Hopping baby bunnies, eggs and pictures

Georgie has been alternating between giving me fits and blindsiding me with how much knows. He's refusing to cooperate for his therapist at the hospital. It is to the point that we are considering taking a break from this therapy. He has a week off this coming week, so we are going to see how it goes with that session. He still needs the additional therapy and his school SLP has given me some tips so we'll see how things roll with that.


Suddenly, all my shoes fell apart (no joking!) and I have been dragging the kids around shoe shopping. We went to DSW and I was trying to look at shoes and try to make sure the kids did not detroy anything. I heard Georgie saying "deee!deee!" over and over again and I thought he was just jargoning on. Then I turned around and saw him pointing at the giant "D" on the back wall. "George," I said, "can you find the S?" He nodded and pointed to the "S." Adam thinks he's picking up things from when I work with Camille. We joke that we'll have the only kindergardener who can't talk but can read!


Georgie is obssessed with eggs. Since Easter is coming, this is giving him a great chance to say "ay-guh! ay-guh!" I brought up the spring/Easter books the other day and he dragged up the little book about Sarah and her bunny Buttercup. He kept pointing to the rabbit saying, "ho'! ho'!" (Not "hoe" more like "hop" but with a very soft "p" sound at the end. It was the end of the day and he was dropping ending sounds, unable to pick them up.) He would hop around the house and when Adam sat to read with him, he said "Ho'! ay!" ("Hop! Egg!" in other words, the rabbit was with the Easter eggs.) It was amazing to see him sit and listen to a story. A year ago, he wouldn't go near books at all.

After the story, Georgie pointed to the rabbit and said, "Ho'! Duh! Hump!" and made an eating noise. Adam asked him if Higgins eats rabbits. He laughed and nodded. Not funny.

Later that night, Adam came up to me and said, according to George, rabbits now say, "peep. peep." I asked him where he got the idea that rabbits make that noise and he said they found some baby bunnies while working in the garden. Before I could melt into a puddle of mush, he told me that Higgins found the nest and ATE THE BABIES. I was HORRIFIED that the dog ate BABIES in front of my baby! Adam said he couldn't really stop him, since he by the time he realized what was going on, the dog had eaten then and "they are really a one-glup deal." I guess since the dog ate the Easter bunny, my husband is out of luck for candy this year, right?


Joseph had his First Communion pictures today. I got him all dolled up in his suit and he put up with the adoring attention of two photographers. The pictures came out great! I'm really pleased with them. I had a moment, though, when he was all dolled up. Wow, he's really grown up. He looked so handsome!

Baseball season has begun which means life as I know it has ended. I don't mind, honestly, as I am glad my kids are in sports and active. Cami, Georgie, Cole and I ate dinner at the school where practice is held and played on the playground. Joseph was hot and tired when he was done. He's so busy but he seems happier when he is reasonably busy.

Georgie was enthralled with the kids playing soccer. At one point I heard, "Me. Ball. NET!" I think he wants to play!


Cami is trucking along with her sight words. I got my Thirty-One Bags order and she likes her lunch bag. I'm pleased with the quality so far and if her lunch bag holds up well, I'll buy one for Joseph. She's doing well in TKD; I just need to get on the ball to help her earn stripes.


Cole is busy. The boy is insane, doesn't sleep and wants something... but won't tell me what. Heaven forbid I not give him a BA (milk) which he won't drink or do something like use the restroom. He also is back to climbing on tables and then looking at me and laughing, because he knows he should not be up there. Oh and not sleeping. So kind, huh? Good thing he's ab-so-stinking-lu adorable!

The kids, I swear!

Orphan finds his way home using Google Earth

What a story!
Beyond the novelty of ne'erseen shipwrecks and rooftop sunbathers, the venerable bird's-eye map of the world has emerged, for one man at least, as a beacon, guiding him home after 25 years.

Saroo Brierley was 5-years-old, living in a slum in India when he and his brother were sent to beg for money at the train station. He fell asleep on a train and woke-up ten hours and some 900 miles later in the town of Kolkata on the other side of the country. For a month he wandered the streets, 5-years-old, trying to find his way home.

Eventually he was declared an orphan and adopted by Australians. He spent the next 25 years growing up in Tasmania, more than 8,000 miles away.

All the while he remembered his home, scattered images.

Ten years ago he began the search. City by city, comparing maps to the images in his memory. In the end, it was Google Earth that brought him home. Thousands of hours scouring images, and there was the train station from his childhood. The place it all began some quarter-century before.

He booked a ticket and returned to India, walked the streets, asked of anyone who would listen, and on a narrow roadway in a place buried in childhood memories, he knocked on a door that had been closed nearly all his life. His mother answered.

Russian Duma to Debate U.S.-Russia Adoption

From RiaNovosti:
An adoption deal between Russia and the United States drafted in the wake of a series of tragic episodes involving Russian children and their adoptive American families was submitted to the State Duma for ratification on Friday, a lower house spokesman said.

The need for such an agreement became particularly acute two years ago when a U.S. mother sent her a seven-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow on a plane with a note saying she did not want him anymore.

* * *

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov earlier said he hoped the agreement would be ratified this spring.

One child, 10 conditions, no diagnosis

One child, 10 conditions, no diagnosis
By Julie Drury

Our daughter Kate (above) had 10 medical conditions but no diagnosis. Episodes of repeated vomiting, pain and racing heart rate sent us back to the emergency room -- over and over and over again.

Imagine arriving for the 10th time, your toddler presenting with the same unexplained symptoms. Armed with a binder that contains your medical journal, a list of countless specialists and ever-changing medication schedules, you tell your story to the triage nurse, then a resident, then a doctor. After hours of waiting, you move to an inpatient ward, where you repeat your child's complicated history again – to a student, a nurse, a resident, an attending physician and many specialists.

No one knows your child and no one knows what's wrong. You're afraid, frustrated and exhausted.

This was life for our family.

At nine months, Kate became acutely ill with episodes of cyclical vomiting, pain, lethargy, high heart rate, low oxygen saturation and severe anemia. Our family doctor seemed overwhelmed with her symptoms and began treating her for reflux. His advice was to take her to emergency at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in hopes that they would identify the underlying problem. We rushed there more than 20 times in the first 2.5 years of Kate’s life and had many hospital admissions.

In addition to serious medical problems, Kate was losing her hearing during this time and was eventually diagnosed with global developmental delay. To address this, we added rehab professionals to our long list of specialists: occupational, speech and physical therapists, auditory-verbal therapists, psychologists, a developmental pediatrician, integration support workers, school board advisors and community care access staff. On a daily basis, we juggled therapy, clinic visits, tests and chronic illness. Every six weeks or so, Kate became seriously ill and we'd rush to emergency.

Kate’s severe episodes often happened in the evening and escalated throughout the night. In the early days, my husband and I would take Kate to the hospital. We needed two sets of arms to cuddle and comfort her. We needed two sets of ears to listen to the doctors and understand how they were going to treat her. Over time we settled into a routine of me taking the lead and my husband taking the night shift during hospitalizations. Every hospital trip involved asking friends and neighbours to care for our older son.

