Goodbye, for now…

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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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The Unexpected Teacher

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I wasn’t sure how it would work.  We arranged for evaluations of the host kids this past Saturday.  All the details were prefect.  We had OTs, we had eager students, we had both bilingual Cantonese/English and Mandarin/English speakers to help translate.  We had host kids eager to show off!  But, we didn’t have anyone who knew CSL (Chinese Sign Language).  And, that’s how Jennifer communicates.  We decided to have one of the translators write the directives in Chinese for her, and have her read.  It had to work.

We quickly learned that while Jennifer could read simple Chinese characters, she was having a hard time with more difficult characters and concepts.  She was trying so hard, but wasn’t grasping what we were asking of her.  Oh well, we will continue to try, and do our best, though we could see Jennifer’s frustration, most likely because she could sense she wasn’t getting what we were asking, and she so wanted to please us.20160709_124805

In struts Shane, with a loud ‘HELLO’ and a smile from ear to ear.  My first reaction was to motion for him to ‘be quiet…we are busy.’  He looked at me, then looked at Jennifer.  And then he signed to her.  She smiled.  And did exactly what we had been trying to ask her to do for the past 10 minutes.  Eureka.  He can hear.  He can sign.  We continued the evaluation by having the translator tell Shane what we were asking of Jennifer, and Shane signing to Jennifer our requests.  Jennifer would respond to Shane in sign, and Shane would let us know her thoughts.  This boy.  This orphan.  Had rocked his own evaluation, and was now free to play in the monstrous indoor playground.  But instead he saw his friend needing help.  And he helped.20160709_124432

Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe this kid.  Shane has been a helper from day one.  From insisting he bring the groceries in (and insisting his host brother help, instead of host Mom), to insisting on making sure host Grandpa was comfortable, to this last week, and insisting on helping his friend Jennifer communicate.  Shane has a heart of gold, and we are still searching high and low for a family to see his heart, to see him, and to say YES. 


Shane leaves Thursday, after a month in the USA teaching so many about bravery, selflessness, and love.  We are still searching for Shane’s forever family.  Please email sarah@madisonadoption.org if you would like to learn more about this inspiring young man.  Or visit us at www.madisonadoption.org

A Bracelet

A Bracelet

She had been with her host family for one week when I visited her.  Now, she has one week left before she leaves.  When I arrive, she comes running out of the front door with that captivating smile on her face.  Jennifer 2016.07.05 2She was so happy to see me!  She welcomes me in, shows me where to place my shoes, and leads me to the couch to sit down.  While I chat with her host Mom, and laugh at her 3-year-old and 1-year-old host brothers’ antics, she keeps coming over to me to measure my wrist.  She quietly sits on the couch, intently working on something you can tell is very special to her, while her host Mom fills me in on what an incredible girl she is.  “Kind, helpful, patient, caring, sweet, determined, smart, funny.”  All words uttered as her host Mom went on and on about Jennifer. 

While our conversation came to a close, Jennifer came over to check my wrist one last time.  Perfection.  It fit.  Her smile made my heart stop as she secured the bracelet around my arm, that she had made, just for me.  braceletWe both smiled at each other.  No words were necessary.  Her eyes said, “Please, I made this for you, and I am excited for you to have it.”  And my eyes said, “Thank you.  Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.  I will treasure it always.”  And that I will.

Jennifer leaves on Thursday.  Back to China.  Back to the orphanage.  She has touched so many lives while here, mine included.  Though, we still search for her forever family.  I am so grateful to have met Jennifer.  I am so grateful to be a small part of her story.  And my vow to her is that I will wear her bracelet every day.  Every day until her forever family is found.


Jennifer will be in Maryland for one more week through Madison Adoption Associates hosting program.  Even though she will return to China, we will not stop advocating for her until we find her forever family.  Please email Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org to learn more about this captivating young lady.

