Adoption. Ready or Not?

April 22, 2019 1 Comments

“Don’t wait for more revelation; be obedient to the amount of revelation God has given you.”

Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

I remember hunkering in my hiding spot as a child, my heart beating wildly. Whichever friend was “it” in our game of hide and seek would be counting to ten, just seconds away from, “Ready or not, here I come!”

Never did I feel ready. Even if I slid into my spot on time, I’d be looking around considering other hiding options. I wanted more time for my breathing to quiet, to be all the way ready.


In one of your rounds of hide and seek, did you ever scream, “Not ready!”?  

Me too.  

Are you currently shouting, “NOT READY!” at the adoption you know you are called to?

Maybe you tell people all the time that it your dream. The seed God has planted is undeniable. It’s more than a romanticized notion or envy of other people’s experiences. It’s a calling and one you love.

Even still, you ignore it. You hold off. You wait so you can watch for “signs”.  You think you’ll feel ready. You want to get in the game, but you want more time.

If that describes you, then this pep talk is yours.

This pep talk is not for everyone considering adoption though. I shrink back from campaigns or wording that drops guilt as an excuse to adopt. This process is too hard, too important, and too risky with lives at stake to jump into it out of guilt. In my experience, God doesn’t guilt me into His work. Rather, He nudges and shines a lamp on my next right choice. It might feel terrifying, but when I remove my own emotions from the equation, His call is usually clear.  f this describes you, then I hope you’ll shout, “Not ready.”

As someone who has walked before you, I fully understand trying to discern when to say when.  

Saying yes to being the parent of a child, whether by birth or adoption, is scary, and too big, too divine, and too holy to capture with a feeling.  

In the end, ask yourself if God has called your family to adopt. If so, what are you waiting for? Is He being stingy with signs or are you a master at stall tactics? Will you be obedient to the calling you’ve already received?

You’ll never fully feel prepared to wildly yell, “READY!” It’s a faulty plan, my friends. Your answer to, “Ready or not?” will always be no. Your home, finances, job timing, and sibling ages will never all align with your faith, emotions and courage meter.

We prefer timelines, safety nets, guarantees, and things just as we want them, right away. But the work of human relationships is more mysterious, exciting, impossible and altogether lovely. God-sized invitations are steps into the unknown. If we felt ready for all of life, we’d see nothing of God’s movement.

You know who is always ready? Yep, you already know. And He’s waiting for you, even when you hide. He can convince reluctant husbands, prepare the hearts of siblings, and work out job-timing. He’s ready with all the financial, emotional and spiritual provision, but you’ll never know that until you need to.

You might not be ready, but do you trust that God is? If your readiness is the gauge, then you’ll miss it.  He does not promise that it will be easy, and it won’t be, but He will equip you, one step at a time.

All that said, it’s a both/and life experience. We must do the work, ask the questions, pay attention to adoptive families, take the training, and read the books. This a call to action, not to recklessness. Let’s keep praying that we can discern the difference.

If the call is there, then that most likely is the sign. I don’t want to persuade you to adopt. I just don’t want you to miss God’s nudging. Unlike the friend who is “it” in hide and seek, He sees you exactly where you are and knows when to say when. 

Ready or not, a messy beautiful adventure awaits.  

Find My Family: Shaw

April 19, 2019 1 Comments

Shaw is a precious little boy born in January of 2015 with Down syndrome and congenital heart defects – ASD and PFO. In June of 2016, he underwent surgery to repair his ASD.

Shaw came into care at the approximate age of one. At that time, he could stand and walk against the rails, and could not speak.

Part of his Chinese name means handsome, which he was given to him because he was said to be the most handsome boy among kids with Down syndrome in the whole orphanage!

Shaw is described as active, cute, and smiley. He can now walk, jump, and move flexibly. Shaw has an adorable laugh and the most beautiful eyes. He understands simple instructions and can feed himself. He is not picky and is a good sleeper too.

From his file photos, it appears Shaw loves wearing gloves! He also likes playing games with the other children and playing with toy cars. We couldn’t help but notice how sweet he is with the other children too, helping to give them bottles and feed them. Shaw is going to make some very lucky so happy and we can’t wait to see who!

You can see a video of Shaw here.

Shaw has a $1,500 agency grant for his adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year (January and July) and to families that are officially matched with a child. Shaw also has a new Reece’s Rainbow account here.

Shaw needs a family with an approved home study to be able to move forward with adopting him. If you have an approved home study or a home study in process and are interested in adopting Shaw, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

Bladder Exstrophy: Calming Your Fears

April 15, 2019 4 Comments

In late fall of 2016, my husband I decided to pursue adoption. We mulled over what ages we would consider since we had other children and were “older parents” in our 40s. We decided that the perfect age would be somewhere around 4 years old. (I have now learned that when it comes to matters of the heart, it is best to keep an open mind.)

