That Smile

That Smile

Oh man.  This spitfire.  pan-ru-wei-nov-2016-2From the moment he ran onto that playground, I could tell I was about to have fun!  BIG doesn’t even begin to describe the smile on his face.  Massive.  Gigantic.  Immense.  Contagious.  Is more like it.  There didn’t appear to be a shy bone in Ross’ body, as he came right for us….or maybe he came right for our treat bag.  Ross looked in the bag, then looked into my eyes for approval.  I nodded.  Ross chose candy and a necklace.  And somehow that smile got even bigger.  After picking out his prizes, Ross looked at me, and pointed to the slide.  “Let’s go” I shouted!  It didn’t need translation.  Ross grabbed my hand and over we went.  ross-2He made sure I was in the perfect spot at the base of the slide to watch him play.  And play he did!  Laughing.  Smiling.  Engaging.  Being a happy-go-lucky, fun boy.  When I had to go help with other children, Ross made sure to get another audience member, and grabbed another team member’s hand.  He led her right over to that slide so she too could ooh and aah over his antics.

After a few wonderful hours, the time was coming to wrap up and send the kids inside.  Ross immediately let us know that he was NOT happy about this, and wanted to stay with us.  That’s when the tears came.  And when they came for Ross, they came for the whole team too.  rossThis sweet, fun, spunky, energetic, HAPPY boy did not want to go back to his life.  He wanted to stay where there was doting, and laughter, and attention.  Oh how Ross would flourish in a family, surrounded by doting, and laughter, and attention every day.


Ross is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is 6 years old and diagnosed with a missing eye, repaired cleft lip, and dental issues.  There is a $2,000 agency grant available to the family who adopts Ross.  Email sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information.

His Happy Place

His Happy Place

As the mayhem and chaos of 17 young kids at a party spun around us, I caught a glimpse of something special.  Monroe.  lu-zhong-jian-nov-2016-10With his nose buried in a book despite the noise and madness.  I sneaked over and sat next to him.  He looked at me shyly at first, so I motioned for him to keep reading.  He did.  To me.  His passion for reading was more than apparent as I listened to his sweet, quiet voice reading this language that is foreign to me.  I could sense his expression as he read…he made it clear that this was a tale of drama and intrigue.  I was hooked.  I was able to tune out the cacophony right along with Monroe, and meet him in his happy place.  A boy who loves to read…a boy after my own heart.

After he was done, Monroe gave me a shy smile, got up, and joined the fun.

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Monroe is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He recently participated in an advocacy camp where his advocate described him as ‘sweet, soft-spoken, go-with-the-flow, with a winning smile.’  There is a $5,000 Bright Futures grant available for the family who adopts Monroe.  Email sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information on this sweet soul. 

In the darkness, there is light…

In the darkness, there is light…

As I sit here with a spotless house, fridge stocked full of all the bells and whistles for tomorrow, knowing family and friends are en route from far and wide, my mind is still in China.  I’m barely a week off my trip, and it is still more than fresh in my mind.  We spent ten days visiting orphanages, loving on kids, witnessing heartache.  Though, during the moments of darkness, somehow light, and hope, managed to shine through.  One of those moments happened when I got to see these three very dear friends.

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You see, they are my friends because I got to spend a wonderful month with them last summer.  They were three of 17 orphans who came for summer hosting to the US.  Thanks to hosting, they are now three orphans no more, as their families race through paperwork to get to them.  Thanks to hosting, these three boys will know love, they will know family, they will know hope.  These three boys will learn the fun of snapping the wishbone, and they will soon enough know what full bellies and football are all about.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for these three boys.  But more so, I am thankful for their host families who stepped up into the unknown, into the uncomfortable, to give these boys a chance.  Without these host families, who knows what the fate of these three boys would be.

As you sit around the table Thursday, giving thanks for family, for love, for food, please do not forget about those who do not have any of those things….and think about how you can step up to change that.  The following kids will be coming for hosting in February 2017.  Think about stepping out of your comfort zone for three short weeks and hosting one of these kids, and giving them the chance to be able to be thankful for something next Thanksgiving.

