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Hearing Smiles

Hearing Smiles

Do you know what it sounds like to ‘hear’ someone smile?  You know…when you can’t see their face, but you can feel the pause that happens as the corners of their mouth turn up?  And you can somehow ‘hear’ the smile before they even speak?  Every person I have asked about Stellan, I have heard their smile before they responded.  ‘So, tell me about Stellan.’ Insert smile induced pause here. They respond something to the effect of, ‘Oh yes, Stellan.’  And often, there is another insert smile induced pause here, as they reflect on their time spent with him.

You see, Stellan is one of those boys you just know is special.  From the moment you lock eyes with him, you know this boy has a sweet, old soul.  What appears as shyness at first, is really just Stellan ‘taking it all in,’ reflecting, and deciding what he makes of the situation before engaging.  But when he does engage with you?  He’ll shine a light into you like no other.

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  And this couldn’t be truer of Stellan.  From agency staff, to advocates, to adoptive families, many have crossed paths with Stellan, and all walk away with the same feeling – one of absolute awe and a warmth that reaches their bones.  And if Stellan leaves this mark on those who meet him for just a brief time?  Imagine the imprint he would make on his family, day in and day out.

Stellan is running out of time.  He will turn 14 in April 2019, so must be adopted before then, or he will no longer be eligible for adoption.  There is a $5,000 grant through Madison Adoption Associates, as well as an additional $5,000 through the LPA Adoption Committee available to the family who steps forward and says Yes to this boy.  To learn more about Stellan, please visit our Waiting Child page, or email 

Nurture Groups – What are they? And why go?

Nurture Groups – What are they?  And why go?

We caught up with Laura Taylor, Clinical Supervisor at MAA and TBRI Certified Practitioner, to chat with her about Nurture Groups…specifically the Nurture Group that MAA is starting on September 20!

  • What is a Nurture Group? A Nurture Group is more about experience than education. That isn’t to say you will not learn…of course you will learn!  But, a Nurture Group is designed to teach with experience, rather than instruction or lecture.  You will be given a variety of exercises that will help you and your child connect, and nurture your relationship.  As part of the group, we will do these exercises together, so that you can leave with a thorough understanding of how to implement the exercises at home.
  • What can I expect to learn at MAA’s Nurture Group? You can expect to participate in activities that promote attachment and bonding, and will therefore learn how to implement those exercises at home.  Each week, you will be introduced to new activities that encourage connection.  At the group, you will practice these exercises one-on-one with your child, so that you both are comfortable with them before the group session is over.  You will learn some TBRI connecting strategies, as well as TBRI catch phrases that will serve as reminders to your child.  You and your child will also work on self-regulating behaviors.
  • What is the appropriate age of child participants? Why?  In order to fully participate in the Nurture Group, the appropriate age would be 4-years-old and older.  Participants must be able to follow 3-step directions.  Parents can assist their children with understanding the directions if necessary, but ultimately the child should be able to be easily guided in the activities.  Children must also be capable of taking turns.
  • Why can I only bring one child? The sole purpose of the Nurture Group is to promote connection with your child. The best way to do that is by utilizing one-on-one interactions.  Therefore, the group is designed for pairs, so parent and child can be 100% focused on each other during the session.  By working one-on-one with your child, you both will become more attuned and responsive to each other, and you will strengthen your attachment.
  • Will all Nurture Group sessions present the same material? All sessions will promote the same goal – to promote and enhance attachment.  The exercises shared at each session will vary.  Each session will present the opportunity for playful connection, which is the foundation of attachment.  Children from hard places can develop secure attachments, but often only once they feel safe.  Play disarms fear, and it is in this playful environment that your child can learn, develop, and connect.
  • What are the benefits of regularly attending a Nurture Group? Each session you attend, you are taking one hour out of your busy day to solely, 100% connect with your child.  This is a gift!  The more you attend the group, the more insight you will gain into ‘connecting principles.’  You will also begin to see that as your connection with your child grows, many troublesome behaviors may begin to decrease in frequency and intensity.  By attending several sessions, you will not only become equipped with activities to strengthen your bond with your child, but also with hands-on strategies to help your child self-regulate their emotions.


