No Personality

No Personality

When the update came in, it was hard to read.  But I powered through.  Until I saw this:

  1. Please describe his/her personalities in detail? No personality

No personality.  No personality.  I kept reading it over and over again.  No personality.  This cannot be so.  Her referral, from two years ago, describes her as “giggles when she is touched; lovely when she smiles; enjoys that someone accompanies and plays with her.”  Now, no personality.

In continuing to read the update, and comparing it to the two year old referral, it is pretty clear that Harlow has been forgotten.  She does not go to school.  She cannot perform any fine motor skills simply because she cannot see.  She cannot perform most gross motor skills simply because she is given no chance to.  She spends her days in her crib.  Alone.

I am fairly certain that it should not read ‘no personality,’ but instead should read ‘no spirit,’ or ‘lost spirit,’ or ‘crushed spirit.’  It is not her personality that is lacking, but her spirit slipping away.  She has been given up on by those around her, and has no other option but to give up on herself.

Harlow lives in dark, quiet solitude.  No place for a child.  She has lost hope.  But we have not.  We still see potential.  We still see hope.  And we will continue to share about Harlow until a family – HER family – sees it too.

The update is concluded with:

  1. Anything else you think the family should know about this child? No

A response laden with hopelessness and doubt.  A response lacking any type of love or compassion for this child.  This soul whose spirit is in there somewhere, but if she stays where she is, will soon be gone forever.

Harlow will be 4 in April, and is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $1,000 grant available for the family who adopts her.  Please email for more information.

The Unseen

The Unseen

You’re used to my posts by now.  I introduce you to kids.  Share their stories.  Share their heartbreak.  Share their pictures.  I do my best to make sure you get to know them as more than words in an outdated file.  I do my best to bring them to life, and to let you get a glimpse of who they are.  Maybe the picture of him laughing with a visitor made you pause.  Maybe the story of her asking, begging, for it to be her turn to be adopted brought you to make that first inquiry.  Whatever it was, advocating for these kids, and sharing them with you, works.  Families are found, matches are made, and children are orphans no more.

But what happens when I can’t show you their picture?  When I can’t share much about their heartbreaking past?  Are they any less deserving?  No.  In fact, they need our help almost more than the others, because they can so easily be forgotten.  If we can’t see them, they aren’t there, right?  But they are there.  In orphanages.  Waiting.  I can’t show you her picture.  I can’t share him with the world in hopes of resonating with one person – that person who might be his family.  While I completely respect the country’s desire to protect the privacy, and the stories, of their children, it makes advocating for them that much more difficult.

So, I ask of you, think of the stories that you have read, and the pictures that you have seen.  Think of the kids who have touched your heart, whether they led you to make that first call or not.  Now, for each one of those who touched you, think of the hidden children that I can’t introduce you to.  Think of the ones who also wait, but who can’t be seen.

We are currently looking for both adoptive families and families interested in hosting this summer for these older children from a small Asian country.  Contact for program information about these oh so deserving, unseen children.

“OH, the places you’ll go”

“OH, the places you’ll go”

“OH, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Pippin has so much potential.  And, OH, the places he WILL go, with the love and support of a forever family.  BE the one to read this to him.  BE the one to believe in him.  BE the one to push him and encourage him to move those mountains!  He deserves to be OUT of the ‘waiting place.’

Pippin currently lives at New Day, and more information can be found on him here.  Pippin is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates, and there is a $3,000 grant ($4,000 in March!) available for the family who steps up to become his forever family, and biggest fan.  Email for more information.

Hands are Overrated

Hands are Overrated

An interview with Diana Bramble, Executive Director of Operations and Mom

What led you to adopt a child with a limb difference?

When my husband and I decided that we were ready to adopt, we were open to many different needs.  We were basically just waiting to find our child, and were willing to explore different special needs.  Though, we had to be realistic about our lifestyle.  I work a lot, and I love my job, so we knew that a child needing many medical appointments, therapies, surgeries, etc. would not be a good fit for our family, or for that child!  We wanted to expand our family, but also wanted to respect our current children and not adopt a medically fragile child who might significantly take away from time with them.  When we saw Chase’s referral, the fact that he was missing his left hand was significant, however, we knew he would not need many surgeries or therapies or follow-ups.  We were pretty certain he was our son.  And then when our oldest saw his picture and said, “That’s my brother.  Go get my brother,” it sealed the deal.

What type of limb difference does your child have?  And what has medical treatment looked like?