With no diagnosis and no doctor overseeing Kate's case, I became Kate's medical advocate and coordinator. I tried to ensure that all of her specialists were up to date on the approaches pursued by each. I kept a detailed journal and concise medical summary because her enormous medical chart wasn't always available during clinic visits. And it was too long to be read and absorbed during an emergency room visit or hospitalization.

After two life-threatening events, I worked with a discharge planning coordinator to pull together case-conference meetings about Kate. We wanted better coordination of care, and a solid plan to support Kate and our family when we showed up in emergency.

I was taken aback when our simple request for a triage letter outlining Kate's conditions and protocol for care was met with reluctance. None of her specialists wanted to take the lead. Each felt uncomfortable being the point person for a child with a complexity of medical issues.

We couldn’t keep this up.

Then, during a long admission in February 2010, we heard about a new pilot program at CHEO. The Coordination of Complex Care Program (CCCP) aims to improve care for children who are medically complex and fragile. The team supporting a child includes a 'most-responsible physician,' a nurse and family-care coordinator, and a nurse practitioner. These professionals ensure that information is shared and coordinated among specialists, the community pediatrician and community organizations (integrated support services, community care, therapists, schools, social worker).

A single point of contact for hospital admissions meant that someone finally 'knew' Kate. For us, that someone was Dr. Natalie Major. Dr. Major knew Kate's medical history, had a protocol in place to treat her, and could adjust it as necessary. We weren't constantly repeating our story and trying to educate different doctors.

The CCCP has changed our lives and, most importantly, changed Kate's life. Shortly after being admitted to the program, a major health crisis due to poor medical coordination was averted. It’s been two years since we joined the program, and we’ve seen many benefits.

We make less emergency trips. We have a medical protocol in place to ensure Kate’s efficient and effective care. We have a triage letter that explains her condition and outlines how she’s to be treated. There is better communication and collaboration between her specialists. Because procedures are coordinated, Kate has fewer pokes for bloodwork. If she needs a general anesthetic, Dr. Major leads a full case conference to ensure all aspects of her complicated condition are considered.

Our family -- once incredibly alone and burdened -- now copes with solid medical support.

The reality is that children like Kate, who are medically fragile and complex, are living longer. While they make up 12 to 18 per cent of the population, their care produces up to 80 per cent of the health-care bill. They have chronic conditions and are usually dependent on technology. They spend a lot of time in emergency rooms and hospitals. Their health can be improved – and pressures on the health-care system reduced – by putting programs like CCCP in place.

I’m happy to say that Kate’s health has stabilized over the last 12 to 18 months. She continues to have her acute episodes (26 to date). But because of Dr. Major’s early intervention, the episodes are handled efficiently and quickly. This minimizes our trips to emergency and the need to hospitalize Kate. Since joining the program, Kate’s underlying diagnosis has been confirmed. She has a rare form of Mitochondrial disease.

Families who can’t access programs like CCCP are suffering. They shouldn’t have to experience fear, frustration, burn out and financial ruin. Their children shouldn’t be at risk for medical error or omission because they are so complex. They shouldn’t have to consider moving to another part of the country to get the services they need.

Innovative programs like CCCP demonstrate that there is a way to keep these children out of hospital. But in Canada, these programs are few and far between. Our program – a two-year pilot – now has one year of project funding. We will continue to fight for funding and recognition of its importance. Medically-complex children – who weren’t part of our community only a few short years ago – deserve this essential care.

Learn more about Kate Drury and her family at Caring Bridge.

Jump In: A guest post

I love the ocean. I always have. The amazing power of the waves and the vast immenseness of it never cease to create awe within me. I am not, however, a true ocean swimmer. I’ll swim like a fish in any pool but the minute I can’t feel the sand of the ocean bottom beneath my feet I panic. I’m suddenly adrift in an ebb and flow that is clearly larger than anything I can control. Suddenly the bigness of the ocean is too big for me and I just want to be back on steady ground.

I also love my Jesus. Always have. I grew up in a Christian home and started following him at an early age. I passionately loved and served him to the best of what I had in me. Looking back though I can see I always held a little bit back. There was something about God that was too wild for me. I would never have admitted it, but much like the deep of the ocean I got scared when I couldn’t control the God I was serving. When I couldn’t figure him out I stayed near the known comfort-zone of the shore.

God must see the path I’ve laid out for myself as a toe dip in the ocean of an amazing story he has designed especially for me.  I imagine he must laugh at the dreams I have for myself. Not a mocking laugh but an “I am so going to blow you away” kind of laugh.

For years I walked along the edge of God’s story for me with a toe dip here and a splash there. I spent my energy trying to outrun the waves that tried to sweep me in. Like a young child I would let the foam catch my toes and then run like mad for the shore. The shore was safe, the shore was known, and the shore was controllable.

Tattered and broken:

Then without warning the waves overtook me in the most devastatingly beautiful way. At the ripe age of 26 in the space of 15 months my life went from planned and controlled to tattered and broken. A debilitating incurable disease contacted on a mission’s trip to Asia, a severe birth defect discovered in both knees, and a lost job…. just to name a few. Not only had the waves overtaken me, but I was out to sea and barely keeping my head above water.

As pieces of my life fell down around me I had a choice to make. Either be swept under and live in fear or catch the wave knowing my Father was leading the way. I chose to swim. My life wasn’t in tatters because of things I had done, I had been living my life well and loving my Jesus faithfully. However, I had been living my life safe and as controlled and near the shore as possible. Many of us live our whole lives in safe and controlled mode. I believe God can bless us as we move along in that place, I also believe he blows the top off of the blessings when we let go of control and live in the unknown. Those scary waves are right where God desires us to live, for it is there that we truly begin to glimpse just a piece of all that he has for us.

Catching the waves:

If I’m in then I am all in. Once I made the decision to catch the waves and swim there was no looking back. I entered into four of the most scary, painful, and least-controlled years of my short life to date. I also experienced more of God than I ever imagined. I began to know Him as my Great Redeemer, as my Provider, as the Lover of my Soul, as the Author of my story, and as my Healer. As He gently guided and navigated the waves for me I found healing and wholeness in places I didn’t even know were broken.

For those of us who have ridden that wild unknown of an adventure with Jesus there is no going back. The adventure is not safe, it is not comfortable, and it is nowhere near the shore. However, I can testify that I would chose to be nowhere else. God has taken my broken tattered pieces and is creating a story unlike anything I could have ever imagined. When you are whole and healthy there is no limit of what God can do in and through you.

Swim my friends, jump in with both feet!

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
After living in 10 different states and overseas in Austria Melissa currently makes her home in the great state of Iowa. As a children’s ministry consultant and coach she travels extensively training, speaking, consulting, and more in relation to kid’s ministry. Her first book collaboration was published this month and is available on Amazon. She’s passionate about being Jesus to a hurting world. She’s also passionate about reading on the beach, finding a good golf game, and eating froyo in every state she visits. You can find out more at www.melissajamcdonald.com .

Gender Imbalance in China

From China Daily, a look at improving ratios that are still terribly unbalanced, with not a single mention of the role of the one child policy in that imbalance:
The notoriously problematic gap between the number of boys and girls born in China has reduced for three consecutive years, the first sustained alleviation in the gender ratio in 30 years, said a report in Thursday's People's Daily newspaper.
But the figure is still higher than a warning limit and the country faces an arduous task to redress its gender imbalance, according to the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

Census data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that in 2011, China's gender ratio stood at 117.78 newborn boys for every 100 baby girls, a continuous decline from 119.45 in 2009 and 117.94 in 2010.

This result indicates that government measures, including crackdowns on illegal prenatal gender tests and selective abortions, are proving effective, Zhang Jian, a public communication official of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), told the newspaper.

A natural gender ratio at birth should be somewhere between 103 and 107 boys to every 100 girls. Due to the higher mortality rate of boys, the ratio will balance off by the time each generation reaches an age to have their own children.

However, since ultrasound inspections have enabled fetal gender testing in China in the 1980s, the country's gender ratio for newborn babies has hovered at a high level, and reached 120.56 in 2008.

* * *

And the serious gender imbalance is not only a population problem, but also a grave social problem, Zhang noted.

* * *

Experts have also proposed enhanced efforts to promote equal opportunities and the social status of females as a fundamental solution to the problem.

The preference for boys in Chinese society became conventional in China's era of under-development, when boys were favored as stronger laborers.

The problem lingers in modern China, though. Even in some of the country's affluent coastal areas, gender ratio figures are climbing, the article noted.

Excepting improvement in education levels of girls and women, females are still left behind their male counterparts in job opportunities, career positions and salary, said Yang Juhua, a demographic professor with Renmin University of China.

Mother Reunited With Stolen Child She Was Told Had Died

A reuniun in the Spanish stolen babies debacle:
Manuela Polo is one of hundreds of women who were told their babies died shortly after birth when in fact they were taken and given to childless couples in a stolen baby scandal dating back to the Franco era that has only recently come to light.
The 79-year old from Galicia never fully believed that her seventh child had died shortly after she gave birth in a hospital in La Coruna and after a long search and a DNA test she finally met her daughter last week.
Mrs Polo was told that she had a baby boy and held him only briefly before he was whisked away by doctors who later said he had died. Her husband was shown a tiny coffin meant to contain the corpse.
But the baby, a girl, had been sold to a couple unable to have children of their own. The child was brought up in Valencia with the name Maria Jesus Cebrian, who began the search for her birth mother 12 years ago.

* * *

It is only the second time campaigners have been able to prove that a baby said to have died at birth was stolen and sold in a network in which doctors, nuns, priests and even undertakers were complicit.
More than 1,000 families have registered with campaign groups and are demanding Spain's attorney general's office to launch a full investigation into a widespread scandal stretching over 40 years. Campaign groups suspect there could be as many as 300,000 cases of baby snatching.

Single mothers, those who already had several children, and mothers of twins were targeted on the basis that they did not deserve or need their babies. It began as a policy during the time of dictator General Francisco Franco and is thought to have continued into the early 1990s.

A Picture Tells a Story

Andi at Bringing the Sunshine shared 5 pictures from this year, "What My Eyes See...and What Photos Don't Show." I found her blog because she has a daughter with Cerebral Palsy and a son with Down syndrome. Once I visited her blog, I was there to stay. Her reflective post today made me think about the sweet moments this year I have had with my girls. I want to share those with you too.

Orphan no more
Orphan no more: I recently wrote an article on adoption where I revisited the first time I went into Nina's room. Revisiting the reality of what her life used to be like as an orphan broke my heart once more. This little girl is not the same child I met 2 years ago. A blank stare in her eyes has been replace by a sparkle full of life, wonder, and joy.

Incredible measure of pride
Incredible measure of pride: I don't write about Ellie very much, but the truth is, I have an incredible measure of pride for this little girl. She brightens my life with a simple smile and a hug. She is wise beyond her years and her heart has more love and compassion than most people I know. She is amazing, absolutely amazing. We sit together and talk, laugh, and craft away. She has the ability to speak truth into my life, and she loves me regardless of my flaws as a mom. What a gift she is in my life.

So full of love
So full of love: These two girls have a sibling relationship like no other I have seen. Ellie's love for Nichole is so strong. There is no disability, there is no down side to having a sister with down syndrome, there is only love, and an abundance of it. I wrote a post about their relationship, you can read about that by clicking here.

Stand tall
Stand tall: To the eye this appears to be a little girl standing, no big deal at all. But this is a little girl with Cerebral Palsy that is beginning to stand, balance, and walk. Feet with heels on the ground, balancing to her best. A once orphan little girl that would have been sentences to life in a crib in a mental institution now has the sky as her limit. She is full of potential, and she is standing tall!

I'll make music

I'll make music: Nichole amazes me. Often times, she reminds us that we can make music, sing along, and enjoy life. She is also so full of potential, and I love to see her showing me through play what her future could look like. For all those times where I ask myself "Will She...?" Her answer is, "let me show you mom." You can also click here for a post I wrote about this.

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Three children, no voice

New Directions For the Family Tree

At NPR's , a panel discussion about nontraditional families, including an adoptive mother in an open adoption, a gay adoptive father in a transracial, closed adoption, and a mother via donor insemination.  You can read the transcript and/or listen to the story here. Here's a snippet:
LYDEN: So, everybody, moms and dad - let's start with you, Carrie. Your daughter was adopted through what's called an open adoption. You have a relationship with the birth mom. And you wrote in your blog that having an open adoption is complicated. There's so much beauty in allowing an adopted child to know and love a birth family, but with that knowledge comes the burden of truth. And we wondered, what is that burden of truth?

GOLDMAN: The burden of truth is - I look at it this way. Most adopted children harbor a fantasy about their other family, and in their minds it's just this perfect alternative to the family they're in. And, when you're in a closed adoption, the fantasy might just live. When you're in an open adoption, you know the conditions that the birth family lives in.

And, in Katie's situation, her birth family's life is very difficult at times. And we have to balance how much to reveal to her so that we're honest with how much to keep back from her because she's just a little girl and I don't want her to feel anxious or stressed when she learns that her birth family is struggling.

LYDEN: Jay Rapp, you and your partner, Gene, have two daughters. You guys are gay. Both these girls are adopted. How much have you told them about the birth families?

RAPP: We've been honest from the very beginning. My oldest daughter, who's eight, she actually has pictures of her birth mother and her half-siblings. She has two sisters and a brother. And our younger daughter, who is four, actually doesn't have any of those things, so we know very little about her family. And, of course, these are both closed adoptions.

But we've tried to be very honest from the beginning when we talk about our family. And really, although this may sound cliche, really conveying that they came from a very loving family who, of course, would have wanted to keep them were circumstances different, but for a variety of reasons, were unable and, as a result, wanted to provide them with what might be a better life.

A Look Inside China

Forty-one awesome photos from around China, published in the Atlantic.  A must-see for China adoptive parents who want to know about modern China, not just the historical empress-in-silk-qipao version.  Yes, some of the photos are focused on the bizarre, rather than the truly typical, but news photos in the U.S. are, too!  There are some important slice-of-life photos, too.

Child Poverty: Adoption is NOT the Solution

At Huffington Post, by Dr. Jane Aronson, often called the "Orphan Doctor:"
I was with some colleagues today discussing the plight of the children of the world. Sometimes, I think that if I just keep talking, something will come of it. I'm optimistic and hopeful even though the statistics are ugly, alarming and outrageous.