We invite you to join us at our Nurture Group to learn TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) based techniques that will nourish your bond with your child, and hers with you.  Laura Taylor, our Clinical Supervisor and TBRI Certified Practitioner, will lead the group and teach you different techniques that you can utilize to strengthen your connection with your child.

Open to:  Parents (adoptive, biological, foster, step, waiting) and their children 4-years-old and older (adoptive, biological, foster, step).  **Due to the one-on-one, instructional nature of this group, only bring one child per parent please**         

When:   Thursday, September 20; Thursday, October 18; & Thursday, November 15

6:30pm – 7:30pm

**2019 dates TBD**

Where:   Madison Adoption Associates

1102 Society Drive

Claymont, DE 19703

RSVP:   Space is limited.  RSVP required.  Please complete and submit the RSVP form

Cost:   $20/family when paid in advance.  $30/family at the door.  When paying in advance, please print and sign the RSVP form, and mail in with check to: Madison Adoption Associates, 1102 Society Drive, Claymont, DE 19703.  Please put ‘Nurture Group’ in the memo.  We are sorry, but we are unable to accept credit card payments at this time.



Firsts.  I’m sure you remember a lot of yours.  I definitely remember many of mine.  Maybe not the very early ones, and maybe not always pleasant ones, but I remember plenty.  The first time I rode my bike down the big hill in our backyard.  The first time I got my braces tightened (ouch!).  The first time I played a solo piano recital.  The first time I flew in a plane.  The first time a boy called me.  I can think of many more throughout my childhood and adolescence.  And, now that I am a Mom myself, I understand even more the importance of being present for every.single.first a child experiences.

So, when I hear from his host family that Stover has experienced not one, but two firsts so far during the hosting session, I knew I had to share.  Because he deserves praise.  He deserves accolades.  He deserves for those firsts to be shouted from the rooftops in his honor.  Not only did Stover learn to ride a bike, but he also experienced the ocean for the first time.

In both instances, he started out with much hesitation.  He wasn’t sure about either one.  But he gave them both a chance, and the end result was pure, unadulterated joy.

While his host family is absolutely celebrating these firsts, it is my hope and theirs that by sharing them with you all we might find his forever family, so that his next round of firsts can happen with those who will remember them forever right alongside him.

Stover is 9 years old and is available for adoption from Colombia through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is here in the US on a hosting trip through August 14.  For more information about this sweet boy, please email or complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form.

The Little Helper

The Little Helper

Oh Stover.  Where do I even begin?  Honestly, his formal referral does not paint the best picture of him.  Frankly, we weren’t sure that bringing him on a hosting trip was the best idea after reading it.  But, our friends who know him well assured us that he would be OK.  Fast forward until now, and boy were they right!  I had the absolute pleasure of spending the afternoon with Stover today.  Sweet doesn’t even begin to describe this boy.  I visited his host home to see how he is doing, and check in with the host family.  When I asked about his positives, I couldn’t keep up with writing them all down.  And, when I asked about his negatives, his host Mom was hard pressed to come up with any.  You see, this boy is everything.  First, he is a helper.  He INSISTS on helping his host Mom at the grocery store – he wants to check things off the list, carry all the bags, and when asked if he wants to pick anything out, the answer is always, “No gracias.”  Second, he is filled with empathy.  On a hike, his host brother fell down, and the first at his side was Stover to make sure he was OK.  On another occasion, Stover may have butted in front of his host sister in line for the slide.  Upon realizing this upset her, Stover made sure to apologize and allow her to go in front of him.  The list goes on and on.  There are daily examples of his grace, compassion, and all around huge heart.

He is all smiles.  All the time.  Flexible.  Adaptable.  Loving.  Caring.  Helpful.  Brave.  And ultimately, he is desperate to be part of a family.

Stover is 9 years old and is available for adoption from Colombia through Madison Adoption Associates.  He is here in the US on a hosting trip through August 14.  For more information about this sweet boy, please email or complete our Prospective Adoptive Parent form.



Thirty.  30.  I’ll say it again….THIRTY.  30 children woke up, packed their back-packs, and embarked on the biggest trip of their lives.  Though well prepared, they were nonetheless flying into so many unknowns.  Three flights, and over 3,000 miles later, they arrived.  Into our arms.  With smiles on their faces, and hope and excitement in their eyes.

We have been entrusted with these 30 precious souls for the next three weeks.  To pour love into them, to nurture them, and to show them what it means to be a part of a family.  The magnitude of what we have agreed to do, and more so, what our host families have committed to do, is not lost on any of us.  We will dedicate every single day of the next 20 days to these children.  We will introduce them to you all, and share about their personalities.  More importantly, our host families will give them some of the best days of their lives.  And that does not mean extravagant trips to Disney World, or dinners at fancy restaurants.  No, it means dinner together as a family, playing board games, going for walks, and getting tucked in every night with a kiss on the forehead.

So we invite you all to join us as we get to know these precious children.  We invite you to also share about them with those you know.  Because we vow to do everything in our power so that the next time they come to the U.S. will be forever.

The children are here through our Hosting Program.  For more information on our hosting program, or adoption, please visit our website, or email

A picture speaks a thousand words

I woke up early, before the kids even, so I could sit down and write this post in peace before the day got away from me.  As I’m jotting down notes, and trying to get those creative juices flowing, my Dad walks in, pours his coffee, and says, “Wanna go fishing?”  Once a year, my husband and I load up our boys and head to the lake with my extended family.  This year, we so happen to be here over Father’s Day.  So, while I had every intention to provide a heartfelt, touching Father’s Day post for you all, I’m going to instead go wet a line with my Dad on this peaceful, quiet morning, and let these pictures of some of our amazing MAA Dads do the talking for me.  As, we all know…a picture speaks a thousand words.  Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there – May the fish be biting, and may the kids be doing the grilling for you.

The One

The One

Dear Max,

I wrote my last letter to you six months ago.  And here I sit, again, to share my heart.  Don’t think for one minute that I haven’t thought of you in these past six months.  Quite the opposite actually.  If I wrote you a letter every time I thought of you, I’d have hundreds by now.  Maybe thousands.  You see Max, you are the one.  The one I think of constantly.  The one who comes to mind as I am getting ready to go see my son’s end of the year school play.  The one I think about whenever I hear talk of an inventor.  The one who brings tears to my eyes and keeps me up at night.  I know this fact, that you are constantly on my mind, doesn’t help you.  I know it doesn’t matter unless it results in your forever family being found.  Or, maybe it would matter to you.  Maybe I’ll translate my letters to you one day and send them your way.  Just so you know that you have been, are, and will be, on someone’s heart.  But I don’t know.  I don’t know if it would make you wonder ‘why?’  ‘Why, even though she tried so hard, did no one pick me?’  And I would never want you to think that.  I would never want, for one moment, for you to think that you are not wanted.

I got this picture of you from a friend who also always has you on her heart and mind.  I can’t believe how handsome and grown-up you are looking!  Mr. ‘I refuse to smile’ cracking a bit of a smirk.  It looks good on you, especially knowing it doesn’t come easily for you to do!  There are so many layers to your story Max.  Layers that, while complex, don’t define you.  But nonetheless, layers that make up your story.  Your story….not mine.  So I am going to refrain from sharing anything else here.  Instead, I will leave you with my continued promise that I am still trying, and will continue to do so, as long as it takes.

Your Friend,


Max turns fourteen in January, leaving only six months to be adopted.  Though he was diagnosed as a ‘premature infant with low birth weight,’ Max does not present with any special needs.  Except, of course, being an older boy.  Max is currently on the shared list, but Madison Adoption Associates has a $5,000 Bright Futures grant available if a family adopts through MAA.  Please complete the Prospective Adoptive Parent form to be considered as his forever family, or email for more information.