Chase is missing his left hand.  I have often put one hand behind my back and tried to function like that, and for me, it is impossible!  But for Chase, since he has only ever had one hand, it is not a handicap for him.  It is not hard at all.  He has always learned to do things with one hand, so he adapts unbelievably.  We did have him fitted with a prosthetic, which had specific attachments that he could use for his various activities.  He used them for a bit, but has since decided it’s much easier for him to function as he always has….with one hand!  If he wants to try again in the future, of course we are open.  But, for now, he really doesn’t need it!  He is actually above average in everything he tries- even with the one hand!  There really is nothing he can’t do!

Describe what it is like to parent a child with limb difference.

Sometimes we forget that Chase is missing a hand.  He carries just as much, if not more, laundry upstairs as the other kids do.  He carries just as many, if not more, grocery bags in as the other kids do.  There is nothing, and I truly mean nothing that this kid cannot do.

Chase plays competitive ice hockey, and although I know I am Mama-biased, he literally is one of the best on the team!  He competes on swim team each summer.  He plays baseball.  He rock climbs.  He dresses himself – buttons, snaps, zippers and all!  He builds Legos.  He climbs on the monkey bars.  While he hasn’t made it all the way across just yet, mark my words he will this summer!  Plus, the one by us is really long.  Chase was the first kid in his kindergarten class to tie his shoes.  There is literally nothing that I can think of that his two-handed siblings can do and he cannot.  When you tell a child he can do anything, and you instill that idea in him day after day, he will figure out how to do it!

When we were preparing to bring Chase home, my biggest fears had to do with the stigma of being a person with a missing limb.  I was not worried what others would think, but I worried how those thoughts, comments, reactions would affect Chase.  While most people don’t even notice Chase’s missing hand, some do, and they are usually little kids.  Sometimes there are stares and pointing, and when this happens, we usually just smile, and they catch our eyes and then smile back.  If appropriate, we use the opportunity to educate kids (and sometimes adults) about limb difference.  Usually, once they get a good look at how amazing and ‘normal’ Chase is, they just say ‘Cool!’ and go about their business.  Chase is almost seven years old.  There was a period earlier this year when he was self-conscious about his arm.  Not wanting to embarrass him or answer for him, my husband and I made sure to reassure him that he is perfect just the way he is.  We also taught him that it is his story, and his hand, and to share as he sees fit.  We explained to Chase that it was his choice to either educate the person, or explain to them that it was a “shark attack,” or “dinosaur battle,” or, “oops, I didn’t notice.  The alligator must have bitten it off when I was feeding him at MomMom’s in Florida.”  Of course he tells the truth later, but what good is a missing hand if you cannot have a little fun with it?!

If anything, I think Chase inspires people when they see all that he can do.  He is amazing!  There was one kid on the bus this year who told him his hand looked weird.  I am pretty sure that kid got an earful from Chase’s fan club that day!  We know that he will face adversity when it comes to his missing hand.  And all we can do as parents is equip him with the tools necessary to confront adversity, and continue to make sure he knows how awesome he is just the way he is.  We always do our best to focus on his positives, and not worry about the negatives.  Every child is different and our differences make us special.  We tell Chase all the time, “How boring would the world be if everyone was the exact same?”

What activities does your child enjoy participating in?

You name it, he does it.  The list is endless.  Rock climbing, baseball, ice hockey, swimming, running, basketball, monkey bars, carrying laundry, sassing his Mom, wrestling with his siblings.  If a ‘normal’ seven year old boy can do it, Chase is doing it, often better.

What would you like to share with parents considering adopting a child with limb difference?

I have been working with adoptive families and children for years, and I can truly say that in my humble opinion, this is possibly the easiest need out there.  As a parent, watching Chase learn and do things we wondered if he’d be able to do, I just burst with pride!  It is almost even more gratifying seeing Chase accomplish certain things than our other kids, knowing he has to work so much harder, think differently, and adapt in order to do so.

My greatest hope for Chase is for him to know how truly incredibly awesome he is.  I thank his birth parents daily for making such a remarkable boy, and I really hope they somehow know deep down how amazing he is.  I am blessed beyond measure to be able to call him son.  Even though I often forget that he is missing a hand in everyday life (because he truly does everything any other six-year-old boy does!), I will never forget that he is perfectly, incredibly made, and I am in awe of him daily.


Meet Cyrus.  Cyrus is 10 years old and doesn’t have a few fingers.  But much like Chase, he does not let that hold him back!  He is a fun, active, healthy boy, desperately wanted a family.  There is a $3,000 grant available, plus an additional $1,000 for the month of March for the family who adopts Cyrus. 


