Not Fitting in the Mold

First of all, this is my first time to guest-post on No Hands But Ours blog. I always knew Stefanie was a little crazy but now I KNOW she is, since she allowed me to post directly to the site. Other guest posters will be sharing as well, so please check back often. As I have thought about, struggled, written, revised, and started completely over with this post, I keep coming back to the same purpose. I am writing this post for No Hands But Ours because I really long to see waiting children with the two needs of heart defects AND cleft lip and palate be adopted into loving families.

I desire to speak only of what I know and hope that in doing so, I can educate people to our reality of parenting a child born with multiple defects which may very well affect life span and who is so full of life that she radiates joy everywhere she goes.

It is that simple for me. I do not want a gold star. I do not want a pat on the back. I do not want anyone to think any less or more of me and my family because we chose a child whose medical conditions leave us with many unanswered questions. Honestly, I do not want this post to focus on me or our daughter, but I must speak of what I know because quite frankly I am not comfortable with all of the speculation I am seeing these days about what it will be like to parent this child or that. So often lately, I see talk on various adoption forums of how there are no more SN files of children with minor heart defects or with minor needs at all. I think if we are all honest, we all have various opinions of what minor and major is so that is not what I want to discuss here. That is a very personal decision, and while I might see one need as minor that someone else sees as major, the reverse is true as well. From that jumping point, I want to just share about our experience adopting a child whose special needs would be considered major and possibly even severe by most people. I would also like to encourage people to consider further the needs of heart defects with cleft lip and palate present.

Our journey since coming home with our daughter a year ago has not been like any other parenting journey we’ve faced. We have been by our daughter’s side as she has endured 4 hospital stays and 3 major surgeries, 2 of which involved her heart. She has spent 21 days in the hospital in the last year since coming home and has had countless doctor visits, taken medicine twice daily which will continue her whole life, and still is facing another major surgery within the next 6 months. Were my husband and I prepared for this or do we feel like we can handle this? Well not really. We tried to prepare ourselves, but honestly we had never had a child who is sick or needed surgery or had even spent one night in a hospital. So we just take it one day at a time, and most days are just typical days with grocery runs, taekwondo lessons, homeschooling, Bible drill, scraping dinner together with some pasta and whatever else I can find to throw together, and making PB&J sandwiches for the third day in a row because I haven’t made the grocery run yet.

I feel strongly that it is each individual family’s choice, and yet I also feel that none of us should comment on what we have never experienced and based only on what we believe to be about a particular set of needs. Truly, unless any of us has parented a child with this need or that syndrome or whose immune system is compromised, how do we really know what that would be like? With heart defects, multiple systems can often be affected. The reasons are many, but one can be because of a genetic syndrome. And there are literally hundreds of named syndromes that involve the heart. While I believe it is one’s responsibility and logical to seriously research and consider how a syndrome may be related to a child’s needs, it should not lead one to make a blanket assumption about the child’s abilities or inabilities. There are so many factors involved and so many unknowns as there are with any parenting journey.

I know many waiting parents might paint upon their minds and hearts the mold of a child they feel they can’t parent because this child has too many needs, needs too many surgeries and therapies, has needs which may be syndromic, or the child may not live past 25. I know we did that. But the fact is … that mold painted upon one’s heart is not just a mold to me. Before my husband and I got The Call about our daughter, we never even talked about the possibility that our little girl would be born with multiple needs. We had done enough research on heart defects to know it could be coupled with other needs affecting cranial areas, urogenital areas, and neurological function but we never even once asked ourselves to consider what we would do when we got The Call if the child referred had more than one need. Of course, that was not exactly responsible on our parts, but I can say we had done our research: we just never posed the question to ourselves of the possibility that she might present with more than one need. Even after we sent in our LOI knowing she was the daughter for whom we waited and prayed for, I was scared. I really was.

She was precious and she needed a family, but she had more needs than I had planned for. In all of the waiting to travel, I will tell you there was so much fear at times in my mind and heart. The two updates we received were not very promising. And I suddenly found myself the parent of a critically ill child, who was far away in another country. I had never known that before. So this was and still is new territory for me and my family.

I do not know that I’ll ever be fully prepared for this path, for the questions that invade my mind at times about her life expectancy, and yet I believe God intended for her to live with a family for whatever time He allows her to live on the earth. I believe He intends that for every child: for the child who is HIV positive, for the child whose heart cannot be repaired to the point that his or her life expectancy is normal, for the child who will never walk, for the child who will not talk, for the child whose level of normalcy in this life is based not on what the world sees as a burden but is instead based on what God says is a gift.