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Joe – 10

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Logan – 7

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Adam – 10

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Bode – 8

nelson

Nelson – 7

paul

Paul – 7

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Mallory – 11

melanie-3

Melanie – 12

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Cleo – 9

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Charles – 10

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Donovan – 10

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Bentley – 9

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Gus – 8

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Mary – 12


All of these children are available for hosting this coming winter, February 13 – March 6, through Madison Adoption Associates.  Hosting is available in IL, MO, PA, NJ, and MD.  For more information on hosting one of these amazing children, please email sarah@madisonadoption.org.

A Blown Kiss

A Blown Kiss

Dear Jayne,

I ended my last letter to you dreaming that I would meet you one day, living out your forever.  Well, I was at least able to fulfill half of that dream, and for that I am grateful.  Meeting you Jayne was honestly one of the most meaningful and poignant moments of my life.  You interacted with our team so beautifully – you answered the endless questions, and you demonstrated the exceptional progress that you have made.  I was busy with the other children while you were meeting with the team.  After your interview, you locked eyes with me, as if you knew that I was your voice.  You immediately came my way and said something to me, in Chinese, over and over again.  Jayne, somehow I already knew what you were saying, but I needed to make sure.  I called our translator over and asked him.  “She is saying, ‘When will I have a family?  I want to go to America.  I want a family.  Will you find me a family?’”  In that moment Jayne, I had to look away.  I rubbed your back as the tears streamed down my face.  I didn’t want you to see, so I did my best to shield my tears from you.  It was not pity.  It was simply heartache from knowing how special you are, and knowing how blessed you will make your family.  “Please tell her I’m trying.”

I don’t know how you knew that I was the one sharing your story Jayne.  Call it intuition, call it a sixth sense, call it whatever you want.  But from the moment you locked eyes with me, you didn’t leave my side.  I could feel your heart.  I could feel your yearning for a family.  No more translation was needed.  After our time together, as you walked away from me, into the orphanage, your eyes never left mine.  And at the last moment, you blew me a kiss.  You spoke to me with your eyes and with that kiss, as a flurry of kids and activity bustled around us.  It was as if time stopped, and the activity around us was frozen, and it was just you and me in that moment.  No words were needed.  I knew what you were asking me.pan-ying-rui-nov-2016-10

After I dried my tears, I approached the Madison team, “We HAVE to do more for her.  Can we waive all of our agency fees?”  The answer was a resounding YES.  Then I approached our translator, “Please tell the orphanage director we are doing all that we can, but we need more.  Can they waive the orphanage donation?”  The answer was YES.

Jayne, I will continue to be your voice, and I will continue to share your story until the very last minute.  The vision of you walking into the orphanage, seeing only me, and blowing me that kiss, will be forever seared into my memory.  We’re half way there Jayne…half way to fulfilling both of our dreams.  We have met, and now we just need to meet again while you are living out your forever.

With much love, and a blown kiss across the oceans,

Sarah


Jayne is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  She will turn 14 on March 8, at which time she will no longer be available for adoption.  All agency fees ($8,000) are waived for the family who adopts Jayne.  The orphanage donation will also be waived.  AND, an anonymous donor is donating $3,000 to the family who adopts Jayne to help cover the remaining costs.  Email sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or visit our website

Dear Jayne

Dear Jayne

Dear Jayne,

You are on my mind tonight, which isn’t a new thing for me.  I think of you often, and it haunts me that we only have four months to find your family and get you home.  That isn’t much time.  jayne6I’m doing all that I know to do, and I worry it isn’t enough.  Why haven’t we found them yet?  Why haven’t they seen your amazing smile and realized you are their daughter?  They have to be out there.  They just have to.

As I think of you, I think of your story, and all that you have endured.  You already were adopted at the age of 3.  You already had the promise of forever.  And then your adoptive mother passed away from cancer, and your dad struggled.  Your forever ended and you were returned to the orphanage when you were 11.  Promises were broken.  jayneYet, because of your unbreakable spirit, you are not ready to give up.  You still want forever.  And please know that so many of us want you to have it.

Jayne, please know that I do not pity you.  I admire you.  I admire your resolve and your strength.  To have gone through all that you have gone through, and still dream of a family, is remarkable.  You have a loving spirit that you have held onto, regardless of your past.  In some ways, I envy you….I wish I had your kind of strength.