Tony Lake, head of UNICEF, wrote a beautiful piece for Lancet in 2011 in which he referred to the loss of developmental potential for children in the modern world as an "outrage." The research and scholarship on this subject is outstanding as researchers continue to reveal the complex issues of early childhood development in poor children all over the world. When you factor in the long term effects of malnutrition, lack of pre-natal care and stimulation, abuse, neglect, gender inequity, early marriage, child trafficking, child labor, child conscription and institutionalization, it is a fair estimate that half the world's children are living a marginalized life.

* * *

And when the question is how do we care for 153 million orphans, the solution is not adoption. Rather, it's about about strategic and thoughtful work to build communities and provide access to medical care and education for children from the moment they are born... to support women so that they can be educated and grow the economic strength of their communities.

It's about preventing poverty and providing hope. There are many models of community-based care and creative tools to help children and families grow and be successful but investment in social work infrastructure and community worker training programs are essential to any model. Midwives, vaccinators, community workers and case managers are the wave of the future.

forced adoptions for unwed mothers around the globe

From Dan Rather at Yahoo News, an article focusing on birth mothers forced or coerced to relinquish babies in Spain, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the U.S.:
Most women describe giving birth to a child as a life changing experience – in a word – “challenging”, “joyous”, “miraculous.” But generations of young, unwed women describe their experience of giving birth to a child as a nightmare – and decades later their suffering has yet to end.

From Australia to Spain, Ireland to America, and as recent as 1987, young mothers say they were “coerced”, “manipulated”, and “duped” into handing over their babies for adoption. These women say sometimes their parents forged consent documents, but more often they say these forced adoptions were coordinated by the people their families trusted most...priests, nuns, social workers, nurses or doctors. 

* * *

Two weeks ago, a prominent Canadian law firm announced that it would file a class-action lawsuit against Quebec's Catholic Church accusing the Church of kidnapping, fraud and coercion to force unwed mothers to give up their children for adoption.

Attorney Tony Merchant represents several hundred women who claim that when they were in maternity homes in the 1950s and 1960s, social workers, nurses, doctors, and even men and women in the employ of the Catholic Church cooperated with government officials to force or, even coerce, young women to sign away their rights to keep their child never knowing they even had a choice.

Merchant was quoted in the Montreal Gazette as saying, "The beliefs the Catholic Church (in Quebec) had about premarital sex and the judgmental approach the church had, made it particularly aggressive in pressuring women into putting their children up for adoption."

In Spain, an 80-year-old nun, Sister Maria Gómez, became the first person accused of baby snatching in a scandal over the trafficking of 1,500 newborns in Spanish hospitals over four decades until the 1980s. The babies were either stolen, sold or given away by adoption.

* * *

We have interviewed numerous women in the U.S. who told us that they were sent to maternity homes, denied contact with their families and friends, forced to endure labor with purposely painful procedures and return home without their babies. Single, American mothers were also denied financial support and told that their children would be better off without them.

In some cases, they too were told that their babies had died. Many signed away their rights while drugged and exhausted after childbirth. Others were threatened with substantial medical bills if they didn't surrender or were manipulated through humiliation. According to Fessler [author of The Girls Who Went Away], these seemingly unethical practices were used against as many as 1.5 million mothers in the United States.

Spring Flowers

There are beautiful spring flowers at the front of our house, but these flowers to me are just as beautiful. Ellie, our little artist has a gift to create. She made these for my sister and we will be working on making some for our house.


SickKids is having a Family Education Day this Sunday that I hope to attend. Check out the workshops and register online.

Here are a couple of articles of interest:

Computer unlocks autistic teen's exceptional voice

The 'unnatural' Ashley treatment can be right for profoundly disabled children

The iceman cometh with his legal team

School bans a child from using her walker

White Adoptive Parents: Keeping Your Children of Color Safe in a Racist World

At Land of a Gazillion Adoptees, Keum Mee asks important questions about the training, knowledge and competence of white transracially adopting parents to teach their children of color what they need to know:
If you have been listening to the news at all lately, you have probably heard the tragic story of Trayvon Martin‘s death. Since adoption is the place my mind is most of the time, I just keep thinking, “How many transracial adoptive parents know that this story is relevant to their own families?” In his Washington Post blog article, opinion writer, Johnathan Capehart, recalls “the list of the 'don’ts'" he received from his mother about how to behave in public when a young Capehart was about to transfer to a predominantly white school. As a black woman in America, Capehart’s mother knew through lived experience the challenges her son would face as a black man in a white world. So when I hear the accounts of adoption professionals like Melanie Chung-Sherman about the lack of attention to race in adoption placement, I worry that our kids of color are not in line to receive valuable skills and information they need to survive as a non-white person in a predominantly white society from their white parents. What if some white parents of kids of color adhere to a our-world-is-colorblind philosophy? What kind of lived experience will they share with their children? What will happen to their children when they leave the protective umbrella of their parents’ white privilege?
So how about you?  What are you doing to help your children grow up SAFE in a world that will make assumptions about them, solely based on their appearance? 

I have to admit, I hate asking this question -- what should the potential VICTIM do to avoid danger?  It's so victim-blaming, like telling girls they're to blame for their own rapes because they wore a short skirt or a see-through blouse.  I absolutely CRINGED when Geraldo Rivera said the solution was for boys of color not to wear hoodies.  REALLY?!  Isn't the solution to END RACISM?! Yes. But. In the meantime, I need to keep my children safe, even when I'm not there to clothe them in my white privilege.  So what do we do?

1. Read. Listen. Learn. I don't have the "lived experience" to know the kinds of racisms my children will face.  So in the absence of that lived experience, I need to listen to people of color, read what they write, and ACCEPT WHAT THEY SAY. No denials allowed.  I can't say, "That doesn't really happen, you misunderstood, you overreacted, that wasn't really racist."

2.  Talk. Teach.  It's imporant to talk to our children about race and racism.  Talk explicitly about these things.  And it's not enough to talk about it as an historical event.  Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks are all well and good, but you can't act like they cured racism in the 1960s, and it's never been seen again.

3.  Recognize stereotypes. Be specific. Do you know the stereotypes associated with your child's race or ethnicity?  Do you know that Asians are thought of as sneaky and untrustworthy? as perpetually foreign?  Do you know that Asian women are considered submissive and sexually exotic?  Do you know that hispanics are thought of as shiftless and lazy?  Do you know that African-American women are seen as sexually available, and African-American men as violent criminals? Do you know how these stereotypes are often manifested? If you don't know, how can you prepare your children to recognize and respond to the stereotypes when they are manifested?  It's not pleasant to put yourself into the minds of people who think this way, but it's necessary to help your children.

4. Lessons.  My children can't absorb lessons about how to respond to the specific racisms they'll face simply by seeing how I face them -- because I won't be facing them.  That means explicit lessons are needed.  We talk about specific situations:  ching-chong speech, assumptions they know karate, the pulled-eyes gesture.  We brainstorm responses.  We role-play situations.  They learn, they feel empowered, they handle the situations when faced with them.

5.  Role models. Since our children can't learn from OUR lived experiences, make sure there are people in their lives who have lived the experiences they will likely face.

So what are you doing to keep your child of color safe in this not-colorblind world? What have I left off the list?

China: Search for Birth Parents Continues

In December, I posted an article from China Daily about then-21-year-old Ming Foxweldon's search for her birth parents in China.  At that time, she believed that her search had succeeded.  In February, Ming posted a comment saying that DNA results showed that the couple who stepped forward were not, in fact, her relatives.  The search is back on, and China Daily again reports:
A 22-year-old woman from the United States is continuing efforts to find her biological parents in Southwest China's Yunnan province after her previous attempt failed last year.
Ming Foxweldon, a student at the University of Vermont, is sending a new poster around to Chinese media in the hope of gaining the public's attention.

She came to Yunnan University in June last year to study Chinese and look for her birth parents. She was abandoned at birth in 1990 because her feet were slightly deformed, and was later adopted at the age of four from Kunming Orphange by a US couple.

At first, she had difficulty getting information about her life in Yunnan. Kunming Orphanage could not give her any useful information about her life before she was adopted because of the lapse of time. She had all but some childhood photos and certificates of abandonment. Language also posed a barrier

After a few months of fruitless effort, things took a turn in November when her teacher at Yunnan University told her story to Yunnan TV Station. After her story was broadcast by the TV station a couple in a village near her birthplace contacted the station, saying that Foxweldon may have been the baby they had abandoned about 20 years ago.

* * *

However, a DNA test showed there was no blood relation between her and the couple, so she returned to the US to continue her studies.

"Although I am living happily in the US, still I hope to find my root in China," Foxweldon said in a poster sent to China Daily on Monday.

"I want to say to my birth parents: thank you for bringing me to the world. Whatever the reason you gave me up I totally understand. I hope to have a chance to thank you for giving me a life and to fulfill my duty as your child," she said.
In the meantime, in her comment, Ming asks: "Until then, should anyone have information about Kunming or Yiliang Yunnan, please let me know, via my blog. Chinese name is 白宜民 according to the records! Thanks again! =)" She blogs at The China Experience.

Party 1

China: Newborns' Safe Haven Sparks Debate

According to China Daily, a Chinese orphanage has set up a safe haven for abandoned babies:
A child welfare institute in the capital of North China's Hebei province has provided the mainland's first safe haven for abandoned newborns, an act that sparked heated debate among child welfare promoters and legal experts.

The safe haven, located outside the gate of Shijiazhuang Social Welfare Institute, is a cabin-shaped shelter designed to protect babies who have been left in the care of the institute.

Qin Bo, an official at the institute, explained its decision to set up the shelter.

"For many years, infants were dropped off outside the gates of the welfare institute and the drop-off locations extended to streets 100 meters away," Qin said.

"We gave serious thought to what we could do to improve the situation, and that's how the safe haven was invented."

* * *

With the safe haven, babies can be left either at the incubator or in a crib inside. The bell rings after a delay of several minutes and then the institute's security guard comes to fetch the baby. The security guard also checks the incubator every two hours.

Once a baby has been left in the safe haven, staff members from the institute contact police to verify that the child has been abandoned. Later the baby will be sent to receive a health check.

* * *

The welfare institute's decision has created controversy among child welfare promoters and legal experts, some of whom say that the decision could encourage the act of infant abandonment.

"Some parents give up a baby girl because of gender discrimination or birth defects. Is it right to allow these selfish parents to give up their children?" asked Chen Wei, a lawyer from the Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.

Chen is worried that this kind of safe haven for abandoned children will encourage some parents to abdicate their legal responsibilities without good reason.

In response, Qin said that statistics from the institute showed that setting up the haven has not encouraged infant abandonment, and abandoned infants are not flocking into the institute.

According to statistics, the institute has received 75 abandoned infants, including 26 abandoned at the haven, since the haven was set up on June 1. There were 83 in 2010 and 105 in 2009.

"For parents, abandoning their babies is not an easy decision," Qin said.

"I don't think parents would decide to abandon babies simply because we set up a cozy temporary shelter. Most parents wouldn't do that even if we set up a haven with the standards of a five-star hotel."

Ji Gang, director of the domestic adoption department of the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, believes the setting up of the haven is meaningful.

"It prioritizes a child's right to survive," Ji said.
I've posted before about safe haven issues.  I asked there whether there was a different value in safe havens in a place like China where some children are going to be abandoned anyway, so what we're doing is encouraging "safe abandonment" (oxymoronic as that sounds). . . .

"Baffled" that Adoptive Parents Prefer Girls?

According to this article, adoption agencies are "baffled" by the fact that boys wait longer for adoptive families than girls do:
At Children's Home Society & Family Services, Molly Rochon and her team of adoption professionals remain steadfast in their resolve to find loving families for all their waiting children.

But Rochon is baffled by a new group sharing longer waits to be adopted, along with older children, siblings and children with chronic health conditions: boys.

"When it comes to families, we just have more boys [waiting] than girls," said Rochon, senior country relations manager at the St. Paul agency. "We place more girls. It's just what families want."

How many more? In 2006, families expressing a gender preference chose girls over boys 391 to 166. In 2009, the split was 213 girls and 88 boys; in 2010, 121 and 38. Last year, it was 78 girls and 31 boys.

The drive for daughters, Rochon said, cuts across the agency's international and domestic programs and is noted regardless of the child's age; families frequently express interest in a girl "as young as possible."

Could it be that there simply are fewer adoptable boys in general? Nope. Boys are more commonly eligible for adoption than girls. Said Rochon: "It's just unexplainable."
Really?!  Baffled?! Unexplainable?! It's a pretty well-known phenomenon, that adoptive parents have a gender preference for girls.  I've posted about it here and here.

In that second post, I addressed the "why" question about the preference for girls in this way:
Several reasons have been advanced for that phenomenon. First, women are more likely to be the decision-maker in a "mom & dad" adoption, and are thought to be more likely to prefer girls. Second, while boys are often seen as the ones who "carry on the family name", there's an unconscious idea that non-biological children should not be carrying on the family name. Third, boys who are available for adoption might be perceived as more "difficult," while girls are seen as more malleable and easier to parent. Fourth, to the extent that singles or same-sex families are adopting, there are far more women than men adopting, and they may see themselves as better able to parent a same-sex child.
Regardless of the reason for the preference, it's well-documented and has been the case in the U.S. since the 1920s.  Seems odd to claim bafflement!

October Baby, A Review

I don't plan to see this movie, so I wanted to share this review at the blog On Incarus' Wings, from a self-described Christian (the intended audience for the film) birth mother:
October Baby is the latest feel good film from the Christian film industry. I loathe the premise behind this movie. Lets break it down shall we? A note: there are plenty of spoilers in this review.

If you want the quick version of my criticism it is this: This film is full of adoption cliches that are largely believed by society, mainly Christian society. It once again proves that the telling of a story to propagate a pro-life agenda is more important to filmmakers than finding out the intricacies of adoption and portraying them in a realistic light.

