Pages

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Changed Heart Can Change Lives {Family Story Friday}

This week's family story was written by adoptive mom and Superkids volunteer Dr. Darla Wrage.



My adoption journey is a journey of the heart.  I was a busy working mom of three little kids. All of a sudden, a seed was planted…adoption.  I was introduced to adoption by a pharmaceutical rep (of all people?!).  She had returned from China with little girl.  I learned that China had a one child policy, which left many girls in orphanages.  My heart changed.



Although I was ready to move forward, my husband was not.  A ten year wait ensued, but during that time our hearts were changing.  Adoption from China was changing. Most adoptions were “special needs” kids.  The healthy baby girls were few.  As we looked at the stage in life we were in, we knew that an older child would fit in best.  With a medical background, I was able to sort through the medical needs and what that would look like in our family.  We welcomed a six year old girl with nephrotic syndrome into our hearts in May 2011.  My heart changed.




While we were in China, we were connected with a family adopting a 13 year old daughter.  We heard the plight of orphans aging out of the system at age 14. The future for those kids is dismal. Their “special need” was “older child.”  My heart changed.



Then a new special need came to my attention…. “boy.”  People are taken aback when they hear that a boy is being adopted from China.  People are aware of the one child policy and the early implications of that.   They are surprised that the orphanages are filled with boys and that boys are harder to place.  My heart changed.



A school picture of a boy with no smile… our hearts changed.  Going through the listed “multiple medical needs,” I systematically checked them all off as resolved.  His special need ultimately was “older boy.” He jumped into our life in January 2014. My heart changed.



There are millions of kids… all unique… that have no family.  Their “special need” is a family to call their own.  I pray for changing hearts that will fulfill that need.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oh Graham!



Sweet Graham!

Some say he is silly...



Some say he is sweet...



He likes cookies and stickers.


He needs a family. A family needs him. Could he be your son?

For all the information about his age and special need read this post.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spina Bifida is just a Label

Today a sweet mom and family share about their recent adoption and parenting a child with Spina Bifida.  She tells us what helped to make their decision and what life is like.  We love this little one and her amazing family!!!  Read on, and then think about the cutie at the bottom of the page!!!!
 
 
When we first started the adoption process in the Summer of 2013, like most families, we were overwhelmed with the medical checklist. It was hard to narrow it down to which special needs we would consider. We labored over each condition, trying to decide what we could and couldn't handle and what would be realistic for our family. We skimmed right over Spina Bifida because it just sounded so scary. The bottom line is that it was a special need we had no experience with and very little exposure to. We did not check this as a need that we felt comfortable with.
 

Fast forward to the Fall of 2013. Our paperwork was almost ready to be sent to China. As we waited for the final piece of our dossier, I saw a little girl on Rainbow Kids that had the most adorable smile. Her need was Spina Bifida with post-op meningocele and TCS (tethered cord). When I saw her picture I knew we were looking at our daughter. I started to research more about this special need and began to realize how manageable it could be. There were most definitely many unknowns. There would be questions that couldn't be answered until we brought her home, but we already loved her and that love overcame any uncertainties we could have had at the time. 
 
 
 
 

We traveled to China this summer to finally meet the little girl who had been in our hearts for so many months. Ever since June 16, 2014 we have been amazed by her in every way possible. She has absolutely no limitations. She climbs, runs, jumps and plays like any other child her age. And at just barely 3 years old she is pedaling and steering a 12" bike with training wheels. She dresses herself, can bath herself, brush her teeth, eat with utensils (including chopsticks), use safe scissors proficiently, and skillfully navigate any playground equipment. Other than the scar on her back, you would never know she was born with Spina Bifida. 
 
 
 

She is the smartest and most advanced child in her preschool class. She is speaking English better than some 3 year olds that have spent their entire lives in an English-speaking culture. She is amazing in every way.
 
 

There is a possibility that she could need surgeries in the future, such as another detethering of the spinal cord, but for now we are enjoying her and watching in awe as she shows us daily what a little miracle she is.

I urge any of you that are on the fence about Spina Bifida to consider it. Research, talk to others who have experience, and then make a decision that is right for your family. Not every child with our daughter's special need will have the same outcome, but they are generally very intelligent and wonderful little children that just need a loving home, and someone who can commit to being their parents despite the unknowns. 
 

We are so thankful that we didn't let the label "Spina Bifida" keep us from our beautiful daughter, and our hope is that it won't keep others from being united with another one of these precious and amazing kids.


See this wonderful family!!!!  See the love and laughing!  Labels cannot define these amazing children.  Read about beautiful Barton below.  He needs to be in a wonderful family too!!!!  


Barton is a sweet boy who is just over one year old.  He is a handsome  with a cute little bow shaped mouth and beautiful eyes.  He is so so sweet!  He can bang together two blocks.  He can bear weight on his feet.  He is rolling and can get to a hands and knees position.  His special need is spina bifida, meningocele and a tethered cord which was treated surgically.  He is such a sweetie and enjoys peek-a-boo!

