February is here and it is American Heart Month. Heart Month is a time when everyone is asked to raise awareness regarding heart conditions. When working with China adoptions many of the kiddos are born with heart condition, anywhere from mild to severe. It is important to educate yourself on different heart conditions when considering children in the waiting child program. Some of the conditions are scarier than others and some of them may be more manageable than you think. Over the next four weeks we will be featuring kiddos with heart conditions that are ready to find their forever families!
Hello, I’m Kyler! I am 3 years old and am super cute. I can be spoiled but I am close with my caretakers. In April 2013, I had a big surgery called a “right double-way Glenn operation.” My doctors say that I have a complex heart defect: transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stensosis, and an ASD and VSD. My doctors told me that I am a brave boy but I will need to have another operation next year. I can be quite talkative but when I get around strangers I become shy. I like getting to play with the other children but since I have a big heart problem, I cannot go to school with my friends. I hope I can get better soon so that I can do more since I like to be active!
Hi, I’m Shirley! I am 9 years old and I love to play dress up and with dolls. I have been diagnosed with CP and I had high muscular tension in my legs, but I had surgery to help with my tendons. I am currently attending a primary school where I am in Special Education classes, and I am learning a lot! I am able to recite poems, sing songs, and I am counting up to 40. I can learn what my teachers have been teaching me, but sometimes they have to tell me a couple times before I completely understand. My teachers say that I am very kind and attentive in class. I have been living in a foster family since 2006 so that I could get more individualized attention. I go to therapies every day to make my body stronger. I am able to take care of all my personal needs and I am very independent. I have been taught about adoption and I would like to be adopted!! Contact my friends at Great Wall to see my video.
Hi, I’m Andrew! I am 6 years old and I am the life of the party. I had surgery when I was very young because I had CHD, and, since then, I have been feeling better! I am able to play with my friends and I love to dance and sing. I am very smart and love to ask questions. I am a great eater and my favorite food is sweet fruit. My caregivers say that I am typical boy that loves anything with wheels!
I met a very nice adoption advocate this summer and this is what she had to say about me.
“I met this 6 year old boy with CHD. This little guy had so much energy and was ALL BOY running around and playing and showing off for us. I was alone in a stairwell with him and nearly fainted when he jumped from the halfway point on a flight of stairs to beat me to the bottom! I tried to scold him but he gave me one of those smiles that led me to believe he was gonna do it again on the next flight…yep… This little guy is so full of life and just adorable!!! I imagine he keeps his foster mother on her toes! He was very curious about us and followed us all over the orphanage building.”
Hi, I’m Jenna! I am 5 years old and I love to smile at my caregivers. I am growing as big as my friends, but I have some difficulty keeping up with them in talking and walking. I had a brain scan that shows that my brain is not developing correctly. I am able to self sooth by sucking on my fingers and I am able to express my needs with sounds. I can kick my legs and wave my arms around. My favorite thing to do is be cuddled and tickled by my caregivers.
Hi! I’m Gavin! I just started school at home last September and am learning a lot! I know my numbers and can count different objects I see. I am still working on learning my colors. I like to charm others and I love getting to play with my friends. My doctors helped me correct my cleft in my palate and lip and they also tell me that I am a Hep B carrier. I can hear well but I do have to eat softer foods. My favorite things are watching little bear cartoons and playing with cars and legos.Read More
We received this letter from U.S. Senator Landrieu in Louisiana and we are in full support!
One of the smartest things we can do is invest in the future of our children, and that starts by making sure each one has a loving and permanent family. That’s why I’m proud to have secured many priorities to protect and support vulnerable children and foster youth at home and abroad in the latest government funding bill.
This bill contains priorities I’ve been working on during the last year including: streamlining scholarship information for foster youth, strengthening domestic adoption family recruitment, urging Guatemala to finalize stalled adoptions and reduce redundancy while improving the welfare of children internationally.
As you know, adoption is an issue near and dear to my heart and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure every child has a permanent and loving family. Keep reading below to learn more about the important priories and funding I secured to help vulnerable children in this year’s bill to fund the government.
Urge completion of transitional adoptions in Guatemala: After Guatemala suspended international adoptions in 2007, hundreds of children in the process of being adopted were denied homes. For more than six years, the children involved have languished in institutions, while loving families have been prohibited from providing them with a nurturing home. To urge Guatemala to resolve this, we’ve suspended funding for the Guatemalan armed forces until we can verify that open adoption cases are resolved. I hope to send the message that these children cannot wait any longer to be connected with the loving families that they deserve
Enable more foster youth to find college scholarships: There are a number of barriers that all children face to earn a college degree, including paying for that degree. Congress has created specific scholarship opportunities for former foster children, but too many of these youth have no idea that such resources exist. A provision I authored will add a box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to give students the ability to indicate that they are foster youth. Now, information on scholarships and grants will be shared directly with them.
