DSD – A Family’s Insight

In adoption, many programs classify children’s files as either “healthy” or “special needs.” This classification has a life altering impact on each child, as it is determined from that point whether or not they will be considered “difficult to place.” Often, children who are deemed “healthy” have their files prepared quickly so that they can be matched with a family at a young age. Children who have been labeled “special needs,” however, may wait years and years for a family who can see them for who they are and not what their “need” is.

Below is an incredible story from one of our families who has been matched with a 13 year old girl through our China adoption program. Like many children in this program, her file was listed with a need that is often misunderstood. If your family is interested in learning more about adopting a child with DSD, contact our China matching specialists today!

Personal Insights: Adopting a Teen with Differences of Sex Development through Great Wall China Adoption

Just a few months ago, my husband, children, and I decided we were going to adopt a 13 year old girl from China.  I haven’t met very many people who have adopted older children, and even though many of our close friends might have doubted our decision, we are definitely looking forward to it and the possibilities of working with her, loving her, and helping her become a successful adult. Our story is a little different than most international adoption cases. We are adopting an older child, we are adopting out of birth order, and she has been listed with a special need.

Before reading her file, we hadn’t prepared for this. My husband and I had wanted to adopt, but had not spoken about adoption for several years. One look at her file and we knew she was a perfect fit for our family. We have two other children, 10 and 8 years old, and we were very honest about what they might expect. We had several open conversations and encouraged them to look at her file with us.  We read several handouts and articles about adopting out of birth order and what that might mean. We read blogs, connected with other parents, read books, and no matter what we found, we still felt she was meant to be in our family. We knew once we decided and made a commitment to apply, we were making a promise to her, and we would do all we could to make it happen.

jones2Eva was special in that she was born with a difference of sex development. In international adoption lists, these children often have very stigmatizing language attached to their descriptions and files. For this reason, they sometimes have a harder time being adopted. A difference of sex development, or DSD, can also be called intersex. This is where someone’s biological development doesn’t match what someone would usually expect for a girl or a boy. Many times in our society, if someone hears the word “sex”, things suddenly become taboo, and maybe awkward. In reality, the reproductive system has as many variations as there are for hair color or eye color. It’s just another way to be human. Most people have never even heard of it. That amazes me, because I was one of those people who had never heard of it, and it’s as common as being born with red hair!

DSD is an umbrella term for a set of conditions that can range from something like difficulty with fertility to something more complex, like being born with genitals that are really more in between what we expect for a boy or a girl. This can include the reproductive system, outward appearance (phenotype), chromosomes, and hormones like testosterone or estrogen. In our society, it is easy to confuse sex (physical development) with gender or sexual attraction. Gender can be affected by hormones and other chemicals, as well as social and cultural influences. However, most kids know their gender (how they feel on the inside) between the ages 3-7. Sexual attraction is also another category. Who you are attracted to may match your gender, or it may not. We see evidence of this everywhere. Having a DSD doesn’t indicate anything about sexual attraction, and doesn’t mean there will be a gender difference. It could just be the inability to carry a biological child, and no child should be considered un-adoptable for something that affects so many of us.

I totally get it. Adopting a child with a special need can seem scary, especially if that special need seems taboo. Adopting a child with a special need you have never heard of can seem even more overwhelming.  Let me assure you, there is absolutely nothing life threatening about these differences. With few exceptions, there are usually no cognitive or developmental delays, and there is a great opportunity to receive quality care here in the United States for these kids who would otherwise be left behind. There are so many great people who are intersex, and there are many support groups who can share tips and helpful information online.

Shortly after my biological daughter was born, at about two months of age, we realized something wasn’t right when giving her bath one night. She had a bulge in her abdomen that later turned out to be a hernia. While we weren’t overly concerned, it was pretty apparent it was causing her some discomfort, so we scheduled surgery to have it repaired. Handing your baby girl over to a stranger to be put under anesthesia is absolutely nerve wracking, but we trusted she was in good care. The surgery took longer than we expected and after about an hour, the doctor came out to speak with us. I still remember everything about the waiting room. The smell… the color of the carpet…the feel of the chairs… and the way the doctor couldn’t look at us in the eyes. I’ll never forget his words. Instead of ovaries, he had found immature testes and no uterus or fallopian tubes. My typical daughter, with all her typical parts, had something not so typical inside where her ovaries would have been.
After the hernia repair surgery was completed the healthcare providers ran a battery of tests. Her karyotype came back as XY. For most girls, the usual chromosome pattern includes XX chromosomes. For most boys, XY. I had seen my daughter though. Everything about her was female. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how this was even possible. While waiting for more blood work and test results, we returned home after an overnight stay in the hospital. I spent hours researching on the internet, and I came across a group called the AIS-DSD Support Group. They had a list of possible conditions that were easy to understand, resources, and a handbook. I printed everything I could and read for hours.