The Incredible Shu Shu

Jasper and Shu Shu1

by Beth Curry, host Mom to Jasper

During the first week that he was here, Jasper did not leave my side…he was the essence of the phrase, “he follows me more closely than my own shadow”. He was interested in everything I did, from making spaghetti sauce, to loading the dishwasher, to straightening my hair! Where I was, so was Jasper. Then, I went to my first day back to work since he had arrived, and Christian was on full time daddy duty…for our “four” kids. So, in typical Christian form, he wanted to be productive with the day and he enlisted the kids to help! Jasper and Shu Shu1He rolled out the shop vac to clean our “new to us” car. When Jasper saw this contraption, he was sold! He jumped off the bike he was riding and threw his little body into the back of the Jeep, like it was a pit of free candy! He started vacuuming, and did not want Christian or anyone else to do it. He was in pure heaven and was detailing the upholstery like it was gold. He had a constant smile on his face the whole time and Christian was cleaning the interior right along side of him. If that experience hadn’t won Jasper’s heart enough, Christian broke out his beloved scooter to give the weekly neighborhood scooter rides to the kids. Again, Jasper jumped on the scooter, looked at Christian, and grinned with a smile to rival any other happy, healthy child. Jasper and shu shu3He was hooked on Shu shu (what he calls Christian) and has not looked back. He asks about Shu shu when he is in the shower, he looks for Shu shu when he is taking out the trash, he mimics Shu shu when he is picking up lawn debris, he smiles and cackles at Shu shu when he sings a silly song in the kitchen. He literally jumps at the opportunity to help Shu shu. To “work” with Shu shu. To be with Shu shu. While he is still very much my shadow, he adores his Shu shu.

This sweet boy needs a dad. He craves a father figure who will teach him, pray with him, play with him, and show him how to grow into a man of integrity, devotion, and love. I so hope that he won’t have to call the man who cares for him Shu shu for his life, but that someday he can vacuum  and wash a car, ride a scooter, throw a ball, dance in the kitchen, jump into a pool, put training wheels on a bike, and a host of other things with a man he can call, Dad.


Jasper is currently being hosted in Pennsylvania through Madison Adoption Associates.  He will be here for one more week, while we all continue to work together to find his forever family.  Please email Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information on this sweet boy!  Significant adoption grants available.

Shane

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I had the honor of spending the day with Shane this week.  His host Mom dropped him off with me, and he was happy to dive into my toy room with my two boys.  The language of ‘child,’ specifically ‘boy,’ is universal.  From Legos, to dinosaurs, to robots, to swords, these three boys had no problems communicating!  But we had to pause the playtime for a bit so that I could take Shane to the Audiologist.

One of Shane’s special needs is atresia of the left ear.  A wonderfully sweet Audiologist donated his time and services to help us learn more about this need, and how it affects Shane.  Shane willingly waltzed into the Doctor’s office, and charmed everyone he saw.  Upon entering the testing room, Shane looked a little reluctant when we motioned that he should go in the little room.  Shane went in anyway, and with a little coaxing, and me holding his hand, he relaxed.  I did my best to translate through an app, “raise your hand when you hear beeps.”  No one was sure if the translation went through.  But we thought, well, we’ll find out!  The Doctor began the testing, and almost immediately Shane’s hand shoots up into the air while he mimics (rather, screams along with) the beeps.  That answers that question….he knows what he needs to do! 

The Doctor was blown away with Shane’s cooperation.  We won’t tell his other patients, but he may or may not have said Shane was his easiest that day!  The Doctor did a slew of hearing tests on both sides.  He was able to determine that Shane’s right ear hears perfectly!  And, he was able to confirm that Shane does in fact have some inner ear hearing in his left side, and might be a good candidate for a bone conduction hearing aid!  This was all wonderful news.

After our appointment, Shane joined me for lunch.  He was a perfect date.  While he munched on his hamburger (of course he got a hamburger….he LOVES hamburgers, and can say it quite clearly in English), he was enthralled with the touch screen game system on the table.  He picked up on how to play the games immediately, and we both giggled while he played.

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Boys will be boys….Shane loved digging for worms!

Shane jumping

Having a blast jumping in the moon bounce!

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Enjoying a cold popsicle on a hot summer day

Then it was back to my house to play with my boys for the afternoon.  Shane got right back into the toys, and was overjoyed to pet the dog.  After a while, we headed into the yard to burn off some steam.  Shane immediately went for the baseball and bat, and connected on pitch #1!  We had the moon bounce set up, and he wasn’t too sure about it.  Though, the instant he saw my boys jumping with glee, he dove in! Pure joy! The smile on this boy’s face was contagious.  His innocent joy…palpable.  He spun and jumped and tumbled until he was dripping with sweat.  A quick popsicle cool down, then it was time to go.

From spending the day with Shane, I was struck by his pleasant and polite nature, and his insistence on always helping me.  I wasn’t to open or close a single door….he was in charge of that.  I was also struck by his easy-going attitude.  I must admit, I was a bit intimidated at the thought of having to manage an 8-year-old boy, who doesn’t speak English, for the day.  Would he run?  Would be listen to me?  Would he understand anything that I was wanting him to do?  Well, those fears were beyond unnecessary, as Shane made it so easy!  He was a joy to be with, and will be such a blessing to the family that adopts him.

 


Shane is currently being hosted in Pennsylvania through Madison Adoption Associates for four weeks this summer, enjoying himself while we try our hardest to find his forever family.  Please email sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information on this spectacular boy! 

Jennifer

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It is safe to say I have met the sweetest girl I have ever met in my life.  This 11-year-old girl left the only place she ever knew, got in a van, got on two planes, flew for over 18 hours, and arrived at a strange place at 2 in the morning.  As we all anxiously awaited our group to come out of those ‘do not enter’ doors in the airport, standing on our tip-toes to catch the first glimpse of them, I spotted her.  She spotted us.  She read our sign that said ‘Welcome’ in Chinese.  She immediately put her arm around her younger travel companion, pointed to us, and in her own way, indicated, ‘that’s them.’Jennifer 2016.06.26 1

I met up with Jennifer and her host family one week later.  Jennifer’s host Mom gushed as to the sweetness of this girl!  Jennifer interacts beautifully with her 3-year-old and 1-year-old host brothers.  She is kind and gentle with them, and patiently ‘puts up’ with their constant activity and antics.  As her host Mom states, “Jennifer has a smile that will light up a room.”  And, that smile is constantly on her face.  Jennifer finds great joy in helping her host Mom cook, and helping out with other everyday chores.  Jennifer’s host Mom asked her to put a new spice away in the spice cabinet, and next thing you know, Jennifer organized the entire cabinet based on size and color of the spice jars!! 

I got to hang out with Jennifer again at our agency picnic.  Once again, I was struck by this girl.  She knows what she wants, and she has mastered the art of conveying her message, and her IMG_8692wants, so politely and courteously.  She knew she wanted to try some Fritos, so she taps me, points to them, and looks at me waiting for approval.  I help her with her snack, and while she’s enjoying it, she looks at my toenails, then looks at hers, points to them both, and giggles.  I smile back, and nod, “Yes!  We both have pink toenails!”  And there was that smile again. 

Resilience and courage don’t even begin to describe this girl.  Found at six months old on a lone chair in a hospital, to now being across the world and handling herself with such poise, kindness, and grace.  She has taught her host family so much about bravery and love.  To those of us who have met her, we are moved by her charisma, charm, and that light in her eye.  This is a very special girl who has so much to offer a family, and our world.    IMG_4049


Jennifer is currently being hosted in Maryland through Madison Adoption Associates hosting program.  Jennifer is 11-years-old, and hard of hearing.  She is available for adoption, and her host Mom is eager to share about her with any interested family!  Be sure to follow along Jennifer’s hosting journey here!  And please email sarah@madisonadoption.org with any questions about this unbelievable young lady!

One Week In

One Week In

They have been here one week.  And I am not sure which is greater…what we have learned about the kids, or what we have learned from the kids.  I myself, even on the outskirts, have learned about grace, about strength (both of the children and the host families), about resilience, and about pure love.  To think what these kids have gone through in their lifetime, and over the past week, I am awestruck.  I am humbled.  Their courage and bravery is incomprehensible.  While we will all continue to learn many things from these inspiring kids, let me pause the lesson for a moment to introduce you to them!

Jennifer

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From the moment she stepped off the plane, you could see the sweetness and intelligence in this girl.  She saw our group, saw the Welcome sign, read it, and her face lit up with a smile that filled the terminal.  But instead of running towards us, she took that moment to share with one of the other children what the sign read.  She pointed to us, and signed to him “There they are!” to make sure he understood.  Despite it being 4am, and having traveled for 24 hours, Jennifer fought sleep on the ride so she could catch her first glimpses of America.  She would stay with me that first night, due to the late hour.  She cautiously entered my home, and looked around in wonderment.  Jennifer’s face lit up once again when she spotted the dog.  Exhausted and excited, Jennifer followed me upstairs to where she would sleep.  She gladly put on her pajamas, crawled into bed, and slept for the next nine hours.  The next day, she was excited to dive into the toys, especially the Legos and puzzles, with her five-year-old temporary host brother.  A simple tap on the shoulder, and showing her things, was all it took to engage Jennifer.  She knows what she wants, and will politely decline what she does not care for.  Stay tuned to continue to get to know this precious girl, and to hear how wonderfully she is doing in her host home.  Jennifer is 11 ½ years old.  To follow along Jennifer’s hosting journey, be sure to ‘like’ her Facebook page!

Jasper

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Energetic, full-of-life, goofball, brave – all words that his host family uses to describe Jasper.  This boy is the epitome of living life to its fullest!  Jasper is a no-holds-barred barrel of fun.  From day one, his spunk was evident – he strutted off the plane with a smirk on his face and a glimmer in his eye.  This first week, Jasper has embraced his host family, and is eager to participate in new experiences.  He has loved his first donut, his first time running through a sprinkler, and his first swim, though a bit hesitant at first.  Jasper will no doubt light up his forever family with an energy and buzz that only he can provide.  Jasper is 8 years old.

Brett

Brett 2016.06.21 1Oh what a sensitive soul Brett is.  We have learned that he is smart, reserved, shy, and a bit slow to warm up.  But, once he does, and once you see that dimpled smile, it’s all over J.  The charisma this boy exudes is palpable.  He has won over his host family, and fits right in with his host siblings ages 7, 10, 12, and 14.  For the kids, the moment Brett peeked over to his host sister’s Uno hand, and suggested her next move, that was it…he was cool in their book.  Brett is 8 years old.  To follow along Brett’s hosting journey, be sure to check in on his host Mom’s blog! http://www.myoverthinking.com/blog/

Shane

Shane 2016.06.19 1Gentleman.  There is no better word to describe Shane.  He is a true gentleman.  Day 1 – went shopping with his host Mom and host brother.  When they returned home, Shane insisted on carrying ALL of the groceries into the house.  Day 3 – visiting his host Grandfather.  Shane notices he needs to sit down due to leg pain.  With no prompting, Shane runs to get him a pillow, a glass of water, and the book Shane noticed him reading earlier that day.  This was not an act.  This is Shane.  Pure goodness, with a little bit of spunk of course…he is an 8-year-old boy after all.  To follow along Shane’s hosting journey, be sure to ‘like’ his Facebook page!

 

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Our host children will be in the Philadelphia region until mid-July.  Their host families are eager to share about them!  There are grants available for the families who adopt these children.  If you are interested in learning more about any of our host kids, or about our hosting program in general, please email Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org.

And they’re off!

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Dear Host Kids,

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Five of our 17 host kids on the van headed to the airport!

You have started quite possibly the longest journey of your lives.  You are excited, and scared, and happy, and anxious.  How will it feel to fly?  What will America look like?  What will my host family be like?  Will there be lots of kids there?  Will they have any pets?  Will I like any of the food?

While your heads are spinning with questions, so are ours!  Will he feel comfortable in our home?  Will we be able to communicate with him?  Will she like the Chinese recipes that I have been practicing?  Will she be OK in a bedroom alone, or would she rather share with her host sister?  Will we be able to find his forever family?

This is just a quick note to let you know that even though there are so many unanswered questions between us, we are ready for you!  We are excited for you!  You are so very much wanted, and so many people have been working together for months to make sure that you have an amazing trip!  We have been praying for you, dreaming of you, envisioning you, and preparing both physically and emotionally for you.  And the time to meet you is finally {almost} here!

It will take some time to get used to things here, but know that we will be with you to show you everything you need to know.  We will be with you through the scary, and the sad, and the confusing, and the fun!  And all we ask in return is that you not only have fun, but that you learn from us.  Learn from your host siblings….learn how to play….learn how to be a part of a family….start to learn how to let your guard down, even if only a little bit.  And while you are busy learning and having fun, we know that it will be us who will learn the biggest lessons from you.  Lessons in courage, lessons in humility, lessons in love.

So safe travels sweet ones, and rest up, knowing that there are so many of us ready to welcome you with open arms. 

Love,

Your friends, and family, at Madison

A Playroom

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She walked into the orphanage.  Her senses were immediately in shock.  First, her hearing.  She heard nothing.  This was a baby room.  And she heard.  Nothing.  Next, her vision.  More cribs than her mind could comprehend.  These weren’t cribs that you and I would envision.  They weren’t espresso brown cribs from Pottery Barn, with the cute matching sheet, crib skirt, and quilt set.  No.  These cribs had metal bars for walls and wooden boards as ‘mattresses.’  Lastly, the smell.  It didn’t smell like that sweet, one-of-a-kind baby scent – it smelled stagnant, sour, and old.  And the stifling, oppressive heat in the room did not help.

She stepped back.  She took it all in.  And after registering what her senses were picking up, she was able to see past it all, and see the nannies.  She was able to see them doing their best with what they had.  She started talking with the nannies.  They shared their dreams for ‘their’ babies.  They dreamed their babies could have toys to play with, and a safe place to explore…a safe place to BE babies.  There was no such place in the orphanage.  The babies were physically safest in their cribs.  All. Day. Long.

It was at that moment that she was overcome.  Overcome with sadness at how these babies had to live.  But also overcome with gratitude that she worked with an organization that could help.  “Madison will help you,” she told the nannies.  And that they did.

Madison Adoption Associates went on to partner with this orphanage (name withheld for the privacy of the children there, and out of respect for the nannies who are doing their best).  We were able to fund and build a play area for the babies.  gaozhou new playroom gaozhou new playroom3

 

We were able to provide mattresses with sheets.  gaozhou6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we were able to provide a bit of relief by securing new air conditioning units for them.gaozhou1 gaozhou4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just one orphanage partnership that Madison Adoption Associates maintains.  We are dedicated to working closely with each of our 17 partner orphanages to determine their specific needs, and meet those needs accordingly. 


To learn more about our one-to-one partnerships, and our humanitarian aid, please visit our website at www.madisonadoption.org.

MAA Family in the News: Angels in Adoption Award Nominees

Anderson DRC

The Anderson family of Decatur, Illinois has worked with Madison Adoption Associates for the past four years. They contacted MAA to do a homestudy for their family as they pursued an adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The family has recently brought home four year old Phoebe and they are doing fantastic together! After a three year wait and two trips to the DRC, the Andersons are thrilled to have their daughter under their roof and in their arms. They have been nominated by Congressman Davis for the Angels in Adoption award for their determination.

Full news article with video!

They stated, “We are so grateful for a homestudy agency that encouraged us along the way while awaiting our daughter from the DRC to arrive home after 4 long years. Madison Adoption Associates was there at the very beginning of our adoption process until the end. The staff at MAA was available for guidance and encouragement if ever needed. Our case worker always went above and beyond to make sure all of our questions were answered throughout the entire process. She fought on our behalf at the state level while assuring us that everything will fall into place. Even though MAA was not our placement agency, they did not forget about us and often asked how we were doing during the turmoil of the 4 year wait!  We are thankful that they stood by us! Thank you MAA!”


If you would like to learn more about Madison Adoption Associates, and the adoption services that we offer, please visit our website at www.madisonadoption.org.