Our daughter is simply our little girl. She is not a sick child or a special-needs child. To us, she is as typical as any other child including our two other children. We don’t limit her by labeling her. We don’t hold our breath for the next surgery or doctor’s report. We simply live life with her and her two brothers. She is certainly not hindered by the medical needs with which she was born. If she could tell you in understandable words, she would tell you the only reason she is special is because so many people love her and most especially because God loves her.


She runs … into our arms.
She jumps … on a trampoline … and out of a swing.
She plays CandyLand and Wii Bowling.

She smiles … and it will melt your heart.
She hugs … without abandon … those whom she has received unconditional love from.

She laughs … at her silly big brothers.
She draws flowers … and herself … and shapes.

She swims … and swims … and swims.
She cries … when her feelings are hurt or her Baby Doll’s pants won’t go on just right.

She amazes us … everyday … with her willingness to talk when no one seems to understand.
She thrills us … with every new word she does say clearly though her hard palate never formed and is yet repaired.

She astounds us … with her will to survive and thrive in this world that handed her a difficult start in life.
She is intuitive … well beyond her nearly 4 years of being on this earth (her birthday is next week!).
She loves … with her special heart that is physically inferior but I dare say is spiritually superior to many of ours.

She is … our daughter.

And she does not fit a mold, a perception, that many may make of children just like her, when they have never known being the blessed parent of children with multiple needs that may limit their life span, and yet who just need a family willing to first and foremost LOVE them for the unique individual he or she has been purposefully created to be.

I hope to persuade just one person reading to reconsider how a special child born with the multiple congenital defects of the heart and lip and palate and/or other systemic functions might just be your son or daughter. That is what I hope to convey in this post: the true reality of life with a child whose needs are considered major, multiple, syndromic and life-threatening. If I can ever be of any assistance or encouragement to anyone considering bringing home a child born with multiple defects of the heart and/or cleft lip and palate, I would be honored to share what I know or just to listen and be there.

time is up for non-Hague agencies

The CCAA has announced that, beginning December 1, 2009, all prospective adoptive families will be required to work with a U.S. Hague accredited adoption service provider for both transition cases and Convention cases.

This could have huge implications for any in process family who is working with an agency that is not Hague accredited. Please confirm that your agency has received their accreditation.

Read more on the Joint Council site here.


Sophia and her brother Eli on their first day of preschool.

Kimberley Girvin/RMJ

I have a passion for adoption. I have one child adopted from China. I don’t know if I will ever go back. But I want to do more. I want to be a part of helping children come home. I want to be an enabler. This is where I am right now and I have heard from a lot of women in the same place.

This is the story of how people enabled me to bring my daughter home. This is how I know that I can still play an important role in the lives of families and children. These are some things that can be done to support the families who are still on the journey to their child:

When we first started talking about adoption, I didn’t know very many people who had adopted. My blog changed all of that. It became a lifeline for me.

I was a little nervous about telling our family when we made the decision to adopt. I didn’t know how they would react. I thought that they would be supportive but I didn’t know for sure. My anxiety was a waste of energy because our family has been wonderful, but some families are not as accepting. If someone in your family makes the decision to adopt, be their supporter and champion to the rest of the family.

I didn’t know a lot about what to expect or how the paperwork flowed, or what I needed to do. My agency was helpful, but truthfully my information came from women on-line. When I had a question, I would post it and I would receive the information that I needed.
This was a tremendous help and kept me on top of the things I needed to know. Reach out to adopting families and be a source of knowledge to those who are following in your footsteps.

I am a working mother with a large family, so I need help to care for my children and to keep my household running the way that it should. The key to my success in this is one woman. One woman who cares for my family and believes in Sophia’s adoption. Daycare person is not an adequate title for Lynn. She is my friend and enables me to be the type of mother that I want to be. When I approached her about the adoption, she was so positive about it and willing to take care of our new daughter. As time marched on and we decided to go the SN route, I talked with her about it and again her response was so positive. She was willing to be there for our family and care for Sophia, special needs was not an issue. When I received a file that we were looking at closely, I would go over it with her. She always had an open heart. She was willing to get her family vaccinated for hep B if we went that route, she was willing to care for a child with spina bifida. It brought me such peace to know that my new little one would be in wonderful hands while I was working. I needed Lynn’s support to be able to make this work. If you are in a position to play a role in the lives of families by providing care for their children, please be open to adopting families and understand that these little ones may need special concessions.