What I found out was that she had a DSD called complete androgen insensitivity. If she had not had the hernia, we would have not known until puberty when she didn’t have a period. She had XY chromosomes, which gave the instructions for testes to form. The testes secreted androgens (like testosterone) and because she was missing one tiny nucleotide on the X chromosome, which is comparable to one letter in a 600 volume encyclopedia, she couldn’t “read” what to do with it.  Her body might as well have thought the testosterone was water. So, without the androgens working, her body went along the typical pathway of female. To be more graphically specific, she had a typical vulva, clitoris, and vagina, but it would be like the vagina of someone who had their uterus removed because the uterus didn’t develop. Her immature testes, or gonads, made a lot of testosterone, but her body created a way to turn it into estrogen, so she was able to develop just like typical girls do. Most women with CAIS identify as female, and go on to lead typical, happy healthy lives. The only health concern would be to monitor her gonads (they can develop cysts and etc.) and to take calcium (because testosterone is what hardens your bones) to avoid osteoporosis. Most women need to do this anyway.
My daughter eventually grew, and we started teaching her with the knowledge that she could understand about her development. One thing I learned through the support group is that secrecy can cause shame. There was nothing to be ashamed of, and we think she is absolutely perfect! We don’t believe people are made with mistakes. We just know everyone is different in their own way. We know that she was born without a baby pocket (a uterus), and that there are many ways to grow a family. Through the support group we met the most amazing individuals, and many with similar traits. They go on to have all the opportunities any other girl would have. The difference is, I have changed. My understanding of life has evolved. She is still the same beautiful child I had on the day of her birth, but my understanding of how her body works has finally caught up, and without her, I would be missing out on the most amazing, welcoming community I have ever been a part of.

jones4It wasn’t long before I was finding ways to volunteer for the AIS-DSD Support Group and I learned about differences that are a little more complicated as well. I ran for the board, and then went on to be the communications coordinator and collaborative projects liaison. I helped organize conferences, develop collaborations to develop continuing medical education opportunities for pediatric specialists, and speak to others from around the globe. It is like going to a family reunion every year at our national conferences. I absolutely love it. Because I’m a teacher, I started to develop education sessions and ways to teach children with other moms. It isn’t often we find doctors that know a lot about these conditions, so we have developed a network with many specialty clinics. It has been an amazing to see the progress over the past few years. Most of the time, we have to be the experts so that we know our children are getting treatment that doesn’t complicate their feelings about themselves. It is a steep learning curve for a parent who may not have heard about these conditions before, and having each other to lean on, with the support of kind medical providers, has been so incredibly important.

My husband and I had always thought about adoption, and had even tried at one point, but because DHS is a bit broken where we are, we never received a placement. One day, when I was checking the email for the support group, there was a contact from Great Wall China Adoptions. They were seeking help from groups like ours to advocate for some harder to place children. This hit a chord with me instantly. Then I saw her face. I immediately emailed my husband and asked him to look. He knew it as well as I did that she was meant for us. This child had never been considered because of her biological difference. She is smart, talented, and tries so hard to help take care of the little ones where she is.  She deserves a family, and one that can understand her condition and get her quality care. We can do that for her. She would never have this possibility in China. Many of our support group members there still have to live in secrecy. Knowing she would be aging out in a few short months just encouraged us to try harder. The amazing advocates at GWCA have worked so hard to make sure our process is smooth and timely.

It is a large possibility that Eva has never had a file written for her to be considered for adoption, and she has been in the same special needs orphanage since she was two months of age. This can be the case with many kids orphanages feel would not be considered for adoption.  Without the GWCA advocate meeting her (Thank you so much Heidi!), interviewing her, asking her if she wanted to be adopted, none of this would have been possible. Another child would be living a life of shame and secrecy on top of being terminated from the social welfare system in just a few short months.
There are still many children with DSD available for adoption. Some have grants, some are younger, and some are older. The language used in translation can be difficult for anyone to read. It can be very stigmatizing and sometimes just completely wrong. It can be something as simple as having different chromosome combination for a boy and having XXY instead. It can mean hypospadias, which is really common. It can mean a little girl being exposed to a little too much testosterone in the utero and her genitals looking a little different. It may mean a little girl with no uterus or ovaries.  Or it may mean there is someone who is born in between that has to grow to tell you how the feel as far as their gender someday. In those cases, we have many resources to help. These are wonderful children, and it really isn’t as scary as it sounds. There are entire groups with support just for adopting these children, and they are full of amazing parents like you.

