what we’re reading: links

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

inthenews

Good Morning America takes a look at how Jenny Bowen – founder of Half the Sky – and how one mother, moved by the transforming power of love, has impacted the lives of countless orphans in China.

Heartbreaking pictorial of Chinese parents as they abandon their sick and/or special needs children at the Guangzhou “baby hatch”.

Another article about a baby hatch, this one in Tianjin. “… all 35 babies left in the Tianjin hatch have severe disabilities and illnesses, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and congenital heart disease,” says Xu who runs the Tianjin baby hatch.

Maylaysia Airlines missing airplane exposes the devastation of the “orphaned” adults that were created in this tragedy due to China’s one-child policy.

Lisa Milbrand, mom of a daughter from China with microtia, blogs at Parents.com with her thoughts on why she chose to adopt a child with special needs.

A mother in Israel comes up with an ingenious way to help her son walk with her. He has cerebral palsy and this invention enables them to do all sorts of everyday activities together. She hopes her invention will benefit children everywhere with impaired motor skills.

blogs

Oh my. Sweet, sweet portraits taken of some of the children at the Little Flower Project foster home in China.

Melissa, mom to two little boys from China through the special needs program, shares transparently about the attachment struggles she has encountered with her second adoption that she never experienced with her first. Great read for anyone home or in the process.

Karen, mom to a 5 year old home from China since 2012, shares her recent experience with trauma-related behavior in her daughter and how she was able to navigate those difficult times by utilizing The Connected Child.

And another post by Karen, about a recent trip to see the musical Annie and how it caused an unexpected reaction in her heart.

Experienced adoptive mama Kelly gives insight into how your newly adopted child is feeling in those first few days and weeks after adoption.

Annie, who recently adopted two sweet girls from China, shares her heart on the heartbreak and the healing of adopting children who have endured more than any child ever should.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

extras

Outstanding resource for adoptive families, Empowered to Connect. Be sure to visit the Resources page for access to an online library of articles, audio and video presentations for adoptive and foster parents, all free.

Adorable set of eight farm animal wall cards in Chinese.

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In China now, or just home with their child…

C&Alea

Our very own Carrie meeting her precious daughter Alea for the first time

Scarlet Threads
Difference for One
Our 7th Heaven
Bringing Home Emily Hope
Adoption Adventures with 2 Princesses and a Prince
From God’s Heart to Our Home
To Tallulah
To the Moon and Back

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to everyone who submitted recommendations for What We’re Reading this week.


Confession

Confession: I am a reluctant blogger. I normally write because I’ve been asked to and while it is therapeutic to do so, I find myself more and more backing away from the computer, overrun by mommy blogs attacking my facebook stream. Some are beautifully honest and real, helping in the trenches and deep waters of everyday life and some are just plain fear producing and guilt pushing. It is draining and I tend to look away and step aside. At times though, there is one that will hit me between the eyes (usually on this site!) and I see through that blurred vision for a couple of days and I continue to say “yes” and read away. Those times change my direction for good and put me on a different course. A course that others have walked and found the air easier to breathe upon arriving. We need to hear this vulnerable place found stepping into truth.

It was in these past days that I have held “The Little White One” in my mind and ached for Kam’s friend Tamara and her son Zach. The “little white one’s” fight and Zach’s glorious trust that speak to something heavenly. They won’t quite let me go this week and it’s a good thing. Right between the eyes.

A beloved friend and I were chatting about adoption. Yes, we both have adopted children but on that day we were keenly aware of our own adoption. It was that divine mystery that held us in our conversation. That church at Ephesus who first heard our own covenant invitation as chosen children. That verse three of Paul’s letter that blows my mind every time. That because He chose us and we chose Him, we are blessed with everything. That we receive every spiritual blessing and that there is nothing left out and we essentially belong. Adoption that God is pleased to establish so that we get the abundance and overflow. There is no more scrounging for scraps but there is abundance to be had and enjoyed in a family. We are sealed with inheritance and it is holy.

