Monday, June 29, 2015

All About Boys!

Perhaps one of the largest, most perpetuated mis-understandings about adopting from China is that there are primarily girls available for adoption. Families who adopt boys often hear the surprised question, "How did you adopt a boy from China?"

The fact is there are many, many little boys waiting for families all across China. Since the majority of adoptive families request to adopt girls, little boys often wait far longer than girls with similar ages and special needs. It has been said that being orphaned and being a boy is the most difficult special need to overcome.



So what does this mean and what can we do about it? 

Well, the really great news is that there is little or no wait time to be matched with a boy! So adoptive families who are open to adopting a boy can move through the adoption process relatively quickly.  



The other thing we can all do is to educate and advocate. Tell people about these wonderful little boys who are waiting! Right now we are looking for families for several boys. Go to the Waiting Kids page at the top of this blog and choose a boy whom you want to advocate for and share his post on your Facebook page or with friends and family! (Click on the child's name above their photo to be directed to the advocacy post written about them.) You never know when a child's family will be found on your friends list!



I'm excited to see the difference we can make in the lives of these little boys!

Friday, June 26, 2015

We Love Matches!

And today we get to tell you about a super cute little fellow whose family found him!

Barton!
Congratulations to his family and may the paperwork move quickly and smoothly so that he can be in your arms as soon as possible!

We are so happy for this precious little boy!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Special Focus: Cerebral Palsy

The following post was written by Keely O'Dell, the pediatric physical therapist who works with our team. We are so excited to have her share here!


Before I get started, I have to admit something…

Full disclosure, I absolutely have an enormous gaping soft spot in my heart for kids with cerebral palsy. I absolutely love them.  Adore them. Speaking generalities of course, I find kiddos with CP to be resilient, precocious, hilarious… just down-right awesome kids.  Its as if they have had to be creative in finding ways to overcome their movement challenges—and thus they use huge grins, charming glances, and charismatic personalities to make things happen for them.

Now that I've got that off my chest,  let me tell you some fundamental information about  cerebral palsy:


At the most basic level, cerebral palsy refers to damage or abnormalities in the developing brain that lead to difficulties with coordination and movement.  Breaking down the term, Cerebral refers to the brain and—Palsy refers to limitations in movement. It is hard for children with cerbral palsy to move their body is smooth coordinated ways. Being born prematurely increases a child’s risk of cerebral palsy.


Cerebral Palsy is permanent but not progressive.  The damage to the brain can not be repaired nor will it get worse.  However, it is important to realize that as the child gets older, their needs will change.


Cerebral Palsy has many faces.  In fact, the term CP alone tells you very little about how involved a child is. There are some children who only have difficulty moving their legs (diplegia) while others have involvement in their arms, legs and even mouth (quadriplegia).  Another type of CP, called hemiplegia, refers to motor involvement on one side of the body. Some children my have very mild symptoms, barely visible and causing few challenges to the child.  Others will have more severe presentation of symptoms and have limited purposeful movement in the affected body parts. 




But there are some consistent symptoms. Increased muscle tone (hypertonia) is a common symptom that many children with CP face—this makes their muscles very tense, even at rest.  It is hard for them to move in coordinated ways because of their muscle tone.


Management is the key.  We want to help these kids to be as functional as possible... and pain free. Starting early and continuing to provide support as they grow is very important. All the interventions below are ways that families and medical professionals can help children with CP be independent and reach their full potential!



 Physical and occupational therapists are a great place to start.  These professionals can provide activities to your family to help your child get stronger and more flexible. Often they oversee the equipment needs that will be described as well.  Children may need braces,  assistive devices like a walker or crutches to help them walk, or a wheelchair. We want to work to find a way for them to move themselves whenever possible—there are some pretty amazing things we can do so kids can drive their own electric wheelchair. Muscle tone may also need to be managed medically with medications like botox or baclofen.  And sometimes children even need surgery to lengthen their muscles. 

Kenny is an awesome boy with mild hemiplegic CP currently available for adoption. He is so sweet!!