I will keep searching for them, Jayne.  I will keep searching for your forever.  And I wish I could promise that I’ll find them.  But you’ve already experienced too many broken promises, so I know better than to say that.  jayne5But please know that I am doing all I can, and so many people are thinking of you and sharing your story.  You are a remarkable young lady Jayne, and my
dream is that I will meet you one day, living out your forever.

You friend,

Sarah


Jayne is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  She will turn 14 on March 8, at which time she will no longer be available for adoption.  There is a $5,000 grant available for Jayne’s forever family.  Email sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or visit our website.

Her Crooked Little Back

Her Crooked Little Back

I was sitting on my porch, on this chilly fall, October day, waiting for my first grader’s bus to pull up, when I got the email.  “The family is not pursuing Gianna.  She is no longer on hold.”  Sadly, I’ve gotten this email before regarding Gianna.  Many interested families, but no commitment.  As I continued to think of Gianna – of this sweet, happy, extroverted little girl – the bus pulled up and my own barrel of energy and fun sprinted off.  He immediately went for the leaf pile that I had just raked up.  leavesI was overcome with the smile on his face, and the absolute, innocent joy in his laugh as he jumped in the pile, over and over again, throwing leaves into the air.  While I often compare the kids I advocate for with my own children, when it gets too overwhelming, I am usually able to ‘turn it off,’ and live in the moment.  But every now and again, I just can’t.  Today is one of those days.  All I could think of while watching my son experience this quintessential autumn rite of passage, was Gianna.

This gorgeous girl, inside and out, who loves playing outside, loves playing with dolls, loves playing games, who was born with a crooked back… gianna-updateI could just see her in that pile of leaves.  I could picture her, with her curved little body, bouncing up and down, with a grin from ear to ear.  I could envision the red, and orange, and yellow…. falling down around her, as she looks up in wonder.  Why doesn’t she get to have this experience?  Why doesn’t she get to run off the bus, into a pile of leaves, with a Mommy waiting for her?  Could you be her Mommy waiting on the porch?  Could you be the one to say yes to this little girl?  Could you be the one to give her the chance to be a little girl?


Gianna just turned 5 this summer.  She is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $2,000 grant available for the family who adopts her.  You can learn more about Gianna on our website, or email Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org.

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”  We named him Rudy after the story of the Notre Dame underdog football player.  You know the one…un-athletic kid dreams of donning the gold helmet and playing with one of the greatest college football teams in the nation.  No one believed in him.  He was told time and again not to bother, as he would never make it.  He did not give up.  He kept at it.  And, despite the naysayers, he fulfilled his dream and played for the Irish.rudy

Our Rudy is similar.  Rudy is a bit of an underdog, and because of his extensive scars, he has been told he won’t amount to much.  That he’s ‘damaged goods.’  Though, we don’t agree.  When we met Rudy, we saw a kindhearted, sweet boy who is engaging and makes great eye-contact.  We saw an incredibly smart kid who will do great things for our world if only given the chance.  Rudy the football player had a couple people in his corner who always believed in him, and encouraged him to fulfill his dreams.  Our Rudy has us in his corner, but what he really needs to prove the naysayers wrong is a forever family in his corner.  Are you his family?  Will you believe in him, and encourage him to be all that he can be, no matter what the naysayers say?


Rudy is 6-years-old.  He is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $2,000 grant available for the family that adopts Rudy.  You can learn more about Rudy on our website at www.madisonadoption.org or email Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org

Dalila

Dalila

Guest post by Adoption Advocate, Shannon Laxton

She is almost 13 years old.

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Of course every child that lives in this place breaks my heart.

But this one.

TWELVE.  ALMOST THIRTEEN.

They shared her story with me.

I was instantly drawn to her.

And her to me.

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Maybe it is because I see my daughter who is so close to her age.

Or I see the stories of my 4 China children,

Who could have been her.

She should not be here.

She is almost 13 and she is absolutely perfect.

She is smart.

She is artistic.

100% healthy.

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She has the best laugh and speaks non stop.

I got brave yesterday and I asked if I could take her to lunch with us.

Of course if taking her why not take Silas. He is 9 and named for my son Syler. They look so much alike.

Sometimes I ask these things and Steve just looks at me.

But he asks.

And they said yes!

