A Million Times Yes

November 10, 2018 Family Stories, hypospadias, intersex, medical needs checklist, November 2018 Feature - Urogenital, Urogenital System, waiting for referral 2 Comments

“That is a need I could never handle, Lord.” It all began with a checklist. You know, the dreaded medical needs checklist we all fill out in the beginning of the China adoption process that kickstarts the journey to our child. The very checklist we dwell over, pour research over, stress over, and pray over. …Read More

Overlooking the Checklist: Saying Yes to OI

August 3, 2018 Family Stories, June 2018 Feature - Orthopedic, large families, medical needs checklist, Orthopedic, osteogenesis imperfecta, pre-adoption, wheelchair user 2 Comments

Very quickly after beginning of our adoption process we were asked to fill out a Medical Needs Checklist… a checklist of medical conditions commonly seen in China’s orphans. You must go down the checklist and check “yes”, “no” or “willing to discuss” about adopting a child with the listed condition. Nothing makes you feel more …Read More

Joke’s on Me: Fibular Hemimelia

June 21, 2018 AFO, Family Stories, fibular hemimelia, June 2018 Feature - Orthopedic, leg length discrepancy, limb difference, medical trauma, Orthopedic, referral, should we adopt?, surgery, trauma, waiting for referral 12 Comments

If you have adopted, you know the overwhelming process of filling out the medical needs checklist (MCC). For those that haven’t, this is a piece of paper with a wide range list of medical needs, each having little boxes beside them, and your job is to check the ones you are open to within adoption. …Read More

Unstoppable: Our Club Foot Warrior

June 9, 2018 adopting as first time parents, clubfoot, Family Stories, June 2018 Feature - Orthopedic, medical needs checklist, Orthopedic, waiting for referral 0 Comments

Preslie’s story began in November of 2013. She was born to parents in China who I’m sure loved her so much but chose to give her up so that so that she could get the medical help that she so desperately needed. My husband and I also started the adoption process in November of 2013. …Read More

Limb Different – But Beautiful

June 3, 2018 adopting a boy, Family Stories, June 2018 Feature - Orthopedic, medical needs checklist, missing fingers/toes, Orthopedic, should we adopt?, symbrachydactyly, visible special need 2 Comments

It was early 2015 when our journey toward our son Noah began. Unlike so many families that adopt, it was not a lifelong dream of mine that was finally going to become a reality. No, it was a rather quick process that began one night as I laid in bed watching the evening news. Images …Read More

A New Song

March 13, 2018 adopting again, medical needs checklist, parent restrictions, should we adopt?, switching to another country 3 Comments

“Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19 When Robert and I were on our way home with our son, Howie, we started talking about going back. When we found out Howie’s special need was nonexistent, we knew we would have the energy, room, …Read More

A Thousand Prayers

February 19, 2018 Megan V., orphanage realities, referral, waiting to travel 2 Comments

Time hop on FaceBook is making me emo. Today it reminds me that four years ago today, we were separated from our baby girl by 7,000 miles and several months. That she was celebrating her birthday without us, again, and that, apparently, I thought Matilda was the perfect name for her teeny self. All these …Read More

Dear Could-Be Heart Mama…

February 14, 2018 complex heart defect, February 2018 Feature - Heart, Heart System, heterotaxy, major aorto-pulmonary collateral arteries, medical needs checklist, Morning Star Foster Home, pulmonary hypertension, referral, single atrium heart disease, single ventricle heart disease 1 Comments

Dear Could-Be Heart Mama, thinking of bringing home your own little Broken-Hearted Brave, It’s the morning here, on this Celebration of Hearts, and I wake up to a house full of little hearts — brave and broken ones, that is. We like to call ourselves this “Little House of Brave” — like a warrior rally …Read More

The Checklist

January 19, 2018 aortic stenosis, complex heart defect, double outlet right ventricle, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Lifelong needs, medical needs checklist, Megan V., pulmonary stenosis, TGA 0 Comments

There is a checklist. It is several pages long and includes medical jargon I don’t know and hope I never have to understand. Every person who has adopted has been faced with this list. What are you willing to weather? I agonized over that list, checking and unchecking things depending how I felt in that …Read More

Elsie Larson on the Paperchase, Special Needs and Adoption

November 30, 2017 adopting as first time parents, albinism, medical needs checklist, paperchase, Stefanie, waiting for referral, waiting to travel 0 Comments

