Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I would like to say Hello

Hello, my name is Henry. I just had another birthday without a family. I am now 8 years old. I would really like a family to take me home. My best friend has a family now, but I don't. I'm lovable and I like to draw and listen to music. I also like to play outside on the playground with the other kids and take walks. My teachers say I'm pretty smart, but sometimes I'm shy about speaking. However, I really do like to be around other people and seek out other ways to interact. When I was a baby the nannies always said I loved to play peek-a-boo:-) I'm happy, clever and outgoing and I need a mommy and daddy to love me and tuck me in at night and cuddle with me. I need someone to help me with my homework and teach me how to swim and ride a bike. Where is my mommy and daddy? Please come find me soon!
Henry's teachers describe him as bright, sweet and obedient. He understands English, but doesn't speak much of it yet. Would he make a good addition to your family? Contact me: marcisk@asiadopt.org

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Brings Good News!

I'm thrilled to announce that both Cherry and Quentin now have families pursuing them! Congratulations to those families!!! I'm so excited that Quentin and Cherry will be going home to loving forever families! These are truly Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Be Thankful

This is the time of year when we become reflective and think about being thankful. There is so much to be thankful for, despite our tough economy and the many difficulties we have faced over the last year or so. Those of you reading this all likely have families...families that you love and trust. You may or may not have your differences, but they are always there for you. I'm so thankful that my family will all be together for Thanksgiving this year. I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my job and my dedicated coworkers.

I'm thankful for the fact that I have the privilege of working with so many wonderful families, who give of themselves every day because they see the love and potential in the eye of a child who belongs in their family. I'm thankful for the adoption community reading this and so many are always willing to help try to find the right family for our waiting children. I'm so thankful for my waiting child advocates out there that I bother with emails to advocate for our waiting children--and they do! I don't thank them enough! They have united so many children and families.
I'm thankful that the children in our Hope Journey program have such loving staff at their orphanage and try to make it feel like a family. I'm thankful that we have found families for 15 of the Hope Journey children so far. I'm thankful that so many found it in their hearts to donate to the Santa Stops in China program so that we can help give these children a wonderful holiday. We now have $620, but the campaign is not over yet! There is so much to be thankful for, even in a time of trouble. What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 19, 2010

You Thought You Couldn't Do It...

Today CCAA announced some clarifications to their Special Focus program. Since these children in our Hope Journey program are Special Focus children, the changes apply here and may be important for your decision to adopt.

CCAA decided that families who have completed their adoption registration within the last 12 months would be allowed to submit a copy of their old dossier (along with an updated home study and USCIS approval) to adopt a Special Focus child. That saves a whole lot of money on document fees, authentication, etc...so perhaps adopting a Special Focus child is in reach for more families than we thought? Does this option allow you to consider adopting again?

You may also remember that families adopting a Special Focus child are allowed to adopt two children at once, as long as one of them is a Special Focus child. Perhaps the child you're currently in process for needs a brother?

Another option is to leave your healthy infant dossier logged in with CCAA and pursue a special focus child without losing your login date.

If any of these changes allows you to consider adoption and you are interested in any of these children, please contact me right away: marcisk@asiadopt.org

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let's Start with Victories

Let's start today off good with our victories for these children! We have families for Jimmy, Joel, Anna, Chrissy, Mark, Clive, Quentin, Dani, Lily, Jack, Sam, Chance and Wade! Let's celebrate for these kids! Especially for Shelby, who is already home with her family!

We have also raised $350 for the Santa Stops in China program so far, which is not too shabby :-) I believe there is a bit more coming, as reported from families. These are both victories to be celebrated! Especially the families that have found their children! Their lives will be changed forever in immeasurable ways.

Now lets talk about those kids that don't have families yet. I hear stories of older boys, especially, who dreamed of a family and then aged out of the possibility. These boys are smart and engaging with unlimited potential, but lost their dream of a family. I've met the kids I'm advocating for here. These kids also have that kind of potential. They just need a family to commit to them and help them reach it! As an orphan in China, they won't have much opportunity. They are considered bad luck. No child should be considered bad luck! Each child should be treasured for who they are! Each child has the potential to change the lives of their family members in positive ways! They will teach you a thing or two:-)

Let's take Harley for instance: he is such a sweet boy who has led a difficult life because he attempted to integrate into public school and was teased. We all know what it's like to be treated unfairly by others, but then to have no one to come home to and share the pain with, to comfort you, or help you through it--now that is truly unfair! Surely someone would like a sweet, sensitive boy to be part of their family?

