Monday, January 25, 2010

School for Newly Adopted Older Children

With new Special Needs adoption lists just coming out, I’d like to continue the discussion of concerns about adoption of school aged children.

We adopted our second daughter, just as she turned 4 years old, bringing her home in December. We gave her the nine months before the next school year to get used to us, get used to the language and take some parent/child classes together. We started her in 4 year old preschool that fall. When we had her evaluated for Kindergarten, the public school system said she was ready to go, their only hesitation being her spoken language and some gaps in language concepts. Since she was making progress in private speech therapy, they felt she could overcome this. Interestingly, the public school would not offer speech therapy, but would consider her for ESL assistance, due to being in the country less than two years.

We ended up placing her in Montessori school in a mixed age 3-5 preprimary half day class as a 4 year old, even though she had turned 5. This allowed her to work on 5 year old activities where she could and still have opportunities to fill the gaps of the earlier ages.

A friend of mine recently brought home her son, just as he turned 6. She enrolled him in kindergarten starting shortly after they were home. He is receiving ESL services. Looking back, I think my daughter would have benefited from starting school right away, rather than waiting.

If you have adopted an older child, what age and what schooling decisions did you make? Which ones worked and which ones did not? What advice would you give to parents just now bringing home a school aged child?

Guest Blogger

Nancy Williams

HR Associate Director

Love Without Boundaries

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Last week Zara Phillips and DMC released a music video for their song “I’m Legit

They released this song last spring, to bring awareness to closed birth records in the US. Both Zara and DMC are adoptees who have done a lot to promote adoptee rights and adoption awareness. Only eight states, within the U.S., give adoptees rights to original birth certificates.

When DMC was 35 years old, he found out that he was adopted. Trying to come to terms with his beginnings, he filmed a documentary called
DMC: My Adoption Journey” which won a news and documentary Emmy for Outstanding Arts and Cultural Programming. In addition, he wrote his song “Just Like Me about adoption.

He said this about his song, “I wrote this song for all members of the adoption triad. I want people to get rid of the shame, and secrets. Adoption is about love.”

Zara is an author, singer and songwriter from the UK. She wrote a book “
Mother Me” written about her view of motherhood from an adoptee’s point of view. In this book, she explores relationships between adoptees and birthmothers. She is quoted “It seems that birthing my children was also a birth for my whole self”. She is also just finished directing and producing an adoption documentary that discusses the lifelong impact of adoption, “ROOTS: UNKNOWN”. This is currently being screened in both the US and England.

How wonderful it is that adoption can be main stream and discussed so openly. With the joy that adoption brings, there is also pain. I give both of these artists a lot of credit for sharing their personal stories.

I will leave you with one of the questions that Zara hopes that her documentary will try to answer, “What does someone touched by adoption need in order to feel emotionally whole?” I think that both DMC and Zara are showing us the way they are doing this. What do you think this might mean to you and your family?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Smallest Moments

I want you to imagine an Easter Sunday morning in a rural part of China. Two wonderful volunteers for LWB had been invited to share a meal that day at a local family’s home with the orphanage director. They sat on assorted stools placed on the cement floor and looked out at the countryside and rice paddies through wide open doors. There was no other furniture in the room, except a shrine to honor ancestors.

One hen nested in a cardboard box behind the door while others pecked at the crumbs that had fallen from the table. The volunteers soon learned that while they ate…...a tiny baby slept in the furthest back room. He had been abandoned with an abdominal surgical scar and a misshaped head.

The volunteers were told he was four months old, but they immediately could see that he was the size of a newborn. Wondering what his fate would be in the rural countryside if he wasn’t seen by a doctor, the volunteers asked if he could be sent to the hospital for a full evaluation. Thanks to some wonderful supporters, he was able to be moved right away. That tiny little boy spent a month in the hospital receiving needed medical care, and then was moved to an LWB foster care program to live with one of our very best mommas. He was loved completely in that home for the next 2 years.

