Tag - Special Needs

» I choose yes
» Love is Blind Part II
» REVIEW: Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN) 70th Birthday Season
» Until Joshua has a family
» Look Up
» Mama Goose
» FWD: How My Special Needs Parenting Confuses Most Of The World.
» Let’s hear it for the Boys!
» Waiting Child Advocacy
What do you mean “under-developed”?

» I choose yes

We’ve had some hard weeks recently. These little pockets of difficulty manifest themselves throughout the year and somehow we never expect it. It’s like falling down the stairs. Everything is going great and then your foot misses a step and it’s all downhill from there.

I’m speaking about trauma and parenting a child with an extensive past that we don’t fully understand.

In the middle of this recent bout with hard stuff I reflected deeply on the way we chose to form our family. I asked myself “would I still choose this, given the chance to do it all over again.” I gave that thought a couple days to process as I fielded calls and emails from the school and sat with my child while she did everything in her power to skip her assigned reading that evening. My answer came slowly, but resolutely, YES I would choose this all over again.

I would choose this again because she is my child. Three years ago I stood in a dimly lit Chinese office building, I dipped my hand in red ink and pressed my palm onto a balmy piece of paper inscribed with words promising to mother the scared little girl perched in my lap. And with great ceremony Calvin and I took her hand, pressed it into the same red ink and pushed her palm down onto the paper and she promised to trust us.

I didn’t meet her until 5 1/2 years of her life had been spent without me. And I’ve spent the past 3 years trying desperately to make up for that lost time. It’s slow and it’s painful and we take 9 steps back before we take 2 forward but she’s my child. No one in this entire world is more fit to love her than Calvin and I. No hands are more equipped to guide her back when she veers off course. No heart is more broken when watching her struggle. Of all the parents in the world she got us and we got her. Yes, we chose to pursue her. We saw a picture and read a story and chose to find her. But I can’t believe in chance. Just as my biological children formed in my womb, my children from across the ocean formed in my heart. They were always there, it just took me longer to find them. This is not said to romanticize a process that begins with loss and brokenness. This is said to affirm that there was no wavering in this matter for me. My children are my children. And their battles and struggles are now mine.

So yes, a million times yes. My girl… I will always say yes to you.

Margaret Wise Brown said it best in her book The Runaway Bunny

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream
and I will swim away from you.”

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

This stinkin’ little bunny continues to propose a million ways to escape his mommy. But mommies are smart and we are fierce. And no matter where our children go or how far they push away we are one step behind.

Every day I choose to mother. I limp to to the field some days, but I keep showing up.

Your situation may not look like mine. But whatever it may be I encourage you to keep showing up, keep fighting for your kids and finding them wherever they go. They are waiting and watching. They are testing and pushing your limits. Show them what a momma’s love looks like. Broken, imperfect and messy… but it’s there saying yes… every single day.


» Love is Blind Part II

Hopefully you caught part I of Love is Blind, if not, you can read about the LaGorga family and their adoption story here. I’m happy to report that their sweet Lili is now home and learning all about life in a forever family. Part 2 of this story is all about the Carl family and their precious son. It’s been a joy to watch them adjust to life as a family of 4 with all the triumphs and heartbreak and stress that it brings. It’s hard. But all worth it things are hard. So without further introduction, it’s time to hear from Jenifer Carl as she shares just a bit of her big ol’ heart.

I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to adopt children. I can remember growing up in my small town in Iowa, and seeing other adoptive families at church. I felt drawn to them, and often watched in awe, wondering how their lives had intersected. Many years later I graduated college with degrees in Journalism and Women’s Studies. At this point I felt strongly that I was meant to be a mother, but didn’t feel strongly about the need to have biological children. Rather, I was more interested in thinking about how my journey to motherhood might be able to connect me with other women around the world. The desire to adopt was already strong.

When I met my husband several years later, I brought up adoption on our first date. It turns out he, too, had a heart for adoption. In fact, his older sister was adopted. And so, we started researching adoption agencies even before we got married. We just knew we wanted to start growing our family through adoption. At first, we planned on bringing home a “healthy infant.” However, we quickly realized that there are long lists of couples wanting and waiting to adopt healthy infants. The true need, we soon found, was for families open to considering older children and/or those with special needs. With that in mind, we switched gears to pursue a waiting child program in South Africa, which led us to our daughter who is now five (adopted at age 3 1/2).