Meet Wallace.  Wallace is a three-year-old barrel of fun.  He has adapted to his limb difference, and figures out a way to do whatever his peers are doing!  He is helpful and kind.  There is a $2,000 grant available, plus an additional $1,000 for the month of March for the family who adopts Wallace.  

Visit Madison Adoption Associates for more information, or email 





Why? I’ll tell you why…

Why?  I’ll tell you why…

When he saw the big group of Americans, he wasn’t too sure.  He shed a few tears, and he clung to his nanny’s hand.  He was relieved to hear that she was going with us, so he mustered up his courage and came along.  After a half an hour on the bus with us, he soon realized we were harmless.  And he began to let his guard down, just a bit.  Little by little, he let more down, and showed us the incredibly sweet, charming boy that he is over the course of the next few days.  It wasn’t our intention to cause him stress, but we knew that we may be his only chance of having a voice.  We may be his only chance for the world to know how truly incredible he is.

Some of the orphanage workers call him ‘alien.’  They say he looks ‘so weird.’  There are snickers and sneers to his face and behind his back day in and day out.  When we finally got his file, some people asked if we would return it because of the life expectancy of people with his disorder.  Why would we even try to place him?  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Because he is a beautiful, sweet, kind, deserving boy, filled with more life than many ‘healthy’ people I know.  His smile will warm your heart, and his love of art is endearing.  Benjamin is just like any other boy, but because he looks different, he is not usually treated as such.  Benjamin deserves a chance.  He deserves a life.  He deserves to be loved and not laughed at.  He deserves to live each day to the fullest, despite his prognosis.  He deserves a family who will surround him with love, joy, and laughter WITH him, not laughter at him.

Benjamin is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is seven-years-old and recently participated in an Ambassadors of Hope program.  Benjamin’s file states he is diagnosed with Rickets and hernia, though, it is suspected that Benjamin also has Progeria.  There is a $5,000 Bright Futures grant available for the family who adopts Benjamin.

He Sleeps

He Sleeps

He’s ‘on’ all day long.  He is a seven-year-old boy after all.  He runs around, chats with friends, goofs off, and brings smiles to the faces of those around him.  But at the end of the day, he sleeps.  He crashes hard.  When I first got the video of him sleeping at 10pm from his nanny, I thought, well that looks a bit weird to watch him sleep.  And I focused on the negatives.  He’s seven, and he’s still in a crib.  And he doesn’t have jammies on – he’s still wearing his shirt.  But then it hit me.

Here is his nanny, this working woman, pausing in the night to watch this sweet boy sleep.  I do it all the time.  I sneak into my boy’s rooms as soon as I hear the silence hit.  And I stare at them.  I watch their little chests rise up and down.  I smile when my oldest smacks his lips together and grunts, and I laugh to see my youngest plastered into the crack between his bed and the wall (where he insists on sleeping every night).

Those thoughts are what pulled me away from the negatives of this video, and lead me to the positives.  Bless this woman for filling in the gap for Wayland.  For being a giver of love for him while he is stuck in limbo between his first Mom and his forever Mom.  While the simple act of watching him sleep speaks volumes, and while she is doing such an amazing service to this sweet soul by standing in the role of nurturer, it is still only temporary.  Though her job is so very important, she is not his forever, and never will be.  Wayland still waits for his forever.  He waits for a Mama to sneak into his room and do just what many of us Mom’s do – watch his sweet soul sleep away the day with a smile on her face.  And to his nanny, thank you.  Thank you for pouring into this boy’s heart, knowing it is only temporary.

Wayland is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is seven years old and is diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease.  There is a $2,000 grant available to the family who adopts him.  Email for more information.

BE the reason Caleb is smiling

BE the reason Caleb is smiling

Stop the presses!!!  Caleb’s smile will melt you.  Absolutely melt you!  I can just envision how much bigger it gets with a good tickle-fest by a Daddy.  Or with blowing belly raspberries by a Mommy.  He truly defines ‘smiling with your whole body.’  And he’s not just cheesing for the camera.  His nannies share that he always walks into the playroom with a huge smile on his face.  And when they hand him his favorite ball, he claps his hands like mad and says ‘thank you,’ while running around the room.

Caleb’s smile is phenomenal, and it will truly bless the family lucky enough to call him son.  Though, more important than having a family to make him smile and giggle, is having a safe place to be sad.  Because he will be sad.  Adoption is sad.  And it may take a while for his family to see this smile.  It may take a while for him to grieve his losses, and learn to accept his new reality.  But oh boy, once his family gets through the trenches of trauma and grief, and once they are the reason that heart-stopping smile spreads across his face, it’ll be that much more beautiful.

