Shame On Me

Shame On Me

Open and honest guest post by one of our Madison families.  She graciously agreed to share here, knowing how important it is to educate those following behind her about all aspects of adoption, and not just the unicorns and rainbows.  Please check out their full blog here to read more!


He is a part of every conversation.
He inserts his opinion on on every topic, even ones he knows nothing about.
He remembers and confirms every detail, even when he was never here in the first place to experience it.
He’s wiggly and jiggly and bouncy and giggly almost all the time.
If he doesn’t know the answer, he lies.
He talks constantly… sometime just to repeat everything you’ve saying.

And it’s all a part of his defense to the newness of it all and finding his place in it.

Just prior to this he literally bounced out of his shoes.

There’s a lot of research and soul searching when you adopt, especially an older child. And much of this research is directed toward attachment. We ask ourselves a lot of questions. Will our child like us? Will our child accept us, love us, eventually? Will we form a family unit with parents that unconditionally love their child? Will our child feel secure enough to trust us with the scariest of feelings? Will he initiate appropriate affection? Will our child feel safe enough to show us their real un-perfect self? In all 3 of our prior adoptions I firmly believe that I solidly attached to my child extremely quickly, maybe even before I met them (if that’s possible) with 2 of the 3 children. So if you would have told me a year ago that I would be the one with the attachment issues this time around, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

This is our 4th time around adopting a special need’s child via international adoption all from institutionalized care. I know better than to create a false image of what it’ll be like ahead of time. Yet completely unknown to me, I absolutely did that with Ru, created an image of what he’d be like in my head even before I met him. And this vision was so far from accurate. Because Jude is also a boy, around the same age and also adopted, I think I unknowing envisioned Ru having a lot of Jude’s personality traits.
Reserved.
Cautious.
Sensitive.
Incorrectly I thought Ru would have a personality that would need to be coaxed out. You know, like the stereotypical orphan you see in the movies. A scared little boy that would need to be wrapped in love before we’d see glimpses of his true personality. A shy quiet still child who would literally hide behind my skirts (or a pole or the chair or the wind) with fear in his heart and wouldn’t smile till he felt safe.

***insert record scratch here***

Ummmm nope!
That’s not what we got at all! 
Ru is nothing like that, and instead this is the boy that walked through the door 3 months ago.

In a room full of scared and crying children meeting their forever families for the first time, Ru contrastingly laughed and smiled his way through it. This pic was taken about 30 minutes after we met.

Full of life, vim and vigor from moment one. Enthusiastic about life! And certainly no need to coax out out his personality because he wears it on his sleeve! On the outside he’s afraid of very little. He’s on All. The. Time. He’s confident and bold. He’s nothing like what I imagined he’d be.

Shame of me for even unknowingly creating this image of a child I knew nothing about. He’s so different. So so much more. He’s louder. Ru is more in the middle of everything I do. He’s faster and brash and more self-reliant than I unknowingly thought he’d be. He’s just plain o’ more than I expected. Again, all unknowingly.
And this is taking me time to process.
And accept.
And attach to.
When folks ask me how it’s going I truthfully say something like, We’re still finding our new normal, but everyone seems to be adjusting well and just like we hoped they would… 
except me.

Keeping it real, ’cause that’s what I’ve always tried to do here, (except for the name thing. Sorry.) I’m surprised by my lack of unconditional acceptance who my new son is. I’m embarrassed that there’s some part of me deep down that might still be trying to put him in a box that he just doesn’t fit in. I don’t want to do this, but let’s be honest, there’s parts of me that are. The good news is that with time I think I am getting to a point of acceptance and ultimately a secure attachment. I thought it would be all Ru that would need help attaching to us. I’m surprised that instead it’s me that’s going through this journey. I’m also trusting my support system that time and practice will get me there.