While working on our paperwork for South Africa, we also found ourselves drawn to the China waiting child lists. Our previous agency sent out an advocacy email with the profile of a little boy with low vision who was living at Bethel Child. He had been paperwork ready for quite some time, but due to his gender, visual impairment, and age, was not being considered by many families. I can remember watching his video, and feeling my heart split in two. We had never considered parenting a child with a visual impairment. And yet, here was this little boy, happily pushing a stroller down the sidewalk in the video, while I watched with tears running down my cheeks. I showed my husband, who felt something tugging on his heartstring as well. We decided to sponsor the child, so that we could follow his story from a distance. In time, we learned more about Bethel China, and their mission to help children living with visual impairments in China to live life to the fullest. Although we didn’t talk openly about it at the time, we both started to wonder…”Could we ever do that?”

Soon we met other families who were parenting children with visual impairments. I started following blog posts and learning as much as I could. Lola’s story especially struck me. I remember seeing photos and reading about her initial transition into her family – all of the challenges, but also all of the little victories. One of my favorite things to watch were the videos of Lola with her siblings. I remember sitting Ryan down to show him two videos in particular. The first was a video of Lola running a race across a field with her siblings. We both watched, amazed at how fast and straight she was running. Yes she was blind, but there she was running happily with her brothers and sisters. The second video was of Lola learning how to ride a bike, with the help of her sister Charlotte, who was cheering her on proudly from the side. We both looked at each other with raised eyebrows after watching that video. Not only was Lola defying everyone’s expectations of what she would be able to do, but she was also teaching her siblings valuable lessons about the power of hard work, determination, and love. Lola showed us how beautiful and rewarding it could be to parent a child with visual impairments. Through Lola’s story, we eventually found our hearts pointing us towards our own blind son, Ted TongZhi.



The Carl’s have now been home for several months and I’ve watched them with knowing eyes. The first few months knock the wind out of you in some ways. Not because our children are blind, but because they lived a whole life before they knew us. They struggle with fears that we can never understand. But I watch with eyes that already know the progress that will be made, the trust that will come and the security that will result. I watch Ted with a forever family that will give him the resources he needs to live a full and abundant life. And I hope that more families, like the Carl’s, will say yes to these precious kids. Kids like Joshua, and kids waiting at Bethel, an incredible orphanage for blind children in China. If your heart is being pulled or moved, listen to that, and explore what role you might play in the lives of children across the globe.


» REVIEW: Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN) 70th Birthday Season

Disclaimer: The folks at Holiday World kindly provided our family admission for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

We were excited to visit Holiday World for a second year in a row! The kids were a little taller so they were ready to experience some new rides that they weren’t able to ride last year. In addition, Holiday World is celebrating its 70th season this summer (2016).

  • Dole Whip!
  • Leaving the park tired and exhausted

The pictures of our fun trip speak for themselves. Here is a list of “what’s new” for this special season:

  • Continuing the park’s birthday theme, new menu items: Birthday Cake Fudge, Birthday Sundae, Birthday Confetti Cake Flurry, and Birthday Cake Ice Cream Dip
  • The Legend “reborn,” with more than $2 million in track improvements to the wooden roller coaster, plus the addition of a new “double-down” feature to further enhance the ride experience
  • In Splashin’ Safari, the water park’s filters now utilize sand featuring an anti-microbial coating; this is the nation’s first large-scale rollout of Mystic Blue Sand
  • Dole Whip soft serve and floats add a new gluten-free, non-dairy, fat-free treat
  • The park’s free 30 SPF sunscreen now also contains aloe
  • The park’s free soft drinks selection will include Big Red, in addition to Pepsi products, Gatorade, pink lemonade, iced tea, and coffee
  • New Peanut Butter Burgers plus Kettle Corn and more gluten-free desserts

Holiday World is an amusement park located perfectly in a town called Santa Claus, Indiana which is a short 2.5 hour drive from our home north of Nashville. Its “worlds” are comprised of Holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Independence Day. In addition to the Holiday lands there is a huge water park called Splashin’ Safari, which is located inside Holiday World and included in the admission price. We loved that we didn’t have to exit the park to get to Splashin’ Safari. In fact, we spent more than half of our day enjoying the expansive collection of water coasters and slides.  Holiday World is definitely a two-day park if you plan to enjoy the water park.