* * *

When the adoptive parents reveal to Hannah that she is adopted they also reveal that she is the result of a botched abortion. Here is where I personally take the biggest issue with this movie. Yes, this is a possible story. Yes, there are women that have abortions that do not work and the result is the mother giving up their child for adoption. But this story line? It makes me angry. The vast majority of birth mothers did not consider abortion for their child.

* * *

I get angry when the church and pro-lifers say that adoption is the alternative to abortion. It is not. Life is the alternative to abortion. Adoption is the alternative to parenting. These are two separate decisions that should not be made at the same time. Every woman that has ever been in a crisis pregnancy knows that first you decide if you want to have and abortion or not, then you decide what you are going to do with the baby once you decide to let the baby live. Once again, adoption is not the alternative to abortion.

* * *

In conclusion, “October Baby” proves that it is pro-life propaganda instead of a honest portrayal of adoption. It makes me sad that adoptees are going to go to this movie and once again hear the myths and stereotypes that they are all too familiar with. It makes me sad that people will see this movie and think they know about adoption instead of an accurate portrayal of what adoption really is. It is upsetting that once again birth mothers will be vilified and yet at the same time portrayed as heroes for giving their child life. It angers me that this will be a catalyst for someone to adopt, not knowing the realities of adoption.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Stigmatizing Single Motherhood

A new bill introduced in the Wisconsin legislature illustrates clearly that despite the prevalence of single motherhood these days, the stigma remains:
In Wisconsin, a state senator has introduced a bill aimed at penalizing single mothers by calling their unmarried status a contributing factor in child abuse and neglect.

Senate Bill 507, introduced by Republican Senator Glenn Grothman, moves to amend existing state law by "requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect."

The bill would require educational and public awareness campaigns held by the board to emphasize that not being married is abusive and neglectful of children, and to underscore "the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect."
Did you catch that?  NOT BEING MARRIED is abusive and neglectful of children.  "Hello, my name is Malinda, and I'm a neglectful child abuser."

And, of course, the CURE for this abuse is fathers . . . or adoption by a man-woman two-parent married couple.  So if I can't find a father for my poor fatherless babies, the solution is obvious, says the legislator -- "Whether that leads to more people paying attention and having children after they're married or whether that leads to some others making a choice for adoptions," he's happy. 

Racist America's Complicity in the Trayvon Martin Shooting

You know, in light of my last post, I'm not going to introduce this one by saying, "If you're parenting an African-American boy, you should care about this."  Instead, if you're a human being living in America, you should care about this. Tim Wise explains how George Zimmerman was taught to fear black men by society:
It should be especially unsurprising that Zimmerman would have internalized racially-biased assumptions about black males, given the society in which he (and we) reside. And although this hardly lets him off the hook — one must be responsible for one’s own actions in any event, no matter the social contributors to those actions — it is worth noting a few things about the milieu in which this wannabe police officer was operating. In other words, Zimmerman’s culpability, while total and complete, is not solitary.

After all, we are a society in which research has shown quite conclusively that local newscasts overrepresent blacks as criminals, relative to their actual share of total crime, and overrepresent whites as victims, relative to our share of victimization.

A society in which other studies have shown that these racially-skewed newscasts have a direct relationship to widespread negative perceptions of black people. Indeed, a substantial percentage of anti-black racial hostility can be directly traced to media imagery, even after all other factors are considered.

A society in which the disproportionate incarceration of black males — especially for non-violent drug offenses, which they are no more likely (and often even less likely) than whites to commit — feeds the perception that they are so treated because they are dangerous and must be kept at bay.

A society in which criminality is so associated with blackness that whites literally and almost instantly connect the two things in survey after survey, and study after study, even though we are roughly 5 times as likely to be criminally victimized by another white person as by a black person.

A society in which anti-black racism has been so long ingrained that not only most whites, but also most Latinos and Asian Americans, demonstrate substantial subconscious bias against African Americans in study after study of implicit racial hostility (and even about a third of blacks themselves demonstrate anti-black racism).

George Zimmerman was very simply taught to fear black men by his society, and he learned his lessons well. And while he must be punished for his transgressions — and hopefully will be, now that the Justice Department is investigating and a Grand Jury is being convened — let there be no mistake, he cannot and should not take the fall alone for that which stems so directly from a larger social and cultural narrative to which he (and all of us) have been subjected.

Black males are, for far too many in America, a racial Rorschach test, onto which we instantaneously graft our own perceptions and assumptions, virtually none of them good. Look, a black man on your street! Quick, what do you see? A criminal. Look, a black man on the corner! Quick, what do you see? A drug dealer. Look, a black man in a suit, in a corporate office! Quick, what do you see? An affirmative action case who probably got the job over a more qualified white man. And if you don’t believe that this is what we do — what you do — then ask yourself why 95 percent of whites, when asked to envision a drug user, admit to picturing a black person, even though blacks are only 13 percent of users, compared to about 70 percent who are white? Ask yourself why whites who are hooked up to brain scan monitors and then shown subliminal images of black men — too quickly for the conscious mind to even process what it saw — show a dramatic surge of activity in that part of the brain that reacts to fear and anxiety? Ask yourself why whites continue to believe that we are the most discriminated against group in America — and that folks of color are “taking our jobs” — even as we remain roughly half as likely to be out of work and a third as likely to be poor as those persons of color. Even when only comparing persons with college degrees, black unemployment is about double the white rate, Latino unemployment about 50 percent higher, and Asian American unemployment about a third higher than their white counterparts.

George Zimmerman must be held accountable for his actions, and hopefully he will be. Innocent until proven guilty of course, there is a process for determining matters of formal legal responsibility, and may that process now move forward to a just conclusion. But beyond the matter of legal guilt or innocence, beyond that which can be addressed in a court of law — one way or the other — there is a bigger issue here, and it is one that cannot be resolved by a jury, be it Grand or otherwise, nor by judges or prosecutors. It is the none-too-minor matter of the monster we as a nation have created, not only apparently in the heart of George Zimmerman, but in the minds of millions: individuals far too quick to rationalize any injustice so long as the victim has a black face; persons for whom no act of racially-biased misconduct qualifies as racist; persons who have allowed their own fears, anxieties and occasionally even hatreds to numb them, to inure them to the pain and suffering of the so-called other.

Race Isn't a "Big Deal" Until It's YOUR Kid?!

A prospective adoptive parent, considering transracial adoption, writes that she's become "race obsessed," after growing up "in an environment and at a time (when was that?!) when race wasn't a really big deal:"
One of the decisions we’ve made is that we’re open to transracial adoption. My husband and I are both white and we’re on the path to adopting a child who is black. In many ways, this is not a big deal. My best friend is black and many of our other friends are, too. We live in an area that is predominantly black and many families in our church, school and neighborhood are interracial.

In other ways, this one decision has been one of the more difficult. There’s no other way to put it — I’ve gotten a bit race obsessed. I’m hyper-sensitive, in ways I wasn’t before, to jokes, internet memes, disparate treatment and everything else that minorities deal with every day.

* * *

I’m fine with joking about race and always have, but some things that are passed off as jokes aren’t funny in the slightest. A father of a friend recently told a joke that was so racist that it just made me sad. He’s old enough to fit into my “too old to fight” category on these issues, but I don’t want my children — white or black — to hear these things.