jones3The next time you look at a listing, consider searching for terms such as ambiguous genitalia. This term, though we don’t like to use it with people in the United States as it is not very kind, will pull up many children who are waiting that others have skimmed over. Some of these traits can be found it those with CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia), CAIS/ PAIS (Complete or Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome), Swyer Syndrome (Pure Gonadal Dysgenesis), Hypospadias, and many more. When you are reading their file, be prepared to read terms that are inaccurate from lack of funds for testing,  or be shown photos that are sensitive in nature. In translation you might see wording that is stigmatizing, but we can make sure to clarify it for you.  If you want to talk or learn more, you are welcome to talk with me, a clinician in our support group, or a parent with a child of that specific condition. What you will find is that these people know how to be accepting and understanding, the children are smart, happy, well informed, and absolutely beautiful. You can also contact the support group directly at www.aisdsd.org, or click on Intersex & DSD to learn more about some of the conditions under the DSD/ Intersex umbrella.

What I can also say is the GWCA team has been fantastic through our entire process. They are very understanding and want the best for these children, and do not judge them by their differences. Several have taken the time to become educated so they can better care for these children and answer questions. For Eva, it was the partnership that gave her and us this opportunity. Meredith, our agent, has gone above and beyond since the day we first emailed. She walked us through so much of the process and they even had our Pre-Approval back in just three days. That was an incredibly surprise! There are so many blessings we have received throughout this entire process, and having the opportunity to talk and write about this group of children is yet another. If it makes the difference for just one, it will have meant the world to our family and the community that serves those with differences of sex development. They are not alone, and there is someone who is waiting out there who is their forever family. They just don’t know it yet.

Contact our China matching specialists to learn about kids with DSD that we’re currently advocating for!

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7 New Kids on the Block

anthonyThis little cutie’s name is Anthony! Anthony will be turning 2 years old this December. His official diagnosis is listed as William’s Syndrome, which is a genetic condition that was present at birth. He also has a congenital heart defect and a urogenital need that was treated with surgery. His caregivers say that he is a very happy kiddo who loves to play with his nannies and peers. He is able to stand with assistance, and loves to dance back and forth to music! He was not speaking in sentences at the time his file was prepared last December, but he was able to say “mama” he laugh along with caregivers as they speak to him. He is an adorable little guy who would thrive with the love of a family. Please reach out to Great Wall if you would like to learn more!

baileyBailey is an adorable little girl from China that is 1 and a half years old.  Bailey is described by her caretakers as being generally healthy, but she has limb motor development delays, mainly in her legs, and she is a little behind her peers cognitively. Bailey is very outgoing and happy when she is with her nannies and her physical therapists. She will cheer or clap when she sees her favorite food. She understands her nannies facial expressions and she can tell when someone is in a good or bad mood. She knows the differences between strangers and familiar people.

Bailey is able to sit up by herself and she is able to roll over, but she is not yet able to crawl or stand by herself. The motor function of her lower limbs is weaker than some of her peers. Bailey is babbling and mimics simple pronunciations like “ba ba” or “ay yi.” She understands kissing and she like kiss her toy duck. She is a giggly little girl and she laughs when you play with her.

One of our GWCA staff members met Bailey when she visited China earlier this year and she would be happy to speak with any interested families about Bailey!

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Bailey. We hope we are able to find Bailey her Forever Family soon!

Click Here to Watch one of Bailey’s NEW Videos!

margoMargo is a wonderful little girl from China that just recently turned 5 years old. Margo was born with a meningocele, but it was removed surgically when she was little. Margo cannot walk but she can stand up by holding on to things, she can get up and down stairs and she can get around by riding on a scooter.  Margo lives with a foster family and they say she is healthy and has a bright and sunny disposition.  Margo is described by her foster family as having excellent cognitive ability and that she is very clever.  Her verbal ability is very strong and she can speak multi-word sentences and she is asking “what” and “how” questions. She likes to say “hello” to familiar people when they come into a room.

Margo likes listening to music and playing hide and seek. Her foster family say that she is very adored and that she gets along well with other children. She will sometimes run up to you will giggles and smiles!  Margo does have incontenance issues due to her menegocele surgery.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Margo. We hope we are able to find Margo her Forever Family soon!

