlando, Harriet, Ryan

Interested in learning more about older children waiting for adoption? Email Lindsey Gilbert, or complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent form today!

Now We Are Six

Now We Are Six

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.

Top Row: Atticus, Dominic, Evelyn, Sherman
Middle: Coco, Thatcher, Davis, Eric
Bottom: Peyton, Marc, Rece, Lyric
Top: Zavier, Jackson, Marigold, Birger
Middle: Wallace, Cecelia, Davis, Phoenix
Bottom: Carlin, Sean, Jed, Lucio

Interested in learning more about adoption or one of these waiting children? Complete our free Prospective Adoptive Parent Form to connect to an Adoption Specialist, or email LindseyG@madisonadoption.org.

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 2

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 2

Hosting an older child from a foreign country, who has been living in an institution, can seem intimidating and full of unknowns. Read Part 1 of Niki H’s story here, about they came to decide to host a child in order to advocate and find their adoptive family, then come back for Part 2 below, and learn how in searching for the adoptive family for a child, they found the missing piece of their own family- twice!

I admit, committing to adopt AiJun was probably the scariest thing I have ever done, but by faith, I agreed. On the way to the St Louis airport at the end of the hosting stay, we saw one of the most beautiful, full, vibrant rainbows we had ever seen. I felt in my heart that it was God’s promise to me that everything would work out. I was no longer anxious about adopting AiJun, and I felt a peace about our decision.

Niki and family in China finalizing AiJun’s adoption

The next year was full of the necessary paperwork and preparing to go get AiJun. AiJun had been bullied in Kindergarten, and had been permitted to drop out of school for three years after the bullying took place. After the hosting visit, he went back to China and told his caretakers that he wanted to go to school again. We were thrilled to hear that he had a good experience at school during the year we were going through the adoption process. What’s more, our church immediately began raising money for our adoption. We received $6000 from our church, $2500 from a matching grant through Lifesong, $4500 in donations from friends and family, and $5000 from a ShowHope grant. We also received an adoption tax credit. After all my worrying about the money given to adopt AiJun instead of helping our son Peter with college, I felt that we had given Satan a black eye!

We have now had AiJun two full years. He is the same kid now that he was three years ago when we hosted: fun, caring, loving, and always ready for an adventure. He has blessed our family in more ways than I can count, and I feel beyond blessed to be his mom. Adopting an older child turned out to be the perfect fit for our family, as he is only six months older than our last child, Aimee. They are even in the same class at school. It is almost like having twins! As a matter of fact, I find it ironic that both their names begin with “Ai” and both their names are five letters long. The four cousins that came over are now all grown up, but we still see them often. Our first calling was to help out our niece and nephews, but our second calling was to adopt AiJun, and we are so glad that we answered God’s calling.

Our kids are 20, 18, 15, 12, and 11. Peter, our oldest, is attending our local community college this semester for cyber security certification and he also attended a training for four weeks in February in WI to become a sergeant in the National Guard. Emma, who just graduated high school, works at a local nursery and is making plans to take a gap year to volunteer at an orphanage in Haiti this winter. Ashley will be a sophomore in high school, and AiJun and Aimee will be in sixth grade. Our perspective on adoption has definitely changed drastically. Now we see it as God sees it. Adopting AiJun took something painful, hard, and sad and turned into something beautiful, happy, and healing. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days of heartache and sadness for AiJun, but I have learned that adoptions are stories of redemption. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t marvel at what a blessing AiJun has been to our family, and even though we knew he needed us, we now realize that we needed him more.

Meeting Sara, Melany and Bryan at the airport

But our story doesn’t stop there. This past spring, I felt the urge to do more for orphans. I decided to let the social worker who wrote our home study know that if the hosting program needed a family to host, we would be willing to host again. By late May, we were asked to host a sibling group of three: Sara, age 13, Melany, age 11, and Bryan, age 9, from Colombia. When my husband heard we were hosting again, he said, “You know we’ll end up adopting them.” I told him we were just advocating and being helpful and that we couldn’t possibly adopt three more children! But, just like three years before, within days of hosting the three children, the thought of adopting them began to enter our minds.

However, the logistics of providing a home for three more people was daunting. Our house only has three bedrooms, so our sleeping arrangements would be tight to say the least. But, as usual, God was at work to make sure everything was taken care of. Our pastor, who has always wanted a pond and who is also a skilled carpenter, offered to finish our basement in exchange for the pond he always dreamed of having.

Sara is sweet, smart, and very mature for her age as she has had most of the responsibility of her two siblings. Melany is adventurous and fun-loving, and Bryan is a typical boy who loved to fish in our pond. They aren’t perfect, and we won’t be perfect parents, but God’s handiwork is evident, and we rest in Him and His truths. It has been fun to watch AiJun’s face when we ask him if we should adopt, as he is on the other side of the situation now. He just beams and says “Yes! We should adopt them. They don’t have a family!” We are looking forward to spring of 2020 when we will travel to Colombia to get our three new children. We will be parents to eight children, but God will be with us every step of the way, because God is good, and He loves the orphan. Thank you for reading our story.

Interested in hosting? Read more about hosting on our website, or email Adriana@madisonadoption.org to learn more and get started!