Considerations for Young Children: Our children are ages 4-8. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they could ride quite a few big water rides and park rides. Fortunately rides like the Mammoth Water Coaster (pictured above), Frightful Falls and Mayflower satisfied his thrill seeking tendencies. We were pleased that at least three big water slides in Splashin’ Safari allowed our entire family to ride together on one big tube, including our 3 year old. It’s always a bummer when you have to constantly split up to accommodate everyone. Our favorite ride that we experienced all together was the Raging Rapids, pictured below. Here is a full list of height accommodations for all rides.

TIP: Once you enter the park, go to a measuring station and get the appropriate wristband for each child. This cuts down on the Holiday World staff having to measure each child to make sure they are tall enough.


Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities or Special Needs: Holiday World has a pass, much like the one used in Disney, (see review here) called the Ride Boarding Pass. Basically you show the card to the ride conductor, they write down a return time and you wait while doing another activity. This solves the difficulty of waiting in line for those with sensory processing disorder, autism or other challenges. The only disappointment with this system was the number of guests allowed to ride with the individual designated on the card. The individual can have 3 guests accompanying them. This would exclude families of 5 or more from riding together. Their policy designates that the rest of the party wait in the physical line, this makes timing the ride together pretty difficult. Individuals with physical disabilities can be accommodated on any ride safety permitting. Full policy here.

Budget tips for families: You cannot bring meals into Holiday World, however they do provide a picnic shelter in the parking lot so pack a lunch cooler and take a midday break. We ate dinner in the park and found that 3 adult meals at Plymouth Rock Cafe fed our entire crew until they were quite stuffed. ALSO! Free sodas. This is totally legit, there were soda stations with soda, Gatorade and water located all over the park. We don’t normally partake in soda but we really had fun visiting and getting little drinks, and LOTS of water whenever we felt the urge. Next time, we may even bring an empty drink container to keep the drinks longer and chilled. You can also bring a limited amount of snacks and sealed water bottles in your purse or backpack. For us, there was no way to avoid the locker rental because of the swim clothes and towels we had to bring in, expect to pay $10-$15 for this. And as one last tip, if a hotel isn’t in your budget, set up a tent in the nearby campgrounds and make a weekend out of your Holiday World experience.

Overall: Our trip to Holiday World exceeded our expectations! It’s a BIG, legitimate and affordable water and amusement park. I love that the water park was right in the middle of the amusement park so we didn’t have to completely leave one to get to the other. There is everything from huge, soaring roller coasters to little lands full of little kid-friendly rides. The staff was very friendly. There were a couple times throughout the day they had to bear the bad news of rides shutting down because of weather (thank goodness there were none over 10 mins. long that day) and one staff member patiently calmed Liam down when he was upset about not getting a certain seat he wanted on a ride. We had a jam-packed day and still didn’t see and do everything. We can’t wait to return when the kiddos are a bit taller and take on the big coasters!

TIP: We saw many parents with walkie talkies. This might be an investment we’ll make for our next visit to any theme park.


 Other helpful links:

There are a variety of shows each day; here’s the list: www.holidayworld.com/shows

All the rides and slides are listed here. You can filter by ride type, experience level, and section of the park: www.holidayworld.com/rides-slides

» Until Joshua has a family

I’ve advocated for many children over the years. And I continue to do so, both professionally with One Orphan and as part of my normal life. It’s become as natural as breathing. There are so many kids that have woven themselves into my heart. I desperately want a family to step forward for them. There is no plan B for the kids I’m sharing about. It’s a family, or life in an orphanage.

So here’s Joshua. The child I can’t shake. The child that keeps me awake at night. He’s not my son, but I’m certain I’m supposed to introduce him to his parents. In fact, there is a team with him THIS WEEK. I just received a picture of him and there are updates coming. Will you step forward with me today? Will you share until every corner of FB has seen his face? Because his parents are out there, they just haven’t seen him yet.



Meet 3 year old Joshua. For reasons you can understand, our daughter has a similar condition, this guy is pretty special to me.

Joshua is a sweet and quiet boy. His caretaker reports that he loves to cuddle and play. Joshua was born with binocular corneal leucoma (whitening of corneas), which has caused him to lose sight in both of his eyes; however, because the reason for his leucoma is unknown, it is also unknown until he is further evaluated by doctors if his condition can be treated to some level. At one and a half, he could crawl, respond when others asked for him to share his toys, and look for sources of sound. He is very sensitive to sounds and knows how to locate where sounds are coming from.