Click Here to Watch one of Margo’s NEW Videos!

scarlett

Scarlett is a precious little girl from China that just recently turned 7 years old. Scarlett has a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta which means that her bones are more fragile than most peoples. Scarlett also has clubbed feet and some joint stiffness in her knees. Scarlett can pick up items with her fingers though, she can unbutton buttons, take off her own clothes, and turn pages in a book one by one. Scarlett can also stand up on her own when she is holding on to something. She tends to be more introverted and shy, especially around strangers. Scarlett is just like any other kiddo when it comes to playing though. She loves to play with toys and with her friends. Scarlett gets along well with others and she is able to verbally communicate with her peers and adults, though her language is a bit delayed. Scarlett can clap her hands, blow a kiss goodbye and she can point to things she wants and her caretakers will bring them to her. At this time Scarlett cannot control her defecation or urination, so she does wear diapers.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Scarlett. We hope we are able to find Scarlett her Forever Family soon!

willa

Willa is a precious little girl from China that just recently turned 6 years old. Willa appears to be physically is healthy but she is developmentally delayed in some areas. Willa did not come into the orphanage until she was 4 years old, so it took her a while to adjust to living in an orphanage setting. Willa is more introverted and shy and enjoys listening to music and watching television. She doesn’t like to talk a lot but she can speak and understands what other people are saying to her. Willa can speak 5-10 word sentences. Willa can follow simple instructions and is cooperative when doing activities in class. Will enjoys playing outside and participating in games with the help of her teachers.

There are some indicators in Willa’s file that she might be on the autism spectrum, however that is not directly stated anywhere in the file. Many of her delays could potentially be due to the fact that she was abandoned at an older age and that she is still very sad about losing her family and that she has never fully adjusted to living in the orphanage. She could be struggle to connect to others because she still thinks her birth family might be coming back for her, even though they are not. It is hard to say for certain, but this little girl is clearly in need of a loving Forever Family that will make her feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they will never leave her or forsake her.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Willa. We hope we are able to find Willa her Forever Family soon!

aidenAiden is a sweet 6-year old kiddo in need of a forever home! He was diagnosed with microtia in his right ear and mild developmental delays, but overall he seems to be thriving with the consistent care of his nannies. His caretakers describe him as a playful kiddo who loves to play with other children. He loves to throw a ball back and forth with his nanny, and he is described as a very happy kiddo. His caretakers love him very much and are hopeful that he will find a family soon. If you’d like to learn more about Aiden, please reach out to Great Wall China Adoption for more information!

malachiMalachi is a sweet little boy from China who just recently turned 4 years old. Malachi has something called amblyopia, which means he has weak vision in both eyes. It isn’t clear in his file if he is completely blind, but it does say that he needs help walking around, probably because he can’t see very well. Other than that, Malachi is in good physical condition and all of his limbs work well. Malachi has good language development, and he can express his thoughts well to both children and adults. Malachi speaks in 5-10 word sentences, he knows out to count 1-10 and he asks “how” and “why” questions. Malachi like to play with toys and enjoys going outside for walks. He is a little introverted and timid at times, especially around strangers. Malachi has good self-care skills such as dressing and undressing himself.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Malachi. We hope we are able to find Malachi his Forever Family soon!

 

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New Orphanage Partnership

new-opWe are delighted to announce that we have just signed another new orphanage partnership with Xining city!

While our staff members have previously met with several of the children at this orphanage, our in-country China adoption specialists are so excited to visit this orphanage again so that they can meet and interview the rest of the children that we will be advocating for!

We are so grateful to the CCCWA and our new orphanage partnership for giving us the opportunity to advocate for their children, and we are hopeful that each of them will find a loving forever family soon.

If your family is interested in learning more about the kiddos from our Orphanage Partnerships, contact our matching specialists today!

What is an Orphanage Partnership?

GWCA’s Orphanage Partnerships work directly with our agency to prepare children’s files so that we can place them with loving Forever Families as quickly as possible! Once a child’s file has been prepared by one of our partner orphanages, it is given directly to our agency rather than being placed on China’s Shared List. This means that our families have the opportunity to be among the first to see these children’s files when considering if they would be a good fit for their family. If you’re interested in learning more about the kiddos from our orphanage partnerships, contact our China Matching Specialists, or visit our China Waiting Child Photo Listing today!