Let's take Shawn: he has a special need that may never effect him in his life, or it could--it's hard to say. Up until now, he has been a healthy, intelligent, scruptious little boy! Everyone loves him. He has a slightly increased chance of something changing his life and he will need help and support through that. That's something a family could give him. Any child, biological or adopted, healthy or special needs faces the risk of life--that something could happen and change their life forever. No one wants to think about those things, or much less experience them, but it happens.

I know that many of you are reaching out and trying to help these children any way that you can. I've heard from families who have heard from you--so thank you for trying to help! Each of your attempts could be the very key to changing that child's life. That's what we need to do--change each child's life one at a time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Whimsical Warner

Warner seems like a very sweet 9 year old boy whose special need from what I can tell has been corrected. He is in second grade and his favorite subjects are PE and art. He likes to read English story books for fun! He wants to be adopted and feels ok about going to America. He is happy and smiles frequently. He had a whimsical outfit for his performance, with CD's hanging from his belt! How clever! His teachers describe him as expressive and clever.You can tell by his drawing that he has a positive outlook. Could you be the family for Warner? His file is available for review if you would like to consider him.

Other children that have not found families yet are:
















Kerry and


Please see previous posts or our ASIA website for more information about each of these children. Contact me if you would like to see their files: marcisk@asiadopt.org Families have 6 months from pre-approval to get their dossier in, so it is not necessary to have a home study completed to view a file!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Macy and Thomas

Let's talk about Thomas now that you know about Macy's special need. Thomas has had a repair and is waiting for a family like Eva Corbeau's who will love him unconditionally and accept him for who he is. He is Thomas, because he seems to be all boy. Thomas wants to drive a big red car when he grows up. He likes to be funny and active. He is bright, an extrovert and is always eager for an adventure. His favorite subjects in school are Chinese and art. Thomas is a very special boy--he was one of two children chosen to speak in front of all of the CCAA officials (and reporters) at the camp. He wants a family of his very own. He will see his good friends, Jimmy and Mark get adopted (Yay!!!!! They have families!!!) and now we need to find Thomas his own family. Out of the kids in the Lion dance, the only ones without families at this point are Thomas, Peter and Cherry! Where will their red threads lead them? These kids need families ready to adopt! Now is the time. The economy may not be good, but interest rates are low and it is the season of giving! We have already gotten donations for the Santa Stops in China campaign and will help these children have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Welcoming the Unknown, Part II

With this letter, we want to introduce you to our new child, and to share this chapter in the story of our family. We ask for your open heart, and offer you our honesty, humility and commitment to walking the path laid out before us. You may have held vigil with us through the long wait for Liza and celebrated with us when we finally held her in our arms four years ago. Perhaps you learned three years later that we were working on another adoption, in process to bring home Ling Jun.
We saw his face, read a few sentences about him and felt irrefutably called to claim this child. Just 1 month younger than Liza, living in a village on the Chinese side of the Vietnam border, he was 3 then. We imagined he'd be 4 by the time we met. We spent the months waiting for Ling Jun doing lots of things that most expecting parents do. We bought small clothes, we moved house, we worried, we prayed, and we prepared Liza to share her position at the center of the universe. We did things that most expecting parents don't do. We got fingerprinted twice, we completed stacks of paperwork for local, state, and 2 national governments, and we read up on the medical condition that defined this as a "special needs" adoption. Ling Jun has an intersex condition called partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. We didn't have a lot of specific information to work with about how this manifested for him. But our research revealed a broad range of possible physical and psychological outcomes. We heard from several specialists that children born with Ling Jun's condition sometimes identify as girls even when raised as boys, and vice versa. We couldn't know what lay ahead for Ling Jun, but we knew that the critical question for us was about acceptance.

With the loving support of our families, we adopted Ling Jun on last spring. We gave him the new name David.
Our first weeks together were packed with learning at light speed. Even In the midst of terrible grief at the loss of his foster family, and immersed in a language that couldn't have sounded more foreign to him, David revealed more of himself with every passing day. Very quickly we understood that David was not the son we expected, but another daughter. In every way she could, this child declared herself.

