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.

I Had High Hopes!adoptive parents (China) the Ferrills at The Ferrill Bunch… on last week’s visit to the hematologist

{The time has come for Andrew’s surgery} and Andrew’s Progressadoptive momma (China) Steffie B. at Never Too Many… on her son’s open-heart surgery this past weekend

Hospital Pics and What Faith Can Doadoptive momma (Columbia and Serbia) Lorraine at All Are Precious In His Sight… her daughter was on life support last week, but is stable now, so please stop by and offer some encouragement

At Which Point I Employ Sarcasmadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… a recent conversation about albinism at Chinese school

Labelsadoptive momma (China) AmFam at American Family… looking past the labels to truly see her little girl, realizing that it’s not about “fixing” her girl

adoptive momma (China) Wife of the Prez at Room For At Least One More… her daughter starts speech therapy this week

How Far We’ve Comeadoptive momma (China) Cheri at Loving Lia… an update affter two years home with their daughter, whom they originally thought had a brain cyst, but found out after adoption that she has cerebral palsy, seizures, institutional autism and verbal apraxia

There IS Loss

A recent post by TongguMomma has really had me thinking A.L.O.T.

Right after I read her post, which I keep going back to just to read the comments, I received a very unexpected piece of mail. As in, snail mail, all the way from the East. Long story short, we had ordered a care package through a well-known service back in early February. We included a SASE in the package that was supposed to be for our waiting son to send a note back to us. I don’t know what happened … something was lost in the translation, he didn’t want to write us (which is completely acceptable and understandable if that is the case), he was never given the SASE and the offer to write us … I don’t know and probably never will.

Interestingly enough, the SASE contained a copy of the document we had sent the care package provider with 8 questions on it—the one that was supposed to be sent back to us by the provider and was supposed to be translated. The questions had been answered, and they had been answered in Chinese … with Mandarin characters … which I nor DH can read AT ALL. I will not go into the details of how I was able to get this translated, but I finally did get a translation thanks to another adoptive parent and her very kind co-worker.

I will admit I had butterflies in my stomach the other day as I opened the email titled “Translation Enclosed.” What would it say?

I immediately scanned down the screen to read the answer to the one question for which I most wanted an answer: “How does [our waiting son] feel about being adopted? Happy, sad, excited, scared?”

I will not share the answer in full, but I will tell you it included the words happy and sad.

And I cried.

I have lay awake many nights thinking about all of the LOSS our waiting son has faced, much of the details I don’t know and probably never will … but some I know enough to feel actual pain in my heart for him because of the details I do know … and yet, I am not him … and I know the pain of the losses has been and will continue to be far greater for him … I don’t think these are losses one can ever truly “get over.”

He is not finished experiencing losses associated with the fact he was abandoned by his first family. He is in a very loving foster family. And he is not going to be staying there … and so that is a loss. A loss I do not think of without tearing up. I have photos of them together. I have words that convey the relationship they share.

And I am crying as I type thinking of that loss, and my part in that.

You may wonder as me, Why can’t he stay?

I can’t answer that.

I wish I could.

If only life were that simple.

Along with so many other questions: why couldn’t he stay with his first family? I know enough to know there must have been and still most likely is much pain from that loss. For both our waiting son and his first family.

As I thought of TongguMomma’s post more in light of what I read on that translated email, I thought of the many comments, which I so appreciated and devoured really. I just don’t know why all of the loss and pain exists in the world (well I do know … because of sin and our fallen state as people) … but I know God does make beauty from ashes … and for some of us, especially our children who were adopted … He TRULY DOES make beauty from ashes … and He heals wounds.

And yet some wounds … leave scars … and they are evidence of the pain endured.

I can see how our son’s losses will never be far from his heart. He is not a baby. He already has a Mama. She is in China, taking care of him now.

I am a stranger to him. Nothing more really. An image perhaps. An ideal maybe. A person who is causing his world, his life as he knows it, to be completely torn apart.

I can call myself Mama to him when we finally meet … but he already has someone in his life to whom he calls out Mama. We’ve sent photos and more photos and still more photos along with letters and some gifts for him and his foster family.

