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Thankful We Didn’t Know

May 23, 2017 0 Comments

Almost four years ago, my husband finally said yes. Again.

We had talked, I had prayed. I’d promised not to nag, prayed some more, and waited for that yes.

When he agreed to begin our second adoption, he had limits. He had the idea to draw some lines in the sand of what special needs we could manage.

But God had other ideas for our family.

Just a few days after making the decision to adopt from China once again, my best friend sent me a photo of an adorable little girl with a pixie haircut and rosebud lips. My heart melted, I knew immediately that she was supposed to be my daughter. The deal was sealed when I saw her advocacy name….Lexi. For years I thought I would have another daughter, and we would name her Alexis.

Lexi’s file stated she had a heart condition and some minor delays but overall was a healthy, vibrant little four year old.

Ten months after seeing her face we were finally meeting her, our Alexis. She was very tiny at five years old, weighing just 21 pounds and was so pale. She could barely walk a few steps, and I was perplexed because only six months prior I was sent a video of her running to meet her foster father.

My baby was sick, I knew that. I just didn’t know how sick she was.

During our time in China, Lexi had horrible stomach pains and, even with regular meals, she was not gaining any strength. We trudged forward and made it through the two weeks in China with the unknowns hanging over our heads.

After a couple of weeks of being home, we visited the cardiologist, expecting to hear that her heart was fine, come back in a year. What we heard was something like that, plus a little more.

Her heart was fine and the surgery she had in China did repair the heart conditions listed on her file. But the echocardiogram also showed that she had a left aortic arch and a vascular ring that was just barely pressing on her esophagus. The cardiologist was not concerned about either of those issues at the moment and said it could be years or never that those could cause problems.

As I was breathing a sigh of relief, he mentioned that the echocardiogram showed something different in her lower aorta and he was going to schedule an MRI to investigate further. He also mentioned that her blood pressure was abnormally high.

Two weeks passed and the day of the MRI arrived. We were anxiously waiting in in the waiting room and were finally told to come back to recovery. When we entered the room, we were met with a team of doctors ranging from infectious disease, neurology, rheumatology and cardiology. We were told that Lexi had what appeared to be a blockage in her lower aorta and her blood pressure was at a dangerous level… she was being admitted into Cardiac Intensive Care. At that time her risk for a stroke was 100%.

After spending a week in the hospital, we left with the devastating news that Lexi had a rare autoimmune disease called Takayasu’s arteritis. Takayasu’s arteritis, also called TAK, is a rare form of vasculitis disease involving inflammation in the walls of the largest arteries in the body: the aorta and its main branches. The disease results from an attack by the body’s own immune system, causing inflammation in the walls of arteries.

In Takayasu’s arteritis, the inflammation damages the aorta — the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body — and its main branches. The disease can lead to blockages or narrowed arteries (stenosis) or abnormally dilated arteries (aneurysms). TAK can also lead to arm or chest pain and high blood pressure and eventually to heart failure or stroke.

Takayasu’s arteritis can be fatal.

This is what happened to Lexi. TAK attacked her lower aorta causing blockage but it also caused damage to her superior mesenteric artery which feeds blood to her colon, pancreas, and appendix. Lexi’s femoral arteries were gone and were being fed by feeder arteries from the damaged aorta.

For two years the doctors tried to stop the inflammation from TAK, but it would not go away. Lexi’s symptoms were getting worse: her feet were always cold, her blood pressure was generally 150/120, and the fear of her having a stroke was growing. In November 2016, her team of physicians made the decision to bypass her lower aorta in order to alleviate those symptoms.

On December 6, 2016 Lexi went in for surgery. The surgery was scheduled to last 8-10 hours, but just two hours after leaving her side, we were called to meet with the doctor. Before they could even begin the actual surgery, Lexi went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. The surgeon and anesthesiologist were in tears while they were trying to tell me she was alive but on a vent, and they could not continue the surgery.

We could see her briefly before they moved her to ICU but until neurological testing could be done they could not determine the extent of brain damage, if any, that might have occurred during surgery. The two days spent waiting for the sedation to wear off and the 24 hour EEG to be completed were the longest two days of my life.

On December 8, the surgeons took her back to surgery and successfully bypassed her lower aorta. She came out of surgery with pink feet and blood pressure that was almost too low, but no one was worried. Her recovery was difficult, she weathered setbacks… but she made it.

TAK will never go away for Lexi, and she will always have to have some sort of medication to help fight the inflammation. She currently receives an injection at home every other week and we will find out in June if that medication is continuing to work. She will have to take blood thinners for the rest of her life which is difficult because she also has a bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand Disease.



Despite all of the challenges she has faced, nothing has stopped Lexi from doing the things she loves. Not even TAK.

She practices Shaolin Wing Chun, which is a form of Chinese Martial Arts. She runs (yes, now she can run), she plays with her sister, and she loves to play with her dogs.