This past December, he was adopted to the
United States, and his mom just wrote to us asking if we had any information on her son. There is always so much joy when we learn that a child we have helped has been united with a loving family. This child, however, brought both joy to our hearts but also a realization that the smallest of moments can change the course of one’s life forever. What if the invitation to eat in the rural home had not been extended to our volunteers? They would never have seen the tiny baby in the back room. What if they had chosen to not speak up and say “we think he needs care”? Or what if the funding had not been available at that moment to move him to the hospital for a month long stay?

But the beautiful thing in this story is that the volunteers did share that humble Sunday meal, and they were taken to the back bedroom to meet a little baby. Everything came together in the perfect way for one more child to be given a second chance at a healthy life. And when that happens……I can only close my eyes and give the sincerest thanks for everyone who takes the time to care about the children around the world who are orphaned.

To everyone who volunteers, who lifts prayers, who gives of their hearts and their funds to those in need……THANK YOU. You may never even know how your gifts have changed the course of someone’s life, but I hope this story shows that when we step out in love, beautiful things can happen. I think life is filled with these moments that we might think are insignificant at the time, but which allow tiny miracles of hope to shine through.
And how wonderful is that?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Have You Voted Yet?

There are just 5 days left in the Chase Giving Challenge. We have heard from many people who didn’t realize they needed to vote AGAIN in Round Two, as it is a brand new contest. Please take the time to visit and cast your vote to help orphaned children in China. It will only take a moment, but the results could last a lifetime for all the children who still wait.

Everyone with LWB is so grateful for your help!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

VOTE - Loving Livia

Have you cast your vote for LWB yet in the Chase Community Giving Contest? I want to introduce you to Livia so you can see how taking the time to do so can allow even more vulnerable children a chance at life.

Livia came into LWB’s hands from a rural orphanage when she was four months old, weighing just 5 pounds.
She was malnourished, weak, and truly fragile. If she had not been moved to our cleft home, she would definitely have passed away.

Our trained caregi
vers got right to work and Livia began receiving her feedings with specialized cleft bottles and high calorie formula. Over the next few weeks, she began gaining weight, began smiling, and most importantly began realizing what it means to be loved. Just four months after arriving in such a weak condition, Livia was ready for her life-changing surgery! She recovered beautifully and began hitting all of her development milestones. In fact, she recently celebrated her first birthday and is now beginning to walk. She is now in LWB foster care, ready for adoption and an unlimited future. What joy she brings to the world! What a tragedy it would have been if this beautiful little girl had not been given a second chance. Her whole life is in frontof her now, thanks to our cleft healing homes.

nd by voting today for LWB, you can help us open even more specialized homes to save the lives of babies just like Livia. Please take the time to cast your vote today, because every baby’s life is important.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Photo of the Week - Vote Today

Our photo of the week comes from our Zhang Village Foster Care. This is baby Landri, and I think you can tell just how much she loves being with her foster momma. Obviously the feeling is mutual!

Landri's life was saved through our Cleft Healing Homes program, as she arrived from a rural orphanage extremely sick and weak. Our dream is to have a healing home in every province in China, so that babies like Landri can have a second chance. You can help LWB reach that goal by voting for us in the Chase Community Giving contest. Cast your vote from January 15-22 to save even more lives and to make even more moments like the one above possible!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A friend forwarded me a Youtube video yesterday that I loved so much. You can watch it by clicking here. This beautiful video profiles Patrick Hughes, a young man who was born with special needs who played in the University of Louisville marching band. As I watched his inspirational story, I was moved not only by his positive attitude, but also by the dedication of his loving father. His dad works the night shift at UPS so that he can then help his son with his activities during the day. I couldn't help but wish that every child born had at least one parent so completely devoted to them. What would this earth look like if it was filled with this kind of love?