Destined for Greatness

Destined for Greatness

She began with us as an eager, determined, optimistic graduate intern.  And now, almost eight years later, we have to say so long to the same eager, determined, optimistic woman, but who is now no longer intern, as she has blossomed into a seasoned professional.  Sara Oglesby has been the heart of our Illinois office for years.  Her passion and dedication to children with special needs has been the driving force behind the amazing work she has done over the years.  Sara has changed the lives of so many children and families for the better.  She has cried with families during the hard times, and rejoiced during the good.  We will miss you dearly, but please know how proud we are of you as you follow your dreams and become a pediatric nurse for children with special needs.  Best of luck Sara…you are destined for greatness, and we have been blessed to have had you for the time we did!  You will always be part of the Madison family!!

When will they come?

When will they come?

This boy is a Mom and Dad’s dream come true.  When I began reading his update, I couldn’t help but smile.  “He can read and write.” “He cares for other kids and will share food with other kids.” “He will reach to the volunteers who come to the orphanage and will say ‘thank you’ when he gets gifts from them and will say ‘good bye’ when they leave.”  With each answer to each of our questions, I smiled, picturing Asher doing what was described of him.  But then I got to the last question…

Question: “Does the child want to be adopted?  Does the child understand what adoption means?”

Answer: “He is anxious to be adopted everyday.  Every time a child is adopted, he will ask ‘why my dad and mom are not here to pick me up?’”

And my heart sank for this perfect boy.  This perfect, kind, smart, amazing child who wonders daily when will it be his turn.  Why isn’t it his turn yet?


Asher is 5 years old and is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $2,000 grant available for the family who adopts Asher.  To be considered as his family, please complete the Prospective Adoptive Parent form or email sarah@madisonadoption.org. 

Not Goodbye – Just See Ya Later…

Not Goodbye – Just See Ya Later…

Every once in a while, someone walks into your life, and you just know it was meant to be.  Sometimes it’s a spouse, sometimes it’s an adopted child, and other times it isn’t a family member at all.  For all of us at Madison Adoption Associates, our lives changed nearly 10 years ago when Sara Lang walked through our doors.  Over the course of a decade, Sara has changed lives, touched hearts, and left an indelible mark on hundreds of souls, all of ours especially.  From working directly with families, to handling much of the ‘behind the scenes’ type stuff, if you have ever worked with MAA, Sara has been a part of your process.  She will be dearly missed, but she already knows that in no way is this a goodbye, as she is a part of the MAA family forever.  We love you Sara, and we wish you only the best.


“The depth of your love is limitless. You are one of the most caring, committed, stubborn, strong willed, dedicated, courageous, determined women I have ever known.  You have so much to be proud of.  You have accomplished so much.  You have changed so many lives for the better.  You have given so many children who had nothing a happily ever after.  You are strong.  You are caring.  You are irreplaceable.  You will always be part of the Madison Family.  You will always be loved.  You will always be admired.  You will always be my Friend.” ~Diana

“We are similar in so many ways – you are like a sister to me.  I can’t imagine not seeing you at work, working on projects together, and just chatting about whatever, but I realize that just because you’re not working at Madison doesn’t mean we still can’t talk!” ~Bev

“One by one, child by child, your caring, commitment, and life’s work opened a door and forever changed the course of a child’s life.   I can only hope to leave a mark in the world with my career as you did…” ~Jessica 

“What an encouragement you have been for me, from the first day I arrived. Your patience with my questions is that of a saint. Our team, our families, and their children will miss you and your genuine heart for this work. This is all part of the journey that the Lord has you on, and I am excited to see what He has next for you.” ~Erica

“I will always remember being part of the MAA Website Team!  You, Bev, and I certainly had some memorable times together; some good and some frustrating times, but we made it through the process together!  Thanks for always being there and making time for me!  I will SO miss you!” ~Heather

“From my very first day advocating for MAA’s waiting children, you have been an incredible mentor.  But you’ve been more than a mentor, you have become a friend.  A friend who ‘gets it.’  It’s often as if we have the same heart.  You are a blessing to all who know you, but especially to the waiting children you have worked so hard to help find families for.  You will be deeply missed, but I know you won’t stop fighting the good fight for those who are left behind.” ~Brooke

