Spina Bifida Awareness Month

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October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month! Get to know an incredible family that is raising a beautiful daughter with Spina Bifida by reading below.

On this side of things, it’s difficult for us to believe that fear was what once held our family back from discovering some of its greatest treasures. We were afraid of what we did not know or understand and had not yet experienced. Thankfully, a short, grainy video from halfway around the world would dissipate all that fear, shift us from our comfort zone, and pivot our mindset from trepidation to one of expectant, accepting, and purposeful hope.

Kelley’s daughter with Spina Bifida

In the winter of 2012, we pursued adopting a two-year-old Chinese girl diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Though her medical history was admittedly scary to us, we felt confident we could handle her needs with our doctor’s supportive counsel. We were open to the idea of adopting two unrelated children at the same time. Still, when CCAI called us in the Spring of 2013 with the referral of another little girl, age 3, with Spina bifida, we found ourselves overcome with fear of what her diagnosis might mean for our family. How would we handle doctor appointments and daily medical routines for two children with such extensive medical histories? Our initial inclination was to say no to this referral but to request our agency keep searching for the second file of a child whose needs might be less severe. We also believed that “fears are often educated into us, and can also, if we wish, be educated out.” So instead, we decided to research further, learn more about the needs of a child with Spina bifida, and requested a video be sent showing the little girl’s development. Could she walk, talk, or show emotion? Would she be able to feed herself, move about freely, and one day advance from diapers to big-girl underpants? These things seem so wonderfully insignificant now, but they felt infinitely paramount to our ability to consent at that time.       

Gratefully, that video changed everything.  

It indeed showed a little girl walking and talking. Still, even more than that, it transformed her from a scary, abstract concept into a real person-our DAUGHTER-who smiled, laughed, and was worthy of unconditional love and suitable placement into an expectant, adoring family. We said yes without hesitation

Our daughters came home in the winter of 2014, and we began the hard work of acclimating them to a new way of life, family, and culture. The days were some strange mix of exhaustion, mayhem, and delight. We would, through time, learn about catheterization, bowel management programs, daily administered medications that prevent urinary tract infections and bladder spasms, and legs that tire a little more quickly than is typical. We have even more to learn in the future regarding independence, mobility aids, and how a previously unknown secondary diagnosis will impact our daughter into adulthood. But all of these things pale in comparison to the love and joy our daughters have brought us. They are so much more than the sum of their medical conditions. They are a living visualization of fear overcome by love, ever-present witness bearers to the fact that “one of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find that he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”   

Both Kelley daughters, adopted from China.

They have made us braver than we ever thought we could be. We went on to bring two more children home in January of 2016, both of which have spina bifida! Our hearts have genuinely expanded to engulf our fears, and we have been challenged to rise above what we believed we could not do.  This adoption has helped us see that we can surpass our own perceived and almost always self-limiting capacities. Love always hopes and always perseveres, but above all else, it never fails. And neither will you. 

If you are currently navigating the adoption process, may I have the joy of telling you, “Congratulations, and welcome to the journey of a lifetime!” But secondly, please consider a child with Spina bifida. After all, the very child you’re hoping for maybe waiting for you veiled in a diagnosis you thought you couldn’t handle.  

                            

The Kelley Family

If you would like to view the profiles or our waiting children with Spina Bifida, please click here and request a password if you don’t already have one.

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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month! Meet the Romeros! They are raising two beautiful kids with Down syndrome– their son is biological, and their daughter, Liv, is adopted from Ukraine. What is life like raising Liv? Read below to find out!

Liv is enjoying family time at the Lake.

We adopted our adorable 3-year-old daughter Livia from Ukraine in August 2020. Since Livia has Down syndrome, she has developmental delays and some additional medical needs that require a bit more attention. We have a fantastic therapy team that includes a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and a feeding therapist. Livia is highly motivated and loves the attention that she gets during her therapy sessions. She is now learning to walk, drink from a straw, and total communication, including spoken words and signs/gestures. Since bringing Livia home just 12 months ago, Livia has already met many of her therapy goals and milestones, and we love to celebrate each of her achievements. In terms of medical needs, people with Down syndrome have an increased risk for specific medical conditions, so Livia regularly has health checks, including bloodwork, eye exams, and hearing checks. 

Life with Livia is terrific, and we are so happy to have her in our family. Livia loves to do all of the things that other little girls like to do, including listening to music, playing with baby dolls, swinging outside, and just hanging out with her parents and three big brothers. She is more alike than different, and her diagnosis of Down syndrome doesn’t define her. My advice to anyone considering adopting a child with Down syndrome is to go for it! These children will thrive with love and care, including developmental supports, nutrition, and medical care. Adoption is not easy and will likely include many highs and lows but in the end, giving a beautiful child with Down syndrome a second chance at having a fulfilling life is such a beautiful thing. I think your son or daughter might just be waiting for you to say YES! We cherish our daughter and show her how worthy she is each day. We are so thankful we said YES!