I found Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess on Instagram (@elsielarson) on #worldadoptionday and subsequently spent an inordinate amount of time reading about all the cool stuff she does… including growing their family through adoption. When, a week or so later, I listened to her podcast (in which she shares her thoughts on special needs …Read More

The Waiting Place

November 9, 2017 Brandie, pre-adoption, waiting for referral, waiting to travel 1 Comments

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long and wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place… …for people just waiting. – Dr. Seuss /// I was a soon-to-be graduating senior when …Read More

Preparing for Adoption: Wisdom From a Physical Therapist and a Speech Therapist

October 30, 2017 China trip, early intervention, October 2017 Feature - Preparing for Adoption from the Experts, packing list, physical therapy, prepping for China, speech delay, speech therapy, waiting to travel 1 Comments

You’ve dreamt for this day for months, years even. Planned for it, traveled halfway around the world for it and played it out in your mind a million times. And yet, the reality of becoming a family through adoption is undoubtedly different. What happens next depends much on how you, as the adoptive parent, process …Read More

What We Didn’t Know

October 14, 2017 developmental delays, Developmental System, early intervention, Education, failure to thrive, heart defect, medical needs checklist, October 2017 Feature - Developmental, sign language, speech delay, virtual twinning 0 Comments

Every child is different, and those differences make life a beautiful kaleidoscope. Our family was formed through adoption and through our most recent adoptions we have become familiar with various aspects of developmental delays. We adopted our sons domestically, and then we adopted our two two year old daughters from China one year apart. With …Read More

Organized Chaos: Managing Adoption Paperwork

August 13, 2017 Courtney, paperchase, referral, waiting for referral, waiting to travel 3 Comments

Call me weird but there is something about adoption paperwork that I actually enjoy. My personality thrives on checklists and deadlines. I love completing a task and knowing that the work is bringing me one step closer to my son. Paperwork is a tangible way to show that I am making progress in our adoption. …Read More

One Year Home: A First-Time Mom’s Thoughts on “Gotcha Day”

July 27, 2017 adopting as first time parents, China trip, cl/cp, Craniofacial, Family Stories, first year home, Gotcha Day, infertility, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, Newly Home, referral, toddler adoption, waiting for referral, waiting to travel 3 Comments

We’re finally here, we’re already here. The road to this day, the first anniversary of Willa’s “Gotcha Day,” has been slow, and yet in other ways, I feel like I blinked, and here we are. I’m not exactly sure what meeting your adopted child feels like for many moms, the ones with a gaggle of …Read More

Please Don’t Poke the Bear

July 23, 2017 adopting as first time parents, BAHA, Craniofacial, declining a referral, Family Stories, hearing loss, hemifacial microsomia, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, medical needs checklist, microtia, referral, speech therapy, waiting for referral 1 Comments

I call my daughter baby bear. For my first Mother’s Day, my husband presented us with matching mama bear/baby bear bracelets. SJ saw them and exclaimed: “SJ. Mama. Same!” Though I’ve never considered myself a shrinking violet by any means, this process, this crazy-beautiful, seemingly impossible way of becoming parents, has seemed to draw out …Read More

Bringing Benjamin Home

July 22, 2017 adopting a boy, cl/cp, Craniofacial, Family Stories, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, medical needs checklist, surgery 2 Comments

We are the Young Family. We live in a small town in North Carolina with our two biological daughters ages 16 and 11, and our adopted son Benjamin who is 4. Our story begins like may others. God’s call to expand our family through adoption, a reluctant spouse, no funds, paperwork, and the “What special …Read More

Cool Hats and Shaggy Haircuts: Adopting a Child with Microtia

July 18, 2017 adopting a boy, BAHA, Craniofacial, Family Stories, hearing loss, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, medical needs checklist, microtia, Sensory System, visible special need 2 Comments

(Let me start by saying I are so far from an expert on the topic of microtia and atresia. Just know that I am a loving mother with a son who happens to have this special bonus feature, not an ENT doctor.) When my husband and I filled out a medical checklist in February of …Read More

Unexpected Beauty

July 15, 2017 cleft palate, Craniofacial, declining a referral, Family Stories, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, malnourishment, referral, undiagnosed SN 1 Comments

I sat in my Thursday morning Bible study, sharing my confusion and fears with my prayer partner, Shawna. My husband and I were certain that God had called our family to adoption shortly after our biological daughter, Campbell, was born in 2011. By the time she was 15 months old, we had submitted our dossier …Read More