Let me know if you want to learn more about Kenny!!! Or, if you have any questions or comments about adopting children with cerebral palsy, don’t hesitate to contact me: keely.superkids@gmail.com

Here are some great links to learn more:



Monday, June 22, 2015

New Files!! New Files!! New Files!! {Lawson}

You heard me right! New files are coming in! We always get so excited to see who is on the list. I'm going to be introducing some precious, precious children in the next little while.

And I've decided to start with...

Lawson...



Just look at this cute little man!

Lawson is 3 years old. He is very inquisitive and interested in new things. His files states that he has brought much joy and laughter to his foster family. Isn't that about the sweetest  thing that could be said about a little 3 year old boy?!



We met Lawson in April and at that time he was speaking in sentences. He could run and jump and kick a ball. He scribbled on paper and could follow directions. He sorted colors and built a tower with blocks. Sounds like a 3 year old, doesn't it?



Lawson's special need is a  urogenital condition. Superkids volunteers will be glad to discuss this further with interested families.



Lawson has the cutest little smile and I can even share it with you!

video


This sweet little boy needs a family. Could he be your son?

 Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information about adopting Lawson.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sweet, Playful Gwen

Gwen is a lovely 9 year old girl with an easy-going, playful personality.



She enjoys drawing and coloring. When we met her in April she loved playing ball with Tanna and the other children in the room. She colored pictures, wrote her name, and posed for pictures any time we asked. She was cheerful and sweet as the medical team did their evaluations. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy all of her interaction with us, and we certainly enjoyed interacting with her!



Gwen's favorite snacks are chocolate (a girl after my own heart here!) and candy. She is learning to roller skate. She is in a foster home and it is noted that she is very caring and will tell her foster grandparents to be careful when they are going out.

Gwen has a mass on the outside of her right eye and, while it is reported that it does not affect her vision, we did notice a seeming sensitivity to light.



She is in grade 3 at school. She is respectful to her teachers and gets along well with other children. Her speech is very quiet and, at times, difficult to understand.

video


Gwen is a precious child who needs a family of her own! Could she be your daughter?

Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information about Gwen!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Galvin

Here is what Galvin has to say about himself:

"I like playing games, watching TV, and I like KFC, fruits, and snacks."



Galvin is a handsome 11 year old boy with no known health issues. He lives in a foster home and is described as a lovely boy whom everyone loves.

He is quiet when meeting new people, but friendly and warm once he feels comfortable.



Galvin's favorite color is red and enjoys painting, drawing, and paper cutting. He likes to play outside and especially enjoys long distance running. He loves watching cartoons and his favorite cartoon is The Transformers.

He is in grade 4 in school and studies Chinese, Math, and English as well as Chinese history and other subjects.



Could Galvin be your son? Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information on adopting Galvin.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another Face of Superkids

This morning I woke up thinking about one particular child we met in China. He was a teeny, tiny one year old boy with down syndrome. He wasn't tolerating eating very well and was way too thin. So I worry about him.


But I also think about the opportunity we have when we meet a child in need of additional support. I could see the pain and concern I felt when I saw him reflected in the faces of the other team members as they interacted with him. I saw the medical team request to speak to doctors. I saw them give practical suggestions for different ways to feed him to try to help him. I saw April cradle him and sing to him for as long as she could. We all did what we could in the moment to make a difference for this precious child. Because that teeny, tiny, adorable little boy matters! He needs us and we will do everything we can for him! That is what we do.

A lot of children that we meet are doing well, and we love seeing that! Their biggest need is a family and we advocate and most often have the joy of watching their family fall in love with them and excitedly bring them home.

But that is not every child's story. So we do what we can for each child. Sometimes that means arranging for them to be moved to another facility for medical care, sometimes that means educating caregivers, and sometimes it means taking equipment for them so that they can function better where they are. This is part of what Superkids does, too. It is a little more obscure, we don't blog about it all of the time, but it is an important part of who we are and what we do. 