If you are interested in adopting a child with Down Syndrome, please email us at mail@ccaifamily.org. If you are interested in adopting a child from Ukriane, please email us at EEadoption@ccaifamily.org or click here.

ADHD Awareness Month

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Read below to learn about how the McPartland family is thriving through ADHD.

We do timers for meals, repeating 3 step directions, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact, identifying feelings, and learning how to cope with feelings (breaks or Trauma Release Exercises).

Our son was diagnosed with ADHD, among other diagnoses in Taiwan.  We have been home for 14 months and ADHD seems to be the most prevalent diagnosis. When we adopted, he was 6 ½ years old and full of spunk. He still is! Being a special education teacher, I have experienced many children with ADHD in my teaching career. ADHD was not something that I was concerned about when bringing him home. Keeping structure, routines, and predictability are critical. Also, because of the language barrier, I knew we would need to be drawing a lot of visuals. 

Preparing for our trip to Taiwan, I brought a few things with us: a small notebook for our visual schedule, Woody Goes to America travel book (a book I made of the process of the airport for our son), a sign language communication book with English and Mandarin (our family’s primary mode of communication is sign language), a calendar with pictures of when we would leave and lots of stickers. 

After getting custody, we drew out a stick figure schedule so our son knew what would come next. We could not imagine being almost seven years old, being taken away from the only home you know, and leaving with strangers. We needed him to feel comfortable. We used this technique religiously for months, and what we found is he began to trust us because we would keep our word about what would happen next. This schedule was very daunting at first, but we got good at drawing stick figures! We slowly left blank spaces for “unscheduled times” and changes in the schedule. When changes happened, we talked about how things were unexpected in a controlled environment. We no longer use the stick figure schedule every day. We only use it on holiday breaks when we have visitors or are on vacation (I make him a vacation picture book), anything that is out of the ordinary to help him. 

We do timers for meals, repeating 3 step directions, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact, identifying feelings, and learning how to cope with feelings (breaks or Trauma Release Exercises). We do so many things daily that we no longer think about because it has just become second nature to our family. We are currently in the process of our second adoption of an older child from Taiwan. This time around, we are not as concerned about special needs. Adopting an older child can come with many fears. But at the end of the day, these sweet “older children” are still babies who need a family.

If you are interested in adopting from Taiwan, please email us at taiwan@ccaifamily.org or click here.

World Sight Day 2021

October is World Blindness Awareness Month and today is World Sight Day, designed to bring awareness to the spectrum of visual diversity. Please join CCAI in celebrating our precious adopted and waiting children who have vision differences!  

Read below about the Puls family, who adopted a son named Mo with low vision from Taiwan:

Adopting a child, especially a child with a specific need will change you. We adopted a child with a vision impairment two years ago. When we started the process, I thought the vision issue would be a bigger deal, but it’s not something that worries me anymore. The hardest part is watching my child work harder than his peers or struggle with more manageable tasks for other children. Having a blind or visually impaired child makes you see the world differently and allows you to notice things you may not have noticed otherwise. Communities have many resources, and local schools have assistive technology that can help children. Some great teachers and advocates want to help, so we’re not navigating alone. Our child has low vision, but his daily life isn’t impacted thanks to magnifiers and other technology. 

Adopting has changed our life for the better. Someone else’s story is now part of you, and you’re never the same. The world as you know it is a different place – a more important place, a more nuanced place, a more broken and yet beautiful place. And because of that, the wins and successes are super high. Blindness, low vision, or vision impairment do not equal a lower quality of life – it’s just different. As I watch my kid run on the soccer field, I don’t think about his vision impairment or fear for his future. I think about how my kid is thriving, happy, and healthy. I think about how lucky his teammates and coaches are to know him and how they’re learning tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion. I’m so thankful he is ours. We could have missed this, and instead, we get to live it. What a gift!

Mo is enjoying his new scooter!

If you are interested in adopting a child with a visual condition, please email us at mail@ccaifamily.org. If you would like to learn more about our Taiwan program, please email us at Taiwan@ccaifamily.org or click here.

If you would like to know more about World Sight Day or Blindness Awareness Month, click here.

#CCAIfamily #WorldSightDay #BlindnessAwarenessMonth #LoveYourEyes #WeCouldHaveMissedThis