She challenged us point blank to enact the total acceptance we'd considered deeply, hypothetically – nearly a year prior. Some of the first ground she held in asserting who she is, was the rejection of her names. Within a few weeks of arriving home, Ling Jun/David fiercely, furiously rejected both names. She would pound her chest and shout "wo shi mei mei (pron. MAY may)!” In English, "I'm little sister. Call me little sister.” And so for more than a month, she was only "Mei Mei." All the while we called her Mei Mei and still used male pronouns, she was wearing dresses, playing mostly with dolls, and asking daily when her hair would be long. As our communication with each other became more nuanced, we understood more of what Mei Mei wanted to share. In a conversation just a few months after arriving home, we were convinced that she knows exactly who she is and what she was asking of us. Without reservation, we trust Mei Mei and we trust our creator. We trust that Mei Mei is who she reveals to us day by day, and we trust that god made her exactly as she is meant to be. Not wanting the whole world to call her "little sister" forever, we were eager to find a name that fit. We started tossing out girl names with the sound "may" in them every time we thought of one. She rejected all of them out of hand for weeks until we hit "Macy." By bedtime that day, she was again pounding her chest and insisting, only smiling now. "I'm Macy!" she shouted, running through the house. She is Macy. And she is our daughter. We are blessed beyond measure with a circle of supportive family and friends. We are overcome with gratitude that Macy is clear about who she is at this tender age. She began preschool in September, introducing herself as Macy to kids she'll graduate from high school with. What does our family need? We need what every family needs. We need acceptance. We need an appreciation that most of our daily struggles are universal and some are unique. We need for everyone who is trusted with this information to hold it in loving confidence for Macy. She will walk this path in some ways alone. But we need a legion of loved ones to be at arm's length, each offering their own light.
For anyone who hasn't followed the story of Ling Jun's adoption, none of what we've explained here may ever need to be shared. But we know that many followed along and must now make this transition with us. If you wonder how to talk to your kids, we've said something like this: when a baby is born, people see the body and know that that child is a boy or a girl - and they are! But every once in a while someone is born whose body just doesn't match who they are inside. It's what's in a person's heart and spirit is that makes them who they are. So for those few people, we sometimes don't know that they're really a boy or a girl until they get big enough to tell us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcoming the Unknown

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month we have a very special writing from one of ASIA's wonderful volunteers about a very personal voyage with their child's special needs. ASIA has a couple of kids with this special need on our Hope Journey waiting child list Below is the first installment of this story. You won't want to miss it. Please check back for the rest tomorrow:

Welcoming the Unknown
by Eva Corbeau

We adopted both of our children from China. Our first daughter joined our family as a baby, with no known special needs. It was pretty much the fairytale adoption experience. Liza was strong and healthy. She was developmentally ahead of the curve and had clearly been cherished by her foster family. She grieved through the transition, but grew more centered day by day. At nearly 5, she asks increasingly specific and thoughtful questions about her first family and all that she experienced before she came to us. She is confident, securely attached, loving and thriving.

When she was 3 we started again. We had found the file of a little guy just a few weeks younger than Liza. His listing named “ambiguous genitalia” as his special need. Looking the unknowable in the face, we dove devotedly into our homework. Information gathering, opinion weighing, other-parent-seeking, adoption-style homework. Ling Jun's file didn't include a diagnosis, just a vague description, a single genital photo, and the result of a DNA test. We knew that his body didn't look like a typical boy or girl body, and that he had normal XY (male) DNA. We consulted with a handful of specialists. Some didn't offer much insight at all, some described potential surgery and hormone therapy in great detail, and a couple told us this: sometimes conditions that cause such ambiguity in the body also affect the identity. Basically, whatever caused our son's body to develop differently from other boys' bodies might also have caused his brain to develop differently from other boys' brains. He might feel in his heart, soul and brain like he's a she.

We pondered all of it. We imagined what challenges hormones and surgery and elementary school bathrooms might present. We wondered if we were up to the task of walking him through that. It seemed like a distant and unlikely possibility that we might have a son who felt like a daughter, but we talked about that too. We read books about the experiences of intersex people. (The term “intersex” to describe people whose bodies don't present as clearly male or female is used primarily by such people themselves. Recently in medical language, “Disorders of Sexual Development” or DSD has come into use to describe any number of conditions causing such differences. It is important to understand that there are many causes for external and internal sexual differences. Intersex and DSD are not diagnostic, but descriptive.)