So I have glided through my day, thinking of how “The Little White One” fights when she is held and fights harder when spoken to in gentleness. How I can at times look just like her when I don’t recognize the inheritance I have before my Father who loves me. How I am no different and how my eyes gaze deeply into the eyes of my own daughter, who is learning to receive the inheritance of having my last name and the bigger one of the kind intention of God’s will. How she will fight me because she can’t help herself and how I will see her as blameless because I can’t help myself. How Tamara says, “she’s insane” but her son Zach is trusting God, despite a disease that seems to be devouring him. He seems to be stepping into that unseen yet tangible inheritance, as his eyes that are enlightened to a wisdom and knowledge of God beyond His years – well, they humble my own older eyes that get out of focus now and then.

So, this reluctant blogger is thankful to read ones that hit me between the eyes. To walk in a community that is transparent and holds each other’s hands. Even lifts them up from time to time. Because adoption as sons and daughters gives us everything and then some. You can’t Pinterest adoption – it is too hard and too glorious to attempt. You almost can’t speak or write of it either…it is a divine mystery. “Little White One” and “She says they’re insane, but I say they ROCK” (both previous blog posts on this site) did a beautiful work of showing something in the now that points to something heavenly. Those moments when we relate to fighting against Love and those moments when Love conquers the most impossible things and days that seem impossible, are somehow okay. Divinely okay.

bnwhands



she says they’re insane, but I say they ROCK

So we have some great friends in this life. Tamara & Jason are among them. We met back in the late ‘90’s when our hubbies were attending seminary in Fort Worth. We were carefree… with good jobs, a love for coffee, and no kids between us. We played often, laughed hard, took trips and lived out a fantastic friendship during these years.

After school, the Lord took them one direction and us another. But the ties that bind us remain unbroken and when my phone rang a few months ago, from Missouri, I thought… “I only know one family there…”

Tamara was one the other end and after the usual “Girl! How in the world are you???” stuff…she just began to open up about what the Lord was doing. I was really surprised, desperately happy and a little bit in awe.

They were adopting! That’s always music to my ears!

But here’s the kicker.

Several years ago, during a particularly difficult time in their ministry, Jason and Tamara had traveled to see us. They ended up staying the weekend with our family at my parents’ home. They needed refuge and respite. I’m not sure they got either! But we loved having them here and sometimes laughter truly is the best medicine.

At one point, their toddler son, Zach, was attempting to walk up my parents’ staircase. Tamara mentioned to me that they was concerned about him…that they actually had several concerns.

And they were completely founded.

Enter Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

We’ve watched them from afar raise their son with grace and prayerful parenting. We’ve begged God on their behalf and have grown in our love for them as we see the effects this devastating disease has had on their precious son.

We recently had dinner with Jason when he was in town for a ministry conference. He spoke a lot about Zach, DMD and their life…and their adoption. It got me to thinking, maybe some of you need to know Tamara. Maybe you need to hear from her. Maybe THIS is what No Hands But Ours is really about on some level.

So I wrote to her and asked for her help. I sent over several questions that I thought readers here may benefit from hearing the answers to. As always, this great friend of mine didn’t disappoint.


Tell me about your day to day. What does life look like with Zach?
Zach lost ambulation almost two years ago. He uses a powerchair fulltime. We use a hoyer lift for all transfers. We have a van with a built-in ramp. He is completely dependent on Jason and I to get dressed, get in and out of bed, use the bathroom, shower, etc. His arms are still strong enough for eating, brushing his teeth, using his laptop, etc. When we tuck him in at night, since he is lying flat, we have to physically pick up his arms and put them around our neck in order for him to hug us. (sorry, that is so sad but it is true…)

What is your hardest struggle?
Our greatest struggle is watching the devastation of this disease and being helpless to do anything about it. Others have compared it to your child being stuck on the tracks and a train is barreling down and there is nothing you can do to throw him off the tracks. The physical burden of caring for Zach is nothing compared to this. Most days are okay, some days it seems like this disease is devouring him.

What is your greatest triumph?
Our greatest triumph is that Zach has the best attitude and perspective on all of this. He has said out loud that he does not know why God allowed him to have this disease but He must have a good reason. He seems wise beyond his years and understands that God does not always give us the answers and that is okay. We can trust Him anyway.

Tell me about your adoption…
International adoption has always been a possibility for us. We always planned on having three or four biological kids and then adopting. After Zach’s diagnosis and my diagnosis as a carrier, we decided against having any more biological children. We often wondered how adoption would ever fit into our story. Caring for Zach is a full time job that requires so much of us, physically and emotionally. We had sort of put adoption out of our minds.