“From my first day working at MAA, I was impressed with your compassion for the orphaned children and the adoptive families.  I was able to experience on a daily basis your continuous support, patience and going the extra mile to help families through the process.” ~Lydia

“I will never forget my first day at MAA when you got stuck training me on processes and procedures (your favorite).  I was nervous, trying to take notes and remember everything, and about 10 minutes in, you pause and say, ‘Hang on, I need to check on my dogs.’  You pulled up your webcam and started chatting with me about your pooches.  You have no idea how much that helped ease my nerves!  And when I learned you were a fellow hound lover, I immediately knew we were kindred spirits!” ~SaraH

“Your humor, knowledge, expertise, and very presence will be thoroughly missed in this office.  You have taught us so much about how to do adoptions and to do it well.” ~Amanda

“Sara, thank you for welcoming me to Madison Adoption Associates. You took the time to help me through rough passages such as the shared drive, the China key system, and many others. Words don’t do justice to how much I appreciate your help, which, might I add, you did with a smile every time.  You are one of a kind. You will be missed. I wish you all the best and good health.” ~Laura


Please join us in sending best wishes to Sara as she embarks on her much deserved retirement.  Sara’s last day is July 31st, so please email her prior to then at sara@madisonadoption.org with your well wishes!!

Yesterday he had a family

Yesterday he had a family

We had a family for you Jerah.  An amazing family.  Who said yes to you with full hearts, and were just getting their ducks in a row to make it official.  And then today happened.  A simple announcement.  That, as it turns out, is not so simple for so many, you included.  You will never know, Jerah, what could have been.  But we can imagine.  And the family who said yes with full hearts can imagine.  We will wonder for a long time if this was truly what was meant to be for you.  Right now, it is hard to comprehend.  But all we can do is hope.  Hope there is another family out there for you.  Hope that there is a grand plan for you, that we have yet to figure out.  Until then Jerah, hang in there little buddy!  We won’t rest until you are resting in the arms of your forever family.


Jerah will turn 2 in September.  He is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  There is a $2,000 grant available for the family who commits to adopting him.  Please email Sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or complete the Prospective Adoptive Parent form for consideration as his adoptive family.

The Clock is Ticking

The Clock is Ticking

Our representative in China texted me late one night last week, “He is running out of time.  The orphanage staff love him very much, and want him to find a family.  They are worried it is too late.”  I quickly wrote her back and told her to send me all she knows and has on him.  Not only did she send me a slew of pictures, but she connected me directly with the orphanage.  For the past week, one of the orphanage staff has been sending me video after video, picture after picture, of this sweet boy that she loves dearly.  And with each video and picture, in her broken (but very good!) English, she pleads with me…

I can feel her heart for Waylan in her messages.  She so very much wants him to have a family, and more importantly, so does he.  So please, I beg of you….see this boy.  See him for the kind, caring, gentle, loved soul that he is.  See what the orphanage staff see.  And if you think he is your son, call me immediately, as the clock is ticking…

Waylan’s drawing of the house he hopes to live in someday

Waylan showing off one of his many Lego creations!


Waylan is available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  He will turn 14 in May 2018, making him no longer eligible for adoption.  There is a $5,000 Bright Futures grant available to the family who adopts him.  Email Sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or complete the Prospective Adoptive Parent form to be considered as his family.

They are all worthy

They are all worthy

I have poured over our list all morning, trying to choose a child to introduce you to.  And I just can’t do it today.  I can’t ‘pick.’  Why is one child more worthy to share than another?  Because they might have a better chance at being matched?   Because they are a specific age or gender, or have a certain special need?  Yes, it is true, some children find their families more easily than others.  But that is not a good enough reason to ‘choose’ who to introduce you to.  I look at each little face.  All 76 of them.  And they are all worthy.  So today, instead of just featuring one or two waiting children, I ask you to look at them all.  Each and every one.  Read their stories.  Look at their pictures.  Watch their videos.  Search your heart to see if maybe one of them is your child.  And if not, help us share these children with the world.  Because each and every one of them has a family out there.  And it is up to all of us to work tirelessly until we find them.  Do your part.