We waited a long time for Sophia. It was not a happy journey for us. Our agency kept changing the rules and providing us with information that honestly was just plain untrue. There is no doubt that I had to fight to bring my daughter home. I was in constant contact with my social worker. I was always two steps ahead of my agency in knowing what changes were coming down the pike. I knew so much more than they wanted me to about what they were doing (thanks to all of my waiting moms in blogland). There were times when I didn’t think I could make it to the finish line. There were times when I just sat and cried. My children had lost hope that this would ever happen. If it were not for my friends, the women who came out of cyberspace to support and love and pray for me, I don’t know if I could have made it. I was infused with their strength and it kept me going. Some of my closest friends now are a result of this experience. When you sit in a restaurant face to face with another woman just as sad and desperate for her baby as you are and she reaches for your hand and through her tears tells you she hopes you have your child first (and you know she truly means it), you are bonded forever. If you have the opportunity to pray for, befriend or emotionally support someone who is waiting for their child, please do it. They need you.

After we received our referral, there were so many things that we needed to do…it was just a whirlwind. We had a lot of fees that we were not aware of initially that came to light and had to be paid immediately. We didn’t have the cash to cover all of these fees. We needed to raise funds and I decided that an on-line auction was the best way to try to do it. I had never used my blog to ask for funds for myself, so I was a little nervous about it. The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. A dear girlfriend of mine designed a gorgeous site exclusively for the auction. Women flooded my e-mail with offers to help and items to be sold. . I received so many donation items to auction, so many beautiful things. I also received checks in the mail from women I had never seen face to face. I put them in a box in my room and cashed them when we had a fee due. There were times when I was so touched that my eyes just filled with tears. All of these women wanted to help. They wanted to be a part of enabling us to bring our daughter home. And they were. We raised close to $5.000. All of our up-front fees were covered. It was such a weight off of my shoulders, the stress just left me and I was able to focus on getting things ready for travel and for our daughter. The only way I can re-pay these women is to pay it forward. If you are in a position to help a family raise funds for their adoption, please do it. No effort is too small, everything adds up to a miracle.

Sophia turned four years old shortly after we came home. I could tell that she was very intelligent, every bit as smart and able as her four year old brother Eli. I had Eli scheduled to start preschool and soccer in the fall and I thought Sophia could be in preschool and an activity too. It has been my hope that she will be ready to start kindergarten on-schedule. For this to happen, I would have to get her into preschool. I didn’t know if they would take her, she didn’t speak much English and I did not know what level she was at as far as education was concerned. There was also the issue of separation anxiety which we were dealing with. I called the preschool and explained our special situation. Without hesitation, they told me they would let her in. They had never had a child who did not speak fluent English, but they were willing to try. I will be honest, the first week of preschool was rough for Sophia, but after that she has had a wonderful time and her language skills are unbelievable. She is picking up English very quickly. Next came the issue of an extra-curricular activity. Sophia’s gross motor skills needed work. I don’t think she ever spent much time off of the floor of her orphanage. When we first got her, she took steps one at a time like a toddler and was a slow runner and was very cautious on play equipment. The dance school in our town has a class for 4 year olds, ballet/tap/tumbling. I called to see if they would be willing to work with Sophia and her special situation. Miss Kelly who owns the school agreed to allow Sophia into the little girl’s class and pays special attention to helping her. Sophia loves her ‘ballerina school’. Last night I sat with tears in my eyes while I peaked through the studio door and watched my little girl walking on her toes and trying to plie. If you are a teacher or a coach, open your heart to these kiddos.

People on the ‘front lines’ of adoption need people behind them to support them and help them. If you are done growing your family, it doesn’t mean you can’t play a vital role in the adoption movement. Enable the people around you to complete their journeys, sponsor children who need help. Donate to organizations to pay for supplies and surgeries for children in need. Someone paid to heal my daughter’s heart, a surgeon somewhere in the world volunteered his time to give her a fuller life. I don’t know who these people are, but I owe them a debt that can never be paid. All I can do is pay it forward. I can be an enabler.

The wanted one

Possibly the most unexpected revelation in the course of our special-needs adoption came when the three of us, my husband, our daughter and I, waltzed in to our first cleft clinic at the hospital we had chosen for our daughter’s surgeries, eager and full of anticipation. At the time, we had been home for just five months and our daughter had been through only the first of two major surgeries to begin repairing her clefts. During the clinic, her first surgery would be evaluated by five or six different specialists, and a plan laid out for her future surgeries, speech therapy, and dental work.
QQ during her first two months at home.