Then this picture of an orphaned little boy with Duchenne came across our path. We both felt that God had uniquely blessed us with everything we needed to care for this child. We have an accessible home, we have an accessible van, we have good health insurance, we have access to excellent doctors in St. Louis. How could we not share these blessings with this new child? How can we leave him there, knowing that he is going thru the same awful disease as Zach but without a mommy and daddy? We can take care of him, we can show him the love of a family and most importantly, we can introduce him to Jesus.

Since there is no cure for DMD, and knowing what you know as a parent of a child with this disease, how did you come to the decision to choose to adopt a child with the same need?
We felt that if not us, NO ONE may want him. How many families really want a child that cannot be “fixed.” Not terribly many. And that was too much to bear. We HAD to take action. We know that our adopting him will not save his physical life. There is no cure for this. But we can make his life better.

What do you want to say to other parents who are considering a similar situation or an adoption like this?
Don’t do it.! Just kidding. I don’t have a good answer for this.

What have you learned about yourself though this?
That we are insane.

Is this a risk? Aren’t you putting yourself in a nearly impossible position? {I only asked this because it is what so many are thinking. Tamara knows my heart, and our history in choosing a child with CHD after losing one to it in China. There is absolutely NO JUDGMENT intended from me in this question.}
Yes, this is a great risk. We are willfully opening our hearts to this child knowing that we will most likely outlive him. And he will most likely be the second child we will have to bury. But, we believe the eternal benefits outweigh the temporal. That in the end, when we are all with God in eternity, whatever sacrifices we made on earth will be worth it (Romans 8:18). And if our behavior is going to match our theology, we made the only choice we could. To obey God’s call to go get this boy.

Don’t you just love her!?! Don’t you want to reach through your screen and hug her neck and say, “YES!!!” Because no adoption is without loss and pain and heartache. But so many times, we as parents can make a devastating choice to let go of the expectation to play it safe {we’ve played it safe in adoption too…so again, no judgment whatsoever!}, to embrace the risk and the heartache and to LOVE a child that seemingly no one else is willing to love.

As she stated here, Tamara told me on the phone that morning that she knew that outside of an accident or some crazy unexpected circumstance…she would outlive both of her sons. She said to me, with a strength I don’t possess, “I know I’m likely going to bury them both, Kam. But what else am I to do?” She went on to ask me several times over the course of an hour {and a few times since then}…”Do you think we’re insane? This seems crazy.” And in the next breath she’d say, “But we know it’s right.”

I don’t know about you, but I love this kind of “insane.” I’m drawn to this kind of “crazy.” It seems to me that a little over 2000 years ago some pretty smart people were calling Jesus those very same things.

So, Tamara, my dear friend…you’re in excellent company.

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{In case you’re unfamiliar with DMD}

About Duchenne (from Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy)

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting approximately 1 in every 3,500 live male births (about 20,000 new cases each year). Because the Duchenne gene is found on the X-chromosome, it primarily affects boys; however, it occurs across all races and cultures.

Duchenne results in progressive loss of strength and is caused by a mutation in the gene that encodes for dystrophin. Because dystrophin is absent, the muscle cells are easily damaged. The progressive muscle weakness leads to serious medical problems, particularly issues relating to the heart and lungs. Young men with Duchenne typically live into their late twenties.

Duchenne can be passed from parent to child, but approximately 35% of cases occur because of a random spontaneous mutation. In other words, it can affect anyone. Although there are medical treatments that may help slow its progression, there is currently no cure for Duchenne.

it’s different

One of my friends recently shared on Facebook that she was struggling with being newly home with her second Chinese son.  She received so many encouraging comments, it was beautiful!  But she also received a hurtful comment implying that parenting biological and adopted children is exactly the same, and she should roll with the punches because everyone else had been through the same things with their new children.  Although I know this could be true in some cases, I also know that parenting adopted children is sometimes very different.

Of course, each child is unique and different.  There is no one-size-fits-all status for any child, biological or adopted.  But as a parent of both biological and adopted children, I see the differences, especially when they first become part of your family.  Parenting a new child who may have been institutionalized for the first part of their life – who may not have had someone to meet their needs consistently, who may not have been loved or told how precious they are, who may have been neglected and/or abused – can be very challenging and delicate compared to parenting a child who was loved and had his/her needs met consistently from the beginning.  While I know that biological children can also offer significant challenges, institutionalization introduces a number of issues not typically common with biological children.  Children who have been institutionalized can be traumatized, hurt, and delayed.  Children generally lose one month of development and linear growth for every three months they are institutionalized.  Our children often come to us with behaviors learned to survive.  We usually do not share most of those behaviors with others to protect our hurting children.