Do you see this cuddly sweet guy?  He is so so adorable!  Barton is a sweetie who is not defined by any label and needs an amazing family to love him.  Could he be your son????

For more  information about Barton,  please contact,  Pat Marcus at patriciamarcuspt@gmail.com



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Well, we made it!




In what seemed like running a marathon, the Superkids gala Friday night went off without a hitch!  the tables were beautiful and the program were lovely.  The room looked so so beautiful,  but what was  so great was our adoption village came out.  All our friends who could showed up to honor Martha Osborne.  They came to show their support for the children. We told stories and talked about some amazing Superkids who have found their forever families and those who are still waiting.



Martha Osborne, Gongzhan, and Pat

A very special moment was when we were able to present our sweet Eliana who is home with her forever family.  There will be more pictures but here is my favorite of the event.  You saw her pics on Friday here on the blog and here she is today. How special was it to share this time with her!!!!




Look at what Love can do!!! We held her in our arms in China and now here she is a beautiful loved daughter with amazing brothers and a sweet sister!!!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Look What Love Can Do!!!

Today is a wonderful day where we as team come together to share our love for all waiting children with our Superkids community.  We are celebrating Superkids and honoring Martha Osborne.   Martha rocks.  She is the champion of all advocacy and has led the charge longer than any of us!!!!!  So tonight as we have our wonderful event,  we want you to know how important each and every one of you is to Superkids.  You all rock!!!  You read our post, share our words and help on our trips with preparation, planning and donations.  So my dear friends, Adoption is an amazing way to build your family!!!  These waiting kids rock.  here are some pics of  child that Superkids helped to find their forever family.  Now, look what Love can do!!!!

 Before


 After



Tonight I get to give this very special sweetie a big hug.  Yes, Look what love can do!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Team !!!!!

We are gearing up for our event in NYC.  So today I am reflecting today on How amazing our Superkids team is!! 

Dr.  Darla is so so great. She really understands Adoption and waiting children.  She is a pleasure to travel with and just loves all our kiddos. 

Erin takes great, great photos.  We are so so grateful for her skill and dedication with a camera.  Erin is so so much more for the team. She really is devoted to advocacy on this side of the ocean as well.  


Chelsea is just amazing and her heart for waiting children is big Big Big. She also is able to get so many policy and procedure questions discussed all through out our Superkids trip.

 Hannah is new to the team and has a great heart for waiting children.  She gives so much love and comfort to all the kiddos we meet.  very often a child will sit on her lap for hours. 

Mark is our support for the team and made our mirror project work.  He loved the kiddos and very cutely taught many of them to say Texas. 

Lastly we are grateful for our team leader Gongzhan.  We know all Superkids trips are due to his hard work and connection.  
 
 
Superkids rocks as a team but most of all we rock with the kiddos.  We are so happy to spend time with them and feel so joyous for every one that finds their forever family. 





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Problem of Being a Boy




 This month we are asking everyone to be more aware of the difficulties boys face in adoption.  We are raising awareness that being a boy has become a special need in waiting children.  This is even a greater problem for older boys. Drawing attention to this issue has provoked great discussions with many many waiting and adoptive families.  We are reminded that to change an issue you must first become aware and that education is crucial to change.  

  Today a wonderful adoptive Dad speaks about adopting a boy and changing our thought processes in adoption and life.  Mostly Keith shares about the joy adoption has brought to his life.  We are ever so privileged to know this wonderful Dad and his family. Thank you so much for sharing what adoption has brought to you and your thoughts!!  So remember,  Boys Rock your Heart!!!

The Problem of Being a Boy

“Cool guys don’t watch explosions. 
They just walk away.”


This was the sage advice or observation given to me by over the weekend by my 9 year old son...as he finished defending our yard from ‘bad guys’ (aka leaves) with his ‘cannon’ (aka leaf blower).  I asked him to explain and he demonstrated by casually pointing the leaf blower at a pile of leaves without looking and calmly walked away while the sky erupted into a plume of flying leaves.  I asked where he learned that – he said he read it in a book.  Guess I’ll have to figure out what books he is reading.  Doesn’t sound like something out Thomas the Tank Engine or Curious George.  Actually, a bit of Googling and it appears that once again I am way out of touch.  Apparently The Lonely Island wrote a song by this title...and there must be a connection to the video game Minecraft as there are dozens of YouTube videos of Minecraft by that title!

As I start, I realize that writing about gender is pretty thin ice – likelihood of offense is great.  I am not intending to offend anyone.  I am not trying to say boys are better than girls – or that girls haven’t been discriminated against for many years and still are. 

My point is simply this:  My son had two strikes against him:  being a boy and being older.  They are typically older because they are not adopted out of institutional care as quickly.  They languish in the system longer than girls.