– Click here to visit our Waiting Child photo listing! –

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I Found My Family

fffWe are DELIGHTED to announce that a family has begun submitting their paperwork to bring this beautiful girl home forever! Congratulations to her and her new family from all of us at GWCA and CAN – we can’t wait to see you come home!

China Waiting Child Adoption

Our China adoption program allows families to be matched with Special Focus children at any point in the process, making the adoption journey as a whole relatively quick! We receive new children’s files each week, both from our orphanage partnerships and from the Shared List, which provides our families with the opportunity to review multiple files until they find a child that they feel would be a good fit. Contact our China matching specialists or visit our photo listing to learn more about the kids that we’re currently advocating for!

– Visit the China Waiting Child Photo Listing
– 
Contact our China Matching Specialists
– Learn more about the China adoption process

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New Kids on the Block

drewDrew is a sweet boy who just turned 9 years old! He was born with clubbed feet and spina bifida. He received surgery for his spina bifida and is doing very well! Through rehabilitation services his fine and gross motor development have improved tremendously. His file indicates that he doesn’t have any mobility delays due to his spina bifida. His caretakers mention that he is very smart and does extremely well in school! He is a logical kiddo who loves to observe and analyze new concepts. He doesn’t have any language delays compared to his peers and is great at communicating with adults. Drew is described as cheerful and always willing to share his food and toys with other kiddos! Contact GWCA if you’d like to review Drew’s file!

1476242025This cute kiddo’s name is Deacon! Deacon is 9-years old and is in need of a family to call his own. Deacon has cognitive and language delays, but he appears to be making incredible progress with the consistent care of his orphanage! His caregivers describe him as kind, helpful, and respectful of others, saying that is playful and loves to make friends with new people. He is very sweet and loves to spend time with his caregivers. Deacon would thrive with the love of a family. Please reach out to Great Wall if you’d like to learn more!clayClay is a playful kiddo who is 10 years old! He was born with spina bifida which he received surgery for as a young child. He lives with a foster family and is doing very well! Clay is in the third grade and his caretakers say he has a strong desire to learn new things! He does well in school and can even sing some simple songs in English! He is described as being active, positive and expressive. Clay doesn’t have any language or cognitive delays compared to his peers and he does a great job at managing his daily life. He can make his bed, clean up after himself and follow instructions well! Clay loves playing basketball and football with his friends. Contact GWCA if you’d like to review Clay’s file!quinnQuinn is an adorable little girl from China that just turned 3 years old! Quinn has Down’s Syndrome and is doing quite well. One of our GWCA staff members met Quinn when she visited China earlier this year and she would be happy to speak with any interested family about Quinn! 

Quinn has been described by caregivers as clever, introverted, cute and energetic. Quinn lives in an imitation family on the orphanage grounds, which is like a foster family, so she is receiving more one-on-one attention than some other children.

Quinn can use her hands to hold small objects, such as sticks, books, spoons, etc. Quinn can pass toys between both of her hands and can use hands to support herself. When Quinn is sitting up the child has good balance and can change her position freely. Quinn can crawl, she can stand up by herself and is learning to walk. Quinn likes to walk around using small chairs and stools to help her balance.

Like many children with Down’s Syndrome, Quinn’s language abilities are delayed compared to other children her age without Down’s Syndrome. However, Quinn can say words like “ma ma,” “ba ba,” and she imitates what adults and children around her are saying.

Quinn enjoys listening to music, looking at picture books and dancing. Quinn can color on paper and play with puzzles.  Quinn is clearly a very curious little girl and always seems to want to figure out how things work.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Quinn. We hope we are able to find Quinn her Forever Family soon!

Video #1! | Video #2! | Video #3! | Video #4!

walkerWalker is a sweet little boy from China that is 3 years old. Walker has a VSD (CHD) and he has microtia of his left ear, which means his ear is a bit malformed and he might not be able to hear as well out of it, but other than that he seems to be doing well. Walker can speak multi-word sentences and he can understand what others are saying to him. He can follow instructions given to him by adults. Walker can walk and go up and down stairs by himself. He has some self-care skills like taking off his clothes. His caretakers describe him as outgoing, kind and full of laughter.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Walker. We hope we are able to find Walker his Forever Family soon!

Click Here to Watch All of Walker’s NEW Videos!

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Forever Family Friday!

fff1Congratulations to this adorable little lady who was recently matched with one of the families in our China LID adoption program! Since her file was considered LID – meaning she’s a younger kiddo with a more minor or correctable need – her family had to have their dossier logged in before they could be matched with her. Now that they’re officially matched, they’re one step closer to bringing her home forever! They’ve still got part of the process to complete before they can travel to China, so they’ve sent her a care package with a photo album of their family that she can look at in the meantime. I think it’s safe to say she LOVED the gift!