I am so thankful we said yes, that she is ours. I cannot imagine our lives or the world without Lexi. I am also very thankful we did not know what the future was bringing us when we said yes….

We would have missed having her as our daughter.



If you have any questions about Takayasu’s arteritis (vasculitis), Von Willebrand disease, or congenital heart disease, please feel free to email me at kendi.allen@gmail.com or handinhand.kendra@gmail.com.

– guest post by Kendra

Waiting Child: Billy

May 22, 2017 0 Comments

Five year old Billy needs a family to give him unconditional love and affection. Billy lives in a foster family and was born with microtia of his ears, which impacts his hearing and speech.



Billy is the definition of adorable! He’s a handsome, happy, cuddly, active, helpful, and athletic 5-year-old boy. Billy lives in a foster family that adores him- who could blame them? Billy is observant and sometimes shy, but he likes noisy places and being around lots of people. He loves to run, bike, and play outside. His fine and gross motor skills are very good. Billy is currently attending kindergarten where he is learning how to count and write. He is independent with his care- he knows how to put on and take off his own shoes and clothes and is potty trained as well. Billy was born with a deformity of both outer ears (also known as microtia). It affects his speech and pronunciation to some degree, but he can hear and is otherwise a very healthy boy!

Billy is newly listed with Madison Adoption Associates who recently received a terrific update with these new photos and new videos. Billy is surely going to bring a lot of happiness to his forever family- please help us spread the word so we can find them!



Videos: One and Two. Password: Adoptmaa


Update May 2017:
1. How is his mental ability compared to peers the same age? The orphanage staff and foster family all think his mental ability is normal. His hearing has affected his speech. Other than that, he is normal.

2. How does the special need affect his health? His speech and pronunciation has some affect, but normal otherwise.

3. Is he potty trained? Yes, he can also put on and take off shoes and clothes.

4. Please describe his personality in details. He’s active, busy, and athletic.

5. Is he well behaved and obedient? He’s well behaved. If you talk loudly, he can understand what adults say.

6. How are his gross motor skills? Can he walk, run, jump, walk upstairs and downstairs by himself? Can he kick a ball? Can he pick up a ball? Any limited functions? They are very good. He can do all these.

7. How are his fine motor skills? Can he draw or scribble on paper? Can he pick up little things with his fingers? They are very good. No limitations.

8. Is he in any kind of school? If so, what school? Can he catch up in school? He’s in the senior class in kindergarten. He can say “1, 2, 3, mama, auntie.” He can write.

9. How is his emotional development? Is the child attached to anyone? Who is he close to? Does he care for other people? He is very close to and attached to his foster grandma. He knows to call grandpa to eat and will help give food to his younger brother.

10. How are his social skills? Does he get along well with other children and adults? He gets along well with other kids and adults. If he wants something or wants to express something, he will point or pat.

11. Is he under foster care or living in the orphanage? If foster, when did he enter the foster home? How does he do there? Has it been the same foster home all the time? Foster care started in April, 2014. He moved to the new family in July 2016. There are grandparents, parents, a brother, and a sister. His foster parents are elementary school teachers. They all like him.

12. How is the language ability of the child? What can he say? Can he speak one word, two words or sentences ? Can he express his needs well? Is his language ability the same as peers the same age? He can say “mama, auntie, 1,2,3”. His voice is not very clear. For the ear issue, his language is behind peers of his age.

13. Can the child follow directions of adults? One step, two steps, or three steps? If you talk loud to him, he will understand. For example, tell him to get in the car to go- it is time to go to school.

14. Is the child on any medication? No.

15. What does the child eat? Can he feed himself? Does the child eat with chopsticks, spoon, or bottle? He eats everything and feeds himself by spoon.

16. Does the child know any English? No.

17. What colors does the child like? Red and blue.

18. What activity does the child like to do? He likes biking outdoors.

19. What is the favorite toy of the child? Toy car.



There is a $2,000 agency grant for Billy’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year (January and July) and to families that are officially matched with a child.

If you are interested in reviewing Billy’s file or in adopting Billy, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form.

Returned to the Orphanage: the Children of Guangdong

May 21, 2017 0 Comments

On March 21st, I came across a post from Lifeline’s China program director that said: “Please join us in praying for the precious children who are being cared for in our Foster Center in Zhanjiang, China. Because of some new laws being implemented this year in China, we were notified very unexpectedly last night that the children currently living at the Foster Center have had to return to their orphanages. We are praying this is temporary as we seek to meet the new requirements laid out by the Chinese government. It is our hope our children will be able to return to the care of the nannies at the Foster Center soon. In the interim, please join us for praying for the caregivers at the Foster Center and especially for the children, as they are in a new place. Please pray for physical, spiritual and emotional protection for these little ones; they are so very special to us!”