So we left with these 2 sweet children who were so excited and WE were so excited and could not believe we were actually LEAVING with them!

We ventured to McDonalds. On the bus.

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Because every child should eat McDonalds with the Americans.

And let me tell you, they ate. And ate. And ate.

They had never had soda before.

You know how you give your baby a lemon for the first time? Just for the reaction?

We were kind of like that watching them drink this soda.

And Silas eating a big mac. Layer by layer.

Or an ice cream cone, obviously something he had never had.

Sweet sweet memories for us.

After lunch we ventured to the store to get snacks for the rest of the kids.

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They started whispering and throwing stuff in our cart.

Silas also swiped a fruit pouch off the shelf, (like the applesauce you suck on) had the cap off, sucked it down and had it back on the shelf before we could blink.

Shopping with kids in China is the best.

Once back at the hotel they started passing out the items they had put in my cart to each team member.

They had wanted to give to us, what they had chosen.

It was not about them, but giving to us.

We enjoyed jumping on the bed, brushing teeth and lots of giggles.

Sometimes we don’t understand abandonment or the why’s and how’s of life.

Today we wanted to give to 2 kids who deserve so much more.

And while I do think it was great fun for them, it was us who were blessed.

We forget that sometimes an ice cream cone is an amazing treat that has never been experienced.

Eating a burger does not come naturally or with instructions.

The wind on your face while racing down the road in a taxi is to be savored.

Each moment is a gift.

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I can’t stand the thought of leaving any of them.

But this girl, her time is short.

At 14 they cant’ be adopted.

She has 14 months left.

We are praying and begging God to have her family already thinking of her.

She should not be here.

I pray she doesn’t have to stay.

Please join us in praying for Dalila.


Dalila is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $4,000 grant available for the family who says YES to her!  Visit www.madisonadoption.org for more information, or email contact@madisonadoption.org.

She should be a daughter, not a mother…

Meet Victoria.  Victoria is smart.  Very smart.  She has earned numerous awards and accolades in school.  She loves to dance.  And she loves to help care for the children in the orphanage.  The children look up to Victoria, as they would a mother.  They listen to her.  They respect her.  They love her, and she them.  Victoria has a deep love for her orphanage family.  And while that love is strong, she still feels a burning desire to be a part of a proper family. victoria-3

Day in and day out, Victoria puts her all into everything she does – into her studies, into her English learning, into her dancing, and into her nurturing.  She gives and gives and gives of herself.  It is about time she is the one receiving – the one receiving  a mother’s love, a mother’s nurturing, a mother’s praise, and a mother’s encouragement.

Victoria will age out in April 2017, ending her chances of being a daughter forever.

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For more information about Victoria, please visit our website at www.madisonadoption.org, or email Sarah@madisonadoption.org.  The family that commits to adopting Victoria is eligible to receive $2,000 in grants through Madison Adoption Associates.

Goodbye, for now…

The day has come.  The day to say goodbye.  I type this through tears.  Forgive me if these thoughts are not coherent.  Or pretty.  But the weight of today has laid heavily on my shoulders for the past four weeks.  From the moment these five little bodies walked through airport security waving, and with smiles on their faces, I knew….I knew my heart was in for it.  And I was right.  Each one of these children have embedded themselves into my heart, into places I didn’t even know existed.  I thought my heart only had room for my children…but I was wrong….so wrong.  I have fallen madly in love with these five kids, and the host families who have loved them as their own for the past four weeks.  While it provides some comfort in knowing that three of the five will be returning to the US to their forever, it does not take away the angst in my heart for the other two….and it does not make watching all of their tears any easier.

Jasper and Shane.  I could shower you with words about each of them like resilient, kind, happy, amazing.  But I just can’t right now.  The thought of them on the plane.  Going back.  Knocks the wind right out of me and makes me feel like I can’t breathe.  And, as a dear friend recently said to me, that’s ok.  It’s ok for me to feel not ok.  For the sake of them.  I will continue to feel not ok until I know all five will come back.  Until I know that all five will come home for good.  Until then, I will leave you with these images.  These beautiful, heartbreaking, loving, emotional images.  And all I ask is that you dab your tears, and share the stories of these children to all you know, until we find them their forever…..until we know this will be their last goodbye.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

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