We went through with the adoption and brought our son home, only to discover that the distant, unlikely possibility was in fact, our story. What follows is the letter we wrote to properly introduce our new daughter to hundreds of friends and family members set to welcome our son.

Among the things that keep us up at night, the protection of our children's story is near the top of the list. But we're sharing here for this reason: When we found ourselves with a 4-year-old making a gender transition, we went online to look for support. We found none in the adoptive community. That's not to say that there aren't wonderfully supportive people out there. Of course there are. But where we found mention of the special need, we found very little that was meaningful to us. More and more we see children with “ambiguous genitalia” showing up on special needs lists. And more and more we feel compelled to help families prepare. Our experience may not be the most common, but it would surely be the most challenging for some. And I'm here to share both that it happens and that it's ok.

Every child deserves to be unconditionally welcomed. Potential parents must understand and embrace all that that might mean.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Files Extended!!!!!!!!!!

I am thrilled to report, especially during National Adoption Awareness Month, that ASIA has been granted an extension on the amount of time we have to place these Hope Journey children!!!! We have all of their files and will be continuing to advocate for them to try to find each and every child a loving family. Meanwhile, we also continue our Santa Stops in China campaign in order to give them a wonderful Christmas before their families can get there to celebrate with them.
I've had touching emails from families posting about particular children that have touched their heart on their blogs--thank you! Please continue to post, talk, and spread the word about these kids anywhere and everywhere you can think of. Take any of my blog posts and spread them around. These children deserve families and I'm going to keep working until we find them! Read the post in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month on this blog and see if that could be your family or one you know? Julia was a child completely meant for that family, as they were the very first family to look at her file! We have many children who who are meant for a family that has not found them yet. Are you the family they are waiting for? CJ, Edward, Gene, Harold, Heather, Thomas, Henry, Bo, Peter, Warner, Fabian and Parker may all have a similar story--maybe they are just waiting for you?
marcisk@asiadopt.org for more information

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Honor of National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month!!! In honor of that, I received a beautifully written story about older child adoption from a family that adopted from our first Hope Journey program that I would like to share with you...go get your tissues:

I clearly remember a number of years ago, many years now, when my husband and I first began to see news reports that announced that the People's Republic of China had opened its doors to Americans who wanted to adopt orphaned Chinese children. The children were mostly girls, and soon they began to appear in the large metropolitan area where we live. We saw Caucasian couples like ourselves with their Chinese daughters in grocery stores, gymnastics classes, parks, playgrounds. People we knew and were friends with adopted Chinese girls. We began to have a community of friends with adopted Chinese daughters.

Rick and I were fascinated by those adoptions. We collected adoption stories and shared them with each other in the evenings when our children were in bed. I have an adopted younger brother, so I already had a very positive attitude about adoption in general, and Rick was attracted to the happiness and joy that the newly formed adoptive families seemed to exude. We wondered about pursuing such an adoption ourselves and began to talk to other families about the rules and regulations regarding Chinese adoptions. The reports we heard were discouraging. Some told us the process was impossibly expensive. Others told us that the disparity in our ages was too large, or that my husband was too old to be considered as a candidate for a Chinese adoption. Several couples pointed out to us that there were limits to how many biological children a couple could have and still be considered for adoption. We already had five children at that time, and it seemed like we were well over the biological child limit at that point. Therefore, we shelved the idea of adopting from China, and each time we felt the yearning for another child, we had one ourselves until we had a bustling family of thirteen children, seven boys and six girls, in our modest suburban home.

It was at that point, when we already had a very large family, that we really got serious about adoption. As experienced, mature parents, we felt that we had a lot to offer to a child who might be in difficult circumstances, might not fit the criteria for the standard healthy-infant adoption and might need the support and experience that the parents of thirteen children could give. We did our own research and found the agency A.S.I.A., far away from our own state of Illinois, but willing to work with us on a waiting child adoption. We learned that because of my husband's age, the CCAA would only consider placing a child ten years old or older with us. We felt comfortable with that. My husband and I had had a lot of infants; we did not have the overwhelming desire to hold a tiny baby in our arms again. We asked for the file of a ten year old girl on A.S.I.A.'s waiting child list, a girl with a cleft palette, who needed a home.