This particular kiddo was among the children that one of our China matching specialists had the opportunity to meet during her trip to China earlier this year, and we are so happy that she has found a family who is ready to welcome her with open arms.

If your family is interested in adopting a younger child with more minor or correctable needs and you’re interested in learning more about our China LID adoption program, contact our matching specialists today!

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Bryndal’s Story

October is the National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Before it gets away from us, we wanted to make sure that we featured one of our amazing  GWCA families and their little Bryndal. The power of unconditional LOVE shines through this family! Check out their story below and take a minute to visit their adoption website, as it is truly a touching story.

Adopting a child with special needs can be a difficult and intimidating process, but with blind faith and love it can absolutely be done. The road will never be easy. For a family like this one, they already knew the difficulty of bringing home a healthy child through adoption, but never a special needs child. Adopting a child with special needs was never in “their plan.” However, they have changed this little girl’s life forever all thanks to their family’s willingness to love. It doesn’t take an expert to see that she fits right in, and is right where she belongs!

Bryndal’s Story

In 2006, we traveled to China to bring home our precious daughter, Bria.  Exactly one year later, we submitted paperwork to return to China to adopt another Chinese Princess.  During the course of that year, the process to adopt a non-special needs child from China had gone from a one year to a six to eight year process.  We decided to leave our dossier in China knowing that God had another special angel for us in China, and we would wait on His timing to bring that child home.

bryndal31-300x203During our wait, we traveled to Africa twice to bring home two beautiful daughters and we completed one domestic adoption for our youngest jewel, a precious son. Throughout the years, we discussed our “future child” in China and wondered when God would finally introduce us and bring that child home.

In May of 2012, we opened our weekly email from Great Wall that introduced two special focus children of the week.  The moment the photos loaded in the email, our hearts skipped a beat and we KNEW this was the precious Princess we had been waiting on for years.  She was not a baby, she was not on the non-special needs track, she was not who we expected…BUT she was beautiful with a smile full of pure JOY and she was OURS!  We called Great Wall and quickly received approval to adopt a special needs child and were matched with our precious, amazing Bryndal!

As we flew through the steps to bring home our new daughter, we faced many days when we were scared to death about what the future would hold for us once Bryndal came home.  This was our first special needs adoption, and this was not really in “our plans.”  How would she react to us, how would our kids react to her, what would our family think, how would we communicate with her, what would the attachment process be like adopting an older child, how would we parent a child with Down syndrome…  We had to place these fears in God’s hands knowing that He had led us to this child at this time with this special need, and He would take care of all of these details.

On July 1, 2013, God calmed all of our fears when we finally met our sweet girl.  She walked through the door full of smiles, hugs and kisses, and her amazing love has continued to blossom each day.  Words cannot describe what a blessing this precious child is to our family and to everyone she meets.  She is FULL of joy, laughter and LOVE!

Our other precious jewels have enjoyed Bryndal just as much as we have.  They take turns sitting by her at meals and argue over who gets to sit by her in the car.  She has blended into our family as if she was with us since birth.  She has added so much love to our family…our hearts are truly overflowing! We expected to bless a child with a forever home, but we had no idea what love and blessings she would bring to us! We could never have dreamed of such a smooth transition and not a day goes by that we do not thank our Heavenly Father for bringing us to this child at this time with this special need…our forever Chinese Princess!

Each day Bria thanks God for giving her a family and she prays for all the orphans in the world to find a family too.  She is so happy to have Bryndal for a sister and refers to her as her “China twin.”  Bria is four months older than Bryndal.

To learn more about our journey to Bryndal please visit our site here! 

If your family is interested in learning more about the children with Down syndrome that GWCA is currently advocating for, please visit our China Waiting Child photo listing or contact our matching specialists today! 

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5 More Kids Added This Week!

This week we’ve added 5 NEW KIDS to our China Waiting Child photo listing! If you’re interested in learning how you can begin your adoption journey and take the first step towards being matched with one of these kiddos, contact our China matching specialists or visit our photo listing today!

Click here to request a file on our China Waiting Child photo listing!

wadeThis little cutie’s name is Wade! Wade is 5 years old and has been diagnosed with hemophilia. He participated in Summer Hosting in July and had an amazing time with his host family! Here’s what Wade’s host mom has to say about this little guy:

“Let me introduce you to “Wade”.  He is the most handsome, brave, resourceful little boy you’ll ever met.