Please head over to our Waiting Child page.  Request the password if you have not already done so.  Look at each face.  Don’t just glance, but really look.  Consider.  Think.  Ask the What Ifs.  Ask the Why Nots.  And share about these precious souls.


Check out Madison Adoption Associates to learn more about who we are and about the children who wait.  Email sarah@madisonadoption.org with any questions.

Dear Madison

Dear Madison

Dear Madison,

I must admit, it feels a bit strange calling you that.  I had spoken to you as Jayne in my thoughts and prayers for so long.  But don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful that I get to address this to you as Madison, as that is the name your family has given to you – your forever family.  It means you are home where you belong.  In my letters to you (here and here), Madison, I did what I could to share you with the world, in hopes of finding your family.  Little did I know that your Mama, who I had met in China during the same trip that I met you, was reading these letters.  Her heart ached for you as mine did, but in a more powerful way – in a Mama’s way.  It started as one casual sentence in an email, “Ok, don’t read anything into this but do you have any additional information on Jayne?   Just curious.”  I shared everything I knew about you with them.  11 days later, and after many conversations, your Mom emailed me and it simply said, “Guess what?  Can you call me?”  With my hands shaking, and my heart pounding, I called your Mama and Baba.  I was on speaker phone with both of them when your Mom simply said, “She’s ours.  Do we have enough time?”  I’m not even sure what words came out of my mouth at the sound of those words!!

12 weeks.  We had 12 weeks to complete your adoption start to finish.  Considering the average adoption takes roughly 36-52 weeks, to say we didn’t have much time would be an understatement.  Every day counted.  And every day during those 12 weeks your Mama and Baba moved heaven and earth to get to you.  With each passing week, and another step completed, there was still so much to do.  Fast forward to the last couple of weeks before your 14th birthday.  On February 23rd, a mere THIRTEEN DAYS before your birthday, we were still waiting on a crucial document in order to proceed.  Your Mom probably called 3-4 times a day for a good week about this document, on hold each time 1-2 hours.  She wasn’t giving up!  None of us were!  We KNEW your parents would get to you in time…..they just had to!  Finally, that document came in (followed by a few other crucial ones….your Mom can fill you in on those details if you’re curious), and on February 28th, with only one week to spare, your Mom booked her flight to get you.  Your adoption was finalized on the day before your 14th birthday.  I think the sighs of relief from all of those who love you both in China and in the US were heard around the world.  We made it.

Madison, I never gave up on you.  Of course, I had moments of panic and worry that your family wouldn’t find you.  And, when they did, that there wasn’t enough time.  I’m sure you had your own worries and panic!  You had dreamed of a family for so long, and now that it was actually upon you, the reality of leaving your entire familiar was upon you.  I used the word resilient in one of my first letters to describe you Madison, and I am going to add brave to that.  You are one remarkable girl, and I am honored to have been a small part of your story!  I ended my last letter to you hoping that I would get to meet you living out your forever – I know that day will come eventually!  But I have peace in knowing that we have plenty of time, forever in fact, to make it happen.  Until then, I will be satisfied with the pictures your Mom sends me of you in a family.  In YOUR family.  Welcome home Madison.  You are loved by many.

Your Friend,

Sarah

 

Dear Dads – Thank You…

Dear Dads – Thank You…

We talk about and to our wonderful Moms a lot.  We don’t often talk of our Dads.  But that doesn’t mean they are any less worthy.  Our Dads are heroes.  And in honor of Father’s Day, we chatted with Carl Bramble, father to four, two of whom were adopted from China.

 

Did you always envision that you would adopt?  If not, when did it become a possibility?

I never expected or even thought about adoption until I met my wife Diana.  I always expected that I would get married and have probably two children (hopefully a boy and a girl).  I met Diana at the Italian Festival one summer night and fell in love with her instantly.  Even though I had only talked with her for about ten minutes, I called my Mother the next day to inform her that I had met the woman I was going to marry.  As I got to know Diana better, I learned that she had two adopted brothers, and that her mother was the director of an adoption agency.  I very quickly learned that marrying her meant that I would be adopting.  I accepted it, but it seemed like a very distant thing at the time.  Within a couple of years, we had a biological son, and 2 years later, a biological daughter.  This fit my vision of what I had always wanted, and I questioned Diana if we really needed to adopt any children.  Of course, the answer was yes, we do need to adopt.  I didn’t put up much of a fight because I knew that was the deal all along.  At the time, I thought I was satisfied having 2 biological children.  But now, after adopting another boy and then a girl, I can’t imagine how life would be without all 4 of my children. It has been absolutely amazing and more fulfilling than I ever imagined.

What was the scariest thing for you, as a Dad, going into adoption?

My biological son Charlie is the one who first said Chase belonged in our family.  As we looked through files of children waiting to be adopted, Charlie (who was around 5 or 6 years old at the time) kept saying that we need to adopt this little boy with the missing left hand.  By that time, it was obvious that Charlie was a very gifted athlete.  To give you some idea, since then Charlie has broken records in swimming, played on all-star baseball teams, and has played on high level ice hockey travel teams.  I spent a lot of time with Charlie, allowing him a lot of opportunities in athletics, and it was a major way to bond with him.  I just couldn’t see how this little boy with a missing left hand was going to be able to fit in with this lifestyle.  However, Charlie did not give up.  He would point at the boy’s picture on a daily basis and tell me that this was his brother.  I resisted this for quite some time.  It took me months to finally go along with it.  One day as I sat down to read the Sunday paper, the front page had an article about a local boy who was missing his left hand.  The article showed all of the activities that this boy was involved in, including rock-climbing, swimming, baseball, etc.  That was the day I decided we should move ahead with adopting the little boy with the missing left hand.  Wow, was Charlie right.  This little boy (our Chase) is one of the most amazing kids I’ve ever met.  And, he turned out to be VERY athletic also.  He plays ice hockey just like his big brother, and no one can even tell that he’s doing all of his stickhandling with one hand.  He’s also on the swim team, and plays baseball.  In fact, just today I received an email that Chase was selected to play in the Naamans Little League Single A all-star invitational!   Chase’s baseball hero is Jim Abbott, who was also born with only one hand, and went on to pitch a no-hitter with the New York Yankees.  My fears were completely unfounded, and I’m so thankful that my biological son Charlie was so persistent in convincing me that this was his little brother.

What is your greatest hope for your kids?

Like all parents, we want our children to be successful.  But we don’t push them in any certain direction.  We try to give them every opportunity to find out what they are good at, and find their passions.  Most of all, we want them to live happy lives, and do their part to make the world a better place.  We want them to be kind and generous.  Already several of our children are talking about adopting their own children one day.  When I’m older, I would love to be surrounded by grandchildren and be able to be involved in their lives.

What is the best part about being a Dad?

I love being a dad.  It’s the most fulfilling thing in my life.  Every child is different, with their own personality and passions.  These are things that make them unique and even a parent can’t change them.  But a child can’t reach their potential without being given opportunities to find out what drives them.  When you give your child an opportunity, and they are successful and discover a passion, it’s really fulfilling.  Watching them succeed at something, and seeing the joy and smiles when they accomplish something, it really fills you with pride.

Are there any differences between parenting your adopted kids versus your biological kids?