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 1

Hosting: From Advocacy to Adoption, Part 1

Many families are interested in hosting but are scared of the unknowns- what will the child be like? Will the language barrier be too challenging? How on earth will we say goodbye at the end? Read one family’s experience with hosting and how it changed all their lives for the better…

As a teenager dreaming of my future family, I wanted children and I wanted a big family. I also remember thinking how neat it would be to adopt a child someday. But for many of us, myself included, life doesn’t play out exactly as planned. As the years began to pass (eight years to be exact), God blessed us with three children, Peter, Emma, and Ashley, and a thriving business.

In the spring of 2006, we received the devastating news that our sister-in-law had died unexpectedly at age 37, leaving four children ages 11, 9, 7, and 2, whom she had been homeschooling. At the time, our children were 6, 5, and 2 and I had chosen to homeschool as well. Even though our hearts were broken, God had a plan.

I knew when we had found our house that it wasn’t a coincidence that God provided us a home within walking distance of where they lived. So I followed God’s lead and reached out to them by inviting them over to homeschool with us twice a week that fall of 2007. On September 13, 2007 our fourth and final child, Aimee, was born. I was happy to help out my niece and nephews, but as the years passed and my children grew, the prospect of adopting seemed less and less of a possibility. It had always been a dream to adopt a younger child, not a child half grown, and my children were no longer babies or even toddlers. Adopting an older child entailed a set of circumstances that I just wasn’t comfortable with.

However, time has a way of changing things, and it wasn’t too many years before some of my kids were high school age and we decided their current needs would be best met in public school. By this time I had dismissed the prospect of adoption entirely. However, my second child, Emma, had not. By the age of five she had begun to express interest in our family adopting and at a young age had a huge heart for orphans. In the summer of 2015, our church began promoting a hosting program. Emma was 14 at the time. She enthusiastically showed me pictures of the host kids and begged for our family to host an orphan. As we would arrive to church on Sunday mornings that spring and early summer, people would comment and giggle about Emma’s enthusiasm that they had seen on Facebook and ask if we were hosting. I would laugh it off and reply no. At some point during those crazy years of building a business I had given up the dream of adopting a child. But God hadn’t given up.

One morning I received a text message from a close friend named Kea who had adopted a boy named Brody from China two years earlier. She said that she knew we had been somewhat interested in hosting the year before (little did she know that I actually hadn’t had any interest in hosting) and was wondering if we would “co-host” with them this summer? After further discussion, talking it over with John, and praying, we agreed to co-host one child, with her son Brody as our helper and translator. The child would be at her house a week, then our house a week, then vice versa until the host period was over. Emma was beyond excited, and promised she would help out with whatever we needed.

Then I got a phone call from Kea. The hosting coordinator did not like our idea of “sharing” a child. She told us respectfully that these children are orphans, who have never experienced family life before. They were coming all the way from China, and even if they were never in their life to receive the gift of a family, at least they got to experience one for four weeks while in the US. She said that she understood our desire to help each other by babysitting for appointments, etc. but that we each needed to host our own child. Reluctantly, we knew in our hearts that she was right, and agreed to host a child on our own.

On the way to the airport, Kea began to describe what our Chinese child would most likely be like from her experience with her own adopted son. I was surprised to hear that our host child would have only experienced inner city life. Kea informed me that he most likely won’t want to play outside. He probably won’t like our big dogs. He will be afraid of bugs. Since we live in the country and spend a lot of time outside, I braced myself for the longest four weeks of my life.

Upon arriving at the airport in Springfield, we met our host child, AiJun. He was small for his age, nine years old, and very, very tired. He did not smile at us or try to speak. Brody tried speaking to him, but could not understand the few words AiJun said. There were many Chinese translators there, helping families speak to their host children. Several came up and tried to speak to AiJun, but he wouldn’t respond. Then one of them began to play with AiJun, to get him to say something. Soon he giggled and spoke. “He speaks Cantonese,” she told us. My hopes and dreams of Brody translating for us for the next four weeks diminished as Brody only knew Mandarin.

The next morning, AiJun quietly walked down the stairs. He saw our youngest child, Aimee, who was then eight. She began to play cars with him. I was relieved to see him smile at her and enjoy the interaction. I began to make breakfast and I set out a can of sweet milk, a Chinese children’s drink, that we had bought at an Asian grocery store in Springfield the evening before. AiJun’s face lit up when he saw it. After eating a hearty breakfast, he and Aimee played more. I was hesitant to let them play outside, assuming he would be scared of the dogs, but he wasn’t. As a matter of fact, AiJun wasn’t scared of anything we assumed he would be scared of, and we were humbled as we realized how wrong we were to label AiJun as the problem child we assumed he would be. AiJun soon proved to us that he was just like any normal kid, and it wasn’t long before he was having the time of his life going on boat rides, catching fireflies, jumping off the dock into our pond, playing with the dogs, hiking, and simply being a kid and enjoying the summertime.

We were also literally amazed to discover that AiJun was super easy going and had a great sense of humor. The only thing we couldn’t get him to do was speak into our phone to try to communicate, but he made up for that with the hilarious things he would communicate with just body language. After just two weeks of hosting AiJun, John mentioned the prospect of adopting him. And I had to admit the thought had crossed my mind as well. He just seemed to fit so perfectly into our family and he was just such an awesome kid. But I was also reluctant and scared wondering how would I teach him English? Where would he go to school? How would we pay for the adoption? Is the paperwork really as bad as everyone says it is? But I had been wrong already in so many ways, that I wondered: could God possibly be was at work in this situation? Maybe we were the family that was to adopt him all along?

To Be Continued…

-Story from MAA family Niki H

Want to learn more about hosting? Visit our website for more information about hosting, or email hosting coordinator Adriana@madisonadoption.org