Even 30 Rock, a show I love, occasionally wearies me with it’s post-ironic racism. I was blessed to kind of grow up in an environment and at a time when race wasn’t a really big deal. Even being the only white kid in my kindergarten was a great experience. My best friend and I have been together since junior high school, so we certainly — she certainly — dealt with a bunch of race-related weirdness. That’s because we had both moved to a very rural and very white area. But the race stuff was mostly of the harmless variety. It didn’t hurt that she was the most beautiful girl in school.

I think that during those years, I developed a certain coping style where the right thing to do was to act as if any racial stupidity that came her way was no big deal. I sort of followed her lead. And since then, I’ve adopted that same attitude. If other people are racist, that’s their problem. And for the most part, that’s right.

But when it’s your own kid? Then it’s your problem, too.
Wow. Racism, racial jokes, aren't "a really big deal," "racial weirdness" is "mostly of the harmless variety," until it's your kid suffering?!  Nice to care when your child is affected, but what does it say when it didn't matter to you before?

And I'd like to know, when was that golden age in America when race wasn't a really big deal -- I mean, to people who aren't white, that is. I'm a History major, and I've lived in this country for 51 years, and I can't seem to identify that ideal period! I think we need to file this one under "Sh*t White People Say," when they're trying to be well-intentioned.

And her take-away from all of this?  It's not that she needs to learn how to be an ally to her child AND other people of color, to parent intentionally to help her child develop a positive racial identity, to develop strategies to help her child deal with racial teasing, to make race talk a normal part of family conversation, to learn how to deal with challenges affecting transracially adopted kids.  No, she thinks she needs to figure out a way not to be "race obsessed," a way to go back to the good ol' days when she thought race was no big deal! She needs to learn "to check my obsession and get to a better place where I can parent without such concern, anger and worry." I'm sorry, there's little way to be a sentient being in America without concern, anger and worry about racism.  And there's NO WAY to be an adequate parent to a child of color without concern, anger and worry about racism.

But she has help in her delusions.  After all, "All the books the adoption agency has given me have said that I can’t make too big of a deal about race."  Sigh.

Courage and Determination

I have seen great people achieve great things. I have seen athletes push the limits and break world records. I have seen the sweat and tears that come with difficult tasks and the pleasure of seeing those things come to fruition.

Yet I have seen more courage and determination from a little once-orphan-girl that I now have the great pleasure, joy, and honor to call my own. Abandoned at birth, raised without a family, yet now loved and having a place to belong.

Cerebral palsy does not own my daughter. She is a fighter. She is courageous, she is determined!

Almost a year after her rhizotomy (SDR) and look at this girl go!

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Formula vs breast vs . . . everything else

Today my article "Our Formula Feeding Journey" was published on NPN. Oftentimes, I have mothers say to me, "Well, I would like to AP or NP but I need to use formula." I'm surprised at this admission not because they use formula but because they think one thing will "kick them out" of the AP/NP world. Attachment or natural parenting isn't about the "things." It's all about the attitude people! You can use a bottle and AP. I know. As my article proves, I've done it.

This article is especially timely because Cole just weaned. Adam and I went on a five day trip alone. We needed the time alone to reconnect and we wanted to do something special for our ten year anniversary, almost 18 years of knowing each other and getting out of the "survival mode" we have been in for four years. We did not take this trip lightly. As very attached parents, we don't typical leave our children for long periods of time. Yet we know that the best thing we can give our children are loving, sane parents and that are children are not newborns. They are old enough to leave with other loving, attached caregivers for a period of time.

As Adam reminded me before we left, Cole is now almost 2. He is the longest baby I have nursed and, honestly, neither of us expected him to be nursing at 23 months old. (Cami weaned around 21-22 months.) I knew that Cole might fully wean while we were on our trip. I also knew he might pick up when I got home. I was okay with either scenario and savored our last night and nap time nursing sessions.

While we were gone, I opted not to pump. First, I didn't have any pumping supplies! I donated all my leftover tubing, bottles, bags and sterilization items to a co-worker of my husband's. She needed it much more than I did and I didn't want them hanging around the house if someone could use them. I also would have nothing to do with the milk. I HATE to "pump and dump." It KILLS me to see all that milk go down the drain. I also didn't want to mess with pumping in and of itself and traveling with milk- milk that Cole probably wouldn't take anyway. And, to be honest, my supply was dropping and I don't think I would have gotten anything anyway. I chose to let nature take it's course and hand-express if I needed too.

As it was, I was engorged and a little sore but nothing horrible. I never leaked. I never needed to hand express. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and I needed to take sudafed for my allergies. I know from experience that this dries me up a touch. When I got home, Cole never asked to nurse. I put him to bed that night without nursing. When he woke up at night (after sleeping all night for my mother- thanks kid!) he flopped around in the bed, as if he remembered we did "something" in bed... but wasn't sure what. The next afternoon, he shocked me by launching himself into his nursing position when I sat at the computer. I said, "okay but I don't think there is any more milk." He latched on and immediately began gulping! I still had milk!

That night, I had to go to church because my CCD students were being Confirmed. Adam put Cole to bed and he woke up at night, but did not nurse. That morning, he was sick and tried to nurse but it reminded me of nursing him when he was a tongue-tied newborn. I heard alot of clicking and felt some "biting." I finally had to latch him off. He cried a little, more from his fever (I think) and frustration than anything else. I comforted him, gave him some water and he hasn't asked since.

Can I declare him weaned? Possibly. I don't know if he will ask again. I'll let him try (unless it is the middle of the night) and see how it goes. Am I sad? A bit. I enjoy nursing and I am sad that this period of my life is ending. But I am not going to dwell on it. You know what? Just like with Georgie, I worked DAMN hard to nurse this kid. I pumped for two months and took him to two different doctors to get his tongue tie clipped. I tracked diapers and feedings and weight gains. I thought he would never nurse from the breast and that he might not have more than two months of BM. And we made it TWENTY-THREE MONTHS. WE DID IT. How awesome is that?!

New Study: Post-Adoption Depression

From Purdue University, a new study on factors contributing to post-adoption stress and depression:
Fatigue and unrealistic expectations of parenthood may help contribute to post-adoption depression in women, according to a Purdue University study.

"Feeling tired was by far the largest predictor of depression in mothers who adopted," said Karen J. Foli, an assistant professor of nursing who studied factors that could predict depression in adoptive mothers. "We didn't expect to see this, and we aren't sure if the fatigue is a symptom of the depression or if it is the parenting experience that is the source of the fatigue. It also may be reflective of a lacking social support system that adoptive parents receive. However, a common thread in my research has been an assumption that if the mom didn't carry the child for nine months or go through a physical labor, the parents don't need help in the same manner as birth mothers do."

Other predictors of depression in adoptive mothers included expectations of themselves as mothers, of the child, and of family and friends, perceived support from friends, self-esteem, martial satisfaction, and parent and child bonding. These findings, published this month in Advances in Nursing Science, are based on survey results of 300 mothers who had adopted within the past two years. The average age of the children at the time of the adoption was 4.6 years.

