Monthly archives for April, 2016

A letter

A letter from a host, now adoptive, father…

To anyone who is considering hosting,

Our family had always had a heart for adoption, as Christians we are not just called but commanded to support the orphan, but we did not feel like we could possibly adopt ourselves.  Hosting seemed like a way to make an impact in a child’s life and support thecrop adoption process at the same time.  We had fears such as what are we going to do with this child the whole time, what if they don’t like our biological children, what if they don’t like us..?  The best part of hosting for us was when we came to the 2nd Saturday picnic and we overheard our host child telling one of his friends from the orphanage that we were his mom and dad (in Chinese of course).  We did not understand the majority of the conversation, but we definitely clued on Baba and Mama when he pointed to us!  The most challenging part was that there were times when he would get upset, he did not understand all that was going on and because of the language barrier we sometimes felt helpless.  The day that we had to take him back to the airport was by far the worst, when it finally dawned on him that he was going on the plane with “them” and not home with “us”.  We all cried and were afraid that he could not possibly understand that we were not giving up on him, that we were coming to get him as soon as we possibly could

In closing I would say to anyone who is thinking about this step, follow your heart, because if it is right and being led by God, it will lead you to do the right thing.  There are absolutely some tough times during that short stay with your family, but the rewarding times so outweigh the hard ones.  The impact that you make on this child will absolutely momaffect the entire course of their future and who knows, quite possibly yours.  And as a Christian, just realize that regardless of what county this child comes from, the time in your home, might just be the one and only opportunity they ever have to hear the name of Christ.  I can confidently say that if you are faithful to follow God’s leading in this endeavor, He will be faithful to bless it in ways that are beyond your comprehension.

Sincerely,

Erech

 


Madison Adoption Associates offers orphan hosting programs in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.  Please contact Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org, or visit our website at www.madisonadoption.org, for more information.

 

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Austin edited 4He turned 5 this past summer.  How did I miss it?  Of course, he was doted on, it was celebrated, there was a party with friends, and gifts, and cake, but yet, I still missed it.  I was there.  I was fully present for my son.  What I am referring to is how I missed the significance of this milestone….of this particular age.  You see, as an adoption social worker, it is well known that children 5 and older are significantly less likely to be adopted than their younger counterparts.  Especially boys.  While I have often internally compared my babies to the babies from China that I work hard to find families for, they were still just that…..babies.  But the fact is, babies find homes.  Babies get families.  Babies are chosen and wanted. 

Kids, not as much. Austin edited 3

So, here I sit, once again, thinking of my Murphy, as if he were one of those waiting in a Chinese orphanage.  I used to picture him in a crib.  But, now that I realize the significance of his age, he would have been better off in a crib.  In a crib, he would have had a better chance of being chosen.  Now, now that he is over 5, with a ‘defective’ heart that may need prolonged medical treatment, he would wait.  Possibly forever.  With no family to step forward for him.

I think of Murphy.  I think of Murphy, and I find solace in knowing that he is not living in those shoes.  But that doesn’t erase the thoughts.  The thoughts of a 5-year-old boy, with a ‘bad’ heart, living in an orphanage, waiting.  Makes me immediately think of Austin.  Austin.  Has a heart condition.  Murphy.  Has a heart condition.  Austin.  Has a ready smile.  Murphy.  Has a ready smile.  Austin.  Extroverted.  Murphy.  Extroverted.  Austin.  Loves cartoons.  Murphy.  Loves cartoons.  2 boys.  2 boys with so many similarities.  2 boys born into completely different circumstances.  But 2 boys nonetheless.

Austin edited 1Austin is my Murphy in another body.  He is not a diagnosis.  He is not an age.  Austin is an amazing, joyful, hyper, sweet, snotty, sassy, shy, loving, naughty, obedient, sometimes disobedient, feisty, sensitive, active, creative, little boy, whose odds of being ‘chosen’ went down immensely when he turned 5 this past February.  Don’t let him be a statistic.  Give him the family he so deserves. 

Austin is eligible for a $5,000 Bright Futures Grant through Madison Adoption Associates.  Please contact Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or visit us on our website at www.madisonadoption.org.

Orphan Hosting – A family perspective

Meet Brian and Marti.  Brian and Marti had talked about adoption on and off for years, but, like many couples, were reluctant to embark on such a monumental journey.  However, that changed the evening they attended an orphan ministry banquet.  It was at this banquet that Brian and Marti were introduced to ‘Orphan Hosting.’  Prior to the banquet, the couple had never heard of such a program.  In talking to families, and researching orphan hosting, the couple quickly realized this was the right decision for their family.