Have you known a child who has overcome extreme odds with a similar positive attitude? Or do you know a parent who has devoted themselves completely to making sure their child will find happiness in life? Please share their stories with us! We can never get enough positive and uplifting news like this one, especially working with orphaned children who face such enormous obstacles each day.

Here's to all the parents out there who realize that inside each child is the potential to impact the world. So many moms and dads are true "quiet heroes", sacrificing of themselves so that their children can have the best life possible.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Older Child Adoption

Many people may not know how many children there are waiting for families in China. While the wait for healthy babies continues to get longer, there are children on the waiting child list who wait almost as long for their families to find them.

Choosing the waiting child path may not be for every family, but there are so many amazing children who wait every day. These children may have may have medical special needs and others may be older. Right now, there are a number of children who are in LWB programs that wait.

One story of the special needs path has unfolded over the last six months on the Motherlode blog, part of the New York Times. Last week, the story of an older special needs adoption from China was featured, “An Adoption, Six Months Later”. Jenny Staff Johnson and her husband adopted a six year old little who had severe scoliosis from China this past July. Jenny, who has written periodically about her adoption of her daughter Rosemary, wrote an essay about what it means to bond to an older child and to be a family.

In this essay, she talks about the process of bonding with her colicky, biological children and then how surprisingly easy the bonding process has been with Rosemary. She had planned for the worst, but says that it has “exceeded my wildest dreams.”

She summarizes her experience this way:

Parenting both biological and adopted children has taught me this: fit is different with every child, regardless of how they come to you. Sometimes you just have to work at it for a while. It’s natural, and it’s O.K. We expected our daughter to grieve, and she has. To sometimes be angry at us, and she has been. But mostly, she is a game member of the family she joined already in progress.

This essay was very well written and honest, and the comments that follow are just as informative. What an uplifting and inspiring story…..our only hope is that another child waiting will find their family.

Have you considered the adoption of an older child or a child with a medical special need? What concerns do you have? If you have adopted an older child, what were your experiences? What advice would you have for someone considering an older child?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Photo of the Week - Amazing Changes

This week, two little babies had their lives changed forever by a simple surgery. Both of these children had severe bilateral cleft lip and palate. In less than two hours, their lives were transformed. Thank you to the amazing cleft surgeon at Anhui Children's Hospital who performs these miracles everyday. Both baby Ronnie and baby Paul will now have a wonderful chance at finding a forever family....amazing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye

Yesterday I went to the funeral of my minister. Harold Dowler had a giant personality that filled up the room. He was a straight talking cowboy from Wyoming who gave the most massive bear hugs and who, when talking to you, made it clear that your life and what you were telling him was truly important. I had seen Harold at church before he died, and he hugged me so hard that he picked me up off the ground. He put his huge hand on my shoulder and told me if I ever needed anything, he wanted me to know he was there for me. And then I learned that a few days later, in the blink of an eye while sitting at the table with his family, he had a heart attack and passed on.

His funeral was a celebration of his life, and ended at Harold’s request with everyone in the church playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” on kazoos. That was classic Harold, to help dry our tears with a moment none of us will ever forget.

All day yesterday I kept wishing that I could see him just one more time, as I sure wish I could tell him just how much he meant to me, and how his wisdom stories that he shared have helped shape how I view the world. When someone dies suddenly, I think it is natural for the people who knew them to think, “if only I had told them……”

Last night I stayed awake thinking of Harold and about how suddenly someone can leave this earth. How many unspoken thanks or words of appreciation are there that swirl in our heads but that never make it into a letter to a friend or out of our lips to a family member? I think a wonderful New Year’s resolution for 2010 is to try and not let those moments slip by. Are there people in your life that have made a real impact on you or your family but whom you haven’t expressed how much they have meant to you? Let’s all resolve to send those notes, make those phone calls, and make sure that our gratitude reaches those in our lives who have blessed us by being there.

- Amy

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you', it will be enough. ~ Meister Eckhart