My jaw dropped and my heart broke that day because, though I had not been to the Foster Care center referenced in that post, I had advocated for many of the kids who were under their care. Some have since found families and some still wait. It was obvious how loved and well-cared for these kids were. I had also see photos, videos, and updates from their home orphanage and know how hard of a place it is in comparison to the Foster Center.

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Seth and Scout, below, are just a few of the kids who had been cared for by the Lifeline Foster Center who are still waiting for families.

Seth is a 7-year-old boy diagnosed as having cerebral development malformation; red capillary hemangioma on the forehead. As of March 20th, Seth went back to his originating orphanage after spending about three years at Lifeline’s Foster Center. He is listed with Lifeline’s Kids of Hope program, but his file is transferrable.



Seth is said to be speaking more words and more clearly! The update also states, “He is better able to control his temper and that his mood is much better than before. He is a sharp, observant little boy who has such a servants heart and is fascinated with learning how things work. Recently he is becoming more verbal, of course still challenging to understand, but this trip was the first time for me to be able to understand his Chinese, which is great improvement. Along the way with Seth we have had some behavior challenges, many as a result of his background and some we think as a result of not being challenged enough as he is a sharp kid. As we have worked with our caregivers thru trainings talking to them about consistency of care, Seth’s abilities and things he can be doing to challenge him more we have seen great improvement!”

Updates from the Foster Center:

• May 27, 2016 – Seth likes to help us do homework, he helped the nanny to collect the dry clothes and blanket
• June 3, 2016 – Seth likes swimming and playing in the pool. He speaks more and clearly, not just Cantonese but also mandarin
• June 28, 2016 – Seth can speak Chinese words like: Planes, Ships, Buses, motorcycles, Carriages, Trucks, High-speed rail, Police cars
• August 21, 2016 – Seth speaks more and more clearly
• August 31, 2016 – Seth learned how to write
• November 31, 2016 – Seth can speak: “1,2,3,4,5” in English
• February 5, 2017 – Seth likes to draw trains
• March 22, 2017 – Seth likes to make a plane by using paper

Please watch some of his videos here – the password is Seth

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Scout is a 7-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy (wheelchair dependent). As of March 20th, Scout went back to his originating orphanage after spending about three years at Lifeline’s Foster Center. He is listed with Lifeline’s Kids of Hope program, but his file is transferrable.



This little boy has beautiful brown eyes and his smile lights up the room. He is quiet, but very smart and likes school. His favorite thing in the world – cars! He loves playing with cars and trains and loves to go for car rides. He also loves to play ball – catching and throwing!”
 
Scout “really wishes he will have a family” and tells his nannies that he “will go to America by car!” Scout is always smiling and is very friendly. He loves to wave and say hello to those he comes in contact with – he obviously enjoys being around others!

Updates from the Foster Center:

• May 5, 2016 – Scout can control his wheelchair very well, he knows how to brake, and he likes talking with people
• May 27, 2016 – Scout is very smart, he learns language fast, some words he learns from us just when we were talking, and he knows what is going on. He really wishes he will have a family, he always said that: “I will go to American by car.”
• June 9, 2016 – Scout is becoming more and more independent, when children go to help push his wheelchair, he will say: “I can do it by myself!”
• June 20, 2016 – Scout’s physical ability is better than before, turn over faster than before
• July 6, 2016 – Scout can put his hands on the ground and sit very straight
• July 15, 2016 – Scout studied new lessons, he can speak English: door, chair, window, bed, fox, dog, sun, water
• August 16, 2016 – Scout can speak the English words: boy, girl, teacher, student, brother, sister, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather
• November 31, 2016 – Scout can speak “1,2,3,4,5” in English
• December 9, 2016 – when we ask Scout these questions: “What’s your name? What is this? What day is today?” he knows how to answer that
• January 20, 2017 – Scout knows how to open and close the button on clothes
• March 14, 2017 – Scout can imitate by writing the letters: “ABCDEF”

Please watch some of his videos here – password is Scout

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Within days of the announcement from Lifeline, similar stories were filling up my feed. Bethel lost one little boy, Davie, who was sent back to his orphanage.

Davie turned 1 in November of 2016. “He still cannot sit independently, but if you help him sit up he can play sitting for a few minutes. He is a very happy baby and he loves to shake musical toys and will always babble back when you talk to him.”



“He often falls asleep when you stop playing with him so the caregivers try to keep him busy and practicing his gross motor skills. He has a walker he uses sometimes to practice standing. Bethel loved having him and were devastated to have to send him back.”

Please watch Davie’s video here and contact Bethel at adoption@bethelchina.org for more info on Davie.

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Harmony House lost seven children.

