Friday, July 29, 2011

Check Out Our Baotou Kids!

More pictures from Baotou...check out that tummy time!

The Baotou Teacher College's library did a book donating event with Baotou orphanage-- they donated over 4000 books! Check out pics of our baotou kids:

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Here's some previews of some of the kids we met while in Baotou:

Aren't they cute? Stay tuned in August to find out more!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baotou excitement

We are hoping to receive files of a bunch of children from Baotou in late August. We're all very excited! It seems as if we will have several adorable young ones and I'm excited for you to get to know them as we did. We can't post specifics until we have the files, but let me just say that I think your hearts will melt as ours did. So I leave you with the suspense.....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy News!

We have happy news while we await files from Baotou!  Lina and Marianne both have families pursuing them! Congratulations to those families!

I see that many of you have things to share about Inner Mongolia! If you do, please feel free to email me: We would love to have more information to help our families that are soon to go there to be united with their children:-) We spent a week in Baotou, but did not go to the capital where adoptions will take place. Please feel free to share! Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Around Baotou

Since it's almost August and we're hoping to receive more files from the kids we met in Baotou in August, I'm hoping to get everyone excited about that again. Here are some pictures from around Baotou (mostly our walk between the orphanage and Hotel)

A fruit stand

Fei, Donna and Dr. Hayes borrowed a rickshaw for this one!

Fei and Susan, ASIA staff

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting Through the Tough Spots

I recently heard from an adoptive family who had some useful and concrete tips for families adopting older children. There is not a lot of information available about adopting teenagers, and since we're trying to promote that, I wanted to provide some education as well. Sometimes the adoption of teenagers is swell and smooth, and other times it takes some real dedication to get over the bumps in the road. If you're thinking about taking that journey, please read the wise words of an adoptive parent who adopted her daughter at the age of 14:

From a family who adopted a 14 year old from China:
Tips for preparing the children already in the family:
1. Siblings need to be prepared for what is coming. They may expect that the new family member is going to act just like any other child of that particular age, just with foreign mannerisms and a foreign language. Julia, though, had a very, very hard life, as you know, so her behavior was not at all, in any way, like a fourteen year old child who has had an easy life. Our adoption classes prepared us for a very scared, timid child who would have to be coaxed to join us, coaxed to eat and generally carefully protected. That image did not prepare Joe and me or our children for Julia. Julia (and two of her peers from Conghua) was very controlling. She had been in charge of herself for a long, long time, so she wanted to control our whole family. She walked in and took over! She laughed at us, mocked us, told us our looks made her want to vomit, told us she hated the U.S. and tried to get control of every situation. She was loud, bossy, demanding, and generally very rude. She also had huge emotional swings. She could go from laughing hysterically to sobbing inconsolably in a short period of time, so we were all off balance all of the time. I had tried to keep Julia's private history totally private, as was advised in our adoption classes, but now I think it is best to be honest with the children already in the family and give them at least a little relevant information about the situation their new sibling comes from. I would explain to them that the new child may have many wounds that need to be healed, that she may have never been taught how to behave kindly or politely, that she may have been treated very badly and may try to reenact that behavior on her siblings. Children should be told that if the adopted child tries to hurt them, with actions or words, it is good and right to let mom and dad know about it RIGHT AWAY. The family's children should also know that even though the adopted child's age may be 12 or 13 or 14, the child may sometimes act that age and sometimes act very, very young, as unthinking or needy as a two year old toddler. They should understand that this is not unusual in kids who have been deprived and that is not a sign that the child is a bad person in any way.
2. Siblings need to understand that the adopted child will be like a newborn baby in the amount of attention and time that she needs. Newborns take up huge amounts of time and attention, and as they grow and develop, they need less and less intensive attention. Siblings should know that for as long as nine months or so, the adopted child will genuinely NEED attention. Their need for attention is a NEED, not a desire or a whim. It's a need just like our need for water and food. I think that if kids know that in advance, they can be very understanding. If I had it to do over again, I would explain to my children that Julia would be like someone who had just survived a long, drawn-out war. She would need lots of time to talk about that war, lots of time with mom and dad in order to feel safe, lots of food to get over her fear that the food will run out and she'll starve again, and more help with her homework as she may have had a very sketchy or vague education. I would stress to the children that the time of intense attention, just as in the case of newborn babies, will come to an end, that IT WON'T ALWAYS BE THAT WAY, that life will get back to normal and that by allowing the adopted child that attention that she needs, they are doing a good deed, a mitzvah, giving a gift that will make the world better.
3. A time should be reserved each week (I started doing this, and it worked wonders) where one parent takes the adopted child out (in Julia's case it was Friday nights -- she plays badminton at her church on Fridays, and the biological kids are home with me while Joe attends badminton with Julia) and the other stays home. The parent gathers the children together and initiates a discussion about "how things are going with the new sister/brother." Not much initiation is needed for a catharsis to begin. Wow. I was the parent to take on this role because Joe was raised in a very Christian family where it was considered un-Christian to complain. In my family it was okay to complain. So, I could listen to all of the complaining without it bothering me too much. The children NEEDED to get off their chests how angry they were at the adopted child. "She broke my NintendoDS! She pulled the cat's tail! She misses the bus every day and the bus driver yells at ME! She doesn't brush her teeth! She says my curly hair is ugly! She said she wants me to die!" Oy! There were long, long lists at first, but those discussions were also a chance to generate empathy because AFTER I had carefully and actively listened to and responded to each complaint, the children could calm down. They had re-established a peaceful feeling in their hearts. Then I could ask them questions that guided them to thinking for THEMSELVES what might be causing Julia to be so unkind and how we could, all together, as a family, encourage her, in a positive way, to be kinder. It also was a chance for some healing for the original children. Many times, siblings had to tell little kindergarten Dorothy, "You are NOT ugly. Your curly hair is beautiful! Your light colored eyes are gorgeous! We think you are beautiful, inside and out." Dorothy really, really needed that with Julia telling her the exact opposite whenever I was out of earshot.

