China introduces "special focus" children

CCAA will now be spotlighting certain children on the shared listing as “special focus” children, opening up new opportunities to help place these older and/or children with more significant special needs.

The opportunity to adopt two children at the same time is addressed and seems to be something CCAA is more enthusiastic about, when at least one of the children being adopted is a “special focus” child.

Read an article outlining the new program on Rainbow Kids.

And another article about the new program on China Adopt Talk.

"What’s wrong with him?"

I have three delightful children.


When I have them all in tow, we get a lot of politely curious question in public.

A LOT.

We hear, “Are they all siblings? Are the girls twins?  Are they all triplets? and Are they all yours?” (especially when my blond haired, blue eyed husband is with me) almost every time we are out of the house.  I have three really close in age Asian children.  I’m not Asian.  We attract attention.  I get that.  And most of those questions don’t bother me or them.

But then there’s the line of questioning centered on the fact that one of my three is a boy.  From China.  And people are educated to the one child policy ~ to a point.  So I’ve also heard, “He’s from China?  How did you get him?” more times than I care to count.  Because I’ve learned that series of questions is frequently followed with, “I didn’t think they let their boys out.” 

Sigh.

Mercifully it usually stops there.  But sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve become wiser since then, but I’ll never forget the first intrusive questioning along “the boy line.”

I was standing outside the preschool where I had just paid the registration fee (one month’s tuition ~ per child) and first month’s tuition (per child) to secure my older two a spot for this past school year.  The director told me that I could take my kids out, show them the playground, and meet the two year old teachers as my son would be in one of the two year old classes.

As I stood there watching them interact with the children nearby, one of the teachers came over and commented on how adorable my kids were.  Usually that type of comment would bring a smile.  But that time it was in “that tone” of voice.  The tone that let me know ahead of time to brace myself…

(In retrospect I now know I should have scooped my kids and made a strategic exit).

I smiled and mumbled thanks, hoping that my lack of eye contact would make it clear I was not in a chatty mood.  But she would not be deterred.

“Are they both adopted?”  and when I affirmed her question, she quickly followed with, “From China?”

Right at that moment my 2 1/2 year old son was running and tripped.  As I bent down to help him up, I heard, “What’s wrong with him?”

In my typical, trusting that people are kind, sort of way, I began to answer that he was fine, just a tiny hint of a skinned knee.

It was as I stood back up and saw her face that I realized she wasn’t talking about his fall.  Rather she was prying, in a very rude manner, into my son’s personal business.  It was one of those rare moments that I could find no words.  By the time I had completely righted myself, she repeated herself, “What’s wrong with him?”

Luckily he had already headed off to join a kid at the sandbox, but my oldest, the one that doesn’t let a word of conversation slip by, had joined my side.  She had heard the woman’s question and was looking up at me, mouth hanging wide open, waiting for my reply.

So I gave the most eloquent response I could muster as my three year old watched (and listened with rapt attention).  I simply said, “We are blessed beyond belief to have him in our family.”

In my mind that was a “conversation ending” response.  One that signaled that I really didn’t think it was appropriate for her, a complete stranger, to be asking me such an intrusive question, especially in front of one of my young, impressionable children. 

But it wasn’t.  Instead she came again with, “But China doesn’t give their boys away, so what is wrong with him?”

In that moment the sun was shining, but I was certain the birds stopped chirping as it occurred to me ~ maybe for the first time ~ that some people really were going to ask that type of question about my children.  I became somewhat jaded toward all future folks who gave our family a second glance. 

In my total unpreparedness for such a line of questioning, I glanced down at my watch, got out a cheerful, “Come on kiddos, we’re going to be late for our play date,” (which was true, we were headed to meet friends at the pool), and got the heck out of dodge as quickly as possible. 

When I found out the next week that “question lady” was going to be his teacher, I promptly withdrew my kids from the school.  And lost the before-mentioned deposit.  That may have been an overreaction.  It may not.  What I knew was that she asked an insensitive question, in a blunt, callous way in front of me.  (And that she asked it in such a negative tone, in front of my kids?  We won’t even go there).  I couldn’t risk my son’s first school experience to possibly be marred with a teacher that brought about self doubt.