Instead, we received a note from Marci at A.S.I.A. telling us that that particular child's file was with another family and asking us to look at a file for a girl called "Julia." I opened the file and began to read. Julia was thirteen years old. She had less than one year before she would turn fourteen and become unadoptable in China. If she was not adopted, her future in China would be extremely limited due to her status as an orphan. She was extroverted, sociable and friendly. She got along well with others and was well-liked. The file said that Julia was a slow learner and needed time at night to study hard to catch up to her classmates each day. My husband and I talked about Julia. She was older than the child of ten that we had hoped to adopt. I was concerned that we would have only four short years with her before she was eighteen years old and became a legal adult, maybe going off to college or off to live away from us on her own. Still, the more we talked about Julia, the more convinced we became that we should attempt to adopt her, that time was running out to find a family for her and that she would need mature, experienced parents to take on the task of adopting a child of her age. We asked A.S.I.A. to apply to the CCAA on our behalf for approval in adopting Julia. Three weeks later we received that pre-approval, and our adoption race was on. We had only a short time to make it to China to adopt Julia before her fourteenth birthday.

We did make our deadline, just barely, and today, Julia has been part of our family for three months. Having watched my parents and many friends adopt infants, I would have to say that adopting an older child presents very different challenges than adopting a baby or a toddler. I do think that in certain ways it is harder. The two main challenges that our family has faced so far have been Julia's grieving and the challenge of integrating a child with an established cultural identity into our suburban American culture. Julia's grieving upon arriving in the United States was heart wrenching. She had bouts of crying that made me sob with her, times she was inconsolable over the loss of her friends, those who were adopted and moved away before her, those who were leaving for their adoptive homes after her and those who simply never were adopted and had "aged out" of the adoption system. In addition to grieving those losses, our daughter struggled to fit into American culture. She was extremely frustrated when she had so much to say and so few people around her could understand her. We had to lean heavily on Chinese friends for support and translating help. Julia was initially frightened and revolted by the many different colors of people around her, those with very light skin and light eyes being the most horrifying to her. She was repulsed by some of my biological children's curly hair and light colored eyes and made comments that hurt their feelings. She was overwhelmed by the odd taste of American food, and even though we cooked Chinese with all our energy, it just wasn't the same as the food at home in China. The early weeks of being at home were difficult and exhausting. We all had to work hard at integrating our new daughter into our family and our community. My husband and I and Julia had to work the hardest.

And now? What a huge difference three months can make! Julia is speaking a lot of English. Recently she told a neighbor, very proudly, "I have a lotta lotta English now!" We can talk to each other, and that makes everything so much easier. She has met many friends at school and at the Chinese church that she attends every Sunday with my husband and second oldest daughter. At Chinese church, she can relax and speak Cantonese with her ever-increasing group of friends. Julia is always one of the last kids to leave church on Sunday because she feels so happy to be around other Chinese people like herself. Julia also loves the public junior high that she attends. She likes the kids, the work, everything except the noisy lunchroom. At school, she speaks English with her friends, and sometimes it is a struggle to communicate, but she perseveres and is well-liked and popular with her peers. Interestingly enough, there seems to be no trace of the learning difficulties mentioned in her file. She learns at least as easily as the average child, maybe more easily. The "slow learner" label in her file remains a mystery to us. Our Chinese daughter is slowly getting used to people of different colors and races. Although she still prefers her own Chinese looks, she can now be around people with light coloring without feeling horrified. She is eating a huge variety of foods, even Italian food, which many of our Chinese friends told us Julia would never learn to like.

Every day we are learning more about our daughter, and she is learning more about us. She is learning to love and trust the family that worked so hard to adopt her. She is learning that when we tell her something, it is the truth. She is learning that we are with her for good; no matter what happens, we're not going to leave her. We are working hard to show our daughter that we love all of her, the Chinese part, the new American part, the weak and strong parts. We are showing her that we respect and admire her culture and asking her to respect and admire our culture in return. Each day we make strides, all of us, in positive directions. We are growing together as a family. Some days are easy, and some days are not easy, but every day we are a real family with common values, beliefs and goals.

Our biological children love Julia and admire her for her quick wit, her vivacity and the exuberance she brings to any fun activity. My husband and I love Julia because.... she is Julia. She is our daughter, born in an unknown location in China, raised in Guangzhou and carefully transplanted to to Illinois at age fourteen. She is a Chinese child. She is an American citizen. She is the child that we rushed and worked and labored to adopt. She is our dream come true. She is our daughter.