For the adopted child:
1. Limits need to be set right away, even with a language barrier. Pantomime, Google Translate, picture books, anything that works needs to be used. No hitting. No hair pulling. No saying mean words. That has to be established right away. When I met Julia's friends at her orphanage, one thing I noticed was that they hit and shoved each other constantly. They seemed to relate to each other through rough physical contact, almost like teenage guys on the rugby field. It was frightening. Sure enough, when Julia came home, she greatly admired her older sister Caroline, so what did she do? She pulled her hair and hit her! That had to stop immediately, and unfortunately, Joe and I were so overwhelmed by Julia's bulldozer personality that we did not respond fast enough. People got hurt.
2. Don't give too many goodies out, just for free, all at once. It's too overwhelming to go from owning nothing at all to having a computer, an i-pod, a TV, lots of clothes, etc... Even a year later, Julia has to have her clothes be all the same, like a uniform. She has four pairs of shorts, all the same and five T-shirts, the same but all different colors, and that is all she can handle. When I add other clothes to her closet, even though she admires the clothes, it overwhelms her and causes her to throw everything on the floor and cry. The "goodies" like the computer, can be a powerful motivator to a child who needs to learn the rules of family life ... and FAST. We made very positive charts for Julia with things on them like "brush your teeth, comb your hair, say something nice to Dorothy, pet the cat gently, say, 'Hi Mom!' and say 'Hi Dad!'" She had to get a certain number of boxes checked off in order to use the computer for fun. She learned so fast! Such nice looking hair and nice clean teeth! She was a fast, fast learner, and we praised her lavishly. The hardest thing for Julia was learning to call me and Joe Mom and Dad. She used to hit me across the back of my head (hard, and yes, it did hurt a lot) and say, "Hey!" to get my attention. Eventually we got whittled down to one chart that was solely focused on saying Mom and Dad, and Presto! I was no longer slap/Hey! but Mom, and Julia was greatly relieved. After the third time she called me Mom, she came to me and spontaneously put her arms around me and said, "I so happy you my mom now." We've been Mom and Dad every day since, and it's good for all of us.

For the parents:
1. It's easy to feel SO bad for what your child has lived through that you just don't want to make her feel bad by disciplining her. Joe had that problem. He gave in to tantrums, and then after a few months, it got awful, and he had to somehow undo it. Oh, very ugly. Wow. For example, in our family, kids who are big enough to do so take turns riding in the front seat of the car. Julia felt that she should sit in the front seat all the time because she likes to be in control. When Joe would say that it was Mary's turn or Jake's turn, Julia would get in the back and kick and scream, hit people, pull her own hair out, generally go wild with grief and rage, so Joe would give in and tell her she could sit in front and tell Jack or Maya to move to the back. Scenes like this caused big, big trouble. The masses got uneasy and started rising up with the cry of "UNFAIR!". One of our biological children began to think that her dad no longer cared about her, stopped eating and began to waste away before our eyes. The more Joe bent the family rules (with his soft-heart and his regret for Julia's awful childhood -- he really meant well), the more the children felt they should take justice into their own hands. You can't have peace without justice. We had to do a big about-face and separate Julia from those tantrums. Joe had to leave her home and I had to tell her, "You can't go with Dad because you will not sit in the back of the car. You have to stay with me so you will not yell, kick and hit." Julia is very smart. After just one time being left out, she learned and said, "I can come. I will sit in back. I sit in front go there. Maya sit in front come back." Problem solved. She was learning to take turns, and she was learning that even if she sat in the back, she would be okay, and Dad would still love her. The adopted child cannot have and rule everything. It will not help her siblings love her and will not help her respect other people.