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We had never heard of orphan hosting prior to this event.  The idea of hosting took the fear out of older child adoption for us.  The short term commitment seemed doable…

After much prayer, Brian and Marti decided to apply to be a host family, and they felt particularly drawn to 13-year-old ‘Maria,’ and her 4-year-old brother ‘Joseph’ (names changed for privacy).  Naturally, the couple still had some reservations – for Brian, it was the financial aspect; and for Marti, it was the impact on their children in the home.  Regardless of their worries, Brian and Marti dove in, and were blessed beyond measure when they were able to cover the hosting fees through fundraising.  They talked to their kids, and addressed all of their concerns.  The family worked together to come up with plans for any issues that might arise during the hosting period.  Brian and Marti participated in the hosting training program, talked with families who had hosted, and educated themselves as much as possible.  Ultimately, Brian and Marti felt reassured knowing they were fully supported by Madison Adoption Associates.

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Knowing that if we ended up in a situation we were uncomfortable with, we could call Madison and they would help us work through it.

The family was ready.  With a bit of nervousness, and a lot of excitement, the H family welcomed Maria and Joseph with open arms.  They all immediately fell in love, and their time together passed far too quickly.  God’s redemptive plan was clear – Maria and Joseph were meant to be a part of this family and orphans no longer.  Marti and Brian got through the adoption paperwork as fast as they could, and the next time Maria and Joseph came, it was for good.

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The most challenging thing for us was the day we had to send these kids that we loved so much back…. 

The entire H family felt so blessed by the hosting experience, that they decided to host again.  They welcomed a little girl into their home last summer, and while they knew in their hearts that she was not meant to be their daughter, they felt honored to be her advocate.  Brian and Marti worked with the adoption community, and together, this little girl’s forever family was found.  They were found because Brian and Marti put their own needs aside for four weeks, and brought the mission to their home.

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We were glad we prepared, but found out for us that ours fears were simply that…fears.  None of them came true, and we realized that these children were real, so much fun, and brought so much joy to our family!

What started as reluctance, quickly shifted to love.  Brian and Marti had fears, but they turned to God and took the leap of faith.  They thank God every day for what orphan hosting has done for their family.  When asked what advice they would give to a family considering orphan hosting, Brian and Marti shared, “Do not let fear or money be your reason for a ‘no.’  Learn all you can going into it….  Be flexible, have fun, relax, breathe, and enjoy every minute!”

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We were the ones that were blessed by them way more than we could have ever blessed them.  Hosting changed our family for the better – it grew our faith, taught us to look beyond all of the ‘what ifs,’ and see that God’s plan for our lives is so much more and better than we could ever come up with.

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Madison Adoption Associates offers orphan hosting programs twice a year, in the summer and in the winter, in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois, and Missouri.  The children come from China and the Philippines.  Contact Sarah Hansen at sarah@madisonadoption.org, or visit our website at www.madisonadoption.org, for more information about this amazing opportunity to bring the mission to your family.

Resolve

If you have been there, then you already know that these words are true….

No matter how much you wanted to adopt, how desperately you prayed, or how often you checked your email for news, the days and weeks following your child’s homecoming are a strange mixture of elation and exhaustion.

Regardless of your extensive preparation, the books and articles you poured over, the time spent with a caseworker, the blog reading, and the conversations with experienced families, there are still questions and sudden uncertainty after the homecoming.

Here is the truth.  Adoption will rock the boat. The family that you had is introducing a new member.  For some, perhaps a little tilt of the boat here and there. For others, the boat is darn near tipping.

My job is fantastic because when every other person is told that they need to give the family time to nest and bond, to please come visit in a few weeks when the family is more settled, I get to quietly come in and observe for a few hours in those very early weeks.   In most cases I have worked with the family for many months and sometimes years. I have seen their excitement and heard their promises of dedication and determination. I have been the one that they cleaned the house for and tucked in the kids shirts for and put their best face forward during that home study process.  But, my favorite is the day I get to pop in and all is a mess.

For me, this is the day that matters the most.

Recently, I sat at a dining room table full of play-dough, buttons, broken crayons, and tissues. The little girl had been home for three weeks. Her parents and I have worked together for over three years. Let me tell you something. They wanted her. They fought for her. They sacrificed. They hoped. They didn’t give up when all seemed hopeless. After three years of waiting, financially supporting her and her entire orphanage as best they could, and traveling to her country of origin twice, she came home in a whirlwind of activity and excitement.

Three weeks later I sat and watched her pull so hard at her Momma’s arm she nearly knocked her out of the chair. Three weeks later I watched her lay on the floor and throw fit after fit. Three weeks later I saw her manipulate her parent’s emotions and reject her father’s attention.   The visit, which had begun with “we are so great” turned a corner and finally came the admission of truth.

THE. BOAT. IS. ROCKING. HARD.