On Solid Ground

July 13, 2017 Courtney, paperchase, referral 1 Comments

Last week was a challenging one for the international adoption community with the release of new regulations for families desiring to adopt a child from China. According to most social media posts and adoption agencies, the regulations that seem to affect the largest number of families are the following: the new requirement of one year …Read More

Celebrating Her Differences

July 11, 2017 amniotic band syndrome, Family Stories, June 2017 Feature - Orthopedic, missing fingers/toes, Orthopedic, referral, visible special need 0 Comments

Our adoption journey began many years before the first paper was signed and sent off to our agency. My husband and I spent the summer after our junior year in college in China studying language and culture. We actually began dating at the end of our time in China and that summer holds a very …Read More

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Our Cleft Story

July 10, 2017 cl/cp, Craniofacial, early intervention, either gender, Family Stories, fistula, July 2017 Feature - Craniofacial, referral, speech therapy, waiting for referral 2 Comments

Adoption had been on our heart for years. And in August of 2014, after lots of prayer, we accepted God’s call to adopt. We completed our home study, filled out the medical checklist, put together lots of paperwork, prepared our home for another child, and waited to see our child’s face for the first time. …Read More

Your Hand Fits Perfectly in Mine

June 30, 2017 ectrodactyly, June 2017 Feature - Orthopedic, limb difference, medical needs checklist, missing fingers/toes, Orthopedic 2 Comments

I can remember wanting to adopt for a long time — specifically wanting to adopt a daughter from China. My amazing stepdad adopted me when I was 12 so, since I was young, adoption has been close to my heart. When my husband and I married in 2004, adoption was something we knew we wanted …Read More

Nothing to Fear: Seeing Beyond the Check Box

June 20, 2017 adopting again, arthrogryposis, Family Stories, June 2017 Feature - Orthopedic, medical needs checklist, older child adoption, Orthopedic 3 Comments

She loves bubbles and baby dolls. Her favorite color is yellow. She is a quick learner and a compassionate friend. She has the most joyful laugh, and an infectious smile. And we wouldn’t have known any of these aspects of our daughter had we been scared off by one single word… Arthrogryposis. Her story began …Read More

Hearing Loss: An Almost-Missed Diagnosis

June 5, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting again, Brandie, hearing aids, hearing loss, undiagnosed SN, waiting for referral 4 Comments

In late August 2014, I loaded up my three children and drove an hour to hand deliver our completed dossier to my adoption agency. After the months of meetings, paper chasing, notarizing, and certifying documents, I would only let those precious papers leave the firm grip of my fingers if they were placed directly in …Read More

For Life: What Happened When We Killed Our Dreams

May 26, 2017 a father's perspective, ASD, Dads, Developmental System, Down syndrome, feeding challenges, heart defect, May 2017 Feature - For Life, medical needs checklist, Randall, should we adopt? 3 Comments

Finish high school. Graduate from college. Get a job. Get married. Have a couple kids. Maybe even adopt one. Send them all to college. Celebrate their weddings. Spoil the grandkids. Retire. That’s the plan. Well… that was the plan. When I was getting ready to finish high school, I realized I had no idea what …Read More

Love Stories: A Shared Love

May 16, 2017 April 2017 Feature - Love Stories, orphanage, Post-Adoption contact, waiting to travel 1 Comments

We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest. But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a …Read More

For Life: He Makes Things Beautiful

May 14, 2017 adopting again, large families, Lifelong needs, May 2017 Feature - For Life, medical needs checklist, older child adoption 2 Comments

Adopting a child with special needs can be scary. And even scarier when that child has needs that just might require a lifetime of parental care. This month we are hearing from those whose parenting journey has diverged from what most would think typical. They’re parenting children who require more than what many would believe …Read More

Which Child Is His “Yes” For Us?

May 13, 2017 Courtney, declining a referral, paperchase, referral, should we adopt?, waiting for referral 1 Comments

Any time I look at a file of a child, my heart starts to beat a little faster. I immediately wonder, “is this the one?” As my husband and I wade through pages and pages of medical information, reports, doctor assessments, places of abandonment, finding dates, pictures, and videos, we often find ourselves wondering if …Read More

For Life: The Road God Had For Us

May 10, 2017 developmental delays, Developmental System, Down syndrome, Lifelong needs, May 2017 Feature - For Life, medical needs checklist, waiting for referral 2 Comments

Adopting a child with special needs can be scary. And even scarier when that child has needs that just might require a lifetime of parental care. This month we are hearing from those whose parenting journey has diverged from what most would think typical. They’re parenting children who require more than what many would believe …Read More