When you parent a boy you get it all...muddy footprints... greasy hands (‘cause that bike wasn’t going to fix itself!)...things taken apart for no apparent reason...and the excited declaration that ‘I can jump up and spin around one and half times and land on the couch!  Wanna see?’.  You also get smiles, proud moments, accomplishments, helpful hands, and a care and concern for others.

I am a dad to two girls and three boys, 1 of each by adoption.  I am thankful for the care that my son received prior to adoption.  I believe that the consistent foster care he experienced as normally as a child in that situation could.  Somebody cared enough...even though he was a boy.

The statistics bear out this bias – particularly in international adoption...and particularly in special needs adoption. 

So why is it that it seems that girls are preferred over boys in international adoption?  I think many consider boys to be ‘scarier’ to raise.  I personally don’t see this in practice.  Is it different?  Sure.  But not easier or safer.  Parenting takes courage no matter what! 

Maybe it is because they appear angrier...when placed in high stress fight/flight situations (being orphaned) maybe boys appear or present as angry, defiant, or mad.  Their coping mechanisms are perceived as negative.  Maybe girls present more downtrodden and prospective parents perceive them as being more in need of rescue. 

I think sometimes the descriptions of the children seem tilted unsuspectingly against boys.  Girls are described as being playful, enjoying toys, likes crafts and coloring, plays well with others, helps the staff care for younger children.  Boys on the other hand are described as...well...boys...plays roughly, is sometimes ‘naughty’, is mischievous, likes to tease others, is active (read by most as ‘will peel the paint off the walls if not kept busy) and acts like he is in charge.  If you read the two...who wouldn’t opt for the little girl?

Additionally, at least for waiting children, photos of the kids are posted on-line.  As people review the lists, how can they not be drawn to the cute kids, the ones with sad eyes, a winning smile, the ones with the cute bows in their hair.  Think of it this way: when people post their profile photo to an on-line dating site, do they use their DMV photo...or worse yet...the 2:00 AM booking photo from that social gathering that went bad back in college?  No way!  They hit the local Glamour Shots to get a ‘wow’ photo of themselves.  I realize that is a silly analogy but think of it the perspective of a child in the system.  Strange people walk in one day...another surprise occurrence in your world of not knowing what is coming next.  They look you over and line you up against a wall and snap a quick photo.  That’s it.  That’s the one shot you got.  If you were scared and crying...if you were angry and trying to fight back against what was happening...yes, that is what is captured and presented to the world as ‘this is me and I want you to want me’. 

SuperKids brings so many good things to bear positively on the lives of the children they advocate of behalf of.  I think the three biggest are A) accurate development screenings by someone with eyes on the ground that can provide first-hand information, B) descriptions of kids and their behavior that highlight their strengths while recognizing their issues, and C) non-mugshot photos of the kids that show their personality...capture a smile, show emotion and give a glimpse into their soul (great job Erin!).  Being a photographer, I understand that requires talent, time, patience...and a bit of luck...much harder than simply lining them up against a pea-green cinder block wall! 

I recognize this is a sweeping generalization, but I think adoption is most frequently pursued by women.  Speakers at conferences report 80-90% of attendees are female.  I wonder how many wives have been awoken by their husbands “honey, wake up.  I couldn’t sleep so I was up looking through the waiting children lists.  I think we’re supposed to adopt...and I think I found just the boy for us.  The moment I saw him I just felt he was our son.  Can you get up and look with me?”  I don’t think it happens like that...at least not in MY case!  I don’t think women out there, in their bathrobes at 11:00 at night are looking at waiting children sites, photos, and profiles thinking ’OK, that little guy looks like someone to do some wrenching with, somebody I could teach to shingle, and how to drive a snowplow’.  I know this makes it sound like adoptive parents are self-serving in their pursuit of adoption.  I personally think we all are to some extent.  I think we have children (regardless of how) with at least some expectations, hopes and dreams for the pleasure they will bring us. 

I personally feel guilty that my wife was the driving force in our adoptions.  Why wasn’t it me?  Why did I not respond to the call to care for the orphans in their time of need?  It took my wife 11 years to get me to agree (of course...I wouldn’t change things for the world...that’s one of the many things I love about my wife!!).  Not proud of that delay on my part...because the reason...quite frankly...was selfishness.  I was busy enough already.  But I am also, as a Christian, incredibly convicted and called to task by scriptures.  Why is it that more men are not being champions of caring for the fatherless?  I think if we were, more of those boys would find forever families earlier in their processes and be spared the injustices and pain of making it on their own. 

So...guys (and gals) - check out those waiting boys. They’re not defective or mysterious creatures (no more so than your husband, brother or father is!).  You’ve got a clean carpet in your hallway just aching for some muddy footprints, a perfectly good grass trimmer in need of disassembly, and a heart ready for loving a child!  In return, you’ll find a heart ready to grab hold and hang on...when they realize that someone loves them for exactly who they are in a way that will never change.  Someone that will hold them when they’re scared...encourage them when their timid...and just smile at them when they reveal they have a frog in their pocket in church...because he is YOUR boy and you wouldn’t want it any other way!