Once her mother said the words, hot tears began to flow down her cheeks.  She cried and cried. Her daughter has been home only three weeks and this smart, capable, loving woman sat before me and sobbed.

Do you know what she was most afraid of? What she confessed? What had been burning in her heart and mind all day for the past few weeks?

If she told people the truth of the hardships, would they doubt her love for her little girl?  If you have already adopted then you know this part.  There are times you want to tell someone that you have no idea what is going on. There are moments when you wonder if you were the right person for this. There are times when all is overwhelming and it is hard to see the sun rise coming tomorrow morning.  There are days of hot tears streaming down your cheeks.

No one said that the molding and making of a family into something new was easy, but until you are in the midst of it, it is impossible to know just how it might shake you up and wear you out.

This Momma sat with me and confessed that she felt so alone in her feelings. If she told her extended family or friends that these past three weeks had been so very hard, they might doubt that she loved this little girl. What if someone said, “maybe you shouldn’t have done this”?  She would rather keep the hurt and hardship to herself than let that happen.

Just because a family that has adopted says that it can be downright hard, does not mean that with all of their might they wouldn’t do it again and again. Admitting the hardship is not an admission of regret, it is evidence of the resolve.

This is the most important day for me as I get to witness the fulfilment of the words they promised in the home study. “No matter what, we will do our best, we will give her what she needs to thrive…..”

Once the little girl picked herself up from her third intense fit in just thirty minutes, she looked over at her mother of only three weeks.   I watched as her mother wiped her own tears and put on a sweet smile. As tenderly as possible she opened her arms and welcomed her child onto her lap. She kissed her cheeks and spoke love into her ears.  “Mommy loves you so much. Mommy will not hurt you.  Please do not hit Mommy. Our hands are for love. My hands love you. Please show me love with your hands too.” She whispered it again and again.

The boat has been rocked and it will be teetering for some time. The family will not be the same.  But, they will grow into themselves the way a child grows into pants that were once a little big.  There will be growing pains, stretching and pulling of emotions, time, finances, relationships, expectations, health, sleep, and more.  But eventually, their growth will finally fit.

On my way home a few days later, I called the family to check in. The mother started crying. The fits have continued, although they have shortened.  She is exhausted and her daughter is testing every boundary. But, she laughed hard and joyfully through her tears because as she was on the phone, out her window she watched her precious little girl still so fresh in her own grief and confusion reach out and grab her father’s hand as they walked down the sidewalk.  This had never happened before.

Resolve, dear friends, not regret.  Both may look like hardship, but the difference is that one hopes and cares to the point of grief while the other bothers not with either.

mom and daughter

Visit us at our website at http://www.madisonadoption.org

What would you do for your best friend?

Meet Wayne.  Wayne is 12 years old and is deaf.  He has been living in an orphanage for 10 years.  He has been deaf since birth (at least we think….as he was found deaf at the age of one and a half).  Meet Charlie, Pete, Tom, and David – Wayne’s best friends who have also been in the orphanage for the past 10 years, give or take.  These five are joined at the hip.  They have been through it all together – loss, grief, the unknown, the familiar – you name it, they’ve lived it with each other.

When the boys were old enough to realize that Wayne couldn’t hear, they all desired to be able to communicate with him.  Here is where this story goes from ordinary, to extraordinary and inspiring.  While Wayne was learning sign language, the other four boys took it upon themselves to learn as well, so as to ensure that Wayne never felt left out.  They studied, they watched, and they practiced.  This wasn’t required of them, or asked of them.  They are children.  They are boys.  They are orphans.  But in this situation, they did not, and do not, see themselves as anything other than Wayne’s best friends.  They love Wayne, they noticed what Wayne needed, and they provided.  These boys, who have their own special needs, who have their own desires for a family, who have their own trauma and loss, saw their friend in need, and acted, no questions asked.

Each one of these boys taught themselves sign language for their best friend.  These boys, who have so little, only witnessed their friend, who had even less than them, and they stepped up.  What have you done for your best friend?

All five of these boys are available for adoption though Madison Adoption Associates.  They range in age from 10-13, with varying special needs…all at risk of aging out.  Our Associate Director recently met up with these young men, and could only describe them as amazing, unbelievable, inspiring, soft-spoken, and absolutely perfect.  Let’s show these boys that humanity is as good and pure as they are, and bring them home to the families that they so deserve.  We could all learn a lesson of selflessness from Wayne, Pete, Charlie, Tom, and David. 

Edited - Shanghai boys

Pete, Tom, and Wayne all have a Bright Futures grant of $5,000 towards their adoption.

Due to David and Charlie’s ages, all agency fees are waived for their families.

Please contact Sarah at sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or visit us at our website at http://www.madisonadoption.org