From Inconvenient to Eternal

May 6, 2017 AFO, April 2017 Feature - CNS, bowel management, Central Nervous System, Family Stories, incontinence, medical needs checklist, referral, spina bifida, waiting for referral, wheelchair user 2 Comments

We had the same picture as so many others at the start: we envisioned a perfect, beautiful, raven-haired little girl from China. When we started exploring adoption and saw that the face of adoption had really changed to be all about special needs, we shifted our thinking. Minor, correctable needs, we thought. Our perfect, beautiful, …Read More

The Real Worst Case Scenario

April 9, 2017 adopting as a single mom, adopting as first time parents, April 2017 Feature - CNS, Central Nervous System, Chiari 2 malformation, Family Stories, hydrocephalus, medical needs checklist, mobility issues, neurogenic bowel and bladder, spina bifida, waiting for referral, wheelchair user 1 Comments

When I began the adoption process, in the fall of 2013, I filled out my agency’s medical conditions checklist, or MCC. I was only open to a girl up to age 18 months, but being a special education teacher, I was familiar with and open to a wide variety of medical needs. At the time, …Read More

A Beginner’s Guide to Special Needs Adoption: Post Eight

April 6, 2017 A Beginner's Guide to Special Needs Adoption, adopting again, dossier, Faith, homestudy, paperchase, pre-adoption, Theraplay, waiting for referral, waiting to travel 0 Comments

Becoming a parent, no matter how it happens, is never easy. But for those just looking into the possibility of adoption it can seem positively overwhelming. It is our hope to change all that. This 8-post series will go step-by-step through the process to adopt through the special needs program for those of you who …Read More

Seriously Blessed

March 4, 2017 adopting again, adopting later in life, adopting out of birth order, adopting two at once, complex heart defect, complex medical, large families, medical needs checklist, November 2016 Feature - Then and Now, older child adoption, should we adopt? 9 Comments

In 2011, our family looked like this. We were considered a large family by our friends and family. Dan and I had been married for 27 years at this point. We had been through a great deal during those 27 years. Our twin boys were born prematurely, three months before their due date. Our son …Read More

Red Flags: Not All Agencies Are Created Equal

February 15, 2017 Agencies, Faith, I'm Ready to Adopt, switching agencies 0 Comments

You may have seen that an adoption agency with a program in China was recently “temporarily debarred” by the State Department. Some of the violations by this agency included (I am paraphrasing): Charging families in-country fees that were different than what they had previously quoted. Charging fees that were unreasonably high in consideration of services …Read More

After the Honeymoon: Adopting a Child with Complex CHD

February 14, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting as first time parents, complex heart defect, Family Stories, February 2017 Feature - Heart, first year home, Heart System, heterotaxy, medical needs checklist, Morning Star Foster Home, pulmonary atresia, should we adopt?, surgery, waiting for referral 0 Comments

Prologue: In our son’s room, we have a picture that reads: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) We chose this verse for him, but in reality it applies more to us. My husband, Derek, and …Read More

Adopting a Child with Unpredictable Special Needs

January 31, 2017 adoption realities, bronchiectasis, dysphagia, Family Stories, medical needs checklist, referral, swallow study, undiagnosed SN 1 Comments

When you visit a carnival, some rides are very predictable. The frog hopper, bumper cars, flying elephants, and even the tea cups come with a high level of predictability. You hand over the ticket and, with almost 100% certainty, you can foresee what the outcome of the ride will be… steady, smooth, and timely. Then …Read More

On the Ground in China: Prayers Answered

January 24, 2017 agency-orphanage partnership, AWAA, Beyond Adoption, medical mission trip, orphan ministry, other ways to care for the orphan 0 Comments

Prayers answered overnight, relationships forged, and a path cleared to serve more than twice the number of children planned – this is the incredible impact of a recent medical mission trip to help orphans in China. On this recent trip, Dr. Kanhka Linthavong and his team saw God work in powerful ways. The group of …Read More

In the Meantime

January 13, 2017 adopting again, Courtney, either gender, referral, waiting for referral 8 Comments

Right now I am in a place I like to call the sweet spot. The paper chase is finished. There are no more adoption documents to sign or forms to fill out or fingerprints appointments to attend. All of our paperwork is submitted and everything on our end is done and out of our hands. …Read More

My Plan vs. His Plan

January 11, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting as a single mom, adopting as first time parents, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, working mom 0 Comments