He is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file and is from one of our agency’s orphanage partnerships. His file is now a shared file. A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file.

A grant is available to the family pursuing Joshua’s adoption. Email china@awaa.org to learn more.

» Look Up

This is a devotional I shared at Together in the Trenches Retreat. I thought there might be someone reading today that needs these words as well.

I’m a mom. A mom who constantly questions whether I’m getting anything right. I’m scared, confused and worn out right along with everyone else. Isn’t it funny how God uses us despite our short-coming and fears?

I hope these words of encouragement and pieces of God’s word bring you some rest today.

Mothering children who have experienced trauma and pain in the early stages of life is difficult, to say the least. It’s downright lonely and crippling at times. You find yourself in a rotating pattern of drowning and clawing back up to the surface for a breath of air. The very child who brings you joy also leaves you speechless and empty.

The very chaotic, unpredictable nature of trauma has claimed your household and left you in shambles.

You’re left there, sitting in the wreckage, wondering if there is an “up” from here. You’ve heard that once you hit rock bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. That’s all well and good, you think, but it seems you’re spending most of your days at the bottom lately and the light at the top is slowly fading.

Mom in trenches; the darkness isn’t closing in yet. The light isn’t fading. You’re just so very tired and worn thin from endless days spent clutching The Connected Child in your left hand and guiding your child back to you with your right. Here’s a bit of truth to cling to, when God allows you to be emptied He doesn’t plan to leave you that way. Look up, He’s there.

Don’t forget, you are fully human, yet striving to do divine work. Redemption is costly, redemption is painful. And in your beautiful surrender to obedience you’ve accepted a task that you cannot do alone.

We see so many instances of God standing with his people in scripture:

2 Timothy 4:17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

The last verse, John 16:33 has become my heart verse in the past year. Reading those verses in succession gives me great courage and hope… but knowing that Jesus has already won every battle I’ll ever facethat gives me strength for the day. Jesus you’ve got this, take my life in your hands. You said it Jesus, you have overcome.

If you can’t find words to pray, know that it’s enough to say, Jesus you’ve got this, I’m yours. My kids are yours.

Mom in the trenches; you are a warrior. And warriors don’t fight alone. We wake, we rise, we swipe on war paint, we hand it to Jesus and we claim our tribe.

Every day provides a new opportunity to fight for the family you courageously love.

Give it to Jesus mamma, he’s already won.

» Mama Goose

This is a trying several months, turned Facebook post, turned blog post.

It’s often difficult to determine what is shareable in the world of grief, trauma, loss and adoption. I mention those things because they are all wrapped up in adoption and also exist outside of adoption. Grief and trauma in any form has to be handled carefully. As parents we need to protect our children, but we also have the responsibility to help others feel… not so alone. So I’ve started sharing, with few details and in return I hear sighs of relief echoing through my little world. I hear, I’m so thankful your day looks just a bit like mine. There is strength in numbers, and strength can often come from numbers.

Just yesterday, I shared about our youngest son. How he was struggling… how I was struggling. I also shared about my hope for him. I received numerous calls, texts and messages. From weary moms and encouraging friends. I was already determined to fight that day but my thoughts turned to prayers, desperately seeking some divine intervention. We needed a good day, some connection. Something.

Later that day after work and school and dishes, I told Liam his bike was in the car. I said, let’s head to the park and work on your 2-wheel riding. He agreed and we headed out to do just that. Things were going well. No raging in the car, no escaping from his car seat. The short drive to the park was fairly peaceful.

We strapped on his helmet and I began by giving him a choice. “Which trail would you like to take Liam?” He chose, feeling a bit empowered, and we began. I needed to RUN. As much as we needed connection, I needed the outlet of pounding pavement even more. So I ran and he rode, I said let’s race, we raced. Then he crashed. It wasn’t pretty; it was full of screaming and I hate you and you wanted me to fall.

This moment and the moments afterward are what solidify my belief that if we seek the Lord and watch for him in the details of our lives he will respond with overflowing grace and love in our most desperate moments.

As the screaming continued I glanced to the side of the trail, near the lake and saw a nest with two large goose eggs. “Liam!” I shouted. “There are eggs right behind you!” This surprised him a bit and he turned to view the eggs. I walked with him and we peered at the eggs from a safe distance. Within moments two angry geese stormed out from behind the bushes with mouths ready to bite. I snatched him up and we moved to a safe distance. At once, I knew what to say to my precious boy. I grabbed his shoulders tight and put my face in front of his.