10 Reasons to begin your Adoption Home Study today

10 Reasons to begin your Adoption Home Study today

Adoption has been on your heart for a while, so you begin investigating the process.  Everything you find references an ‘adoption home study.’  So what is the big deal with an adoption home study?  And why should it be a priority when starting the adoption process?  The adoption home study is the cornerstone of any adoption, be it domestic or international.  Here are 10 reasons why you should start your adoption home study today:

  1. The adoption home study is not just an investigation of the family, but it is an educational experience as well. During the adoption home study, the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) will have the opportunity to meet with an adoption expert, their home study social worker, on many different occasions over the course of several weeks. During these meetings, the PAPs will learn invaluable information about adoption, the process, the children, what to expect, and more from their social worker.  The education pertaining to adoption that you will receive during the home study process is reason alone to begin now!
  2. Not only will the PAPs gain valuable knowledge throughout the home study process, but you will also work closely with your home study social worker to determine the type of child that your family is most suited to adopt. While you may enter the home study process envisioning a specific age range, or gender, or level of special needs, that could very well shift as you receive adoption education or at the discretion of your home study social worker. Your home study social worker will work closely with you to determine the best fit for your family, but ultimately it is the decision of the home study social worker as to the parameters that you are approved for.
  3. The adoption home study process can take anywhere from 2-5 months to complete. It is an intense process that is much more a marathon than a sprint. The home study should not be viewed as a task to simply check off.  It is to the benefit of you, your family, and your adopted child that you embrace this process in the most thorough manner as possible.  The agency will take their time to interview, educate, and assess you, reading between the lines and doing all they can to thoroughly prepare you for adoption.  Not only does the home study process prepare you to be the best parents to your future child, but it is also what gives adoption officials a taste of who your family really is. While the interviewing, education, and investigative components of the home study should never be rushed, you have the opportunity to speed up the process by gathering the required home study paperwork as fast as possible!  Remember, the sooner you start the home study, the sooner it will be complete, and you will be that much further into your adoption process!
  4. In all adoption programs, PAPs cannot be considered for a specific child until they have a current, valid home study. In order to be matched with a child, you must complete your home study.
  5. It is an opportunity to involve your whole family in the adoption process!  During the home study process, you and your children will meet with the social worker.  This is a great time for your children to speak to an adoption professional, and ask all of the questions they have about what is about to happen to their family.
  6. Adoption is already on your heart, but the home study process will only intensify your passion to adopt. The education and reality of millions of children who have no one to hug them, or encourage them, or tuck them in, or kiss their boo-boos, or fight for them will be heavy on your heart in ways you never thought possible.  You will look at the world differently.  You will look at your current children differently.  You will be more knowledgeable, more open, more accepting, more empathetic.  All things that will make you that much more equipped for when your child comes home.
  7. Having your home study complete will put you in the position to be matched with your child if you happen to find them in an advocacy post. Agencies work hard to advocate for waiting children.  Many times, a PAP will see a picture of a waiting child and feel drawn to that particular child.  Without a current, valid home study, you would not be in a position to be considered for that child.  With a complete adoption home study, you will!  And perhaps it was a specific child that spurred you to start the process.  While you are working on your home study, that specific child could be matched with a family who has a completed home study.  Though it could be difficult to ‘lose’ that child, you must remember that the ultimate goal is for every child to find a home!  And if that specific child was the spark that ignited your desire to adopt, and he found a family, and your future child will find a family – that is two less orphans in the world!
  8. Your new child will not have to wait for you as long! The home study is typically the longest piece of the adoption Dossier for an international adoption.  Adoption Dossiers, including the home study process, typically take 5-7 months to complete.  After home study completion, typically it is only 2-3 months until Dossier completion!
  9. Every day an orphan has to wait is one day too many. While adoptive parents would move mountains to get to their child as fast as they can, there are many factors that are out of their hands.  Each adoptive home study is a very personal process, catered to your specific family.  Because of this, it is difficult to predict how long your specific home study will take.  Perhaps additional clearances are needed, or perhaps your social worker needs to consult with your doctor – whatever your personal adoption home study process looks like, there could be delays that come up along the way.  Starting your home study today means that it will be complete one day sooner than if you started tomorrow, and that means your child waits one less day!
  10. Adoption can be expensive. Prospective Adoptive Parents must financially plan for their adoption.  That being said, there are many grants available for adoptive families!  However, many of these grants require a completed adoption home study before the organization will consider your family as a grant recipient.  Once your home study is complete, it could open the door to additional financial resources for your family.