His smile will melt your heart and his curiosity will spark your imagination.  Wade loves to play outside, ride his big wheel, and especially loves water activities.  He is very helpful and very observant….so don’t do anything in front of him that you don’t want him to remember!  He has a little trouble with the word “no” but then again what little guy doesn’t.  He likes to play with other children and really enjoyed his time in the preschool room at church.  He loved the zoo, riding the carousel and watching the orangutans. Wade is an awesome bouncer which was exhibited every time we went to a local inflatable inside bounce house.  He really is a great kid with so much potential.

He isn’t even hard to cook for: loved watermelon, bananas, zucchini bread, eggs, chicken, fish, sour cream / onion potato chips and peanuts.  He isn’t too fond of pizza, spaghetti or blueberries though.

Wade has hemophilia, which is a blood clotting disorder.  His blood does not clot without the aid of infusions which can be given at home or a clinic.  It is manageable and as you see this does not stop this little one from living life to its fullest…..he runs, bikes, swims and hugs with no problem ! Please consider bringing this amazing child into your family.  He deserves so many wonderful things, most of all a forever family!”

Check out Wade’s videos!

Please reach out to Great Wall if you would like to learn more!

timmyTimmy is a sweet little boy from China that just recently turned 7 years old. Timmy wasn’t brought into care until he was 4 years old, so we can assume he was raised by his family until that time. Timmy has been in a foster family since early 2014, so he is receiving more one-on-one attention than a child living in an orphanage. Timmy was shy at first but he became more sociable after he got used to life with his foster family. He can communicate with adults and children clearly and can speak 5-10 word sentences. He can walk steadily, dance with rhythm, build with blocks and do puzzles. He is in a regular school and is learning with other children of his own age. Timmy gets along with others well and has a ready smile. He is an active boy who is fond of playing games. While his physical examination shows that he has some maldevelopment of his right parietal lobe cortex, it doesn’t seem to be affecting him that much. He is not described as being delayed and instead he seems to be a pretty normal 7 year old boy.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Timmy. We hope we are able to find Timmy his Forever Family soon!

aliceAlice is an adorable little gal who just turned 4 years old! She was born with Down’s Syndrome and seems to be doing well compared to her friends with the same need. She has been in early education classes and she has made great progress! She can get along well with other kiddos her age and loves to share her toys. She is described as being active and cute by her caretakers. Alice can complete simple tasks like washing her hands, walking up and down the stairs by herself and putting away her toys. GWCA is currently trying to gather more information on Alice. Contact one of our matching specialists if you’d like to review her file! braydenBrayden is a cutie who is 7 years old! He was born with CHD but has received surgery and recovered well! His file is slightly outdated but when it was prepared in 2013, he was progressing very well. He was living in a foster family and connected very well with them. Brayden could communicate his needs, follow instructions and help his caretakers! He loves playing with legos and small cars. GWCA is currently trying to get an update on how Brayden is doing! Contact one of our matching specialists today if you are interested in learning more about him! waylonWaylon is a cute little boy who is 9 and a half years old. Waylon has a repaired cleft lip and cleft palate, and he also has some length differences of fingers and toes. Waylon has normal physical and intellectual development. Waylon is very close with his caregivers in the orphanage. The orphanage staff says that he generally has a happy, introverted and content personality.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Waylon. We hope we are able to find Waylon his Forever Family soon!

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Ya Ya’s Story

I was innocently browsing through Facebook one day this fall when I saw the post. “Host families needed” it read. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and quickly requested a password to see the profiles of the waiting children. One smiling face stood out and I was immediately drawn in. I called and received more information over the phone and the anticipation set in; the anticipation of having a familiar conversation with my husband. “So, I was on the internet today and I saw this little girl…” it began.  We agreed to host Ya Ya over Christmas and advocate for her.

We drove through the night that cold December morning and arrived at O’Hare airport before the sun rose. We met with some of the waiting families and soon, a group of children, led by chaperones started towards us. And there she was! She was much, much tinier than we had imagined, full of smiles and not afraid.  I motioned to her and she came right over and gave us hugs. Our 9 year old daughter gave her a doll and she latched onto her right away. She was amazed by everything around her, automatic flushing toilets, doors that opened on their own, everything was new and exciting.