Do you see how angry those geese are? They thought we were going to hurt their babies. They wanted to protect them. Liam, do you understand that’s how I feel about you? Do you understand that I will always protect you? I will never leave you and if anyone tries to hurt you… I’ll bite them! Just like the geese wanted to bite us! We giggled about that for a moment and I looked him in the eye again. When your heart hurts I can protect you. Share your hurt with me and we will talk or hug until it feels better.

I do mama. You a goose. You a mama goose. (followed by laughter)

We hugged and teased the geese one last time. Liam got back on his bike and we finished our outing peacefully. We ran and rode together while I pondered the gift of crashing right near a nest full of goose eggs; and how a crash gave me the opportunity to explain my love with live, honking, angry examples.

Later that day anger cropped up again. Hot rage filled his eyes. And I said, hey Liam, do you remember those geese? It took a moment, but he remembered. The anger subsided a little quicker than usual. That’s what connection does, it develops little pathways of communication that feel safe and meaningful.

We will keep struggling. For years to come we will struggle. But I’m learning that when our resolve is strong and our faith is stronger we will find divine opportunities to connect with each other along the way. Every bit of the struggle is worth it. Because our kids are worth it.


» FWD: How My Special Needs Parenting Confuses Most Of The World.

[This article was originally written by Mike Berry…It’s used here with his permission. Mike and Kristen Berry are raising 8 amazing children (photo above), all of whom have been adopted. Their blog Confessions of An Adoptive Parent exists to offer hope for families in the trenches.]

As adoptive and special needs parents, our style of parenting can be quite different from most parents. Because of our children’s traumatic pasts, there are reasons why we do the things we do, expect the things we expect, and redirect the way we redirect.

My son’s coach meant well. He really did. His fatherly instincts told him to comfort my son and try to remedy the situation by loaning him his gloves. The temperature at game time was a brisk 30 degrees. The sun was up, but slow to melt the frost that fell in the early morning hours when it was much colder. My son stood on the sideline shivering, crying, snot running down his upper lip, and looking as if he were close to death.

I stood on the opposite sideline, glaring at him as he did so, feeling absolutely no sympathy.

In fact, through my anger, I reflected back on the night before, when I was digging out knit caps and gloves in preparation for his game. And since I’m a college-educated person I paid attention to the evening weather report. I listened when the weather man said that the next morning would be below normal. He even went as far as to say, “If your son or daughter is playing soccer, football or fall baseball, you will want to dress them warm!” Ironic.

My son argued with me. He told me that he didn’t need to wear gloves, because none of the other kids would be wearing them. He shook his head and told me that football players are supposed to be tough and that wearing a knit cap would make him look like a sissy. Then, he obsessively walked around the house in his uniform pretending to be an NFL player who didn’t wear long sleeves in frigid temperatures. Big talk until he got out of the car the next morning and joined his teammates (who, by the way, were all wearing knit caps and gloves). He almost immediately started to shiver. I didn’t budge. “Life lesson learned,” I thought to myself. “He can freeze his ‘you-know-what’ off!”

Some of the parents nearby gave me nasty looks. Some tried to remedy the situation by getting involved. I’m sure I was labeled as a terrible father that day. But the highlight of this experience was the email I received from his coach, later that afternoon, saying “Next time we have a game with those temperatures please make sure to properly dress your son.” He then explained his strategy for making sure his son was dressed for chilly game-time temperatures.

And that’s when it hit me- This world will never understand how or why I parent my special-needs son the way I do, and that’s okay! Many would look at that experience and consider it normal 9-year old behavior. It was the farthest thing from it.

Noticed But Not Understood.

What people rarely see (unless they spend significant time with us) is the impulsive, illogical, obsessive behavior my child displays over nearly everything. He has a disconnect in his brain. It’s a permanent condition he inherited from the choice his birth mother made to consume drugs and alcohol when he was still in her womb. While other children may argue with their parents, push buttons, stomp their feet and demand their own way, my son makes it a campaign, battles us to sometimes violent levels, and refuses to listen to logic, even when logic is causing his ears and finger tips to turn blue and go numb.

  • “I’m blunt and to the point for a reason.”