Another day we met a little boy who had recently been abandoned. He would not eat and was quite malnourished. The medical team felt it was likely caused by trauma from abandonment. They thought maybe some oral stimulation would be helpful for him. It happened that I had a vibrating toothbrush in my suitcase so I went out to the van and unearthed the suitcase and found the toothbrush. And you know what? He liked it! Keely worked with him and, while I know she wished she had more time and better equipment, she got him to open his little mouth just a bit. So we left the caregivers with some tools to hopefully help that little one enough to get some nourishment into him. Because, again, he needs us and we will do everything we can for him! That is what we do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Brief Introduction: Keely O'Dell

Hello Superkids Followers,

What an amazing and committed group of people to be blogging to. It really is an honor to be a part of this.  I have officially been onboard with Superkids since early spring.  And we decided it was high time that you all got to know me, so that I can start to get to know you.  So here we go: 

Who am I:  My name is Keely O’Dell (though I am getting married in a few months, so that last name is going to change!)
Me and the fiancĂ© (and our pup Daisy)


Where did I come from: (Very good question!) I grew up in a small town in Colorado, just east of Denver. Since moving form Colorado in 2006, I have lived in 5 countries, 5 U.S. states, and 16 different cities.  I now live in Pittsburgh, PA… and absolutely love it. My parents still live in Colorado (they are amazing) and I have three awesome brothers.
 
My crazy (fun) family
What have I learned (officially): I graduated with my doctorate in physical therapy from Duke University in 2009.  I then did a one-year pediatric PT residency in Little Rock Arkansas.  I recently finished a Masters degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Applied Developmental Psychology—the emphasis of that degree was in understanding how context (specifically institutionalization) affects child development.  

How did I get here:  I first learned about Superkids during my last semester of PT school. Right after graduation, a classmate and I spent 8 weeks in Ethiopia.  In this experience, I found my niche. Working with children and caregivers in this setting just felt like what I was made for. Needless to say, I caught the bug.  I have worked with Superkids in Costa Rica and Colombia multiple times since.  You can check out my blog for the many adventures of those early Superkids experiences. And in April of this year, I got to go with the Superkids team on my first trip to China!
 
Besitos from one of my all time favorites in Colombia!!
What have I learned (unofficially): I have learned about the power of connection. Humans are one of the most helpless mammals at birth… and they have the most amazing developmental potential.  The only way this formula works, the only way the potential is reached, is through relationships—being cared for by loving, responsive, consistent, protective caregivers.  Someone who delights in them.  We are born ready to form these loving relationships, we are made to form them. This is what kids need to grow and thrive.  And Superkids (and many other amazing organizations) are working to help provide that for children —we are fighting every single day to help children experience it.


What am I doing here: One of my roles is just to be a voice for Superkids around child development.  I am a resource for families throughout the process.  I will talk with you about the developmental information we obtain when we meet children on our trips.  But I can also talk with you about treatment ideas and considerations down the road.  You are going to start seeing more posts from me on the blog too!

I want to get to know you as well!! Comment on the blog. Shoot me an email: keely.superkids@gmail.com or friend me on Facebook.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meet Kenny!

Kenny is a cute 8 year old boy who is described as gentle and friendly by his foster dad.



I smiled when I was looking back at our notes from when the Superkids team met him. At different places on the forms were written little comments like "Very cute!!", "Sweet boy!", and "We like!" I smiled when I read that because it reinforces my memories of this little boy. He is cute and sweet and quickly won the team over!



Kenny has mild cerebral palsy which effects his right side and epilepsy, which is controlled by medication.  He can walk, jump, and run. He can throw and catch a ball. He put a Lego set together with one of our team.



Kenny is learning to read and write. He likes playing games and his favorite food is pineapple. He lives in a group foster home where each child has a job they are responsible for. Kenny's job is taking out the trash.

Could this sweet, gentle boy be your son? Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information about Kenny.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Kurt

Kurt is a captivating 7 year old boy. He loves to run and play with balls.



We met Kurt in April and had so much fun playing with him! He loved playing with bubbles, bouncing balls, and putting together a Lego set. He laughed easily and often.

Kurt goes to regular school and is learning to read and write. He lives in a group foster home and gets along well with the other children in the home.