When we met QQ, she was 11 months old with a very broad unilateral cleft lip and palate. Rather atypically, she had not had her lip surgery done while still in China, so her entire cleft was still wide open. When she smiled, which she did frequently, the gap was nearly an inch wide. Once home, our chosen surgeon felt the timing was optimal to close her palate as soon as possible, and so we had her first surgery done just two months after coming home. That first surgery included a complete closure of the hard and soft palate (very successful, with no fistulas or tears post-surgery) and a partial closure, or “tacking” of the lip. Our surgeon chose not to close the lip entirely on that first visit in order to let the muscles relax into their new position, thus hopefully allowing for a more successful closure on the second visit. Our surgeon felt this was the best method based on the rather extreme width of our daughter’s cleft and the fact that it had remained unrepaired for almost a year. Her second surgery, and the full closure of the lip, would happen in the early spring, some six months later.

QQ after her first surgery, lip still only partially closed.

When we walked into that first cleft clinic, it was with a giddy sense of anticipation. We were almost goofy with the joy of our new family and the plans we were making for the future. The first surgery had been difficult for all of us – a long, sleepless night in the hospital, and three solid weeks of medication and sleep deprivation to follow. In spite of that, the whole adoption journey had been such a wild, spinning, joyful adventure that even something as grim as planning for future surgeries made our cheeks ache with spontaneous smiles. It isn’t that we didn’t take the process seriously – oh, we did! Like avid freshman on the first day of college, we were eager to take copious notes, do thorough research, pay attention to every detail, and carry out the doctors’ orders like the good students we so genuinely hoped to be.

So it was a bit of a shock to us to walk into a conference room and find ourselves in the thrall of a distinctly funereal atmosphere. Immediately, we tried to adjust our faces and sober our attitudes to fit the general mood. Something was definitely amiss, but, in the haze of our post-adoption bliss, we were hard-pressed to put our fingers on what it was.

As the discussion portion of the clinic began and progressed, we quickly came to realize that this portion, prior to the surgical consultations, was something like a supervised therapy session. Hospital employees were scattered among the families at the long conference table, opening up topics and venues of discussion. For comfort, a banquet table was set with sandwiches and juice bottles. Grievances were aired, and families were encouraged to share their struggles and fears.

In the thick of that forum, my husband and I found ourselves at a loss for words. As other families talked of their turbulent therapy sessions and post-surgery snafus, their grief over their child’s condition, and the long process of coming to terms with it, we found we had nothing to add. We would have been well-prepared to share the vast and myriad pleasures of our early months with our new daughter, our amazement at our good fortune and the rampant joy that she had brought into our lives. But our contributions seemed irreverent in the face of the angst that we saw in the grim, exhausted faces of the parents around us. For these families, giving birth to a child who would need years of surgeries and therapies was profoundly traumatic. For us, having chosen this child and her condition, it was the greatest gift of a lifetime. What a contrast! What a revelation.

We were, on this particular occasion, the only adoptive family in the group. All of the other children attending the clinic were biological, and many of the parents had been unprepared and even unaware during the pregnancy that their child was afflicted with a medical condition. Some of them spoke of the easy time they had had with their first “healthy” children, and what a shock it had been to find that their youngest was to be born with medical issues. Some of them spoke of the initial shock and subsequent lengthy grieving process they went through when they were informed of their child’s condition.

This was the first time it had ever occurred to me what a vastly different experience it is to deliberately adopt a child with a medical need, as opposed to giving birth to such a child. I had never considered the variance in perspective, and it took me by surprise.

To be honest, my husband and I made the decision to adopt a special needs child without a great deal of struggle or deliberation. Though we began our adoption journey in the “traditional” program, we switched into the special needs program just days after our dossier was logged in to the Chinese system. We had not initially researched or even been aware of the special needs program, and it had never occurred to us that children with medical needs would be separated into a different category. Once we learned of the medical needs program, we made the switch within a matter of days. It seemed right. It seemed logical. If children with medical needs were going to have a more difficult time finding families, and if we were prepared to do so, there was no question in our mind that we should choose one of these.