But our gain of a son will come with much loss for him … and his China Mama … and so many others before her.

I am thankful for Sk*ype and email and connections and knowing other adoptive Moms whose older children were adopted through the same SWI. Those connections are PRICELESS to me, not because they are so much about me … but because they are a lifeline to his past and can hopefully remain in his present once he is here … home with his new family.

How will we help him cope with all of the loss, part of which is being brought about by our adopting him? Honestly, right now, I can’t see very far ahead. I know we’ll first and foremost recognize his losses. That HAS TO BE a first step on our parts.

As I see the grief come out still for our daughter, who was living an unimaginable existence in an SWI where she was losing weight daily and dying from heart disease … I realize that no matter how meager one’s existence is … it is that person’s existence. And even losing that existence brings about grief and feelings of loss and pain. Even this loss, her loss of a very meager existence, is VALID.

Thankfully, for our son, his existence is not just being in a place where he is sometimes fed, sometimes clothed and hopefully sheltered. No, his existence is full of love, sacrifice, hope and healing. And as much as it brings me physical pain to think of taking him from that, I know my pain in no way compares to what his pain has been and will be.

The Photo

There is a picture on my computer. In it, a man holds two little girls. His head is bowed, his right hand lifted toward the sky, his left arm wrapped firmly around his charges. The girls are squirming bundles of energy. A matched pair, they look to be identical twins. The photo can’t hide their anxiety nor can it hide the man’s gaunt cheeks and thin frame. The picture was snapped by an adoptive mother visiting an orphanage in Ethiopia, and it showcases a moment that not many adoptive parents will ever get to see. It is the last hug, the last prayer, the last goodbye.

I cannot look at the photo without crying.

These are my nieces. This is their biological father. This moment is the last they will share together.

My sister received the photo via email and forwarded it to me. I called her, and we talked about the image. The conversation will probably be lost to time, but the feelings we shared, the mixture of joy and sorrow, it will live in both of our hearts forever.

In the wake of that conversation, I find myself thinking about my daughter’s birth family more than I ever have before. I have heard it said that we should not romanticize our children’s birth parents. I have heard it said that we should not tell our children that they were given up because of love, and I have found myself persuaded by this argument – if you tell your daughter that her birth mother loved her enough to give her up, you will make her question the security of her life with you.

I see the logic of that. I understand the reasoning. I even buy into it to an extent.

But I cannot buy into it fully.

And that, I guess, is my problem.

One day, I think Cheeky will ask – Mom, why was I abandoned? How did I become the girl in this picture:

What will I tell her? That her birth family could not care for her? That they may have already had a child and could not afford to have another? That laws that limit family size might have forced her birth mother’s hand?

Any of those reasons may be true. All of them may be the truth. Maybe none of them are.

I don’t know. I will never know.

But I do know this: Sometimes love means holding on and sometimes it means letting go.

My husband and I were talking about our new nieces. He was surprised to learn that their biological father was still living. “How can someone do that?” He asked. “How can someone say goodbye to children he has raised and loved for three years.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot since that photo arrived in my in-box, thinking about the birth father’s gaunt cheeks and thin frame, his hand reaching toward Heaven.

What if I had no money, no food, no house?

What if keeping my children meant that they would never get an education, never go to college, never get married? Worse, what if keeping them meant their stomachs would never be full? What if keeping them meant watching them slowly fade away?

What if giving them up was the kindest most selfless thing I could do?

Would that mean I loved them less? Or would it mean I loved them more?

Sometimes in a quest for honesty and authenticity in telling our children’s stories, we feel compelled to state the facts and nothing more. Perhaps that is the way it should be.


But there is a photo on my computer. My nieces and their birth father in the last moments they will share together. In Birth Father’s face I see sadness and anxiety, desperation and hope.

And, in my mind’s eye, an image plays over and over again – a dark-haired mother setting her pale child in a box and walking away. I think if I could have seen her face, that woman who walked into a crowded train station with a baby and walked out without one, I would have seen sadness and relief and hope and more desperation than I ever want to feel.