Kurt had hip surgery when he was younger, but he obviously isn't slowed down at all! It appears that Kurt's hearing is decreased in one ear.

video


Kurt can count to ten and speak in complete sentences. He runs and jumps kicks balls. He is such a funny, happy little boy!

Could Kurt be your son? 

Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information. Superkids volunteers are happy to talk to any family interested in adopting him!



Monday, June 8, 2015

This Is Jaden!

We just got another file in!

And now I'm going to introduce you to Jaden!


Jaden is 11 years old. His caregivers describe him as extroverted and helpful. When we met him in April he enjoyed seeing how the Polaroid camera worked. He loved when it was his turn to have his photo taken and watching it print!



Jaden has global delays. He can speak in simple sentences. He can run, jump, and kick a ball. He attends school at the orphanage and can write simple words.



When asked if he wanted to be adopted Jaden replied, "Yes!"

Jaden needs a family to love him and to help him reach his full potential. Could he be your son?

Contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information on adopting Jaden.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Join Us Tonight!

Join us tonight! At 7:00 PM (EDT). For a webinar in which we will speak about some of the amazing children we met when we were in China recently. We will be introducing children we met while we were in Changsha, Hunan and Fuzhou, Fujian.

Please register here and join us tonight!


"You do want to meet me, right?"




Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Webinar Featuring Changsha and Fuzhou Children

Last Thursday we spoke about children from Shanghai and the Jiangxi province, you can see that webinar here. This Thursday evening, June 4th, at 7:00 PM (EDT) we're going to be speaking about children from Changsha and Fuzhou. Again we have so many precious children to introduce to you! We receive many files from Changsha every year and we're excited to show you some of the children that we met when we were in China in April.



April, Asia Waiting Child Program Coordinator, Keely, Pediatric Physical Therapist, and Erin, adoptive mom and photographer will be speaking about meeting the children. We will share a little bit about where each child is physically and developmentally as well as our impression of their personality. 




This is a webinar you don't want to miss! Please register here and join us then!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Anthony

The following post was written by Tanna Becker, one of the Superkids volunteers who went on the most recent trip to China. Tanna certainly had a way of making each child feel loved!

I feel honored to be given the privilege to write a post about Anthony! Anthony touched my heart in a special way when I met him on the Superkids trip. I would love for you all to read the full post about Anthony when I first met him, but I want to begin this post about him with a quick recap! Anthony is twelve years old. His medical need is the result from burns that have left scars, which he is currently receiving treatment for. Anthony has only been at the orphanage for the past five years.



It was late in the afternoon when Anthony came into the room where we were evaluating the kids. I remember recognizing him from a past blog post I had looked at before coming to China. What a handsome kid…I thought to myself. He is absolutely precious in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, yet the way he handled himself when he first came in the room told me he did not see the worth he had. Before it was his turn to go through the different evaluation stations I saw him wandering through the halls. He didn’t interact too much with anyone, but just waited his turn. I so badly wanted to see Anthony smile before he left that day. I wanted him to know how worthy of love he was, how much value he possessed. Long story short… before long Anthony was found with a smile on his face, teasing me, and running through the halls as we played a game of tag! My heart was full. I am confident Anthony left our area knowing he was loved and valued by our team.

This summer I am thankful for the opportunity I have to be the international intern at Gladney. One of my projects was to create prayer cards for a new faith based outreach. As I went through the list of children I beamed when I saw his name on my list! How fun it would be for me to create a prayer card for a boy I know, care for and love so much. Would you prayerfully consider the possibility of Anthony being your son? I pray Anthony is given the gift of a forever family soon! I can only imagine the way he would flourish in a home where his family would show him unconditional love. In the small amount of time we had with Anthony I saw the way he thrived when he was shown attention and love.  A forever family is something Anthony needs! Could he be part of yours?

Anthony is on the shared list right now, so, while Gladney would be more than happy to help a family adopt him, his file can be accessed by any agency!

Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information. Superkids volunteers are happy to talk to any family interested in adopting him, even if you are with another agency.