You know how you make plans for your life and then God has something completely different in mind (and probably laughs at you for thinking your plan would measure up)? That was me. In fact, I had my whole life figured out. I was going to go to college, fall in love, get married, and …Read More

Snips, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

January 1, 2017 adopting a boy, adopting again, adopting out of birth order, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, medical needs checklist, older child adoption, referral, waiting for referral 3 Comments

I sat down one afternoon after our decision to adopt and filled out the application and MCC. The MCC is a Medical Conditions Checklist where you check boxes of special needs that you and your family are comfortable with. There are also boxes to fill out for age preference that range (from 0-13 years old) …Read More

Family Makes a Difference

December 29, 2016 adopting a boy, age assignment, bone scan, cl/cp, Craniofacial, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, Family Stories, first year home, International Adoption Clinic, night terrors, Sleep issues, switching agencies 0 Comments

If you have read any adoption account they all contain transformation stories. Most are pretty dramatic. How could it be anything less? Family makes a difference. The love of family brings healing physical, emotional and spiritual. It is no different in our story. My family was in line to be matched with a child in …Read More

Outnumbered and Loving It

December 28, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, Family Stories, referral 0 Comments

Five years ago this month, we got “the call”. To say it was unexpected would be an understatement. Our dossier wasn’t logged in, the check marks on our medical needs list were few, and the shared list had been released earlier in the week. When I checked the caller ID on my cell phone I …Read More

Reluctant No More

December 27, 2016 adopting a boy, adopting again, Andrea O., December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, medical needs checklist, referral, waiting for referral 1 Comments

Back in early 2005 when we first decided to adopt, we researched the different avenues of adoption and for many reasons we chose China. If I’m completely honest with myself, one of the reasons is that we were practically assured to be matched with the type of child we had already decided that we wanted: a …Read More

Without the Thought of Her, We Would Never Have Him

December 26, 2016 adopting a boy, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, either gender, pre-adoption, should we adopt? 3 Comments

Twelve years ago I had a dream birthed in my heart of mothering a child from China. In my mind’s eye I saw a sweet little girl, jet black pigtails, and pink bows. I had just spent time in the country, and even at a young age saw the crushing weight of the reality of …Read More

Blessed by Boys

December 12, 2016 adopting a boy, adopting again, Brandie, December 2016 Feature - Adopting a Boy, dossier reuse, Family Stories, referral, should we adopt?, virtual twins, waiting for referral 1 Comments

I completed my first adoption in the fall of 1983. Cradling my new baby, I raised my right hand as I stood in front of my mother pledging, “I promise to love my Cabbage Patch Kid with all my heart. I promise to be a good and kind parent. I will always remember how special …Read More

Love Beyond Sight

December 6, 2016 cataracts, congenital blindness, December 2016 Feature - Sensory, Family Stories, first year home, hypoplasia, medical needs checklist, micropthalmia, Newly Home, prosthetic eye, referral, Sensory System, vision loss 1 Comments

I have always been a planner, always been cautious. I had even been planning this adoption since I was 12! What I hadn’t planned was that China would become a special needs adoption program by the time my husband and I were able to adopt. It was daunting looking over the Medical Checklist. I could …Read More

Uncommon Visible Difference

November 19, 2016 adopting a boy, adopting again, Craniofacial, craniofacial cleft, Family Stories, large families, lateral proboscis, referral, surgery, visible special need 6 Comments

There is an art to a successful adoption announcement when you are adopting a child with a visible difference. You learn to manage the situation, to set up the encounter in ways that you would never think about when you adopt a child who looks more typical. You mention your referral. Your friend expresses excitement …Read More

Not What I Expected

October 30, 2016 Family Stories, infertility, pre-adoption, referral, should we adopt?, waiting for referral, working mom 0 Comments

Our family story. It’s not what I expected. Ten years ago when my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, “my time” likely caused God to laugh because nothing, really, has happened according to my desired schedule. Ten years ago we were the ideal parents. My husband and I went to …Read More

Leaps of Faith: Adopting a Child with Micropthalmia

October 27, 2016 Chiari 1 malformation, Developmental System, medical needs checklist, micropthalmia, October 2016 Feature - Developmental, prosthetic eye, referral, Sensory System, vision loss 4 Comments

No two families start exactly the same. In some sense, every decision to have children involves a leap of faith. Nothing in this world is a guarantee; as plenty of parents have learned, there is much that can go wrong during a baby’s formative nine months in the womb and truly, through their entire lives, …Read More

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