Teaching them that they have parents who love them unconditionally and will meet their needs often takes a lot of intentionality and time.  This may include not letting anyone hold our children or help with any basic needs until he/she is firmly attached and bonded to us as their new parents.  As much as we may want and desperately need the help that is very naturally accepted when we bring biological newborns home, we oftentimes hold off with adopted children because we know it’s best for our children.  There may not have been a consistent caregiver in their past.  They may have depended on only themselves to survive.  Survive is defined as “to continue to live or exist, in spite of danger or hardship.”  Survival is the most basic human instinct that children shouldn’t have to worry about.  If consistency is lacking, our children may think they can only depend on themselves.  Oftentimes the only way to teach them that mama and daddy will always be there for them is to be the only people to meet their needs.  It can be exhausting and isolating.

Add in the fact that you are parenting a new toddler (or older child in many cases) with a very clear personality for the first time … the road can be much harder and may look a lot different than parenting biological children.  Throw in a the possibility of a language barrier, institutional delays, weekly therapies, and medical special needs … it all just compounds how difficult adoptive parenting can be.  It may be easy to look at the beautiful airport homecoming pictures and new family portraits and think the family is filled with love and everything is perfect.  The truth is the family is filled with love and it is very beautiful indeed, but things are not always perfect.  Fortunately we are filled up daily with His perfect love and that shines through.  It is only from the Father that we have the strength in those first few months (or sometimes years).  Only He makes beauty from ashes and has the ability to redeem the brokenness of adoption.  His beauty and truth always shine through.

nicole

I do not think everyone should feel sorry for anyone or adoptive parents deserve a big pat on the back.  We all mess up daily (often minute by minute) just like every other parent on the planet and need Jesus desperately!  I write it only to offer a different perspective and to hopefully share that parenting biological and adopted children can be very different. It’s hard to understand for most people who haven’t parented children from hard places. I get that.  But when adoptive parents are struggling through something tough and are asking for support and prayer, it may not always be the normal everyday parenting stuff.  Of course, it is ALL worth it. Totally worth it. Biological or adopted, it doesn’t matter – every bit of it is worth it. Every child who we have the privilege of parenting here on earth is precious and unique. We get such a special opportunity to borrow them for a bit from the Father to train them up!  It is surely beautiful and we are overwhelmed with love.  Our children are gifts from the Lord and it is our privilege to parent them.



little white one

They call her “little white one” and the name suits. She’s a pretty little thing and can flit about like a little pixie at times, her snowy white head bobbing here and there, her cold wet bottom peeping out of quilted pink split-pants.

She’s a little singing fairy at times, but usually… she’s crying.

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When we first started working with this particular CWI, “Little White One” was a seemingly normal, happy child, but by our second visit two weeks later she was already looking more like an orphan.

What does an orphan look like? For one, they have nearly no concept of being treasured. They seek affirmation, affection and love from anyone who looks available and then as time goes by and they realize that nobody has time for just them they either shut down or go crazy. Sometimes they do both. Eventually, maybe, they develop a new normal and learn how to cope with not enough. Some of them just wither up, others become favorites and get “spoiled” which is (almost) the exact same as being “loved” in a family. And some little ones, like Little White One, hang desperately onto their innate need to be loved and fight for it, savoring each miniscule victory.

Someone held her today. Keep fighting.

No on wants to pick her up. Cry.

She was spoken to gently. Fight harder.

They snapped at her. Get in the way again.

Someone handed her a toy. Fight. Fight. Fight.

The other kids bullied her. Run to nanny even if she can’t do anything about it.

Someone put her on their lap and kept her there. Keep fighting.

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It’s a battle, and one that each of us working on the ground in orphanages need to be aware of, and actively engage in.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

― Mother Teresa



Yes, No, Maybe*

Neatly laid out in Times New Roman in alphabetical order are a list of labels, special needs, what China calls diseases.