It is true that I do not have all the facts, but it is also true that my daughter’s story is about more than facts. It is about being abandoned and it is about being found. It is about miracles both big and small. It is about sacrifice and about sorrow. It is about all of those things.

And, yes, it is also about love.

My love.

Foster Mom’s love.

Even Birth Mom’s love.

When she asks, and I know she will, this is what I will tell my daughter – I can’t know for sure why your birth mother couldn’t parent you, but I do know this – sometimes it takes more strength and more love to let go than it does to hang on.

Older Children Available on Shared List: Take a Peek!

Are you looking for your child? Have you considered an older child, between the ages of 7 and 13?

Here is the direct link to the blog of Pearl River Outreach. They are advocating for some very special children. This POST highlights SEVEN older children available for adoption NOW on the shared list. GO TAKE A LOOK (yes, you can see them). You may just find your child there. They are all beautiful.

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.

What is her True Special Need?adoptive momma (China) Carla at Baseballs & Ballerinas… a family discovers their daughter has a special need that they didn’t expect

Conversations with Ellaadoptive momma (China) Joan at Itty & Izzy… a brief conversation with her daughter about life before adoption

What I See; What Lily Seesadoptive momma (China) Vicki at The Adventures of Miss Tippy Tail and Kitty Boo Boo… an important realization while making an apple pie

Would you do it all over again?
adoptive momma (Haiti) Christine at welcome to my brain… would she do it all over again, knowing how difficult it is to deal with reactive attachment disorder – because food issues? can be a special need

One Monthadoptive momma (China) Allison at and they lived Happily Ever After… an update one month after arriving home with their son

Laser Treatmentbig sister (mei mei adopted from China) Monica at Journey with Reese… photos after a recent laser treatment her sister underwent

Stepping Outadoptive momma (domestic and Ethiopia) CoffeeMom at Another Espresso Please… speaking out about her post-adoption depression

THE Questionadoptive momma (China) Annie at Cornbread and Chopsticks… navigating the question “why are my hands and feet different?”

Happy Heart Anniversary & Prayer Requests
adoptive momma (China) Kim at Musings From Kim K… the two-year anniversary of her daughter’s open heart surgery to correct tetralogy of fallot

Talk to Meadoptive momma (China) Amy at 1001 Tears… on speech therapy

Graduation with celebration adoptive momma (China) Lighthousegal at Lighthousegal’s Scrap Shack… tremendous growth after “graduating” from occupational therapy

Earth Day Inspired Sensory Diet
adoptive momma (foster to adopt) Hartley at Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys… tomorrow is Earth Day, so grab some fun, sensory activities to do with your children

SPD — adoptive momma (China) Colleen at The Crazy Eighta video clip created by a person with autism, showing what sensory overload looks and feels like

whazzup with Shep — adoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao, Y’allon his current special need (no, not unrepaired club foot, his other special need)

next shared list

It is anticipated that the next batch of SN files will be added to the shared list on April 21st.

Congratulations to all the families that are soon- to- be matched!

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.

Tympanoplasty? Sounds Spooky.adoptive momma (India and Ethiopia) Given Much Momma at Given Much… an unexpected surgery has a momma fretting a bit

Adopting an Underweight Baby
adoptive momma (Russia) Ingrid at the group adoption site Grown In My Heart… basic information about adopting a child who is underweight

The Secret Language of Special Needsmomma to a special needs child Janis at 5 Minutes for Special Needs… the shorthand so common among parents who have children with special needs

A change of heart adoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker Sweets… explaining, with no words, to a dermatologist why they adopted a child with a giant congenital nevus on 65% of her face, 5 other large nevi on her torso, arm and leg plus an unknown number of satellite nevi

autism, appearances and awareness
momma to a child on the autism spectrum Patty at Pancakes Gone Awry… on judgment from others when parenting a child with non-visible special needs

So, Here’s How It Went Downadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… a conversation with a Chinese immigrant about adopting through China’s special needs program

Special Kids Require Special Planningadoption lawyer Clint at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart… about estate planning when one has a child with special needs

Memories at last!!!adoptive momma (China) Kathie at On My Front Porch Looking In… developing shared memories with an older child during the first year together as a family

Precocious Puberty in International Adoptionadoptive momma (China) Tonggu Momma at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart… after one of her daughter’s friends is diagnosed with precocious puberty, a momma seeks to educate other adoptive parents

The Dance

OK, I’ll jump in with both feet here. Attachment is hard work. There, I said it. Now that we have that (or rather now that I have it) on the table, I will just jump in with both feet. But first, a bit of housekeeping as I like to call it on my blog. No, this is not my normal posting day (yes Stefanie has a schedule for us which I very much appreciate with my Type-A personality), but I … ahem … missed my last scheduled day due to a momentary hissy fit if you will. Seriously, I have run the gamut of emotions on this latest adoption journey we’ve found ourselves on … and some of them have not been pretty. Alas I feel I’m back on my feet … at least for the moment … and I just have some things I need to put down. Perhaps they will be helpful to someone else.

Why the title? The Dance.

Well I am not a dancer per se. I mean, The Prez and I have had our share of slow dances, especially back in the day when what we would wear to the next high school dance was the biggest worry I had. Seriously folks. Yeah, The Prez and I have been dancing for over 20 years now in one form or another. But I digress. When I think of dancing, I think of one person being in the lead and the other following. Except sometimes, when the people dancing are not sure of their footing or even their hand holding feels a bit unnatural … well the dance can look quite comical and perhaps both people feel it is a bit forced too.

Sound familiar?

This thing us adoptive parents refer to as attachment reminds me of an awkward dance at times where we are just doing the motions, but our heart doesn’t seem to be in it. Other times, it feels so fluid that we think I could soak in this moment forever and never move from this spot. Even if my arms feel like they will just go numb and fall off, I’ll stay like this as long as she is snuggled in and relaxed and completely abandoned to the moment, fully TRUSTING, fully embracing the love I have for her.

I sometimes doubt we’ll ever get there. I am confident the attachment dance is going well in our home with our little girl. But it is hard work. She still struggles at times with complete trust. I don’t blame her. She has been let down a LOT. In the photo above and below, for the first time in 18 months home and after many failed attempts, this past Easter Sunday she REALLY trusted me to push her on this tire swing in our backyard. And she swung with total abandon. Total trust that Mommy would not push her too hard, would stop the swing if she said, “Stop, Mommy!” and would giggle along with her as she enjoyed the moment with complete abandon. It was quite the dance that day as she swung and Mommy pushed and started and stopped the tire swing more times than I could count … each time savoring the huge smile that overtook her face.

Me knowing she was completely trusting … her knowing that I was completely trustworthy.

As the dances continue, some not as magical as the one that day, I have just learned to accept that sometimes the song playing in the background doesn’t seem to fit the moment, or the moment doesn’t seem to fit the song. But we find our groove and the dance continues. And if the music stops, we start it over again. Or sometimes, we don’t have any music at all. And we just wait until she is ready to dance again.

In the night when her wakings arouse the grief and terror all over again, that is when the dance can be the hardest. Who wants to dance at 2 a.m.? I almost laugh (except I know the gravity of their ignorance) when I read pre-adoptive parents considering the 3-4-year-old range “because they don’t want to go back to the middle-of-the-night wakings of babies.” I can’t recall a whole week—a whole seven days straight—where I’ve not been awakened by her cries in the last year and a half. Yes, the dance continues in the wee hours of the night. It has improved: our wee-hour dance, but she still needs that specific dance at times.

My favorite dance is the one that comes out of nowhere, where she comes totally unexpected and says, “I Love You Mommy.” And then she wants some cuddle time … and as quickly as she appears, she is finished with the dance. But I realize that particular two minutes in time was oh so worth the wait and oh so worth the wee hours dance that led us to that dance.

As we are getting so close (that I can almost taste it) to embarking on yet another journey halfway around the world to a son, I know there will be dances. I wonder what type of music his heart will need. I wonder how many times we’ll step on each other’s toes as we try to find the groove. I wonder how the dance will look 18 months from now. I told someone just yesterday that I almost wish I could push the fast forward button and skip the first six months home. But then I realize I would miss so many dances: those first, awkward dances where you often just go through the motions because the EMOTIONS are not there or you’re just not feeling them in that moment. But you go through the motions because as parents, we never want to miss out on an opportunity to dance the attachment dance with our children.

In those moments where you just go through the motions, I think those are the moments where often the “heart” work is most evident. It is easy to dance when our heart is feeling the groove. When it is not, it takes real HEART and hard work. So we dance on knowing that as the dance continues, so does the work in our own hearts and theirs. And we find our groove. And in some of the most magical moments, we do feel like instead of being a spectator watching the world revolve around … we feel like the world is revolving around us.

Reflections from my first time in "the waiting chair"

Welcome to Kristi, our newest contributing blogger. Kristi has three children adopted from China and her newest daughter, Darcy, joined their family in February. Kristi blogs about their family at Fireworks and Fireflies.

Wednesday of this past week I joined a club. A club I never would have imagined myself in just a few short years ago. The waiting chair club.

I’ll have to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to being a member. Oh sure, I was all “cool hand Luke” until Tuesday. I’d casually toss out a request for friends to pray, but I was calm and relaxed.

But then “the day before surgery” came. As my baby girl’s goniotomy (one potential pressure reliever for glaucoma) drew closer, I became less and less calm, cool and collected and more and more a bundle of raw nerves. I could hardly get my thoughts together enough to compose a post on my personal blog.

The more I thought about it, the more confused about my own emotions I became. On the one hand I knew that there were so many other mothers out there who had/were/will be facing soon much more serious and complicated surgery for their children. Open heart, spina bifida, and various transplants to name a few. So I began to feel guilty for being all nervous about the outcome of outpatient eye surgery for my Darcy.

But on the other hand I kept having flashbacks of Dr. F saying that while she promised to do her best, there are risks associated with any surgery. Risks which in this case include the possibility of permanent blindness in Darcy’s “helper eye.” Or remembering that paragraph about general anethesia that made my head spin and eyes tear up. If you’ve never seen “the paragraph” before, its the one that lists the possible negative effects of “going under.” The one you have to sign right beside so they know you understand the risks associated. The one that includes the words “and in rare cases, death.” In my mind I knew that it is very rare that there are such complications. But I also knew that out of all births, port wine stains only occur in an estimated 0.3% (according to the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation) AND (according to WebMD) only about 8% of people with facial port wine stains have Sturge Weber Syndrome. Leave it to me to let my mind wander…

So I was vacillating between guilt and fear. Honestly neither was a pretty destination for my thoughts.

The good news is that eventually I got a post up to let family and friends know that we were finally approaching a potential solution for Darcy’s eyesight. And I requested prayer. I wasn’t eloquent enough to get a list of specific things to pray about up, but I did get a general call out there. Pretty soon comments, emails, and phone calls started rolling in. About that time, peace returned to my soul.

Peace returned because I realized what the problem had been. I had wanted to take control of the situation. I wanted to be the one to make Darcy’s eyesight better. I wanted to be the one to protect her and keep her safe. I wanted the surgery to be successful. I, I, I…

While it is of course natural ~ and I guess somewhat good ~ to have all those desires, the problem was that I was trying to take it all out of God’s hands. After all, I’ve known since my first dream about a daughter named Darcy that He has been writing her story to become part of our family ever since she entered the waiting child list. I had to place my trust back in Him. Because if He brought us this far, He wasn’t going to leave us now…

And Wednesday night in my exhaustion I nearly cried when I read emails that listed all the specific things people prayed about in the hours leading up to Darcy’s surgery. Prayer requests I wanted to make on Tuesday but was unable due to my guilt and fear inner turmoil. Prayers requests that were offered ~ and this next part is HUGE here ~ by other Mamas on the other side of sitting in the waiting chair for the first time. Women in this circle who have gone before me and understand the fear. Prayers that were answered even though I was not able to communicate them.