When you live with a child who has brain damage, or has gone through significant trauma, you can’t leave an ounce of what you say up for interpretation. My son will fill in the blanks and many times that equals disaster or very bad choices. I have to be blunt and to the point always. I know I sound harsh. I know I sound unforgiving and belligerent. But my point must be crystal clear with my child. I stick to a strict schedule with him. Bedtime is always the same. So are trivial things like brushing teeth, household chores, and homework. Without a routine, my son will melt down.

Most parents of children with normal brains usually have to give gentle reminders to their children (usually). Even if they mess up and forget, a gentle reminder or two will do the trick. Not so with my child. If I gently remind him he won’t get it, or he’ll move into a 2-hour tantrum. If I resort to doing the task myself he’ll never learn nor come back to the task in his mind. I have to bluntly state my expectations and be ready with a consequence if he fails to do what was asked of him.

  • “I give the consequences I give for a reason.”

In his mind, he believes he is right and I am wrong all the time. Not only that, he can be extremely manipulative. This is a result of the disconnect in his brain. If he can get you to buy into his story, believe that I just didn’t want to give him gloves and hat for the freezing temperatures, he wins, and quite frankly, you lose. He doesn’t necessarily mean to do this but his brain has been damaged. He isn’t thinking logically and, although I reassure him and show him that moms and dads always take care of their children and are there for them, he reaches for something else. Many times, it’s a stranger or a person (like a coach or teacher) that he barely knows.

We’ve custom-designed boundaries because the only way he’ll learn how to live is through the structure I keep in place. Within his mind there is deep fear and anxiety that even he does not understand. This usually manifests itself through impulsive choices, and sometimes, obsessive-compulsive outbursts.

  • “I have to keep going even though I’m extremely exhausted.”

When you parent normal children, with normal brains, who pull normal child-like stunts, you often fail to understand that I have to be vigilant around the clock. I cannot take my foot off the gas. I have to read labels for ingredients you never give a second thought to. I have to ask questions at doctor’s appointments that most parents never have to ask. I have to mentally and physically prepare for something as simple as a trip to the grocery store. I have to make sure my son is following the same routine day after day after day.

It can take the life out of us.

While “normal” children can go off-routine during vacation or the weekend, mine cannot. The consequences of this could take days or weeks to undo. I don’t expect you to understand the way I parent my special-needs son, but I am asking for respect and a little less judgement. Until you walk in the shoes of a parent with a child who has special needs you will never understand the reasons why we do the things we do, and say the things we say.

It’s What Moms And Dads Do.

In case you’re wondering, I secretly brought his knit cap and gloves to the game that day. After allowing him to live with his consequence for a while, and refusing to let his coach bail him out, I walked over, reminded him that I was his parent, and that moms and dads always take care of their children, then handed him his cap and gloves.

» Let’s hear it for the Boys!

I’m sitting in my office this morning. <Coffee. Mom bun. Yoga Pants. More Coffee.> And I’m going through photos of hundreds of neat little boys who are waiting for forever families. Precious, special, sweet and full of potential little guys. Waiting. As I looked at the sheer number of boy profiles I began to create my own statistics. With a need to explore what the numbers on this subject really were I checked the Homeland Security Data to find out that 64 percent of International Adoptees are girls. While comparing 36% to 64% doesn’t seem huge on a small scale, when that number represents thousands it becomes quite apparent that there seems to be a preference to adopt females.

However, we must take into account that for years upon years overseas adoptions were largely from China. China has historically offered adoption files for female children, this would of course drastically affect the male to female ratio in international adoptions. In recent years there has been quite a shift. There are now many, many young boys waiting and ready to enter families. My friends are often shocked when I explain that China is no longer a “girls only” adoption program. In addition, there does seem to be an underlying feeling among some potential adoptive parents that a female child might be safer, calmer, easier to handle. This is unfortunately a stigma that may cause some parents to choose to pursue a female child rather than being open to both. The simple fact is… male or female, toddler or teenager, international or domestic… adoption is hard. Adoption is beautiful, but adoption is difficult. Bringing your child into an unfamiliar world, teaching them about family and loving through trauma is a worth-it process that takes time. Gender doesn’t change that.

So. These boys. These amazing, worth-it children of God. They deserve big things. They deserve families that will fight for them. In fact, I want to share about a few really cool guys I’ve been getting to know through Storyteller teams.