2. Make time to do things with the "original" children. The adopted child is so needful (rightfully so too) that it is easy to fall into the trap of doing EVERYTHING with the adopted child at your side. That is terribly hard on the original children in the family. They too have needs. They need to be able to speak rapid-fire English and describe things to a parent without having to slow down and explain words to the new sibling. They need time to talk about personal things ("There's a girl I like at school. I think I'm getting too tall. Why am I shorter than everyone else? If my tooth falls out will a new one really, truly grow back in?" They NEED to have time to be alone with Mom or Dad to talk, laugh, voice concerns, even complain. Some things are private, and the children who have had an easy life and haven't had to survive trauma still need time with their parents. They should not have to give their parents up totally to a new sibling. They cannot love a brother or sister who has robbed them of their mom or dad.

For the whole family:

It takes a long time to really know someone, and the adopted teenager changes almost every month. I can't believe that my kind-hearted, caring Julia used to try to hit me! But she did! She even tried to bite me once! She is not like that anymore. She has changed. Still, I do not know everything about Julia. Sometimes she acts twelve. Sometimes she acts three. Sometimes she acts eight. She is still unpredictable. While she is unpredictable, it is best to be protective and plan for the worst. I cannot allow Julia to have the freedoms that my other 14 year child has. It would be too dangerous. Julia does not think out into the future. She is impulsive. Until she can act a particular age and act that age consistently, I have to protect her from harm. She needs more supervision and direction than the average American 14 year old. She is immature from years and years of neglect and abuse. She is in a foreign country where she does not know all of the rules. It is in her best interests for us to be conservative and protect her until we are SURE she is ready for age-appropriate freedoms. It may be a long time. Interestingly enough, Julia does not want those freedoms that Jake and Mary have. She prefers to stay by my side or Joe's side, which is also an indication that she is not ready for too much freedom. She seems to want to be that little girl, protected and treasured, that she never got to be, and she stays close. That's good. We want Julia to survive her first 2 years in American in good shape!

2. Celebrate the victories. Laugh as much as possible. Get silly. Do anything necessary to "connect" the children with their new sibling. One major bonding point with all of the children and Julia came unexpectedly when we had our annual St. PatJoe's Day all-family marshmallow fight. Julia had said that no way was she going to let people throw ANYTHING at her, but once she saw what fun we were having, she grabbed her bag (I had bought her a bag of marshmallows anyway, just in case) and joined in. She threw marshmallows and took the hits with the best of us, and boy, that kid has a strong arm! The kids loved it! After the fight, they all gave Julia high-fives and hugs and said, "You were great You throw like a Billings!" Who would have expected that the big marshmallow fight would help so much? But it did because it was just dumb, silly fun -- no rules, no proper behavior, just a crazy, silly time. Families should point out the new sibling's good points. Compliment her strengths. Compliment the original children for their flexibility, their willingness to share. Let them know that the world will be better because they tried hard to make a positive difference.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Incredible News from Half The Sky!

Some of you may have received the incredible news from Half The Sky. They are starting a new program called the Rainbow Program, where they will be training every nanny in China to provide better care to orphans! I have seen the difference in orphanages and schools sponsoried by Half The Sky and those that aren't. There is a BIG difference! This is thrilling news to hear that they will be reaching each and every caregiver! What a difference that will make in the lives of the children in orphanages all over China! I'm sure it will take time, as everything does, but I'm very encouraged by this news. As you may know, Half the Sky has a school at our partner orphanage, Baotou! It makes such a difference in the lives of those children! One girl, never wants to leave school when it's time to go, she loves it so much! Her teachers make that much of a difference in their lives! Way to go, Half The Sky!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Sometimes we just need to put our lives in perspective and this week is calling for that:

"Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid." ~Albert Einstein

"We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions." ~Ian Percy

"The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress." ~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

"It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall." ~Mexican Proverb

"With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another." ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, "Notebook L," Aphorisms