We had good medical insurance, a terrific support system, medical professionals in the extended family, and a stable home life. We knew that, even if we were to adopt through the traditional program, we would run the risk of our child having undiagnosed medical or developmental issues. We also knew that, had we chosen to give birth to a child, we would have run a similar risk. I myself, healthy and vigorous and athletic as I have always been, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 29. No one could have predicted it. It was a rough year of surgery and chemotherapy and several months of recovery, but I survived it. It was not the end of my world…far from it. So to adopt a child with a preexisting medical condition, one we had researched and were prepared for, seemed to us a very sane and logical route.

When we saw our daughter’s photograph for the first time, we felt incredibly fortunate. Yes, her cleft was wide and might present some surgical challenges, but she was otherwise healthy and vigorous, and the grin on her face in those first photos foretold her joyful and open nature. When we made it through the process, the paperwork, the wait, the red tape, and actually found ourselves in China with this amazing child placed in our arms, we felt like we had won the lottery.

I really had never stopped to think what it would feel like to give birth to a child with such a condition, with no preparation, without having chosen that route, done the research, understood the consequences.

I do understand that not everyone who adopts a child (with or without medical needs) has as easy a transition as we have had. I do know that we are fortunate in many, many ways. We bonded, the three of us, without a ripple. Our child is a happy soul, confident, social and loving. She walks lightly on the earth and sees the best in life. Not every adoption goes so smoothly for all involved. But I do see our daughter’s condition as a great gift – the one thing without which she might never have entered our lives. Why her birth parents were forced to give her up we will most likely never know. It may have been a cultural stigma that made it difficult for them to raise a child born with a cleft. It may have been the medical system in China, and their inability to afford the surgeries and therapies involved. No matter what the reason, I can’t help feeling incredibly, profoundly, miraculously fortunate that this particular child calls us her parents.

Our daughter will, at a conservative estimate, need a dozen surgeries (both major and minor) before the age of 20. She has currently been in speech and eating therapy for more than six months, and will most likely need therapy for months and even years to come. But far less than being a burden to bear for us, her condition is the one element that made it possible for her to be our daughter, and for that I will be forever, infinitely, and joyfully grateful.

- Maia

You Belong

Several years ago I visited an elderly great uncle in California. Uncle Frank was one of my Grandpa Kelley’s 4 brothers. I’m sure I’d met Uncle Frank when I was a young girl, but it had been many, many years. When he opened the door to the adult woman who’d come to visit, he stood silent on the doorstep for just a moment, and then gathered me up in a hug saying, “Oh, sweetheart. I’d have picked you out of a line-up as a Kelley.” He knew me instantly.

When we were in the waiting phase of our adoption I probably saw hundreds of referral pictures. Each time I’d think, Could I look at that baby and say, Yep, she’s mine? When we finally got Cholita’s referral, Lyle and I first read through all of the written information that had been e-mailed to us. We knew that her pictures would be at the bottom and I wanted to kind of sneak up on them, casually take her in starting with the tip of her head and then I could work my way down, stopping to process each bit of information. Somehow I scrolled too fast and suddenly there she was–a round-faced, healthy-looking 6 month old, sitting in a walker, jauntily kicking up one little bare foot into the air.

She literally took our breath away. I knew her. It was like looking at the face of a long-lost friend. I would have picked her out of a line-up, I know it. I noticed her beautiful Chinese features, but I also thought she looked like her siblings. I put our 4 kids’ baby pictures together and made friends and family tell me they saw the resemblance too. Don’t you see it? She so belongs with this group.

Cholita has been with us for three years now and has noticed that not everyone sees the resemblance. When she was two, she was told by a little girl in Kinko’s that I was NOT her Mommy. The girl’s father was obviously mortified and told her, “No, honey. That is that little girl’s Mommy,” but his daughter would not be swayed. “No, I KNOW that’s not her Mommy.” Cholita’s chin quivered and she pointed to me and said, “Dat my Mommy right dare.” For a good week afterward, Cholita would tell complete strangers, even before they had a chance to say hello, “Dis is MY Mommy. MY Mommy.” She wanted to make sure they knew from the get-go, just in case they didn’t happen to notice.

As Cholita grows older, my hope is that she’ll feel like she belongs exactly where she is and that she can always find something of herself in the faces around her. Right after she came home, I had my two youngest girls in a double cart at Costco. A man in line asked five year-old Rose if she liked shopping with her friend. Rose told him that Cholita was her sister. “Sister?” said the man. “She doesn’t look like your sister.” Rose crinkled her eyes in a confused expression, shrugged her shoulders, and answered, “Well, we’re not twins.”

I snapped their picture just moments after the exchange. Nope, obviously not twins, but we would have picked her out of a line-up just the same. She’s one of us. She belongs.

contributing blogger mommas!

If you haven’t noticed yet, take a look to the left and check out all our new contributors! We’ve asked some fellow blogging moms to join us here at the No Hands But Ours blog to share their thoughts on the journey of being a mom. I can. not. wait. to read all the posts that will be heading this way… they are going to be good!!

We hope that by sharing many versions of what the ‘journey’ of adoption may look like, you will get a multifaceted glimpse into what parenting a special needs child looks like. And you’ll see, that beyond having special needs, our children are so so much more.

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.

Unexpected Success adoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… an update after her daughter Cheeky’s eye surgery

Uh-Oh!adoptive momma (China) Amy at Finally a Family of Five… success making the “o” shape with her mouth, after bilateral cleft surgery

adoptive momma (China) LMGNYC at La Bicicleta… $109 dollars in medical co-pays in a single day, plus two more appointments (possibly three), with a surgery likely

the many faces of life with piggy flu
adoptive momma (China) Ohilda at A Bouquet of Blessings… trying to survive the H1N1 virus while praying that her immune-compromised child doesn’t catch it from anyone

Out of Surgery
adoptive (domestic) and foster momma Julie at Not just an Ordinary Life… Maisy is out of surgery AND she turned two today!

Travel Alert issued by the US Department of State

Seems that precautionary measures might pick up in China as the winter approaches in order to slow the transmission of the H1N1 virus.

Although situations where Americans have been quarantined have diminished since September, those numbers might rise again as we head into the winter months.

The US Department of State warns travelers that children being separated from their parents as well as children being given medications without parental consent are both possibilities. Everyone planning to travel to China in the coming months, but especially those traveling with children, should be advised to do their research.

Read the Travel Alert (dated September 25th) here.

A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand Adoption Agency has updated their current list of waiting children.
Additionally, they are participating in the CCAA’s “Trip of Hope” program. Read more here.

For more information, contact:
Dana Woods:

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.

How a kid with special needs affects your marriage: extreme honesty momma to a child with cerebral palsy Ellen at To The Max… looking at the special marital challenges that come with parenting a child who has special needs

Some answers…, second open-heart surgery and pictures!adoptive momma (China) Melinda at And Mia Makes 6… detailing the complications that arose after her daughter’s recent heart surgery

Pain and He will never Leave you or Forsake youMike, who is currently on an adoption trip (Uganda), at Joining the Journey… finding out, just days after holding her in their arms, that their new daughter Josie is HIV+

24 pounds; 33 1/5 inches adoptive momma (China) Annie at Cornbread and Chopsticks… she finally made it onto the Southern Chinese Girls growth chart!!!!

never forsaken!adoptive momma (China) Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom… after adopting her eight-year-old daughter who had ALREADY previously experienced one disruption and an autism diagnosis in China, a mom looks back on their first year together as a family

Food Issues and Ah Haadoptive momma (China) Wuxi Mommy at Our Wuxi Girl… food issues, six months after coming home, cause a mom to ask for helpful ideas (be sure to read the comments on this one)

thump… thump… thump… thumpadoptive momma (China) Ohilda at A Bouquet of Blessings… contemplating their attachment journey so far, a little over two years after arriving home

Tell Her Thisnew adoptive momma Kris, in China now adopting a daughter with the special need spina bifida, has written so many thoughtful posts during her trip, I’m just sending y’all directly there: surf around, you won’t be sorry

I Am Humanadoptive momma (Russia, Siberia and Ukraine) Christine at Smiles & Trials… the day to day reality of spina bifida, after one month home

special needs: mind your business
adoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao Y’all… a powerful post ALL should read about deciding between the NSN and SN programs

What I didn’t knowadoptive momma (Russia) Ingrid at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart… what she didn’t know about surgeries before adopting a child with special needs

An Amazing Girl!adoptive momma (China) Lori at Joy Unspeakable… during their first few days together as a family (older child adoption), Lori talks about names and the honeymoon period

3 AMadoptive momma (China) Shirlee McCoy at And Then There Were Seven… middle-of-the-night thoughts about her daughter’s upcoming eye surgery and their transition just after an older child adoption

What is Visual Processing Disorder?
adoptive momma (Russia and Guatemala) Marcie at the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart… children diagnosed with SPD, autism or ADHD may all “see things differently” because of visual processing disorder