Secured $4 million to support child-recruitment programs: Many states are unable to focus on recruiting adoptive families for children, particularly those who are considered hard to place because of age, disability or other barriers. In this bill, I created a new pilot grant to enable states to initiate intensive and exhaustive child-focused recruitment programs. These programs would focus on moving foster youth eligible for adoption into permanent families at a higher rate than traditional recruitment strategies.Read More
Our featured kids this week need your help finding their forever home. Whether they are destined to be a part of your family or not, we need your help advocating for them. Share this page with anyone and everyone and let these kids start off the year right, finding their forever families!
Contact Jessie@gwca.org to learn more about these kids or our other waiting kids.
Hi, I’m Mackenzie and I just turned 4 years old! I love to play with my toys, especially the ones that make a lot of noise. I was diagnosed with congenital blindness and I am not able to see. I am super smart, on target developmentally, and I love to talk to my caregivers. I have been living in a foster home and learning so much! I can get around familiar places and I like to color on paper. One of my favorite things to do is listen to music and dance!
Hi! My name is Korbin and I am 5 years old. My doctors tell me that I have Autism. I still need adults help to put on and take off my clothes and I need reminders when to do some things like going to the bathroom. Even though I need some help when eating, I am not a picky eater! My favorite foods are dumplings and fruits. My foster family says that I have good motor development and I am very coordinated. I am a quite boy and I don’t speak. I like to listen to music and play with toys by myself. I just started studying in the kindergarten class and hope that I can do well!
Hi, I’m Bradley and I am 8 years old. I came into care when I was 2 years old because I developed a growth on my spinal column. I had surgery to remove it but it left my legs unable to walk. Due to the fact that I cannot feel my legs, I also need assistance going potty. All of this does not stop me from doing great in school and learning! I am very smart and creative. I have a great sense of humor and I am always smiling and laughing!
Hello! My name is Lisa and I am 11 years old. I am in the 5th grade and my favorite subject is Chinese literature. My doctors tell me that I am a Hep B carrier and also have a mild heart murmur. My conditions do not stop me at all! I love to jump rope and participate in fan dancing. People say that I am a sweet girl and when I get nervous I will cry. I love to do origami and my favorite animals are puppies, kittens, and rabbits. If I could have three wishes I would wish for a big doll, to take a ride on a big airplane and go outside for a picnic or BBQ.
Hi! I am Brandon and I am 10 years old. I have cerebral palsy so it takes me a little more time to finish tasks and actions but I can do lots of thing on my own. I can put on my clothes, take a bath, and brush my teeth without any help. I even like being able to help my caretakers with clearing the table and daily chores. I am studying in the kindergarten class in the orphanage and have learned names for common objects, colors, and numbers. I try hard in class and like to ask “Am I the best?” I love to be supported for my good work. Most of all, I love getting to paint with bright colors in class. I am always friendly to everyone and I keep a smile everyday. My caretakers say that I am empathetic and comforting to others. I just like to make others around me happy and keep them laughing too.Read More
There are many children waiting in China that are deaf and hard of hearing. This week we wanted to spotlight some of our cuties to find them a forever home.
If you have questions about these little ones or would like to learn more about them, please contact Jessie@gwca.org.
Hi, I’m Brian and I love to play outside! I am 5 years old and I am Deaf. I am unable to speak verbally but I communicate with my caregivers through mimicking my friends and gestures. I have not been taught sign language yet either. I am very smiley and I like to please my caregivers through my actions. I get along really well with my friends, but sometimes I can get frustrated that we cannot communicate. I love to ride my bike and play with any type of ball!
Hi, I’m Jackson and I love anything that bounces. I am 5 years old and I have Tetrology of Fallot heart condition. I had surgery for this in 2011 and the doctors checked my heart in 2012 and it is functioning well! I am unable to hear my friends and caregivers because I am hard of hearing. I have been using a hearing aid and it has been helping. I go to therapy and I am getting stronger and learning new words! In 2013 the doctors found a cataract in my eye and I will be having surgery for this pretty soon. I love to smile and my caregivers say that I am funny when I laugh!
Hi, I’m Amber! I just turned 6 years old and I am a cutie! When I was younger, I had a hard time digesting my food because I had a deformity in my intestines. I had surgery in 2008 for this and it has been corrected. My speech is behind my friends because I am not able to hear fully. I can still communicate with my caregivers and let them know what I need, and I am able to follow their instructions. One of my legs is a little weak, but I am able to walk, run, and go upstairs independently. I am able to get dressed by myself and I know my shapes and colors. I love to look at picture books and my caregivers say that I am very kind.
Hi, I’m Dylan! I am 6 years old and I love to look at books. I have been diagnosed as Deaf and due to this, I am unable to communicate. I tell my caregivers what I need by gestures, but I have not learned sign language yet. I like to look through books and copy Chinese characters. I am very helpful around the house and I can take care of all my own needs. Even though I cannot talk with my friends, I love to play with them. My caregivers say that I am very caring and kind!
Hi! I’m Kendall and I just turned 2 years old. Although I am a quiet girl I am close to my caretakers. My left eye has corneal degeneration and I am missing my right eye. I still have troubles with my hearing and it has made it hard to keep up with the other kids my age. I can stand up on my own but I need a little help walking around. I am really good at recognizing the voice of familiar people and when I hear music I sure do like to dance around.Read More
Adopting an older child can be a unique experience. Not everyone realizes that after the age of three in China, a child can be classified as an ‘older child’ and it is possible that could be deemed their special need. Karen was kind enough to share some of her experience adopting little Emily at the age of 5, and what to expect from this particular process.
Adopting An Older Child – My Experience
By: Karen Pugh
This week I had the pleasure of spending an evening with my younger daughter Emily. Big sis Corrie was spending the night at a friend’s house and we had a special mommy-daughter night. Emily was delighted to have me all to herself! At age 7, she has been home just two years and she has thoroughly embraced her new life.
Can you imagine being 5 ½ years old and never having anyone sit down and read you a book? Try to imagine seeing beautiful snow outside but never being allowed to play in it. Or how about still being hungry after dinner and not having any chance to get more to eat. What about wanting a hug but no one being willing to give you one? This is just a small part of what Emily experienced during her years in China.
Today Emily is a very happy little girl. Her favorite color is purple, she loves Rapunzel and Princess Sofia and she has a large group of friends. Yesterday she spent two hours outside building a snowman with a friend. She gets a hug any time she wants and she never goes hungry. We watched Tangled on TV, snuggled right next to each other. (She has the movie nearly memorized by now). Then it was upstairs to sit on her bed and read a book together. After the book, I tucked her into bed and gave her at least three kisses and two hugs before she settled down for the night and went to sleep.
There is not a day that goes by without her telling me how much she loves me and how happy she is to be here and have a family. She has a much different perspective on life because she was older at the time of adoption. She knows what her life would have been had she not been adopted. I know that we are never to expect our children to be grateful for becoming part of a family half way round the world (after all they leave all that they have ever known behind), but Emily is very grateful. She thanks me on a regular basis for her new life.
I have thought of some questions a person considering adopting an older child might have:
1) What if they have trouble attaching?
In my case, I really did my homework and read quite a lot about attachment prior to adopting Emily. Also, in many cases, the older the child is, the more information you can get on their personality. All of the reports on Emily indicated that she was smart, got along well with others, and was well behaved.(I even found out her favorite things to eat: candy, cake and cookies!)
After I got my LSC, I sent her a box of stuff including a three page letter filled with all of the questions I thought she would have about her new life and family and the answers to those questions. She knew, before we ever met, that I was an eye doctor, that she had an older sister, that she would have her own room, and that Mommy was going to take her to the doctor to get her back fixed(she has scoliosis). We even went to Build a Bear and recorded my voice saying Ni Hao Ru Ping, Wo Ai Ni. (Hello Ru Ping, I love you!) Emily recognized my voice right away as the voice of the bear! I included photos of her new family and our house.
I knew to meet her where she was at, letting her hug me and sit on my lap. I even let her paint my nails bright red. Orphanage kids are often younger emotionally than they are chronologically. It would not be unusual to have a newly adopted 10 yr old want to sit on your lap and snuggle. Even today, two years after being adopted, she LOVES to snuggle!
(With 20/20 hindsight it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to buy red nail polish. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by removing it so I looked like I was hemorrhaging from my fingers for several days!)
2) What about the language barrier?
Well, since we had several months before travel, my older daughter and I took a fairly intensive course and we learned how to speak, read, and in Corrie’s case write Mandarin. It was actually fun to learn another language and it has really helped me understand Emily’s difficulties in learning English. For instance, there is no conjugation of verbs in Mandarin: he is, they is, you is, you is yesterday, etc. There is also one word that covers singular pronouns: Ta is used for he, she and it. Having a basic vocabulary in Mandarin REALLY helped in the first few months.
One very funny episode happened in China where it was helpful to know what Emily was talking about. Our first day in Guangzhou, Emily got to swim for the first time. She absolutely loved it and we went three times. Upon awakening on day two, Emily announced to us:” Bu Zaofan, hui yoyo! “NO breakfast, go swimming!” We went to breakfast anyway because the pool hadn’t opened yet. Emily just sat there, arms folded refusing to eat. Then my sweet daughter Corrie told her: Yi Zaofan, Er hui yoyo. One breakfast, two swimming. She was OK after that.
Of all of the potential issues with older child adoption, I would have to say that language acquisition is the most common and predictable challenge. If you expect your child to be fluent in English in six months, you are being unrealistic. It can take five years or more to become completely fluent in another language and some older kids never really become entirely fluent. Emily now tests as being proficient in English but she still makes numerous grammatical errors in her speech and writing. She is constantly learning more vocabulary but many of the words she is learning are words her peers already know. She is getting straight A’s in first grade but she is about a year older than most of the other children in her class. Reading is just becoming fun to her because she now has most of the background vocabulary to understand the story. I spend more time helping her with her reading because we often have to go over what she has read to make sure she truly understands it.
I have a friend who adopted a teenager from China. This sweet young lady is now a junior in high school. She is getting great grades but her mom has to go over the reading in every subject to ensure that she completely understands. An assignment that might take 20 minutes for a regular English speaking student takes her nearly an hour to complete.
If you don’t think you will have the patience to provide long-term additional academic support for your older adopted child, you should reconsider adopting in this age range.
3) What if the child I adopt isn’t what I thought she/he would be like?
I guess I would say count on it! To quote Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Your child’s adoption file accuracy is limited by the descriptive abilities of the person preparing the file and the medical resources available. Fortunately in my daughter’s case, everything that was written about her personality and academic ability was right on. She is a sweet, very bright little girl who excels in math which was described well in her file.
However, the information about her medical condition was not complete. There ended up being more wrong with her back than scoliosis. An MRI showed that she also has a mild form of spina bifida called diastematomyelia. An ultrasound showed she has one kidney. The kidney works fine thankfully. She had her spinal cord detethered(the spina bifida part) prior to getting a rod put in her back for the scoliosis. I had researched her special need and I did know going into the adoption that there was a chance that she could have spina bifida. I am actually glad that I did not know the full extent of her condition. I would have felt too intimidated by it to pursue adopting and I would have missed out on a totally awesome kid!
When you adopt a child with a listed medical special need, it makes a lot of sense to do research on it, including any other conditions that could be associated with it. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
4) What about the flip side of this: What if YOU aren’t exactly like what your new child is expecting?
Remember, if you are adopting an older child, you are adopting a fully formed person with their own opinions, thoughts and dreams. In Emily’s case, even with all of the prep work on my part, I still wasn’t quite what she had pictured in her mind. She could not get over the size of my nose! Mama yo da beize! (Mama has big nose!) Apparently the two dimensional photos did not prepare her for the three dimensional reality! She stared at my nose with a mixture of horror and fascination for days. She would measure my nose with her fingers, then compare it with hers. She also wanted to have a mama with long hair. I even tried to grow my hair out but it’s very thick so it just didn’t happen. As an adult, with full reasoning ability, we can handle altering our expectations much more easily than a child can. Please remember give your new child acceptance and time to adjust to their new reality.
In conclusion, I am very happy to have adopted an older child! I hope that by being candid about my experience you have gained more insight into what it would be like to adopt an older child and I hope that some of you decide to take the leap of faith and pursue it!
(The girls right after we returned from China)
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE CCCWA
We have recently received a notice from the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) regarding issuance of referrals (Letter of Seeking Confirmation) to adoptive families. The CCCWA has become aware that after the issuance of the Letter of Seeking Confirmation to adoptive families there has been a delay in the return of the signed Letter of Seeking Confirmation (acceptance of referral) and required documentation back to the country. The CCCWA realizes that some families need to renew their expired government approval letter which has consequently delayed the placement of children with families.
In order to avoid such problems and to protect the best interest of the children, CCCWA has implemented the following policy as follows:
1. Adoption agencies must pay close attention to the timeline and schedule of the matching of regular referrals through the traditional China program. For families who are soon to be matched, agencies should make sure that the family’s USCIS approval letter is within the validity period. Agencies will need to send a copy of the renewed approval letter to our Review Department as soon as possible.
2. For families with dossiers submitted under the traditional China program for a regular refer and later transfer to the non-Special Focus Waiting Child adoption program, agencies are required to ensure that the USCIS government approval letter is still within the validity period before locking a child for the family. Families with an expired approval letter cannot lock a non-Special Focus child.
3. If the Letter of Seeking Confirmation and necessary documentation is not signed and returned to country within three months after issuance of regular referral or waiting child referral, the CCCWA will relinquish that child’s referral from the family and assign child to another family with current USCIS approval.
Therefore, effective immediately GWCA will require a copy of each family’s current, valid USCIS I800A Notice of Approval before the family can be issued a referral from CCCWA or lock a file for non-Special Focus child. Please be aware that USCIS quotes 90 days to review and adjudicate the I800A application. We recommend families who anticipate an imminent referral complete their home study and apply to USCIS as quickly as possible. Please remember your GWCA case manager must review and approve all home studies prior to finalization. We ask that families with a current USCIS approval send a copy of their approval notice to GWCA. For LID families that are expecting a healthy referral and we have not received a copy of the current USCIS approval per CCCWA new policy, GWCA must notify CCCWA to postpone issuance of a referral until the family is able to provide a valid, current USCIS approval.
Please do not hesitate to speak directly with your GWCA case manager regarding any questions concerns about CCCWA’s new policy. Thank you for your cooperation.Read More
We are so excited for all of the cute little boys we have seen find forever families in 2013. Forty percent of our adoptions from China in 2013 were little boys. We have come a long way to bring these little guys home. However most people don’t realize how many boys are actually waiting. There are over 1200 boys waiting to find their forever families. Many of these boys have very minor needs and may be just a little bit older. It’s a common misconception that there are only girls waiting in China but that idea is far from true. To learn more about our adorable waiting boys contact Jessie@gwca.org.
Look at these adorable little boys, just some of the many that found their forever families over the last year.
It’s the start of a new year and we’d like a new start for these sweet kids. Our featured kids this week need your help finding their forever home. Whether they are destined to be a part of your family or not, we need your help advocating for them. Share this page with anyone and everyone and let these kids start off the year right, finding their forever families!
Hi, my name is Bella and I am 6 years old! When I was born I had a meningocele and hydrocephalus. I had surgery to repair my meningocele and my hydrocephalus has been corrected as well, and I did not even need surgery. Both of my feet are slightly clubbed, but I am getting therapies to help this! I am able to count, sing, and I know my shapes and colors. I am getting therapies through Half the Sky and living in a wonderful foster home that helps me to improve all my skills. My caregivers say that I am energetic, get along well with my friends, and I have big beautiful brown eyes!
My name is Dustin and I am 9 years old. My doctors tell me that I have congenital cerebral alloplasia but it does not have any affect on my daily life. I am a typical boy and all of my development is the same as the other kids. I am a pro at using chopsticks and can even wash my clothes all by myself! My foster family thinks I am a big help with the chores around the house. I have trouble lifting heavy things with my left hand and I can be a bit unsteady walking up stairs but I have big muscles on my right side to help. I get along well with my foster siblings and am always polite. I am a quiet boy and am always friendly towards others. I really like to read and listen to music. I get along well with my foster siblings and am always polite.
I’m Lexi and I am 11 years old. I am a very outgoing girl and I get along well with the other children. My doctors say that I have mild exotropia and I have a 2cm hemangioma on my chest. I am studying in the kindergarten class in the orphanage since I am a bit behind my friends. I think it’s because I have a bad memory but I am working hard to catch up. My teacher even helps me recite Tang poetry so that I can catch up. My foster mother also helps me with my homework and I am trying to get better at expressing myself and communicating with adults. I don’t always understand their questions and sometimes they don’t understand mine. I am a big helper with the house chores and I am getting along well with my foster family.
Hi, I’m Gerald and I am 19 months old! When I was born I had a meningocele and chari malformations in my skull. I had surgery for this when I was very young and I am working hard to recover! I am able to sit and play all by myself. I can crawl and I am trying to learn to walk, but my left foot is a little bit clubbed. I can use my arms just fine and this helps me to play with my toys all day. My caregivers say that I am very cute and love to smile. When my caregivers talk to me I love to clap, laugh, and get very excited!
Hi, I’m Sawyer and I love to play with anything with wheels. I have a dropped foot and it causes me to walk a little bit slower, but it doesn’t stop me from playing and being super active. I came into care when I was 3 years old and I have not been sick since then. I am doing great in school at the orphanage and I make excellent grades! My caregivers say that I am talkative and I am kind. I love to play with any type of toy and I especially love to build towers out of blocks!
This video shows the wonderful journey one of our families made bringing home their son. It’s a beautiful story that we hope can encourage many to take the leap of faith and become a forever family for one of our beautiful children.
The password for this video is superhero.Read More