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Heart Full of Sadness

We received some sad news, which makes me want to remind everyone to give your kids or loved one an extra hug or kiss each and every day. Don't wait on your dreams--Carpe Diem!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Yesterday a very surprising thing happened to me at the grocery store. The woman in line in front of me decided she would buy my groceries for me (I bet that's not what you expected to hear!). It wasn't a lot of groceries, but it was the act of kindness that meant so much and made my day. It reminded me of what a difference a person can make in someone else's life, just through a small act. How many times has a smile, a kind word, a hug or a laugh changed your entire outlook? She told me that a while back someone had bought her gas for her. So every once in a while she just does something like that to make a positive difference in someone's life since there are so many negatives in this world. What an incredible philosophy--she's paying it forward! If you have ever seen the movie Pay It Forward, then you understand what a difference one small person can make in the world. Dr. Seuss had the same philosophy, as described in Horton Hears a Who when the smallest of all puts them over the top with one word...Yopp! (Yes, I'm fully emersed in the world of Seuss).

 I've seen miraculous changes, where those of you reading this and my wonderful volunteers and all those on advocacy groups work together to help a child find a home just in the nick of time. The word gets passed along until it happens to come across the ears of the family who is meant to parent that child. I've heard that this is what happened for Jessica!  I've also seen it happen when we raise money to help with a child's adoption. We often get lots of small donations, which total up to make a difference, enabling the child to have a family! I think it's important to be reminded every so often that even small acts of kindness truly do make the world a better place. We all need to do our part to make this world a positive place to live. I'm still thinking about what would be the most effective way for me to pay it forward. But in the meantime, I ask that everyone reading this pass this blog along to a few people you know who just might consider adoption. If 100 of you actually pass it along, we can quadruple our readership, and perhaps find another child a home! If anyone ever helped change your life or brighten your spirit, than you know how important it is to pay it forward.  Pay it forward for all of the older boys who wait, desperately wanting a family. Get the word out there--Yopp!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Baotou Adoption Story

As the time neared for Beth and John to meet their new son, Max, in Hohhot (near Baotou), China, they wondered how they would be received. Their six-year-old, daughter Juliette, also adopted from China, was ready for a sibling. After two years of waiting, they found Max, a 21-month-old minor special needs orphan with a repaired cleft lip and unrepaired cleft palate in Baotou.

Now there he stood, meeting them for the first time, wearing three-layers of clothing, looking up at them with his big brown eyes. “He looked like a little Buddha -- a Buddha eating a lollipop” Beth says on her blog. “We introduced ourselves as ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’, handed him a tootsie roll lollipop and he was in heaven!” Then they were off -- taking him to his new home in Salem, Oregon, to meet the rest of his family, including his sister.

Soon after arrival in the U.S., Max’s cleft palate was repaired (his cleft lip had already been fixed in China). Tubes were also inserted in his ears to help his hearing which had been affected by the cleft palate. Speech therapy is also helping him recover from the residual effects of the cleft palate. He is talking a lot, saying his first words in English.

Today, Max is thriving chatterbox and is inseparable from his sister, Juliette, who, Beth says, “is handling her new status as ‘big sister’ nicely. We love our little Max. I hope anyone who wants to learn more about our experience will call me. We are happy to share our experience if it means getting more children adopted.”

Thank you to Beth and John for sharing their family's story! If anyone else has an adoption story to share, please contact us!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Please Meet Darien

Look at that focus! That sweet smile! Darien is a smart and talented young boy who excels in sports and is loved by all who meet him. His teachers praise him and he is well liked by his peers. He would make a great sibling! Darien is a happy boy who desperately wants a family. He sees his peers get adopted and wants a mother and father to love him as well. He is an active boy with a positive outlook who would make a wonderful addition to a loving family. Darien hopes for a family who is close to dossier ready as he ages out in January. There is a $5000 grant available to help with the adoption costs for Darien. If you or someone you know could be interested in considering Darien, please contact me right away--his file is available! No one has asked about him yet! Even if you don't quite meet the requirements, please contact me anyway: Let's not keep Darien waiting and wondering!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Baotou Social Welfare Institute did a special performance recently and everyone got dressed up. It looks like they chose some special children for the performance. The oldest boy in the picture wanted to come home with the Doctor that traveled with us when we were there. He wanted a family so badly--he sang for us, did dances, gymnastics and everthing he could to prove that he was lovable. We've asked for his file. Hopefully we will get it later this summer. Some of the other kids pictured are those that we already have families for: