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 !!!

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.

Jack went to the dentist!
adoptive momma (China) Deb at The Invisible Red Thread… great news about dental work her cleft-affected son does NOT need

Hospital Update: Easter Sundayadoptive momma (China) Awesome Cloud’s Mom at Zhe Shi Wo Ying… a short report about her son’s intestinal blockage as a result of recent surgery

Surgery and We’re Home — adoptive momma (China) Kristi at Fireworks & Firefliesthoughts and emotions one day before her daughter’s goniotomy surgery

china addresses it’s great withinadoptive momma (China) mama d at the life that was waiting for us… listing the recent changes within China’s orphan care program, including the fact that the Half the Sky program will be phased out within the next five years

H.E.L.P.M.E. — adoptive momma (China) A at grrltravels… what should she do about kindergarten for next year?

Questions for the Spina Bifida Clinic — adoptive momma (Ukraine, Russia and Siberia) Christine at Smiles & Trials… questions she plans to ask at the spina bifida clinic


When I was pregnant with our third child, our second daughter, I made a mistake not uncommon to mothers who encourage free thinking in their children, free thinking in principle at least. I asked the kids what they’d like to name their sister.
At ages 8 and 5, they were short in stature, short in temper, but not short in creativity or determination.
“Chrysanthemum!” they both shouted.
I should have seen it coming. The title of Most Requested Book in our house that year belonged to Chrysanthemum, written by the immensely talented Kevin Henkes. In the story, the little mouse, Chrysanthemum loved her name. She loved it, that is, until she started school. Teased by the other children, the name she once thought was absolutely perfect, was now absolutely dreadful. Poor Chrysanthemum wilted. But with lots of hugs and kisses and Parcheesi (not to mention a sympathetic music teacher, Delphinium Twinkle), Chrysanthemum finally blooms.
Despite my insistence that Chrysanthemum (It scarcely fits on a name tag!) would not be gracing their sister’s birth certificate, my son and daughter patted my belly and whispered, “Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum.” They went at me tag-team style. “It’s absolutely perfect,” one would say. And then the other would finish the quote. “And precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome.”
In the final weeks of pregnancy, sensing my determination, they suggested a last minute alternate name, the equally unique moniker of Blossom Sprout. I’m embarrassed to say that my husband and I caved. Well, we compromised. The kids were so enamored with floral names, that when their sister was born, we agreed that she was as beautiful as a Rose. It was absolutely perfect. Just like our baby.
Five years later, we all stared at the computer in awe of the stunning baby girl whose picture graced the screen. Our new daughter. Their new sister.
Her name was Jin Qiu Ju. The paperwork said, “Jin is the name of all babies from our institution and means gold.” The name “Qiu,” it said, “is for Autumn, the season when she was found.” That was it. Nothing about Ju.
We called my brother-in-law, who happens to be fluent in Mandarin. He asked us to scan the name onto our computer and send it to him so he could check the character to be sure. We waited together for him to call us back.
The phone rang. “It’s a very popular name in China,” he said. “An auspicious character. It means Chrysanthemum.”
Tears came to my eyes. I announced it to the children, “Her name is Chrysanthemum!”
“Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum,” they all chanted.
They finally had their sister, Chrysanthemum. It was absolutely perfect.
Just like our baby.
And oh yes, we’ve found that she’s also precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome.

This I Can Give Her

Since my daughter’s birthday, I have been thinking long and hard about what she lost to be part of our family. After blogging about it, I received a number of emails asking if I feel guilty for taking my daughter from a loving foster home. The answer to that is complicated. In a perfect world, Cheeky would never have been separated from her biological parents. She would not have been in foster care in a country where family size is mandated by law. She would not have been on the shared list, and she would not have become my daughter.

But this is not a perfect world, and Cheeky’s story, like all of ours, is filled with imperfections and little and big sorrows. That is part of who she is, and to effectively parent my daughter, I must acknowledge it.

There is a picture of my daughter sitting in her first grade classroom in China. It was taken the day my husband and I arrived in Chongqing, just hours before we met Cheeky. She is at the front of the classroom, looking at the camera. My eyes scan the photo each time I look at it. I see the other children – little boys with round cheeks and glossy dark hair cut short, little girls with pigtails or ponytails. And there is my daughter, right at the front of the class, her hair clipped boy-short. She wears a half smile, but I know that she is not happy in the photo, and I think that while I paced a hotel room, sick with dread and fear, she sat in her classroom, filled with the same emotions.

Since Cheeky’s birthday last week, I keep going back to that place and those days when we barely knew each other. Cheeky came to me as a seven-year-old. She walked into my arms on June 22, 2009. There has been no turning back for either of us since then. Cheeky accepted us as easily and quickly as we accepted her, and our story has been one filled with joy and discovery and very little drama. Often, I feel guilty for the ease at which we all transitioned into a family. And then something happens, like the March 31rst phone call between Cheeky and her China Mom, and I am reminded that there has been drama and grief. The fact that there has also been joy does not negate what was lost and does not take away the sorrow of that.

I blogged a few days ago about how it hurt to parent Cheeky. Not because she is a difficult child or because I mourn the time we didn’t have together, but because I cannot give her back what she has lost. As much as I love her, that love can never replace the love of her China family. It should never replace that love.

To feel the truth of that is to understand the paradox of adopting a child from a loving foster home. We know that these children must have a family name to call their own. We know that they need the stability that only a forever family can give. And so we bring them home. We give them the best of ourselves. We pour it into them…all that love and care and acceptance. If we are fortunate, as I have been, our children lap it up, drink it down and thrive. Trust builds, love grows, we move into an easy rhythm of togetherness that is called family.

But, as much as we give and love and accept, there are always pieces of our children’s hearts that belong to other homes and other families.

To sit with Cheeky and talk about how she misses China Mom breaks my heart, the reality of her loss sweeping over me. To not talk about it would break Cheeky’s heart, and so we must look back even as we move forward.

Cheeky’s world has expanded since her years in China. Now, it includes two mothers, two fathers and a host of siblings. On days like today, when Cheeky mentions China family frequently, I boot up my laptop and pull up the photos that China Dad uploaded while we were in China. I sit with my daughter, pointing to the photos, naming the people who were once her entire world, and listening as she tells me stories about a past that we did not share.

“There you are, Cheeky,” I say, “Getting a piggyback ride to the taxi that will bring you to meet us. There you are, waving goodbye. There you are, in the taxi with the ladies from the orphanage.”

There you are….

coming to me, while I am coming to you.

And sometimes, I have to hide my tears.

But Cheeky is never sad when she talks about her China family. She simply wants to look and share and remember, and I must remember with her. No matter the hurt it brings. I cannot give my daughter what she has lost, but I can give her this.

There you are, Cheeky, coming to me while I am coming to you.

That is the triumph of this story. Because there is not simply sorrow at my daughter’s losses, but joy in what we both have found. Two people with separate pasts, separate loves, separate families, looking into each others eyes and realizing they are home.