There are millions of orphans in the world waiting. Our beloved Starfish poem puts it best: Looking at a beach covered in starfish the boy throws one in the ocean.   A man says, “There are so many…  You can’t possibly make a difference!”  Boy picks up another starfish and throws it in the water…  “I can make a difference for that one!”

Make a difference.  Change a child’s world and make yours better!  Start your adoption home study today!


Live in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, or Illinois?  We can help you with your home study!!  Madison Adoption Associates is a Hague Accredited adoption agency licensed in PA, DE, NJ, and IL, and we are experts in both domestic and international adoption home studies.  From one of these states, and interested in our international adoption programs as well?  We are currently offering expedited home studies at no cost for PAPs contracting for both home study and placement services.

Please note that our expedite service is in regards to the writing of the home study document itself.  The interviews, education, and investigation components of the process are NOT rushed.  Our expedite service relates to the writing of the document once all paperwork is gathered, and all education and interviews are complete. 

Contact us for more information at!

Jumping in Puddles

Jumping in Puddles

While I would love to talk to you about Isaac, there is someone who could do it better.  Isaac.  So I am going to let him speak for himself…

When asked about his likes, Isaac shares: “I like to play soccer, get wet when it’s raining…it’s very fun!  Jumping boots!  I like to play hide and seek, especially at night because I can hide better.  I also like to make jokes, to make people laugh.  I like to go to the bakery, to eat what we prepare.  I like the weaving workshop because we make beautiful things, like stuffed animals.  I like to listen to reggaeton.”

His thoughts on finding a family: “When I think of a family, I feel love, that I can share and be close to them, of brothers and a mother and father.”

And regarding his life goals: “When I grow up I want to be a doctor to help people who are injured or sick.  I would also like to be a police officer to eliminate the evil ones.  I also want to be a father and have a family of my own.”

This boy.  He is special.  He has had his fair share of injustices, but his resiliency allows him to still have hope.  Please consider giving Isaac a chance, and host him this summer!

Isaac is 10 1/2 years old, and is available to host (in MD, PA, NJ, IL, MO) or for outright adoption in any state through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $500 hosting grant available to the family that hosts him.  Email for more information.


Their Last Chance

Their Last Chance

This could be it.  This could be their last chance to find their forever family.  Well, and stay together that is.  You see, Adel is almost 17.  And if she is not home with her forever family by the age of 18, she can no longer be adopted.  Her two younger brothers will still be available for adoption, and will potentially leave to their forever without her.  None of us want that to happen.  So, we are pleading with you to spread the word about these siblings!  Specifically, to help us find a family willing to host them this summer.  If we can just get them here, we KNOW we’ll be able to find them their forever.  Their TOGETHER forever.

We need a host family in MD, PA, NJ, IL or MO to step out of their comfort zone for only three short weeks this summer, and welcome Arlo (6), Antonio (13), and Adel (16) into their hearts and home.  You have the opportunity to make a lifelong impact on these children, and play an integral role in keeping these siblings together forever!

These siblings are available to host (in MD, PA, NJ, IL, MO) or for outright adoption in any state through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $500 hosting grant available to the family that hosts them.  Email for more information.