In the months that followed, I prepared myself to answer that question with more confidence.  To simply smile and say that there’s nothing wrong with him.  In that tone of voice that commands that the conversation is over ~ at least in front of my children.  Or even more proactive, I’ve learned tactics to head the “what’s wrong” question off before it comes.  To respond to, “He’s from China?  I didn’t think you could adopt boys from China?” with a quick, “Actually, many people don’t know that there are boys waiting for families in China.  If you’re interested in finding out how to add a Chinese son to your family I’d be happy to share some of our experiences.”

Because it’s a fine line between me sighing and taking a deep breath when someone is uneducated about boys being adopted from China (hey, I didn’t know when I started this road myself) and being…well, whatever it is that I felt when the first person asked me, “What’s wrong with him?”

next shared list

Will be released August 17th!

Fantastic news for all families who are hopeful that this month’s list will bring news of their child. If you do receive a referral off the shared listing, or have received a referral off the shared listing in the last few months, please leave a comment, we’d love to share in your joy!

Congratulations to the following families who have recently been matched off the shared list!

Courtney
April

tainted milk scare… again

Two years after the huge tainted formula scandal, a new fear is growing in China… potentially due to tainted formula once again.

There are growing concerns that tainted infant formula is to blame for health concerns in China among the very young. Recently three infant girls in Wuhan, and one in Beijing, have been diagnosed with symptoms consistent with infant puberty, as well as abnormally high hormone levels.

Read the entire article in Time here.

Dads and Adoption

I admit, it is very late, and I have been at a loss on what to write! So in scrolling through my pictures, I came to a very endearing shot of Kevin and his daddy. And it got me to thinkin’…

I post my thoughts, my experiences, my feelings on everything from attachment in adoption to open heart surgeries. The mom’s perspective is abundant. But what about dad’s side of the story? (…and I realize there are many single moms…I admire you a whole bunch. I have a close friend who is a single adoptive parent and she is a blessing! I mean that whole-heartedly.)

Since my husband is not about to get on this blog and write a post, once again you will get a mom’s perspective on the dad’s perspective. Clear as mud? ;)

Each of our four adopted children have attached so differently to Rob. Our first son, Quan, trauma bonded to him. Our first daughter, Kimmie, bonded to me (after lots of work to get her to attach to either one of us). Our second daughter, Candie, bonded equally well to us both at first, though clearly she is a daddy’s girl now through and through! Our second son bonded to me ferociously.

Since our most recent adoption is fresh on my mind, I will focus more on it. Kevin came home in March with the idea that I belonged to him, and Rob could take it or leave it! Rob has always been so patient. He would say, “She was mine before she was yours, buddy!” But he would have a big grin on his face. Rob is so patient with our children…his motto is “You will like me one day! You’ll see!”

Slowly Rob has inched his way in. With tickles. With silly peekaboo games. And with me talking about “Daddy” lots during the day while he is at work. Kevin and I call daddy so he can talk on the phone (which he loves to do!) So when Rob gets home from work, Kevin is delighted! He may not run into his arms, but he will at least give him a small hug now.

He used to not let Rob do anything for him, but now he is 90% okay with his daddy taking care of his needs. My favorite part has been watching this relationship blossom. I guess because I love seeing Rob melt when Kevin gives him love. I love hearing Rob carrying on a three year old conversation with Kevin. I love seeing the two of them sit next to each other at the dinner table; Rob coaxing Kevin to try new foods. I don’t particularly like the worry lines that pop up around Rob’s eyes when we discuss Kevin’s future heart surgeries. But I do love the fact that he loves this little boy with a passion. And he has from the moment we were matched with him.

I’ll never forget it. Not ever.

We had been praying for God to show us if Kevin was our son or not. We were scared. We knew his heart condition was intense.

I was in the shower one morning and Rob came in, opened the shower door and proclaimed “He’s our son. I know it!” He had big tears in his eyes.

I said, “Rob, are you prepared to possibly bury a child?” (not that we’re guaranteed tomorrow with any of our children, really)

“I know that’s a possibility. I’m in.”

And at that point, so was I.

There’s just something about your husband being 100% sold out. It’s good. And I love it. And I love him. And him. And Him.

Posted by Picasa

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Dear Weirdoadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… on albinism and people with fetishes
Some Things Money Can’t Buy adoptive parents (China) the Straights at Straight Talk… on a very sweet, precious phone conversation
While I’m Not Lookingadoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea For Three… on a sweet surprise with a referral photo during the long wait for TA
To sign or not to signadoptive momma (China) Sandra at The Daily Grind… on her daughter’s cochlear implants, sign language and attending an oral deaf school
Update on Kateadoptive momma (China) Amy at Raising Tomatoes… a quick surgery update
Lukeadoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker Sweets… describing their medical challenges these past three years, including the latest: seizures
So How Much Does She Really Hear?adoptive momma (China) Sarah Kate at The Shoe Princess… hearing tests before and after cochlear implant surgery
Why I Say “Disabled”adoptive momma (domestic) Mary Dell at Torrefaction… on why she uses the word disabled to describe her son
Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoidersadoptive momma (foster to adopt) Hartley at Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys… a concise description of two forms of sensory processing disorder

Adoption Reality #1: When Your Vision Is NOT Your Reality

Bear with me for a few lines while I share with you about this post and hopefully a few more to follow. I mentioned in my last post on this blog that I was taking a break from posting at my personal blog … and I still am. For now.

I received so many beautiful comments and a few really smacked me in the face if you will … all with the best of intentions and all ones I REALLY needed to hear. Several sweet readers reminded me that people need to hear about the realities of adoption. Wow. So VERY true. And these readers hoped that I would not forget that and would continue to share honestly and openly as I felt led. I really do appreciate their encouragement and felt like I needed to quit wallowing so much and share on here in a way that would hopefully help someone else after me.

I decided it is just not in my nature to keep it all to myself, and honestly I’ve been still and I do feel God wants me to continue sharing and being a voice for those children who still wait … in a way that will hopefully help future families who may face an unexpected need or a shut-down child or a child who is completely and utterly out of control. Or I may be able to help a Mom, who like me, is feeling completely overwhelmed with her new reality and perhaps even a bit disappointed in herself for feeling this way at all.

I think knowledge and education and UNDERSTANDING are so vital, because without it how can any of us navigate much of anything that is hard work?

I *hope* to do a series of posts here on No Hands But Ours as I am inspired. Honestly I don’t have a schedule laid out or even a rough draft of topics, however I do have a few that I’m allowing to soak and a few that are just itching to get out!

Without further ado, I will jump right into Adoption Reality #1: When Your Vision Is Not Your Reality.

The day The Prez and I met our two sons in China, June 21, 2010, I was in total shock. And that reaction honestly shocked me.

First of all, I had stared at photos of our two sons for more than a year for our older son and nearly a year for our youngest son. I had VISIONS in my head … and tucked in my heart. I had studied the photos, read every line of every little morsel of information I’d been given about each one of them, talked to people who had met each of them, studied the photos again, and of course carried the photos with me everywhere I went.

I had the visions. I had it all figured out. I mean, I had done this before. As The Prez says, This wasn’t my first rodeo. Oh but I had so much WRONG … in my vision of our youngest son. My vision of our older son was and still seems to be fairly accurate, but I had so much more information given to me about him by those who know and love him … and by other children who knew him in China. And while they all shared such similar thoughts, no one but me knew what the others had shared … so I felt it was fairly accurate and spot on. And it has been so far.

But our younger son … the information I did have was from people who met him for a brief time and several years prior. Of course he had changed and grown older … and lived that much longer in an orphanage without a Mommy and Daddy and a family to love him unconditionally in a HOME.


Some of you may remember he came to us with a large bandage on his head and just removed stitch scars (as in they took him by the hospital on the way to meet us to have the stitches removed). When we met him, he was silent, still one minute, trying to climb out of a 15th-story OPEN window the next, SILENT, unaffected by his caregiver’s departure and SILENT. No crying, no words, no mumbling, no care in the world if we hugged him or not, talked to him or not, nothing in terms of a reaction really. The only reaction we got was with his little Fisher*Price camera. Meanwhile, our older son was everything we imagined and just the sweetest, though I now see that he was very scared and sad. I knew it then but I wasn’t able to read his facial cues and nervous habits then … I suspected he was feeling all of this and he was but I couldn’t say for sure on that day in that moment.

But our younger son. He just went with the flow. And that scared me. Now that I know him and his personality so much more, I now know he was in shut down mode. He had traveled a long distance, and he had no idea what was happening to him.

I had emailed back and forth with our agency coordinator about our younger son because we discovered what we thought and a doctor thought was a separate special need than the two which he was listed with: cleft lip and palate and repaired heart disease. I’ll share more about that someday as we are honestly still not sure what is going on or if he in fact has another need, but alas our coordinator asked me how are YOU doing? to which I replied (and hence the subtitle of my post): My Vision Is Not My Reality Right Now.

And she understood with that simple phrase the state of my heart and the state of my current existence. I know this may shock many others that I was having such a hard time in China with our younger son, but honestly he was so WILD and uncontrollable in one instant and totally forlorn and silent the next and just … not who I had imagined him to be.

BUT, big BUT, he is still the same little boy for whom we begged God to allow us to adopt.

It was me who needed to get my heart righted, not him who was not right. A BIG difference.

I have to give God the glory for bringing to pass His perfect plan for our trip. I don’t know that I ever shared on our blog that we were within a couple of hours of booking flights for the Prez and our 11-year-old son to go to China in April for our 10-year-old son when a door was unexpectedly and quickly shut. I realized very quickly in China that MY PLAN of them going in April for our older son and me going ALONE in June/July (whenever paperwork was done) would have been a disaster. Oh how God loves to PROTECT us and to bring about our best interests. While I was coming unraveled at the seams in China, the Prez was as cool as a cucumber and in complete PEACE about our new normal. And he was CERTAIN all would be fine, whatever that fine was. I took great comfort and REST in that, and praised God for bringing us to China together to bring home our sons.

As our time in China drew to a close, I was thankful. Yes, there was sadness over leaving the boys’ birthcountry, over not having that BREAKFAST BUFFET every morning, over leaving dear friends we’d made along the way, over having The Prez WITH me 24/7 to help me find our new level of normal … but mostly I was just ready to come home. I missed our other two children and they missed me. And I just wanted to come home and navigate my way through the first days home, the myriad appointments (still working through those), the hard work of attachment and bonding, the laundry … finding my way as the mother of FIVE children. I know too some that sounds like such a small number, but to me it sounded HUGE. And still does many days.

I think I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to enjoying the build-up to an adoption, the faith-filled reliance on God to bring it all to pass, the friendships you build with others who are waiting with you … the abandon to the unknowns … all of it really. And then it happens and you realize, THIS IS IT. This is what we’ve been praying and waiting and longing for … for the past 15 months … with those photos in hand and visions in my head.

This.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks this time. The REALITY of our new normal.

Now I want to be honest in saying our younger son is a beautiful little boy who loves match*box cars, noodles, squealing and smiling, and riding in any type of vehicle anywhere … whether it be motorized or not! He is a ball of energy, an accident waiting to happen, a little peanut who disappears like Houdini (and thinks it is funny to keep hiding when Mommy is frantic to find him), a younger brother to three older brothers and a *big* brother to one very confident little sister, who happens to think he needs her constant advice and direction. ;) He is also very affectionate, can be demanding, a little bit ornery and very much knows what he wants and when. And given a sword, a stick or just about any other object, he becomes a ninja warrior ready to take on his next foe … or his little sister. The sweet little boy I had envisioned had turned into a big boy with his own likes, dislikes, quirks and smirks, moves and a groove that did not necessarily fit into my order of how things are supposed to work.


Yet in the midst of all of this, he is the same little boy for whom we longed so deeply back in February when we received the devastating news we would not be allowed to adopt him along with his older brother. He is the same little boy who charmed visiting missionaries in 2006 and 2007 and who bravely endured life in a poor orphanage in China watching countless children go home while he waited for his chance at a family. He is the same brave little boy who endured three major surgeries in China alone without a Mommy and Daddy by his side.

And he is my precious son, my fourth son, my surprise blessing.

I don’t doubt he will continue to fill our life with surprises and that we’ll be surprised along the way just as we were earlier this week in the cardiologist’s office. We knew our son’s tetralogy of fallot had been repaired in China more than three years ago, and we knew he seemed to be thriving despite living in a poor SWI as an orphan. We also knew the reality of not knowing for sure, of not having any medical updates, of taking a leap of faith on a file dated more than two years prior, of the seriousness of his heart defect and the possibility that his heart was not as healthy as we had hoped.

Our cardiologist thinks our son’s heart has a serious need that needs to be repaired as soon as possible. A need that can only be repaired with open-heart surgery. We have an upcoming cath on September 1 where we’ll find out for sure, but it looks like open-heart surgery is in our … and our son’s near future.

This was certainly not the vision I had imagined for his first few months home with us, but it may very well be our reality. And as I think of that possibility, my love for him swells even more as I just want to whisk him away from the realities he may soon face. But as we continue on I urge others (and myself) to remember that while visions are good, we all need to prepare our hearts for realities that may in fact not match up with our visions.

And I’m challenging myself and perhaps some of you to step back and take a fresh look at our realities … and thank God again for those realities in our lives who bless us in ways we never ENVISIONED!

In my next post, I am planning to share about Adoption Reality #2: Bonding Between Siblings.

Back to School–Here and in China

My littlest one, my almost five year-old Cholita, is ecstatic about a certain date circled in red on our calendar.  It’s not her birthday, it’s not Christmas, it’s the day she’ll head back to school.  She adores all things scholastic–sharpened pencils, little chairs, worksheets, story time, sharing time, recess, and don’t even get me started on the book orders…..


In China, her school experience would likely have been very different.  In fact, she probably wouldn’t have qualified for an education at all.  This was not due to her orphan status (although that certainly wouldn’t have helped), but solely based on the results of a blood test.  Last year in a petition, thousands of Chinese citizens appealed to their government on behalf of their children.  I could hardly read some of their entries:

From Yunnan: I have endured enough to be a Hepatitis B patient, but my child is too young to understand why he can not go to kindergarten like other children. Every time he looks at me with inquiry, my heart breaks. When will it come that my child can get an equal opportunity?

From Hubei: It is not our fault being infected by the virus and we do not desire too much sympathy and help. All we need is the right to be treated equally and the fair competition. We are impeded in schooling and refused by employers in so long a time. The determination of standing on our own legs therefore becomes faint in reality. In many times I almost cannot help yelling out the voice in my heart: how could we survive in such a society?

From Guangxi: I was just admitted by Jilin University in 2008 while I was diagnosed Hepatitis B in the entrance physical examination and was thus forced to quit schooling. What I have been working so hard for, turns to be meaningless. The sunshine in my life dims. I have no idea what I should do in future. I can not help wondering: when will this situation be changed?

From Guangdong: In current China. it is almost of no use for HBV positive youth to work hard. No matter how diligent, excellent, and noble they are. The tag of POSITIVE is attached to them forever.

Last year at this time, I celebrated a headline from a Beijing Newspaper, “China’s Kindergartens to Take Normally Functioning Hepatitis B Children”.  It seemed such a momentous step in the right direction.  Unfortunately, the reality is that the stigma is still strong and the hope of equal rights in Chinese education is still far from realized for these children.   Instead of an outright denial, a parent is now required to produce “medical recovery documents” to show that their child is no longer infectious.  Most children with Hepatitis B will never clear their virus.  They may get to a point where their viral load is undetectable, but it’s doubtful that will happen during childhood.  So even with seemingly hopeful legislation, they can still be denied a basic education.

This is something I simply cannot fathom.  I cannot read those pleas from parents in China and not think that that would have been my daughter–a young girl with an amazing mind, frustrated and angry that the world is passing her by.  What a tragedy.

the changing face of China adoption

Great post over at the LWB Community Blog by Amy Eldridge on the ongoing change in the China adoption program.

“Ten years ago, only 5% of adoptions from China were from the special needs path, while in 2009 this number had risen to 50% of international adoptions.” – Amy Eldridge

Read the post in it’s entirety here.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Regretadoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker Sweets… on their journey together as a family to learn what God has in store for their next adoption

Good news and Bad newsadoptive momma (China) Ann at Our Place Called Home… a prayer request and update about their daughter’s recent hospitalization and diagnosis

Home Again
adoptive momma (China) Kristi at Fireworks and Fireflieshome from the hospital after eye surgery

i knew the kid was smart, but maybe I underestimated HOW smartadoptive momma (China) kitchu at More Than This… a moment in time (in the bathroom) with a child who has spina bifida

the elephant and Just As She Isadoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao, Y’all… thoughts and feelings after receiving confirmation of her daughter’s medical diagnosis

Question & Answer Seriesadoptive momma (China) Jean at There’s No Place Like Home… an excellent question and answer series (multiple posts) about older child adoption and the initial transition

Problem Solvedadoptive momma (China) Sandra at The Daily Grind… a little ingenuity allows a cochlear implant near the outside sprinkler

listenadoptive and foster momma Tia at Behind the Child… advice to medical professionals from a momma who knows her child

Surprises on the way to heart surgeryadoptive momma (China) snapshot at Somebody Needs a Nap… a dental cavity leads to delays and frustration

When Love Takes You Inadoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea for Three… their journey to adopt through the special needs program