Things like: Darcy ~ my kiddo who toddles down the hall most mornings straight from her bed saying, “Ma-ma, I eat cereal” on her way for her morning hug ~ would not be miserably hungry as she waited for surgery scheduled around 10:30. {She never even asked for as much as a drink from the time she woke up until she went back for surgery}

My peace of mind. I think that’s enough said. {I caught up on a book club reading, went downstairs to check out their pediatric eyeglass frame options, and chatted calmly with Ian while we waited. And I was not anxious, at all. Well, okay, I did get a bit uneasy,when it was about an hour after Dr. F came out to talk to us and we still hadn’t been called back to Darcy in recovery. But the recovery nurse eventually called me back to be with Darcy as she woke up because she had been in my shoes before.}

Her surgeon would be skilled. {We knew that Dr. F was a leader in pediatric glaucoma. Then Wednesday we met another family whose daughter also has Type II Sturge Weber who did extensive research on pediatric glaucoma surgeons and flew in from Chicago to have Dr. F do their daughter’s surgery. This woman shared that Dr. F is considered the top in the country.}

Darcy would wake up gently. I had been warned that many kids come up swinging or very agitated. {She rolled over, said “Mama” and reached out her arms to me. No crying, no fear.}

Darcy would not experience nausea. {She downed four packets of graham crackers and 16 ounces of apple juice in recovery and then managed to eat a banana and an entire package of Ramen upon our arrival home.}

Darcy would have a quick recovery. {It was all we could do to keep her from playing rough with her older siblings that afternoon.}

Follow up medications would not be an issue. {She gets eyedrops ten times a day (Four different types, some four times, some two times ~ it’s complicated enough that we have a daily calendar…) and calmly lays her head back each time we come at her with a bottle.}

These are just a few examples of things that people wrote in comments and emails that they prayed for. There are more.

And will be again. Next time.

Because even if this surgery was successful (we won’t know for sure for about five more weeks) there will be the other half of the goniotomy. And if it wasn’t successful there will be surgery to implant a tiny stint.

But what I must remember is that I wasn’t in that chair on Wednesday alone. There were so many who have sat there before. Knowing just what this Mother’s heart was feeling. Knowing just what my concerns were. And praying.

And most importantly, Darcy’s Heavenly Father was listening.

While I can’t say that I think I’d ever get to the point of liking the waiting chair, now that I’m on this side, I know that I can face it again.

And when you are the Mama getting ready for your first time in the waiting chair, know that you will make it too. Because when anxiety takes over and you don’t know what to pray for, I’ll be among the group of Mamas able to lift up specific prayers for you and your sweet child just like so many other mamas did for me.

Are You Looking For The Blessings ?

I am writing this post from Uganda as I prepare to meet my newest two angels … As I have mentioned before when we put in our paperwork we didn’t check the box marked SN this time … Maggie is still keeping us on our toes and with lots of surgeries now and in her future we just weren’t sure it would be something we could handle, but then God gently nudged us towards our sweet Joseph … I have no idea what today will hold, but I do know that I am looking for the blessings from the Lord in it all … THE HARD, THE JOY, THE SCARED, THE LOVE, THE STRENGTH, ETC …. A couple of weeks ago I was standing in my kitchen when Maggie walked in and said, “Mom, I so happy I have a family, I love you.” I was standing in my kitchen in the presence of the FATHER weeping at this gift … He was doing a mighty work in healing Maggie and I was His vessel … I want to be His vessel again to love on Joseph as he finds his way w/ his hearing impairment … I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how bad it is or how much can he speak or have you learned sign language … I probably should know all of that or be better prepared, but honestly I feel like God will direct it all … If he is completely deaf we will go in one direction and if he is partially deaf we will go in another … I trust the Lord will guide us and we have an amazing facility in TN for hearing impaired … Scared yes, and looking for God to show us His blessing each step of the way …

UPDATE ON MAGGIE … Her scalp expansion is going well … The doctor would like for us to start coming twice a week and it will take a few more months … Big prayer request – He may need to put in another expander if one of them doesn’t start expanding more of the scalp … Please pray w/ me that another surgery like this is not needed …

Blessings and check out our blog for updates on my journey here in Uganda !!!