I spotted a little boy’s face on a waiting child photo list that immediately caught my attention. He was adorable and healthy looking. After staring into his face for a long time, I scrolled past the information about his development and zeroed in on his special need. “Bladder exstrophy” was listed. What was that I wondered? I scrolled back up and read the information listed about him. He had already had surgery for his bladder exstrophy. His birth defect was something I had no experience with and was not one that we had initially checked into for our medical checklist. I started Googling it. It didn’t sound that scary to me, plus he had already had corrective surgery.

My husband and I talked about it. He reminded me of the ages we were considering. This boy was 7 years old now – his picture wasn’t recent. I kept coming back to him though. A voice in my head would always say, “He’s special. He doesn’t belong there.” Which to me meant that he belonged here, in our family.

I told my husband I wanted to look at his file. He agreed. I requested it and we poured over the details along with medical photos. None of it scared me. The nannies had said such kind things about him. He was a gentle boy, a helpful child. He was smart. His file said his special need did not impact his daily life.

We had his file reviewed by the Adoption Medicine Clinic at the University of MN. They agreed that he was an otherwise healthy child and informed us that he would likely need multiple surgeries. They explained that bladder exstrophy is a chronic condition requiring regular follow ups and most likely more surgery in the future. We considered this but decided that we could handle it. He would probably not get the care he really needs as an orphan in China. That turned out to be very accurate.

One of the things I held fast to was that this condition usually happens randomly. The children affected by it are normal in every other way. There is no link between intelligence and BE. They are just normal kids who happen to be born with this condition.

Let me explain a little bit about bladder exstrophy first. As written on, “Bladder exstrophy is a complex, rare disorder that occurs early on while a fetus is developing in the womb. As the bladder is developing the abdominal wall does not fully form, leaving the pubic bones separated and the bladder exposed to the outside skin surface through an opening in the lower abdominal wall.”

Each case of bladder exstrophy is different. Sometimes the bowel is also affected, sometimes the genitalia, and other organs may also be affected to varying degrees. For most children the treatment comes in phases. There is the initial closure which involves putting the bladder back inside of the body and bringing the pelvic bones back into place.

Another surgery sometime after the first may correct epispadias. Epispadias is when the opening of the urethra (the tube allowing urine to exit the body from the bladder) appears on either the side or the top of the penis rather than the normal position and is very common for bladder exstrophy patients.

And finally, when the patient and family are ready, another surgery to achieve continence (being able to hold urine) is performed.

For our son, his bladder exstrophy was not treated until he was 4 years old. He lived with his bladder outside of his body for that time. After entering the orphanage, they took him to Beijing to have his closure surgery performed. During this surgery they also did an osteotomy which brought his pelvic bones back into the proper position and performed the epispadias surgery and a hernia repair as well. After he was released back to the orphanage he never returned to Beijing and was given care as best they could locally.

For our son, that meant that he was still incontinent of urine. This turned out to be a blessing though because it meant that there was less of a chance of him having kidney damage from urine backing up, if it was not able to properly drain. The surgery also meant that he was more confident and felt less ashamed of his condition since the surgery gave him a more normal appearance down below. There is a big stigma for kids in China being or appearing different in any way and many kids face ridicule or feel ashamed of their conditions.

For us, his information told us that he would definitely need another surgery in the future. I researched hospitals that specialized in care for bladder exstrophy and consulted with the University of MN regarding our next steps when he came home. I was able to be in touch with advocates who had met our son in China, and they were able to give us useful information on what to expect as well.

During our wait for travel, our son turned 8 years old. When we finally went to China to complete our adoption, we didn’t bring anything special with us other than clothing for him. (You can find anything you need in China – toys, clothes, shoes, and medications.) The day we met him, he came to us with a pack of diapers and a small backpack of gifts from his nannies. He was so small and seemed undernourished but with bright eyes and a gentle disposition. He walked with a limp, so we wondered about how successful his pelvic surgery had been.

Adopting an older child was new for us but it went better than we had prepared ourselves for. We stopped and bought more of the same diapers he was used to at a Walmart there. He took care of things himself and needed no help. He just used the bathroom like everyone else but had to take a change of diaper in with him. I helped him shower just by getting the water turned on and handing him soap, shampoo and the towel. We figured out that he must have had a fistula (an opening between his bladder and outside of his body) because the urine was not coming out of his penis, but around it and his tissue around it was very inflamed. We had planned to take him to the doctor soon after getting home.

For the duration of the trip, he was great but tired easily and occasionally he would stop and sort of curl up, rocking. He always denied pain, but I had my suspicions about something hurting him. We made it home and the next day he spiked a fever. We brought him to the University of MN’s Children’s hospital where we discovered that he had a very large stone in his bladder, along with wire that had come loose from his closure surgery in China. After much research and because of the complications that could arise from removing the stone and dealing with the loose wire in him, we decided it was best to bring him to a surgeon with experience in this same complication.