Be the reason that Caleb is smiling.

Caleb is available through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is two and a half and diagnosed with post-operative anal atresia.  His family is eligible for a $2,000 grant.  Email for more information.

Those kissable pinch-able cheeks!

Those kissable pinch-able cheeks!

It was impossible not to notice those cheeks and lips as they came towards me.  Enter Yani.  Chubby cheeks, pouty lips, and a whole lot of (appropriate) skepticism as to what this room full of strangers wanted.  I could see Yani taking it all in, one person at a time.  She never strayed far from her nanny, with the exception of snagging a lollipop from the candy bag.

Though quietly, Yani actively participated in our evaluation.  She followed directions with ease, and even let a few smiles sneak out.  Even though her shy sweetness was more than apparent, her nanny wanted to be sure that we knew Yani always helps in class, and is a kind, calm girl.

Yani is three and a half, and is diagnosed with cerebral hemorrhage and sequelae of cerebral obstruction.  While her diagnosis may sound intimidating, Yani surely is not!  This genuine soul would so benefit from the love and support of a forever family!

Yani is 3 years old.  She is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  Please visit our website or email for more information. 



Sledding or Snowball Fights

Sledding or Snowball Fights

I woke up to the falling snow, school cancelled, and two boys begging me to go out and play in the winter wonderland with them.  I was able to put them off for a couple of hours while the gusts died down, but I knew it was inevitable.  So then there I was, spending the half an hour suiting them up with four layers each, and giving myself a pep talk to put my own snow boots on, and my smile, to allow them this rite of passage.  I don’t like the snow.  I don’t like being cold.  And I don’t like when the wind slaps you across the face.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  But it’s amazing how those feelings (mostly) dissipate as I see the utter joy in my children’s faces.

We built the wonkiest snowman ever.  Then we played ‘bury and find his nose’ (the carrot) for a good hour.  And of course, the snowball throwing was in full force.  There were laughs.  There were tears (the four year old took one right in the face… happens).  And there was innocent fun.

Back inside we go, and they are now thawing out with hot cocoa in front of the fire, as I sit to write a post about Bentley.  I pulled up his file and pictures to help me think about what I wanted to share with you about him.  I noticed he is from northern China.  And once again, my mind goes where it often does.  Comparing the children I fight hard for, like Bentley, with my own.  I wondered if Bentley likes the snow.  I wondered if he has ever really been taught how to play in it.  I wondered if he would prefer sledding or snowball fights.  He loves sports, so I’m guessing he’d enjoy both!  I wondered if he would like hot cocoa when he came inside.  And if he would like it with the colorful marshmallows or the white ones.  And if he’s a cookie dunker or not.  I continued to wonder about Bentley as I heard the final slurps of my boys finishing their cocoa, and starting to beg to bake the cookies I promised them we would.

Bentley, just like all children, so deserve to experience childhood joy and wonder like a no-school snow day.  He deserves a Mom who doesn’t like the snow, but goes out anyway for her kids.  He deserves siblings to throw snowballs at.  He deserves to bake cookies and fight over licking the spoon.  He deserves a childhood.

Bentley is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He just turned 10 and is diagnosed with post-operative Spina Bifida.  There is a $3,000 grant available to the family who steps forward to adopt Bentley.  Email for more information.

187 Days

187 Days

187 days.  187 days until his birthday.  Kids should be excited about a birthday countdown!  And maybe Joe is.  But I’m not.  And all those who love him are not.  Because in 187 days he will no longer be eligible for adoption.  He will ‘age out.’  Perhaps he will be able to stay at the orphanage and work.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps he will get vocational education.  Perhaps not.  The future for children who age out in China is filled with uncertainty and often instability.  We cannot let that happen to this sweet boy.

Joe is warm.  He is always eager to help.  And is so often seen as happy and with a smile on his face.  Joe knows he has limitations due to his low vision, and he is honest to himself and others about his abilities.  But he still does all things with vigor, and is usually willing to try new things!

Joe will bless his family.  He seeks connection from others, and is loved by those who know him.  Though they will miss him fiercely, it is the hope of everyone at his orphanage that he is chosen as a son.

Joe is eligible for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is diagnosed with septo-optic dysplasia, but does have some vision.  There is a $5,000 Bright Futures grant available to the family who adopts Joe.  Email for more information.