To be honest, I initially thought it would be different.  We had our 2 biological children first before adopting.  I loved them so much that it didn’t seem possible that I could ever love adopted children in the same way.  Of course, it takes some time, but my love for my adopted children grew rapidly.  At this point, I honestly can say that I love them all the same.  All of our children are truly amazing, and I feel the same pride in each of them.  Beyond this, there were some initial challenges with the adopted children.  For example, we adopted Allie at age five and a half, and she did not speak a word of English.  But, it’s phenomenal how quickly she learned. After about 3 weeks home, we put her into school.  There were some initial struggles, but yesterday she came home with a trophy and certificate for being the “Best Reader” and having earned the most “Accelerated Reader” points in the entire 4th grade at her school.  What an accomplishment for a girl who could not speak a word of English just three and a half years ago!  And, Chase, our one-handed wonder, was treated like a king by the caretakers at his orphanage.  This was probably due to his infectious smile and personality.  So, when he initially came home to us at age 19 months, he was actually very angry.  He didn’t like being taken away from everything he knew, and he was probably a bit spoiled as well. There was an adjustment period of a few months that were rough.  But he came to understand how much we loved him, and began to love his new siblings, and he turned into a super happy kid.   So, beyond this period of initial adjustment, there is really no difference now in parenting the adopted kids versus the biological kids.

Tell us your funniest Dad story.

Maybe it was the time when the kids ran inside and excitedly asked if we are growing pizzas in the garden.  I was confused but agreed to follow them out to the garden to see why they could be asking this question.  They pointed to a plant, and I informed them that it was basil.  Each of our plants had a little white tag in the ground next to them in order to identify the type of plant.  They pulled the tag out of the ground to show me and asked me to look closer.  Indeed, there was a small picture of a pizza with many vegetable toppings on the bottom of the tag. I had to regretfully inform the children that we were not growing pizzas, only some vegetables that could be used as toppings on pizza.  They were disappointed, but we all had a good laugh about that one.

What advice do you have for first time Dads, and first time adoptive Dads?

It’s going to change your life.  You’re going to need to put the needs of your children and family ahead of your own.  Give your child every opportunity you can think of.  Raise them to be kind and generous and humble.  Your feelings, especially about your adopted children, may take some time to develop.  During that time, I would say to fake it ’til you make it.  But you will definitely make it, and your love will grow enormously.   There will be some tough times.    There are going to be some long and exhausting days.  But you’re going to be repaid many times over.


Some more of our incredible Dads….

Apert aka Amazing

Apert aka Amazing

Many diagnoses can seem very intimidating on paper, and Apert syndrome is no exception.  Though, instead of seeing ‘no exception,’ we see exceptional, and we want to share with you about these exceptional children.  We asked an MAA family to share about their experience adopting a child with Apert syndrome.  Please read about their experience below, and please consider Viv, Nieve, and Victor, who are all waiting, and who are all exceptional.  In honor of these amazing kids, we are excited to announce our $2,000 Apert Awareness Grant.

In December of 2014, we brought our sweet son John home.  John had spent the month of July with our family during Madison Adoption Associate’s summer hosting program.  We knew he was ours within a very short period of time.  John is funny, joyful, thoughtful, and one of the kindest-hearted children you will ever meet.

John was born with Apert syndrome, a congenital disorder resulting in malformations of the skull, face, feet, and hands.  While John has more challenges than most children, we have been amazed at how seldom these challenges affect his day-to-day life. John plays baseball (well!) in our village’s league, he takes golf lessons, writes capably, and other than having difficulty with zippers, buttons, and shoelaces, John is independent for his age.  John is also doing grade level appropriate school work.

We assumed that because of John’s condition, we would be visiting doctors and specialists frequently.  However, while we are making sure he is getting the medical help he needs, John has only a few more doctors’ appointments per year than his sisters, who have the relatively “easy” special need of repaired cleft lip and palate.  John will have a craniofacial surgery in the near future, but his recovery process is expected to go relatively smoothly.

We are beyond grateful that we didn’t allow ourselves to be intimidated by what Apert syndrome looks like on paper.  John is an absolute delight and has brought so much joy and love to our home and to our circle of friends and family.


Viv, 3

Victor, 4

Nieve, 2


Viv, Nieve, and Victor are available for adoption through Madison Adoption Associates.  In addition to the standard MAA grants that these children’s families would qualify for, we are pleased to also announce the $2,000 Apert awareness grant.  Email Sarah@madisonadoption.org for more information, or complete the Prospective Adoptive Parent form for consideration.