We treated him for the infection and kept him on an antibiotic while we waited for our surgery day. We flew out to Baltimore to have the surgery at Johns Hopkins where we learned that often the repairs done in China to pull the pelvic bones in place involved the use of wire to anchor the bones together. In the US they don’t use wire. The problem comes when the children grow and the wire either breaks or is pulled off the bones. Our son’s wire migrated into his bladder on one side and irritated the other side enough to cause a fistula through which the urine seeped out and found a new way out of his body. The foreign object in the bladder caused a stone to form around it. By the time we adopted him and he had his surgery, it was the size of a man’s fist. He had lived in pain probably for at least 2 years with the stone building and harboring infection there. He had been treated for the infections in China, but they would just come back, and the pain never went away.

After his surgery and recovery, he was like a new boy. The time we spent in the hospital was excellent for bonding with him and his language exploded. He no longer limped, and his tissues returned to a normal appearance after having been swollen and inflamed for so long. Eventually he realized he could do things like jump off the bed, run up a slide and run full speed with no pain. There is no stopping him now! He’s a completely normal child. He’s so smart and kind. He’s very popular with his classmates and is always being invited to birthday parties. I often forget that he has any kind of special need at all. I have started keeping a few diapers in the trunk of my car for the times we all forget that we must bring them along.

We have discussed the continence surgery with our child, and we see our doctor out in Baltimore annually. His doctor does testing to see how his bladder is growing and to check on everything. Currently, our son isn’t ready to have the surgery and we are respecting his feelings about it. He thinks he will want to go forward with it in about a year or so. There are some people with BE that choose not to do it at all and there are some children who have it done at a much younger age out of necessity. For our boy, his file was right – BE does not impact his daily life. He goes swimming with everyone else, he is doing fantastic in school, he loves fishing and playing X-box with his brother. I was concerned about school and how to handle that, but he uses a private bathroom in the nurse’s office and there are no issues with it. He got his first pet recently, a guinea pig that he named Sweet Pea and he is kind and gentle with her.

My husband and I are considering adopting again and we are open to bladder exstrophy again as well. There may be unknowns for our boy with his future, but there are many certainties as well. He is certainly going to be able to father children, and he certainly has a whole lot to offer this world and everyone who gets to know him. Just as Psalm 139:14 says, he is fearfully and wonderfully made.

You will find a great community of parents and people with bladder exstrophy that you can connect to online and in real life. I am going to include links that I found useful during our research, and now as a parent of a child with bladder exstrophy as well.


Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community
FB Group Bladder Exstrophy Community
FB Group Special Needs Resources
The University of Minnesota’s Adoption Medicine Clinic
FB Group for Parents of Kids with BE
FB Group for People with BE
Excellent Video for Kids with BE

– guest post by Lina

Waiting for You: Kennedy

April 11, 2019 0 Comments

Kennedy is a beautiful and joyful little girl, born in September of 2012, who loves to wear dresses and skirts! One day after her foster mother bought her a new skirt, she stood in front of the mirror admiring herself and beamed happily when her foster mother said, “Kennedy is just like a fairy in …Read More

Life Is Better With You

April 3, 2019 1 Comments

We were on our way home from the dentist when my phone buzzed. Seeing the familiar number of our agency, I pulled over and answered. “Hello!”, she said cheerfully, “We are calling because we have a file we’d like to share with you if you’re interested.” She went on to say that it was a …Read More

What to Expect in China: Things We Wish Adopters of Our Little Ones Knew

March 31, 2019 15 Comments

For so many brand new parents of Chinese adoptees, the time spent in China is the most anticipated and intimidating portion of the adoption process. You’re finally able to hold your child in your arms; to emotionally and legally welcome them into your family. But, well…it’s China. It’s pretty different. As we adopted our beautiful …Read More

Meet Melody!

March 29, 2019 0 Comments

Melody, born in January of 2013, is a little peanut who couldn’t be cuter! Melody knows the nanny who takes care of her and is very close to her. She is described as smiley, shy, and energetic. She recognizes the other children in her room and enjoys playing with them. Melody feeds herself with a …Read More

What to Expect: The Sisterhood

March 23, 2019 0 Comments

Trying to prepare someone for an adoption trip to China is literally like trying to prepare someone for giving birth. It will hurt. It will be expensive. It will be smelly and there might be blood and there will be tears. It will be so sweet. It will be surreal; you will come as one …Read More

Twins! Meet Ames and Auggie

March 20, 2019 0 Comments

Ames and Auggie are adorable twin boys born in February of 2016. Ames and Auggie currently live in the orphanage. They have both been in a Lily Orphan Care Center (LOCC) since March of 2016. Ames has not had any recent illnesses and has been in good health, but he has been receiving rehabilitation training. …Read More

Find My Family: Johnny

March 16, 2019 0 Comments

Johnny was born in April of 2008 and is diagnosed as having a deformed skull, strabismus, and a mouth that slants to the right. It is very likely that he has hemifacial microsomia. He was reported to have normal physical development and a ready smile. Sadly, Johnny’s file was prepared when he was an infant …Read More

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