Andrea is a little bitty six-year old.“Tiny for her age, Andrea may have suffered some malnutrition. She has been diagnosed with light pulmonary stenosis and some language delay but has otherwise developed at a normal rate for her age. She is little Miss Personality, running and playing.”



She very much enjoys being at Harmony House and was starting to show a lot of progress.

Video is available. Andrea was listed as ‘Suzie’ with WACAP but is now on Hand in Hand’s list as ‘Julia’. For more information, please email Handinhand.china@gmail.com.

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George is a handsome 7-year-old boy who spent almost two years in care of Harmony Outreach. “George had made big gains while in care of Harmony Outreach. He was showing improvement with the help of his weekly speech therapy and counseling sessions with a teacher whom he loves. He often grabbed her hands and gave her a big smile when going for his appointments. He had been known to cry if she had to cancel for some reason.”



“He now sits still to learn and he has begun to answer simple questions. He will also help gather toys. He has learned to read and has begun to go to the nannies when he wants some help. He will bring his book and take the nanny’s finger, pointing it to the word he wants explained—or the animal he doesn’t know.

And George is quite the little artist. He sometimes has a hot temper and may run to his room, cry and hide if he gets unhappy. What’s improved is that now, when others seek him out to comfort him, he will respond, allowing them to comfort him and turning his crying into a smile.” 

George is diagnosed as having autism. Several videos are available (password is Adoptmaa)
Video one
Video two
Video three
Video four
Video five

George is waiting for a family on the shared list and can be adopted via any agency with a China special needs program! Madison Adoption Associates would offer a $2,000 agency grant and WACAP would offer a $4,000 promise child grant for a qualified family.

 

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New Day South initially lost six children.



At this point, it was only kids from Guangdong province were being pulled back. But within a week or two, things got worse. New Day South posted again. This time their six medically fragile children they had been told they could keep had to return to their orphanages as well.
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Morning Star Foundation posted that they lost three children back to their home orphanages as well.



These are just some of the hundreds of children from Guangdong province that had to be returned. Unfortunately, by early April, some other orphanages in other provinces started following suit by insisting that their kids be returned as well.
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Why did this happen?

At first, foster care and specialty care homes were under the impression it had to do with the new NGO laws that started being implemented in January of 2017. But not long after the initial announcement, it was clarified that this was due to an incident at a Chinese-run care center in Guangdong province. You can read more about that in the following articles at Global Times and BBC.com.

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What can you do?

You can start by keeping the children that were returned to the orphanage in your thoughts and prayers.

Pray for their little hearts, many that have been shattered yet again, and for protection.
Pray for the caregivers who loved them and devoted their lives to caring for and helping them progress.
Pray for the orphanages that are now being inundated with more kids-for resources, support, and for the staff that will now have more children to care for, many who have serious or complex medical needs.
And lastly, pray for these kids to find families and that more families might open their hearts to adoption.

The need is great.

– guest post by Brooke

Sofia Waits for a Family

May 20, 2017 0 Comments

Sofia is an extroverted 3-year-old who always has a smile on her face. She gets along with her friends and she likes to climb and play outdoors. Since Sofia likes climbing so much, she tries her best to walk by holding onto objects and can climb up a table and climb down. Sofia is expressive …Read More

Find My Family: Jude

May 19, 2017 0 Comments

Oh goodness, just look at this sweet smile. Read on… he’s even sweeter on the inside. Sweet-natured Jude celebrated his 11th birthday in October and is living in a foster family at an excellent facility in Beijing. Diagnosed with mild CP, Jude has worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges he faces. Recently he has taken …Read More

For Life: When Exhaustion Meets Glory

May 19, 2017 2 Comments

Are you one of the Mamas who thought that the orphanage delays would relent? You thought a year later you would stand on mountain tops and shout of the greatness and miracles of our God? And a year came and went and then another. And suddenly you wake up feeling like you are living your …Read More

Waiting for You: Wes

May 18, 2017 0 Comments

Precious little Wes just celebrated his third birthday! Wes is described by his caregivers as sweet, gentle, and good natured. He was born with a spinal lumbar meningocele. He was found as a newborn and received surgery around one year. His legs are weak and have poor sensory input but he can stand with assistance. …Read More

Full of Surprises

May 17, 2017 2 Comments

When we started our adoption process we wanted a healthy child. That’s what everyone wants – adopted or biological – right? Our hearts changed when we had the privilege of working with special needs kids, and we saw so much life and strength in them that we changed our adoption papers to special needs. When …Read More

Love Stories: A Shared Love

May 16, 2017 1 Comments

We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest. But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a …Read More

My Hero

May 15, 2017 3 Comments

My hero is tiny but larger than life. Tan skin, black hair and the most beautiful dark chocolate eyes you have ever seen. He is 33 inches tall and weighs 33 pounds. A perfect little pint of goodness. A little over a year ago, at age three, he left a cold gray building with my …Read More

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