Albinism…Anal atresia…Cerebral palsy…Cleft lip/cleft palate…Club foot…Congenital heart disease…Delayed development…Down syndrome…Hemofacial macrosomia…Hemangioma…Microtia…Syndactyly…

Some of them you’ve heard of. Others you struggle to pronounce, and you wonder if they’re even in English. Little “x”s in columns with a ball-point pen seemingly have the power to determine the rest of your life.

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

Every adoption agency’s going to make you do it. And, even if it wasn’t inevitable to the adoption process, it’s important to think through. Are you willing and able to walk a child through multiple surgeries? Does your insurance company cover serial casting? speech therapy? prosthesis? hearing aids? Do you live close to specialists? Can you afford to travel if you don’t? Do you feel uncomfortable about physical differences that will invite even more questions? You have to have the conversations, as uncomfortable as they are, even though they make you squirm in your seat.

But, there’s something very important you have to remember—real life children who don’t lay neatly on a page in alphabetical order.

KangMing6He hates bananas and loves to dance.

MeiNuo8Don’t even try to take a cracker out of this one’s hands.

YaLi4She likes to ride behind a buddy on a plasma car.

XiaoYue8She’s pretty serious except when you tickle her and blow air in her face.

They may be listed in an orderly fashion by name, birth date, and disease on a database that your social worker can easily sort. But, do not be deceived by the order of it all. Every child listed there is very much a four-dimensional child who is way more than a special need.

Let your YESes be YESes. And, do not be afraid to let your NOs be NOs. But, maybe, just maybe, there should be more MAYBEs than anything else with a very un-neat * disclaimer handwritten on the bottom that says something like this—

*We do not necessarily feel called to parent a child with this diagnosis assigned to him or her. But, we are not comfortable closing the door on the possibility that He may call us to a particular child and that that child may come with this label. So, unless you hear differently from us while we wait, consider this a MAYBE because we’re holding this whole process in our hands loosely with hearts not only willing but desiring only to do that which He’s called us to do.

Feel free to blame me if your social worker has a mini panic attack. I can take it.



Upheld

We are connected, you and I. Our stories different, our kids’ needs unique, but I’m guessing we’re on a similar trek.

Is your family being refined and blessed by a medical needs child? Yep, mine too.

Are you worn out, and a bit fragile? Uh, huh.

Feeling deep gratitude for the care of friends and family, but somehow just a bit alone? Yes.

Your new journey intensely hard, but profoundly beautiful? With ya.

Worry that you are burdening friends with too much medical talk? Same here.

God is writing such stories with our families. We face heart defects, vision & hearing loss, blood disorders, cerebral palsy, kidney disease, deficiencies and syndromes. Some of us said yes to conditions pre-adoption, and others received diagnoses post adoption. Some have one condition and others have multiple. We are living in different states and our syringes administering different meds, but each of our hearts carry the weight of parenting a child with medical needs.

Connections have been made through Instagram, agencies and adoption events. We share stories and have quicker than customary, intimate conversations. We cheer each other on, pray, grieve, and follow along; carrying each other’s burdens in a tiny way.

Much of our experience is shared:
We are worn out.
Our planes touched down on US soil, and it was game on.
Some test results have rocked us, and others have driven us to our knees in thanks to a great Healer.
Our faith is both depleted and intensified.
Some days we are hopeful, and others, full of fear.
Nurse, advocate, and momma are the hats we wear.
At dinners with friends, we zone out during talk about TV shows or vacations.
We are on our knees more than ever, but have missed lots of Sunday services.
The little bodies we care for carry surgical scars, and we ponder how their hearts will process it all.
Our calendar boxes are filled with doctor appointments, surgeries, therapies and tests.
Our marriages are stronger, but stretched thin.
We need only five minutes to know if a doctor is going to be the advocate we seek.
Late nights are spent researching and typing questions to mentor mommas in FB groups.
We’ll travel long distances for the best doctor.
IVs are dreaded.
Strength is found in the faces of our little people, and we lean in for the lessons.
Weekly, we coordinate babysitters, not for date nights, but appointments.
Ice cream is spooned up post doctor visits, because we must celebrate as we go. 


We know the ins and outs of our insurance policies, deductibles and medical caps.
Our medical needs child has siblings, and we wonder if they are getting enough attention.
Still, we are in awe of the profound work being done in the hearts of those siblings, as they soften with a deeper kind of love.
Our mailboxes usually hold at least one medical bill.
Our kids need to be catheterized, dilated and medicated. They need therapy, glasses, wheelchairs, blood transfusions, cochlear implants, casts and ostomy bags. They’ve had MRIs, echocardiograms, X-rays, scans and blood draws.


rebecca

We are different, but the same. Many of us are FB, blog or adoption group friends. I read of your surgeries, and stop to pray, checking back later for an update. I grieve over hard test results. I celebrate with you when your child rolls out of a hospital in a red wagon with balloons. I’m humbled that you do the same for our family.

God has given us the blessing of this sisterhood, and calls us to “consider how we may spur one another on” (Hebrews 10:24). So be spurred on, friend, knowing that you are not alone.

I can’t be with you in the waiting room, or sit with you on your bathroom floor as you give a high volume enema, but I can pray. I can give you the name of a neurosurgeon and offer advice. I can tell you that your family is a light in this world, and is making much of God. I can tell you that I see such hard won beauty rising in you. The roots of your faith are deepening, and I’m challenged to dig deeper too. Most importantly, let me remind you that Isaiah 41:10 promises that each of us is upheld.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10


Dear sister, you are also the daughter of a Most High God, and He upholds us. Dictionary.com tells us that to uphold means to defend, raise, support, lift upward and keep from sinking. Um, yes, please.

So, as much as we medical adoptive mommas “get” each other, as much as we hold each other up, let’s lean most deeply in, as daughters, to God who is with us. His hands are so much stronger than ours. Let’s find rest first in He who promises strength and help. Let’s give Him whatever hard thing is penciled in next on our calendars. While at it, give Him the bills, the antibiotics and the therapy sessions.

Mentors and encouragers are a gift as we traverse this path, but ultimately this is bigger than you and I, or even you and your child. It’s about Him and us. Let’s let the needs of our little people draw us to God.

Be spurred on, sisters, knowing that we walk together. Pray for my family, and I’ll pray for yours?

Take your next step with brave faith, daughters, knowing your Father is actively keeping your family from sinking. You are fully and perfectly upheld.



four more ways to raise funds for your adoption

When I talk to most people, their number one roadblock to adoption is MONEY, and I am so thankful to be invited to share a second blog post about funding your adoption. You can read the first post with fundraiser ideas HERE.

After becoming more and more involved in the adoption community, I have seen family after family begin their adoption journey without the necessary funds. Then, through grants, fundraisers, extra jobs, and frugality, they have every penny they need to bring their children home. One woman wrote me and said:

“There was only one time we doubted [that we would have enough money] near the beginning. We had a payment due and didn’t have enough. I started to really doubt. The very next day a check for the EXACT AMOUNT we lacked was in our mailbox with a note that said “God prompted me to give you this amount at this time.” They had no way of knowing! Totally God. He funds what He favors!”

Moreways

We can read story after story in the Bible about how God provided when His people were in need. Why do we believe that He would stand by without blessing us – without helping us – if we follow His command to care for the orphan? When we step out in faith, God provides! Experiencing that first hand has helped me believe it all the more.

When we made the decision to adopt, we cancelled our contract to buy 4 acres of land and build a house that we had designed ourselves. This gave us $25,000 at the start of our adoption process. My husband’s employer reimburses $5,000 of adoption expenses, so we asked people to sponsor puzzle pieces in order to raise $5,000. We would then take the reimbursed money from Ryan’s work and pay it forward to another adoptive family. In 9 days, our friends, family, and coworkers donated $5,425. It still blows my mind! We can’t wait for God to show us where to pay forward that money. We also held a garage sale for 3 days with many of our own items but also dozens and dozens of donations from other families. This sale resulted in just over $1,000.

We knew that bringing Tucker home would cost more than $31,000. Just as I was beginning to wonder how we would find the rest of our funds, I got an email from my friend who said that her husband wanted to raise money for our family during his 100 mile race. I was blown away!! These friends gave us $6,000 of the donations to fully fund the rest of our adoption, and with the remaining $5,000, they gave $1,000 to five different families who were also adopting. God provided for our family through a combination of our own financial decisions and the generosity of so many friends, family members, strangers, and coworkers. When God leads you to it, He will see you through it! To doubt that would make us just like the Israelites doubting God in the wilderness, Sarah and Abraham doubting that God would give them a son, and Gideon doubting that God would use him to defeat the Midianites.

Below you will find four different ways to help acquire the necessary funds to care for orphans through adoption: Adoption Tax Credit, Grants, Interest Free Loans, and Employee Assistance Programs.

1. ADOPTION TAX CREDIT:

For families who completed their adoptions in 2013, they might be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit of a maximum of $12,970. Eligibility is dependent on your family’s tax liability. Your family might only be eligible for a portion of the Adoption Tax Credit the first year, but the remainder can carry forward through four additional years. For example, if you only are eligible for $7,000 the year following your adoption, the remaining $5,970 can be received in subsequent tax years. For more information, please view my post explaining how this credit works.

2. GRANTS:

Adopt Together - This nonprofit organization allows your family and friends to make tax deductible donations to your family, and then they will match or exceed the amount donated.

Hand in Hand - Tax deductible donations are made to this organization by your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. Matching grants are then provided to adoptive families.

Lifesong - Matching grants ($1,000-$4,000) are provided to families adopting, and donations made by family, friends, coworkers, and strangers are tax deductible.

JSC Foundation - The amount of money awarded varies and is at the discretion of the foundation. I know one family that was given $10,000 by this incredible organization. Applications are due January 15, March 15, May 15, August 15, and October 15 of each year. Families are notified by the end of the following month.

Show Hope - This organization was founded by Steven and Mary Beth Chapman in honor of their daughter, who they adopted from China, but passed away tragically. The six application due dates are Feb 28th, April 30th, Jun 30th, Aug 31st, Oct 31st, Dec 31st. These grants are $4,000 on average.

Families Outreach - Families must be adopting through a nonprofit agency, have a completed home study, and have endorsement from their pastor.

Global Orphan Foundation - Applications are due June 1st and December 1st. Grants awarded up to $11,000 to aid families with adoption.

NAMB - This organization provides grants to pastors/families in ministry.

Chosen for Life - Their mission is to educate and engage the people of our local churches and communities on ways they can live in obedience to God’s command to visit orphans in their affliction in our neighborhood and around the world. They provide grants to families in the adoption process.

Salvation International - Applications are due April 1st and October 1st. Grants awarded range from $500-$5,000.

Rollstone Foundation - Aids with the adoption of children with special needs (FYI: Tucker is considered special needs). One family reported a grant of $2,000 from this great organization.

ABBA Fund - Your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers can make a tax deductible donation to ABBA fund, and then the money is awarded to your family at the end of your fundraiser.

Affording Adoption Foundation - Many grants are around $1,000.

Brittany’s Hope - Families are asked to raise half of the money granted to them.

A Child Waits - Grants up to $5,000 for people pursuing international adoption through a nonprofit agency.

Gift of Adoption Fund - Grants between $1,000-$7,500 for families who have completed their home study.

God’s Grace Adoption Ministry - Provides matching grants to families who are Christian, are a two parent family, and make less than $60,000 per year. A typical matching grant is $2,500.

Help Us Adopt - Provides up to $15,000 grants to families adopting. Applications are due in April and October.

Katelyn’s Fund - Provides grants for families making less than $100,000 per year.

National Adoption Foundation - Grants range from $500-$2,000.

Parenthood for Me - Grants range from $2,000-$5,000 for families who do NOT have any children.

Sea of Faces - Applications accepted in March, June, September, and December. Their goal is to provide three $1,000-$3,000 grants per quarter.

3. INTEREST FREE LOANS

Lifesong

ABBA Fund

Pathways for Little Feet

Forever Family Ministries

*Many people will use their Adoption Tax Credit money to pay off these loans immediately.

4. EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE

Check to see if your employer provides a benefit (like my husband’s company) for adoptive families. Holt has published an extensive list here. This is an amazing benefit for employees!

At the end of the day…

Money cannot be the reason that these children stay in orphanages.

Money cannot be the reason children with treatable medical conditions do not survive.

Money cannot be the reason that children do not get to experience the love of a family.

It is my sincere hope that this post gives you hope that resources are available to help families bring these precious children home. Don’t let the fear of money hold you back from experiencing one of the amazing gifts you will ever receive.

amy


Amy Abell My Passionate Balance

Created Perfectly

Today, 3/21, is World Down Syndrome Day! (Get it? 3-21? Trisomy 21!) A day intentionally set aside to be aware of and to embrace the overwhelming BLESSING that is Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is indeed a spectrum of special needs; some children & adults with Down syndrome are much more medically, developmentally & emotionally affected than others, but I believe DS has been wrongly labeled a disability. In fact, the more I learn about my son the more I realize that it is I that have the ‘disability’.

Isaac’s ‘genetic aberation’ allows him to see and feel and interact with people in a way that I will never be able to do; I have been crippled by selfishness, pride, ignorance & social morays. If he sees someone who is hurting, he simply hugs them. It doesn’t matter if we are in the middle of Costco, that person needs a hug! And not just any person… THAT person. Sadly, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to minister to a stranger that way, especially while shopping for fifty pounds of hamburger. What crushes my ignorant heart is to see that stranger just melt in the short little arms of my sweet boy. They needed that hug deeply. They were starving for the hands of my Lord to physically touch them and He did… through my child with Down syndrome. Isaac pats them on the back and looks them straight in the eyes as if to say, “it’s going to be alright, you’ll see. Me and Jesus love you!”

It’s true, Jesus does love them and my son just loved on them. Do I love that stranger? I mean, really love them, like I know Jesus does… like I’ve been asked to by my Loving Creator? Like my son in his ‘disability’ seems to do so easily? The truth is no. I’m the one with the disability, and now with fifty pounds of hamburger.

isaac2
Down syndrome is not a disease. It is not a health hazard. It is not a disability. It is an extra chromosome of love placed PERFECTLY by our Heavenly Father with intention and purpose.

Today is a day the entire world stops to acknowledge that very fact. What could we learn by letting go of our selfish, ignorant, crippled hearts and really loved like our friends with Down syndrome do? Would we love like Jesus? Would we be overwhelmed by the joy of the Lord like my son is? I can guarantee it’ll make your trips to Costco more interesting!

You can see some precious children with Down syndrome who are currently waiting for their forever family here, here and here.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.” – John 13:35 MSG

For more information regarding World Down Syndrome Day events in your neighborhood, please visit the World Down Syndrome Day website here.



what we’re reading: links

From the last few weeks, some good stuff we’ve read that relates to adoption and/or parenting a special needs child.

As always, if you’ve read or written something you think would be a good addition to a future What We’re Reading post, we’d love to hear about it…

To share a blog post or news article go here.
To share your blog with our readers, as a soon-to-be traveling to China family go here.

Around the Blog World:

Did you know that boys outnumber girls on the shared list, 5 to 1? Andrea at Home is Where the Heart Is shares transparently about her initial preference for adopting a girl instead of a boy from China… and how she feels now, two little boys later.

On Brain Child, Avra Wing, mom to a teenaged daughter from China, reminisces on the surprising and unexpected effects of a return trip to China.

Our own Amy recently experienced one of her worst fears – her daughter Grace was hospitalized with pneumonia. And here she shares the rest of the story.

Six weeks after bringing home daughter Kaili from China, mom Jodi shares her thoughts on special needs adoption on the America World blog.

Rebecca at The Sweet Life follows up her first homeschooling post (found here) with this post about homeschooling Pre-K. Great ideas for encouraging learning between toddlerhood and kindergarten.

Johanna from Stop and Smell the Flowers writes about their word for the year – and how it has affected their adoption journey.

On Forty Days, find forty days worth of Chinese orphan charities to help, support and fund.

In the news:

News anchor in Dallas is surprised by the on-camera visit of the formerly orphaned teen for whom she helped find a forever family five years before. Have a tissue.

Down Syndrome: A Year of Grief and Joy – a mom looks back at all that has changed since she first discovered the little boy she was carrying had Down syndrome.

‘Baby hatch’ in Guangzhou closes – unable to care for any more than the 262 babies with special needs and/or illnesses that have been abandoned since it opened in late January.

Read something inspiring lately? Informative? Encouraging? Share the link HERE.

Traveling Families:

alisa

Alisa at A Family4Him with her family – now grown by one adorable little guy

In China now, or just home with their child…

NowHere – our very own Carrie!
A Family for Him
Shouts of Joy
A Mother’s Love
Polkadots on the Windshield
We Are Coming for Chu
His Plan. Our Joy.
Seeing Double
2 Red Threads
The Oasis – Adopting HIS Children

Getting close to travel for your little one in China? Share the link HERE.

P.S. A special thank you to everyone who submitted recommendations for What We’re Reading this week.