* * *

"Bonding with the children often comes up in post-adoption depression. If adoptive mothers cannot bond to their child as quickly as they expected, they commonly report feeling guilt and shame," Foli said. "These parents have the expectation to quickly attach to the child and they see themselves as superparents. But what happens when the child they adopt is a teething toddler or unknown special needs surface? It's a difficult stage for a parent who has known that child for two years, let alone someone who is establishing a new relationship with the child."

The study also showed that depressive symptoms were more likely higher for mothers who did not have the complete background or biographical information about children, who, after placement, were considered special needs children. However, depression was not correlated with parents who were aware they were receiving a child with known special needs.

"We also found that mothers of children with different ethnic or racial backgrounds did not report more depressive symptoms than those mothers who did not differ from their children's ethnic or racial backgrounds," Foli said. "Interestingly, these moms did report perceiving that society was less accepting of their adoptive family.

Explaining Adoption to 3-5 Year-Olds

At Adoptive Families, some advice for talking adoption to the preschool set:
When children are very young, your tone and your comfort with the topic are as important as the facts, so you can stick to a simple version of his story. Think of it as a sketch that you’ll fill in with more details. The only caveat is to be honest and avoid saying anything you’ll have to contradict later.

* * *

Adoptive parents sometimes skip the birth step when telling their young child his story. They may say, “Mommy and Daddy couldn’t make a baby, so we called an adoption agency. They found a baby for us, and that was you.” Other parents start talking about adoption by focusing on the child’s birth country. Lily, age five, from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, thought she was born “from China.” Keep in mind that preschoolers are literal thinkers. It is not unusual for a child this age to conclude that “adoption” means being hatched, delivered by plane, or some other non-natural process. Include your child’s birth in her story even if you know little about it; your child needs to know that she was born normally, like any other child.

* * *

Preschoolers begin to differentiate between birth and adoption as different ways of entering a family, and to realize that they have two sets of parents. They’ll start asking questions that they’ll pose many times over, in different forms, in the years to come. Why did they place me? Did they give me up because something is wrong with me? Children tend to feel responsible for whatever happens to them, and may worry, Maybe I cried too much, didn’t eat enough, and so on. Reassure your child that nothing he did or didn’t do led to his being placed for adoption, and that his birthparents could not take care of any baby because of their own situation.

On the other hand, don’t give the impression that something is wrong with his birthparents. Even if you have troubling information about the birthparents, try to send the message that they did their best, given their circumstances. At this age, your child needs to feel that he was born to good people.

Don’t tell a preschooler, “She placed you because she loved you.” This may only lead your child to worry that you, her loving parent, could place her again.

* * *

If your child is of a different race, or has clearly different physical features, from your family, she’ll become aware of this around age four. She may notice it herself, or overhear someone commenting on her appearance. Explain that the birth process is the same for everyone, but that people from different cultures have distinguishing physical features and their own rich heritage.

Although it is tempting to smooth over your differences, you should acknowledge them and help your child take pride in his cultural and racial heritage.

* * *

The most important goal at this stage is to create an open, empathic family atmosphere in which adoption is freely discussed and all questions are welcome. Laying this foundation will serve you and your child well in years to come, as her feelings about adoption become more complex, or if you have negative information to share.
Remember, it's never too early to talk to your kids about adoption. The key is to make it developmentally appropriate. And one of the best parts about starting young (even younger than age 3) is that it gives YOU the opportunity to practice and become comfortable with adoption talk while your child is still too young to understand much of what you're saying. That early practice, and laying a foundation to build on later, will benefit both you and your child. Remember, too, that adoption talk is not a one-time deal -- you'll be talking to your child about adoption forever.

There's good, basic advice in this article, and practical suggestions of actual words to use -- something I always find helpful! And if you're just getting started with adoption talk, you might want to check out these posts: Ten Commandments of Telling and Talking Adoption Tips.

This part tickled my funny bone: "All children at this stage are egocentric, so if he gives it any thought, an adopted child will probably assume that all children join their families by adoption."  That's EXACTLY what Zoe thought at this age!  She once asked why her birth parents couldn't adopt her!  Didn't seem to matter that the story had always been, "You grew in your birth mother's tummy until it was time for you to be born;" Zoe still thought that the only way to have stayed with her birth family was for them to adopt her. . . .

Transformed by Truth: A guest post

We've all seen the ugly gashes of pain across life and the raw bleed of sin. There have been seasons I've plastered over my own brokenness, and the wounds of others, with the stiff veneer of pride. Afraid of the brokenness spilling out and giving away my humanness. 

Life can be a broken tangled heap. Hearts lie in disrepair, hidden and hurting. Encountering people who are broken and messy challenges me. Little ones who have been soiled, wasted by loved ones and by the world, are hard for me to understand. I don't like brushing up against poverty. I resent ignorance. I like things neat and useful. I like people I can understand; nice, clean, tidy people. I like to pretend I am one.

Jesus' eyes search out broken ones, pierce the mess, reveal, and hold answers. He's not put off by messy. He delights in challenge, a chance to show his power, a time for glory. For years I straightened, tucked, and cleaned the rooms of my heart. But a puff of wind and the card house fell. As a young woman I searched for truth, licking my wounds.

I wore the label “daughter of brokenness.” My parents are real people and life caught up with them. Their story isn't mine to tell, but for years it wasn't pretty. Over time the thin scar of church wounds covered my heart, accumulated in service with my husband to God's precious bride. I wore the label, “not-enough.” Marriage had it's rough moments and at times felt more like a prison than a blessing. Empty from pouring my life out for the church and for my husband I found myself trying on the label “betrayer.”

But God's grace called out to me. My eyes raised, meeting his. The questions were forgotten. Answers were found in his face. The answer? The Cross. All around me, past, present, and future I see hopeless people, scary people, secrets locked in wounded hearts. I see broken mess, cast aside and useless. What does Jesus see? Beauty.

God's word holds the promise of a mess made straight. Promise of wounds healed, of chains loosed. Freedom. Do I hope in, find comfort in, and extend his promise of life? I want to see beauty behind angry eyes. I want to see fear turn to love right before me. Reaching out to take a marred, quivering world by the hand scares me. I pray for love to turn my fears into bold belief. Our Heart Tamer challenges, "I am the way, the truth, the life no one is made right with the Father by anyone else; come be set free by truth." (John 14:6, John 8:32)

Do you believe God's promise for your brokenness, for the brokenness you find in others? Do you believe the promise that there's beauty on the other side? Only Jesus' love turns broken days, and broken people into works of beauty. It's what he has planned for his children. He invites us first to apply the truth of his transforming grace to our own lives. Beauty only grows in the soil of truth.

Until I knew the power of God's love to transform my wounds into beauty I had no hope to hold out to others. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. True love transforms. His love invites us to offer our brokenness up for transformation. And then, most beautiful gift, he invites us to join him in his work of applying truth to the pain of the world. He calls us to be lovers, transforming the broken into beauty.

Where are you in need of beauty? Brokenness is made beautiful by clinging to the truth of God's word. What God promises are you holding on to today?
Beck Gambill blogs at Beck Far From Home. You can read her thoughts on pursuing God there as well as download a free copy of her ebook Sister to Sister; a Mentor's Handbook. She has served with her husband, Chris, in ministry for ten years. Together they are raising God's precious gifts Max and Maggie.