We arrived home and were greeted by the rest of the family. Ya Ya immediately was drawn to our son, Ashton, who shared something in common with her, Down syndrome.  They became good buddies over the month she was here. Ya Ya was sweet, gentle and kind with him. She fit in very well with everyone, after a few initial struggles between her and our almost 3 year old son. I believe he thought she was much closer to his age as she was so small. Once they (he!) worked out their “differences,” all was well!

Ya Ya fit in incredibly well! Everyone around us wondered how she would adapt, how would she understand us, what if she is upset, how will you communicate with her??? We used Google Translate and she understood very well! She is very expressive and we could tell by her reactions if she understood or not. Her English was pretty limited, but that did not stop her from playing and interacting.  She enjoyed showing us that she could count in English and liked to use the phrases that she picked up. We discovered her love of dancing around the second week here and dance parties were a regular happening around here!

Ya Ya is bright, inquisitive and catches on quickly. The fact that she had Down syndrome really wasn’t a concern of ours as our son has Down syndrome. She could do far more than we imagined! She was completely independent with her personal hygiene; showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, combing her hair she did all by herself. Honestly, I think she trumps our 9 year old when it came to taking care of that independently! She enjoyed playing with dolls, our play kitchen, coloring and painting. Her artistic “skills” were a bit lacking, but she played well with toys.

As our visit drew to a close, I found myself panicked and a bit weepy thinking about sending her back “home.”  After some discussion, we made the decision to move forward with adoption. It just felt right, especially after being able to see how she fits in with our family. I have to admit that while she was here, I found a message board discussing hosting programs. Several people posting on the site were aghast that children with Down syndrome were being brought over as part of the host program. They wondered how they would understand what this was all about and how would they react when it was time to go back? I can say first hand that she handled it great! We started talking about going back to China about 10 days  before her departure. We talked about how excited her friends would be to see her and that she could share her new things with them.  At the airport, she played and interacted with her friends while waiting for the plane. When it was time to go, she gave Baba a big hug and boarded the plane waving with a smile on her face. We are so grateful for this experience and for this ray of sunshine we will now have in our home forever!

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4 New Kids on the Block

This week we have added 4 kiddos to our China Waiting Child photo listing! These kids are all considered Special Focus, meaning families can be matched with them at any point in the process. If you’re interested in learning how you can be matched with Kiera, Daisy, Chloe or Lucas, visit our photo listing or contact our China matching specialists to review their files today!

Click here to view our China Waiting Child photo listing!

kieraThis sweet girl is Kiera! She 13 years old and will be aging out this May. She is an amazing kiddo in need of a forever family! Her file states that she had intracranial hemorrhaging, but she has had surgery and is doing great. She lacks some mobility in her left hand, but other than that her mobility is fantastic. She loves to run, jump, and play with her friends! She has excellent verbal communication and is even taking English classes! Her caretakers mention that she is not delayed on her cognitive skills and is on target compared to her peers. She is a sweet girl who would thrive with a forever home! Please reach out if you would like to learn more!

Watch Kiera’s Video:

Video #1

daisyDaisy is a sweet little girl who is 2 and a half years old. Daisy has Down Syndrome and is said to be doing better cognitively than her peers who have Down Syndrome in her orphanage. Daisy can walk and go up and down stairs by herself. Daisy is babbling and can say some names of familiar people like her caretakers. Daisy can put on and take off her shoes by herself. Daisy tends be more of an introverted child, but she gets along well with other children and familiar people. Daisy does not have any heart issues.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Daisy. We hope we are able to find Daisy her Forever Family soon!

Watch Daisy’s Videos:

Video #1! | Video #2! | Video #3!

chloeChloe is a cutie who just turned 2 years old! She was born with CHD and she has some differences of her hands and feet. GWCA is currently trying to get more information to see if she has additional needs. Presently she can walk with some support, she can hold food and blocks in her hands and pass items between her hands. Her file indicates that the function of her right hand is slightly better than her left. She is observant and can recognize familiar caretakers. She is described as being introverted but she loves to play with someone’s company. Chloe loves watching cartoons, playing with toys and observing her surroundings. Contact one of our matching specialists today if you’d like to learn more about her!

lucasLucas is a sweet boy who is 7 years old! He is developmentally delayed when compared to his peers. Lucas is described as a polite kiddo who listens carefully to his caretakers and teachers. He is inquisitive and always likes to learn about new things. Lucas is always helping his caretakers with simple tasks and with the younger children. He is considered to be chatty but his language development is delayed compared to children his age. Lucas’ file is pretty limited so GWCA is currently trying to gather some more information. Contact one of our matching specialists if you’d like to learn more about him!

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