Shaefer is a sweet little boy in an America World Adoption orphanage partnership. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His file notes high muscular tension of both upper limbs. He received surgery for partial stripping of the left carotid artery on Oct 24 2012 and recovered well. He is receiving rehabilitation. His caretakers describe him as active, ready to smile, and outgoing!

Shaefer is from an orphanage partnership and his file is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file, so a family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


Meet Jacob. He is 1 year and 9 months old.

Jacob is a sweet baby boy who has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He is energetic, likes watching cartoons, and likes looking at picture books! He lives with foster parents and has been receiving good care since coming to the orphanage.

Jacob is from an orphanage partnership and lives in a foster family. His file is designated by the CCCWA as Special Focus and a family just considering adoption or at any stage of the process is eligible to review his file.  Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


And now. Meet 3 year old Joshua. For reasons you can understand, our daughter has a similar condition, this guy is pretty special to me.

Joshua is a sweet and quiet boy. His caretaker reports that he loves to cuddle and play. Joshua was born with binocular corneal leucoma (whitening of corneas), which has caused him to lose sight in both of his eyes; however, because the reason for his leucoma is unknown, it is also unknown until he is further evaluated by doctors if his condition can be treated to some level. At one and a half, he could crawl, respond when others asked for him to share his toys, and look for sources of sound. He is very sensitive to sounds and knows how to locate where sounds are coming from.

He is designated by the CCCWA as a special focus file and is from one of our agency’s orphanage partnerships. His file is now a shared file. A family at any stage of the process is eligible to review this file. A grant is available to the family pursuing Joshua’s adoption.  Email china@awaa.org to learn more.


Please help me as I continue to advocate for these cuties and many more amazing kids. Share this blog post, write your own blog post, Be part of their stories.




» Waiting Child Advocacy

You may have noticed that a new tab has been added to the blog. Waiting Child Advocacy. We will be using that space to advocate for kids, primarily with some type of medical need, who have files and are ready to become a part of Forever Families. We are hoping to see advocacy grow as others share these posts and become voices for amazing kids who need medical care and families to thrive. We have seen first hand how kids GROW once given what they need… once they experience the love of a family. The road is hard, the work is ongoing, we aren’t perfect but these lives are worth it. Let’s fight together. I remember meeting Miss Lola just 2 1/2 years ago, and wishing I had gotten there earlier. I see these kiddos today and I know their families are out there. It is my prayer that I can somehow help them get there just a bit quicker.

What do you mean “under-developed”?

Lola has migraines. Lola is joyful. Lola has flashes of light. Lola is difficult. Lola’s eyes turn red and water. Lola fights through every day determined to use the little bit of “vision” she has. She’s not mature enough, and frankly, she has too much fight to allow herself to rely more on touch than “sight.” It’s something that frustrates me and challenges me all at the same time.


She never takes the easy road. Probably, because life has not been easy on her. And when she’s hard on me, I return to that place two years ago in an ornate wooden government office with low lighting. I return to the pictures I saw that challenged my mostly normal family.

Last week Lola had an MRI. The neurologist said lots of scary things that led up to a Saturday night with Daddy, a candy shop and Vanderbilt University. No, she won’t need sedation we told them. She will be very still, she listens to instructions very seriously. And she did. She has also reminded me at least 20 times that her earrings are still in daddy’s car.

I honestly didn’t think about the MRI until my phone rang today. I picked it up and heard our pediatrician on the other line. “Has anyone talked with you about this yet?” she said. No. They hadn’t. And when the conversation starts like that, and you’ve had the idea of a tumor put in your heard you get very worried, very fast.

Very quickly she dispelled my worries about tumors. But she went on to say a lot about how not normal Lola’s brain is. While she read the report I was mostly quiet because I was thinking about how smart Lola is, how determined Lola is… how she made all A’s this quarter and learned English in FOUR months. But I’m also thinking about how many struggles she has and how many years passed before I, her mother, held her for the first time.

There is still so much sifting to do. I’ve read an obscene amount of of medical journals and I have yet to have the meeting with the neurologist. Just wait until I meet him head on with my newly acquired knowledge… maybe Lola gets that fight from me.

A lot of words and possible diagnoses were thrown around and I was given some support group and advocate numbers. But some things didn’t fit and we are in that space of avoiding denial but wondering if miracles are happening. And when I say wondering, I use that term loosely because we see a miracle every day in our astounding daughter.

It’s another chapter in the Goodbye book, one that we hope to write with grace and wisdom.


All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal