Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Have MOVED!

This blog is moving.... to childrenshouseinternational.com/blog.  Hopefully you have all had time to check out the new and improved CHI website at www.chiadopt.org!  The new blog can be accessed at either address.  We are very excited to have an improved website.  Please click over to the new blog and see who has won our gift certificate giveaway!

Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Win a $30 Gift Certificate....

As promised, I will be accepting entries into our first drawing for the gift certificate to the CSN stores all weekend!  CSN Stores is comprised of over 250 specialized online stores that offer a wide variety of home goods including tools, office furniture, bedding, lighting, clothing and accessories including these darling hats!  You will be able to have your name entered in the drawing a total of 4 times.  Once for posting a comment to this blog, once for twittering about our blog , once for posting about the CHI blog on your Facebook account and once for posting about the blog on your blog!  Just be sure not to leave an anonymous comment and to indicate if you have twittered, Facebooked or blogged about us this weekend.    There are no strings attached to the gift certificate.  The winner will be notified by checking the blog on Monday.  Selection will be by random drawing.  You will be emailed a gift code directly from the CSN stores and may spend it on anything you wish!  This drawing is open to everyone, not just CHI adoptive families, so spread the word.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin People and REAL Trick or Treaters!

Just because I absolutely love to be crafty and I am super competitive....when the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce said they were having a Pumpkin Person competition for Halloween...we decided we needed some pumpkin kids!   They represent our India, African and China programs!  Next year I have even bigger plans.  We did win an award!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Down Syndrome Babies Waiting for Families!

I am currently advocating for placement of three adorable baby boys living in Eastern Europe.  They all have Down Syndrome and are doing very well developmentally.  Milo is a darling baby born in August of 2009.  He does not have an associated heart defect but does have hypothyroidism and is under the care of an endocrinologist.  Ivan was born in March of 2009 and is quite healthy.  He has formed a good emotional bond with one of his caregivers.  Steffen was born in July of 2009.  Steffen does have the heart malformation commonly associated with Down Syndrome.  He is a calm child with a joyful personality.  Steffen is only slightly delayed in motor skills and speech activity. 

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.  A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.  For more information on Down Syndrome please go to

National Down Syndrome Society website.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, Monday...

The big news around CHI is that we will be debuting a new website next Monday.  The CHI blog will also be moving and have a new address.  I will leave a forward on Monday from our blogspot address to the new blog space.  Following this link will be essential as Monday will be the day to leave a comment for the drawing for a $30 gift certificate to CSN stores.  CSN is comprised of over 200 online stores, selling everything from Dining Room Chairs to strollers!

With so many families in travelling over the next few months to pick up their little ones I am sure the $30 gift certificate could be used in many creative ways.  I love the selection of diaper bags and back packs.  With over 40000 to choose from, there is sure to be one that will work for you! 

So watch for the instructions Monday on how you can be entered to win!

Monday, October 25, 2010

From A to Z and Nutrition Stories

A new handy resource for parents from our government is a short and informative A-Z format Parents Guide to International Adoption.  This is a quick look at some key information that parents can review when getting started in the sometimes daunting process of adopting internationally! 

mishelle  at the SPOON Foundation would also love to hear from our families!  They are looking for families to profile on the Nutrition Profile part of their site. They are looking for any families who have a story to tell around their child's nutrition or eating. It could be anything--about malnutrition, about feeding issues, about how the family incorporates food from their child's birth culture into their meals. With so many new children home this year from many different countries I am sure we can help SPOON and other adopting families out with stories!
Later this week I am hoping to have CHI-Blogs first gift certificate giveaway!  Check back for information!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Fraying Safety Net.....

Amid budget cuts, hundreds of Romanian children have lost their homes this year because their foster parents can no longer afford their upkeep

by Claudia Ciobanu

20 October 2010

BRASOV, Romania
Margareta Reman is one of thousands of foster parents in Romania. Called maternal assistants, they are usually women, often middle-aged, who receive a modest salary from the state to give short-term shelter and care to children abandoned by their families. In practice, most kids end up staying with their foster parents for many years.

Since the summer hundreds of foster parents have given up the profession as the state’s harsh budget cuts begin to bite.

For 50-year-old Reman, a widow who takes care of two girls in her home in Brasov, central Romania, the cut means losing 100 euros monthly, a 25 percent drop.

“I can’t buy things for them anymore, and a mother always wants to offer things to her children,” Reman said in tears, looking at the girls, ages 5 and 7, as they colored peacefully nearby. “This summer, the older one saw her friends go to camp and I had to explain to her why she couldn’t do the same. I don’t know how we’ll manage come winter, with heating bills exploding.”

At the start of 2010, more than 14,000 maternal assistants had 20,500 children in their care. The profession was created in Romania in 1997. Since then, an increasing number of women have turned to this job, particularly the long-term unemployed following the dismantling of state industry during the 1990s.

Maternal assistants take care of about a third of Romania’s abandoned children, the rest being placed in residential centers or smaller, family-type units.

A labor market closed to middle-aged women and emotional attachment to the children made most foster mothers stick to the job in spite of low remuneration.

At the start of 2010, foster parents earned about 240 euros per month if caring for one child and close to 400 euros for two children. In addition, the state provides 20 euros monthly for the children’s material expenses.

Those salaries, along with those of all state employees, were slashed by 25 percent in the summer as the center-right government hustled to reduce the budget deficit in line with conditions of a 20 billion euro IMF-EU loan.

In spite of these difficulties, Reman said she will continue looking after the two girls, “because of love.” Her husband died three years ago and she has no children of her own. She became a maternal assistant in 2004 and earlier fostered two other girls until they were returned to their natural parents.


But many others could not take the pressure. In the first half of 2010, 543 maternal assistants had exited the system, the majority retiring, according to the most recent nationwide statistics from the National Children’s Rights Protection Agency (ANPDC). Citing local offices of the agency, media in many areas of the country have reported losses through September of 10 to 20 percent of maternal assistants.

ANPDC Director of Children’s Rights Monitoring Services Elena Tudor said “the trend is not yet worrisome” because the number of those leaving the system this year is not dramatically higher than in previous years: hundreds of MAs reach retirement age annually, Tudor explained.

But ANPDC data tell a different story: between 2007 and 2008, the drop in the number of maternal assistants was slight, from 15,225 to 15,023 (while the number of children in the system grew by 450). The next year, 591 assistants dropped out, and the trend is accelerating this year, with the number of foster parents now below 13,900.

Tudor said the Children’s Rights Agency itself had been concerned about the number of foster parents considering quitting this year. The agency commissioned a survey that showed that 140 assistants were considering quitting in June (the salary cuts were announced by President Traian Basescu in early May). “But these were just intentions to quit,” Tudor said. “We are not saying that there could not be a problem in the future, just that our statistics do not show it yet.”

Salary cuts, however, went into force in August, so most exits from the system are happening at the moment, not yet captured by official data.

What aggravates the situation this year is that retiring foster parents cannot be replaced because of a freeze on hiring new state employees.

Local authorities make efforts to place the children with other foster parents, but this can be difficult as most are having a hard time raising the children already in their care.

Pressures on foster parents are increasing.

“Maternal assistants are older people and, if they haven’t broken down yet, they struggle with the pressures of a system where more and more children are coming in for whom there are fewer and fewer maternal assistants,” said psychologist Mariana Grigorasi of the Brasov city social care and child protection agency.

The response of the Ministry of Labor, Family, and Social Protection is to place faith in the remaining foster parents. In a response to an inquiry about the consequences of maternal assistants leaving the profession, the ministry said although it was aware that budgetary restraints were forcing some to take this step, “We express our conviction that the majority will show solidarity with Romanian society and the children in their care.”

The children who cannot be placed with another foster family or family members end up in institutions, an environment for which they are unprepared. Additionally, many residential centers around the country work past full capacity.


“Just this week I saw two children, a brother and sister ages 10 and 8, who had to be taken into institutions because the maternal assistant who had them left to work in Italy,” Grigorasi said. “And there are hundreds of such cases.”

“This is an enormous trauma for the children, who suddenly lose their home, their family, their friends, school,” the psychologist said. “They feel a great loss. Children are not prepared to handle such pain.”

Grigorasi says the brother and sister are most likely to be separated upon placement in institutions, adding to their trauma.

In Brasov and some other towns, a peculiar issue arises because most of the children in all forms of state care come from Romani families and are often poor. For these kids, Grigorasi said, being sent from a foster family to a more impersonal institution sets off conflicts in their sense of identity, and they can end up rejecting their Romani identity in order to hold on to the foster family.

“Even though they are told very clearly what their background is and are often in touch with their natural families, the kids can find such a luxurious environment in foster care, with their own room and a family car, that it is hard for them to relate to their poorer birth parents. It’s common that they insist they are not Roma,” she said.

Margareta Reman said that her two girls – of Roma ethnicity – are sometimes mocked by children in the neighborhood. But Grigorasi said Romani kids in foster care are more protected from discrimination than those in residential homes, who face a twin stigma: they are both “orphan” and “Gypsy.” For Romani kids, losing their foster home means doubling the discrimination.


Alina Tudorica, the head of maternal assistant services in Brasov, said it is becoming difficult to place children with families, even though the situation is manageable at the moment.

On average, said Tudorica, her service takes up to 10 new cases of abandoned infants monthly, while adoption and reintegration with birth families moves at a much slower pace. The block in new hiring of maternal assistants and financial problems forcing some to quit add to the pressure.

“Even though people working in social care do it because of other reasons than material benefits, we are starting to get very tired,” Tudorica said.

“Yes, we have an economic crisis, but you can’t cut just from the poorest. Efficiency should be increased, rather than salaries cut,” she added. As dozens of new positions in state social care agencies are being created, including quality control managers and public relations officers, Brasov has lost 20 percent of its social workers this year, she said.

According to Tudorica, social workers now handle three times the work load they should have according to legislation, with consequences for the quality of assistance they provide.

“In terms of [child care] legislation, we are up to European standards, but the number of staff we have does not allow for proper implementation of the laws,” said Gheorghe Durna, head of social care and child protection in Brasov. “We can only be custodians of the children.

“Everyone perceives social services as a parasite, as those who eat up the money, but the framework is not in place for us to consistently cooperate with NGOs, the church, and citizens to relieve some pressure from the national budget,” Durna said.

According to Tudorica, using maternal assistants is cheaper than housing children in family-type units where 10 or 12 children live together, so the authorities prefer to send both infants and older children to foster care although the system was devised for infants. “Maternal assistants simply sustain the majority of care expenses from their own salaries, while in centers these have to be paid for from the budget,” Tudorica explained.

Claudia Ciobanu is a reporter for Inter Press Service. Photo of Romanian children in a care home: www.projects-abroad-pro.org.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit and Interest Free Adoption Loans

Many families wonder how they will pay for their adoption!  If your adjusted gross income is less than $222,180 you qualify for an adoption tax refund.  You will be able to claim up to $13,170 in adoption related expenses and receive a refund of this amount.  This is exciting news because you will get this money back dollar for dollar as opposed to a deduction which is just taken off your adjusted income!  No longer will the refund be processed over a 5 year period.  You will be able to claim the entire refund  when you file your 2010 tax return.  This amount is also per child.  This means that for those of you adopting two sibs you can expect a refund of up to $26,340!  This may virtually cover most of your adoption expenses.  You do not need to have paid excess of this amount in tax to expect a refund.  This means that if your income is low and your deductions are high you could see a refund of the entire amount. 

Another great option for families is applying for an interest free adoption loan.  Organizations providing interest free loans include:


Many families find that they are able to pay back their adoption loan with the money they get back from the federal adoption tax credit!  We would love to hear your fundraising ideas!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Henry and David Would Like a Mom and Dad! REDUCED FEES!!

Henry and David have been waiting for almost two years for a family.  Henry and David live in Africa.  They have seen MANY of the children come and go at the Thomas Center and know that they would like to have a home of their own. 

Henry is an outgoing 8 year old boy.  He has a charming twinkle in his eyes and has no known medical problems.  Henry is extremely intelligent for his age and is a delight to those around him.  Henry does well in school and is on track developmentally.

David is a healthy 5 year old little boy.  His mental and physical development is normal for his age.  He has had mild stabismus (cross eyes) since infancy.  David does well in school and is on track developmentally.

Both boys were sent to orphanage by a mother who was unable to raise them due to being left by their father without economic support.  If you have room in your heart and your home for these boys we would love to talk with you.  A generous grant has been provided to help secure these boys a loving home.  Please email patty.fuchs@chiadopt.org for more information.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Waiting Child in Eastern Europe

Gunter is a handsome 8 year old boy with no identified health issues.  He was raised by his mother until he was 6 and then was placed in foster care when she became unable to care for him.  Gunter is an extremely intelligent little boy with a bright imagination.  Gunter prefers reading to sports, but is fairly athletic.  He was very sad at the abandonment of his mother and longs to be part of a family.  Gunter's home country is open to both singles and married couples adopting.  The age of his new parents should be between 25 and 50 years, though this requirement may be flexible for an older couple who is healthy and active. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Focus on Special Needs....Spina Bifida

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month!

Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the USA. It can result in varying degrees of paralysis, bowel and bladder complications, water on the brain (hydrocephalus), and learning difficulties.

Each day in the US eight babies are born with Spina Bifida.  Hispanic mothers are one and one half to two times more likely to have a child with Spina Bifinda. 

Spina Bifida is a developmental birth defect caused by the incomplete closure of the embryonic neural tube. Some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed and remain unfused and open. If the opening is large enough, this allows a portion of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening in the bones. There may or may not be a fluid-filled sac surrounding the spinal cord. Other neural tube defects include anencephaly, a condition in which the portion of the neural tube which will become the cerebrum does not close, and encephalocele, which results when other parts of the brain remain unfused.

Adequate intake of folic acid prior to conception can prevent 75% of the cases of Spina Bifida!

There is no known cure for nerve damage due to spina bifida. To prevent further damage of the nervous tissue and to prevent infection, pediatric neurosurgeons operate to close the opening on the back. During the operation for spina bifida cystica, the spinal cord and its nerve roots are put back inside the spine and covered with meninges. In addition, a shunt may be surgically installed to provide a continuous drain for the cerebrospinal fluid produced in the brain, as happens with hydrocephalus. Shunts most commonly drain into the abdomen.

Many special needs children affected by Spina Bifida are available for adoption worldwide.  Many children with spina bifida are of average or higher intelligence.  It is critical that families adopting a child with Spina Bifida be aware that their child will need to be followed by a neurodevelopmental team throughout life.  Shunt failure or revisions are common as well as bladder and bowel issues. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Please Contact Me...

If you are the family that commented on the little boy who is in need of a family, please email me at nina.thompson@chiadopt.org.  Your comment didn't include contact information and I would love to give you more information.

Free issue of Adoptive Families Magazine!

Because you can never get enough information, we suggest you follow this link for a Free magazine and download able information!  Adoptive Families magazine is an invaluable source of information for parents adopting both domestically and internationally. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Consider Bulgaria...

So, you have been thinking about adopting internationally...you don't know which way to turn and are not "drawn" to any one country.  Consider Bulgaria.  Bulgaria is a country in Eastern Europe that sits above Greece and Turkey.  There are many children waiting Children's House International has worked in Bulgaria since 1996. Bulgaria has an orphanage system divided up into age groups: 0 - 3, 3 -7, and 7 up. Children older than 12 months, both boys and girls and siblings are available. In the orphanage, the children see new families come and children leave. They understand what this means and wish for themselves that they will be chosen next. The quality of the orphanages vary, but many look very similar to a typical American pre-school / daycare you might see in your own town.  For more information please visit the Children's House website at www.chiadopt.org.  We are advocating for several children under the age of three with special needs!  For more information on these children please email Nina at nina.thompson@chiadopt.org

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Still Looking....

for a family without young children to give this 9 year old little boy now living in the US a home!  He will need parents committed to helping him overcome his difficult past.  Experienced parents with older children, single parents or parents without children are encouraged to contact us!

Halloween Party!

Dear members, families and friends,

You are cordially invited to the association’s Halloween Party on Saturday evening, October 30, from 5 – 10:30 pm at Meridian Food Garden. There will be Halloween costume contest, Halloween treats, karaoke, dancing and also discounted dinner. The proceeds of the party will benefit Northwest Chinese Cultural Association. See attachment for detail or visit www.nwcca.org.

Special thanks to Jenny and David at Food Garden for letting the association use their facility for this fundraiser and also offering discounted dinner!

Please come and have a fun evening with your family and friends, and also support NWCCA!

We appreciate your continued support and look forward to enjoying the evening with you!


Petition To Congress!

Please take a moment and fill out the short form on this link to send to your congress people. We know how terrible the programs in Guatemala, Romania and Vietnam were affected when our government put the clamp on them. Now, we have the same thing happening in Nepal. Please put this on your facebooks and blogs!! And please SIGN!!! http://www.petition2congress.com/2/3608/

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waiting Baby Boy in Eastern Europe

Milo just had his first birthday.  Little Milo was born with Down Syndrome in Eastern Europe and his mother has given consent to his placement for adoption.  Milo's development is  delayed within light degree with developmental profile typical for children with DS.  Milo shows no characteristics of significant pathology. He is reactive to stimuli and his social behavior is correct.  Milo's motor and vocal reactions are delayed due to typical slowed development of a down Syndrome child.

Milo has shown positive social responses from a very early stage of development and he has presented good cognitive activity. Development of motor skills is dependent on achieving appropriate motor capabilities and improvement of muscle tone. Milo's caregivers have been attentive to his need for intensive physical therapy and support of development according to rules for children with DS.

Doctors who have examined Milo feel that he has good  odds at only a slight delay in development and is likely to achieve good social adjustment.  A family environment will lengthen his odds on good development and adaptation.

For more information on Down Syndrome please go to the National Down Syndrome Society!  For more information on Milo please contact Nina at nina.thompson@chiadopt.org.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Special Needs Focus- HIV

There has not been even ONE case of accidental transmission of HIV among household members for the past 16 YEARS, since the introduction of anti-retro viral  medicines! Not one case according to Centers for Disease Control data.  And this is among people living together every day.  People eating, drinking, sleeping and...bleeding ...together! (bleeding IS part of ...life w/ kids!) And NOT ONE CASE!! 3 cheers for modern miracle meds!

Exactly how HIV will affect a person’s life span is still unknown; however, since the introduction of effective treatments, there has been a decrease in HIV-related illnesses and increased life expectancy. Some people have been living with the virus for over 20 years. If medications are taken correctly, they can help maintain a healthy life for many years. It is hoped that eventually a cure will be found.

For more information on HIV and how it effects the life of children please go to Web MD.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Both Ends Burning Campaign

The mission

"A family is a child’s most basic human right. Both Ends Burning is a broad-based campaign to create a new system of international adoption so that the world’s orphaned and abandoned children can benefit from the support of a permanent family.

Children who have families thrive and lead healthy, meaningful lives. Children who do not suffer from unmet needs and developmental, emotional and intellectual challenges, and even permanent damage. They lead wasted lives, wrongfully detained in substandard orphanages, or worse, left to fend for themselves in homelessness or slavery.

Through creative works, grassroots outreach, and social and traditional media, the Both Ends Campaign works to shed light on the crisis that is strangling international adoption. Adoptions to the U.S. have fallen by 50 percent in the last six years. Countries are closing their adoption programs to overseas families. Would-be parents face hope-crushing delays, expenses and bureaucracy under the existing system. Meanwhile, the number of orphans continues to grow.

Both Ends Burning provides an alternative common-sense solution to replace the current process. What’s needed is a new international adoption system that works to match waiting children with eligible families in a time frame measured in a few months, not several years.

The current process is broken. Help us force the creation of a new one. Please sign our petition calling for a new international adoption system. Your involvement will help us provoke change. The time to act is now — too many children are suffering, too many families have lost hope and given up. Help us provide orphans with what every child deserves: A loving family." (copied from the mission statement of Both Ends Burning)

To help please go to Both Ends Burning and sign their petition!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Waiting Child Adam!

photo by Christian Carollo
Adam is a friendly, active little two year old waiting for a family in one of our Africa programs.  I think he is particularly adorable with a glint in his eyes and a sweet smile.  Adam had ringworm when he entered our child care center but it has now been treated and is no longer an issue.  Adam shows appropriate levels of mental and physical development for his age.  Adam's bloodwork is all normal.  Please email patty.fuchs@chiadopt.org for photos of this darling little boy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

URGENT Family Needed for 8 Year Old Boy

We are in urgent need of adoptive parents for an 8 year old boy available for placement due to disruption.  This child was adopted from Ethiopia and is now in the U.S.  This little boy is in need of experienced parents that can help him overcome the struggles he has faced in his young life. We are seeking placement with a family that has no other children in the home.  Please contact nina.thompson@chiadopt for more information. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lost In Translation?

Looking at child referrals from many of our country programs can be interesting.  Sometimes it seems that the English translations are still in some form of a foreign language.  The most interesting place we see this is in the medicals from some countries.  Here are some interesting terms and their more easily understood definitions!

Defectology- children who may be considered "defective" adults

Neuro-reflex-hyperexcitability syndrome - a high strung infant

Intestinal Dysbacteriosis - a disruption of the normal gut bacteria

Hypotrophy - slow growth

For a more in depth look at some medical issues in orphans check out www.orphandoctor.com !

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travelling with Your Toddler!

We have many families that will soon be bringing home infants and toddlers.  While I am sure they can't wait to be with their new child, air travel with a toddler can be a frightening prospect!  Here is some wonderful advice that I found on several websites:

1.  Find your airline's website.Then search for information about flying with an infant or small child. What you find (or don't find) will tell you a great deal about how helpful they will be when you fly.

2.  Check that your airline allows you to pre-book baby bassinet (sky cot) before the day of travel - not all will.

3.  Allow plenty of time at the airport for check-in, and connecting flights. Remember how much longer it takes to achieve anything with kids in tow and apply the same formula to your travel plans.

4.  Smile sweetly and helplessly at everyone and you may get help!  I have personal experience of being upgraded to first class when travelling with my 11 day old daughter and 2 year old son...

5.  Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some assistants will block out the seat next to you in a less full flight or offer you the option of seating next to a vacant seat.

6.  Get on the plane first and off the plane last to get a better chance of assistance from cabin crew.

7.  Look out for fast track customs and immigration check points for those traveling with infants.

8.  Pack a small bag with just one diaper, a few wipes, a perfumed diaper bag (walmart has them!) and some rash cream if needed and place it in the seat pocket in front of you.

9.  Some planes have a larger bathroom at the very rear of the plane with a correspondingly larger change table. Wait for this to become free if you have a larger baby to change, as airplane change tables are small.

10.  On some airlines the cabin crew will prepare the change table in one of the toilet cubicles for you if you let them know that you need to use one. That's a real help is you have a squirmy, smelly bundle to hold while wrestling with lowering a change table in the tiny space of an airplane bathroom - so the first time you need to make a change on the plane, ask an assistant where they prefer you to make the change, and take any help offered.

11.  Always test the temperature of food heated in the aircraft galley before you give it to your child. It is often way too hot!

12.  Take your own baby food, bowl and utensils for an infant.

13.  Disposable bibs are a great idea for infant mealtimes on board an airplane.

14.  Ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well in advance of when you need them. Cabin crew don't have a microwave and have to heat using hot water in the galley. This takes time.

15.  Keep two diaper pins attached to your diaper bag. If you can get a window seat (most people will trade you) you can take a blanket and attach it to your seat and the seat in front of you for a privacy screen. People may even help you attach the pins when you're flying alone.

16.  Forget your policy on limiting screen time --- get as much relief as you can from the airplane children’s video channels and games. If you don't trust these, take a portable dvd player with your choice of dvds to view.

17. Bring toys out one by one - get maximum use from them, pack them away, then move on to the next toy.

18.  Get older children to carry their own special tote with basic entertainment contents - stickers, colouring book, reading books,  dolls or cars etc.   I have used playdoh, water "painting" books and molding wax with great success.  My rule of thumb is to provide one activity per 1/2 hour of awake flight time.  For long, overseas flights you may be able to "recycle" activities in rotation to keep the fun fresh.
19.  Snap on wheels for infant car seats are a real bonus if you've booked a seat for your infant and he'll be riding in his car seat. They can be taken onto the plane but take the assembly apart before check in to reduce the appearance of bulk. You'll love the convenience of wheels as you move around the airport.

20. Small travel strollers will fit in the luggage bins of 747's or larger aircraft but airlines have become increasingly strict about not allowing these on board.

21. An infant front pack or sling is really helpful so that you can carry baby while you push a luggage trolley.

22.  For the chance that your child might not travel well - take along additional scented diaper sacks as sick bags. They tie up to keep the contents in and the odour neutraliser does help! Handy also for storing smelly clothes.

23.  Because airplane bathrooms are small, keep a diaper, small pack of wipes, tube of lotion, lightweight plastic change mat/hand towel, and diaper bag  in a side pocket of your cabin bag. Take only these essential items into the bathroom for each diaper change and restock the side pocket once you have resettled baby

24,  Take a bottle of Rescue Remedy for everyone else in the family except baby;)
25.  Take an extra-large purse as a carry on. That way you can fit in extra things like toys, snacks, wipes and a fresh diaper. Remember to check TSA guidelines to be sure you can take everything in your bag through security.

26.  The safest way for baby or toddler to fly is in an approved car seat used as a flight seat.  this will also limit a toddlers sense of mobility and make chasing them up and down the aisle less likely!  Check the base of your infant or toddler car seat to look for the FAA approved sticker --- if you can't find one, check the manufacturer's instructions or contact the manufacturer to find out if the seat is approved for use in airplanes.

27. Print out a copy of the FAA's Childproof your Flight brochure (pdf), read it, and also take it with you when you fly --- especially if you are going to fly non-US airlines, which do not always allow car seats on planes without authoritative persuasion. Use this brochure as part of your authoritative persuasion if you have to. Please note that airlines usually ask that car seats are located in window seats so that other passengers can access their seats easily.

28.  In Europe, Asia, and Australia you will be asked to secure your child on your lap using a lap or belly belt. You may also use a Baby B'Air travel vest during the main flight section of your journey, but you will be

29.  The location of many bassinet seats immediately in front of the screen is unsettling for some babies, and can be irritating to parents trying to coax toddlers to sleep.

30.  Take cotton sheets to wrap baby or a toddler and to erect as a light shield over a bassinet.
31.  Be prepared to lose stuff (and don't get upset when you do).

32. Treat any time to relax as a bonus.

33.  Keep smiling at the baby.

34.  Ignore rude people, especially those whose job it is to help. Only you can know the right way to handle your child.

35.  Consider booking seats apart from one another if traveling with a partner. This way, one adult can rest whilst the other entertains the children.

36.  Work out responsibilities clearly between parents before setting off.

37.  Forget about style when choosing your traveling clothes - go for comfort, ease of wear and plenty of layers that can be removed if spills happen.

38.  Dress your child in distinctive clothing to avoid losing him in crowded airport lounges.

39.  Take a simple change of clothing for you and for your child in case of spills. Cotton jersey worn in layers is good. Just mix and match as you go and as spills happen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

TB Test Requirement for the US Embassy

In many countries (Ethiopia, China and now India) the US Embassy requires children receive a tb test by a panel physician.  The tuberculosis skin test (also known as the tuberculin test or PPD test) is a test used to determine if someone has developed an immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). This response can occur if someone currently has TB, if they were exposed to it in the past, or if they received the BCG vaccine against TB (which is not performed in the U.S.). The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people worldwide have latent TB, while around 3 million people worldwide die of TB each year.

If a child tests positive to the PPD test they will be required to receive a chest x-ray to insure they have no signs of TB.  If the chest x-ray is also positive they will be required to undergo treatment prior to entry into the US.  This treatment can take several weeks, delaying an adoptive child's return to the US with their new family.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting Toddler Boys in Ethiopia!

Our list of little boys waiting unmatched for families just grew this morning....it looks like seven new little boys will be added to our waiting child page sometime next week.  We would love to have loving families or single moms to match these darlings with.  If you have been considering an Ethiopia adoption and long to add a little boy to your life now would be a great time

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Investment Parenting!

I encourage everyone to take a little time from their busy schedule and listen to The Connected Child on Creating a Family blog radio.  It is a practical overview of how adoptive parents can work to improve their bond with their new child.  The overwhelming theme is that ALL children can   if their parents are willing to INVEST time in forming a healthy bond. 

It is really interesting to hear how Neonatal and even PRENATAL malnutrition can contribute to attachment issues.  Interestingly enough, the age of the child at adoption is not as crucial as the child having had consistent nurturing care during the first two years of life.  An older child may grieve the loss of the caregiver they were attached to, but be able to form healthy attachements with their new parents.  One other interesting fact was that special needs children often have a better caregiver to child ratio which may give them an advantage in forming healthy attachments!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Focus on Special Needs...Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The potentially negative consequences of alcohol abuse during pregnancy have been suspected since biblical times. The relationship between maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy and developmental birth defects is well-documented in psychological and medical literature. An accurate diagnosis of FAS or Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), in which patients display partial effects of the syndrome and evidence many of the same problems as full-blown FAS, must be made by a doctor or geneticist. However, identification of children possibly affected by prenatal alcohol exposure can be carried out by professionals involved in service delivery.

Characteristics of FAS/FAE

Patients with FAS are of short stature, slight build, and have a small head. Typically they are below the third to tenth percentile compared to national norms. A pattern of dysmorphic facial features characterizes these persons as well, and include 1) short eye openings; 2) a short, upturned nose; 3) smooth area between the nose and mouth; and 4) a flat midface and thin upper lip. The facial patterns made FAS patients recognizable although not grossly malformed. In addition, these patients can display other physical anomalies including 1) minor joint and limb abnormalities; 2) cardiac defects; 3) dental anomalies; and 4) vision and hearing problems.

Intellectual Capabilities

A considerable range of intellectual functioning is found among patients with FAS. In a report of twenty cases of varying severity, Ann P. Streissguth and colleagues reported a range of IQ scores from 16 to 105 with a mean IQ of 65. Severity of the syndrome was related to IQ, with the most severely affected children having the lowest IQ scores.


There are many behavioral characteristics which differentiate FAS patients from other mentally retarded individuals. Socially, they tend to be very outgoing and socially engaging, yet they are frequently seen by others as intrusive, overly talkative, and generally unaware of social cues and conventions. Poor social judgment and poor socialization skills are common: many patients are hungry for attention, even negative. Due to their social immaturity, they have difficulty establishing friendships, especially with children of the same age. The potential for both social isolation and exploitation of individuals with FAS in very evident. Hyperactivity is frequently cited as a problem for young children who characteristically have short attention spans. Many also have memory problems, thus creating further setbacks to adaptive functioning and academic achievement later on.


Medical Needs

Patients with FAS/FAE typically have complex medical needs associated with their higher than average congenital anomalies. Infants are at risk for central nervous system problems, including a weak suck and feeding and sleeping difficulties as well as failure to thrive. Birth control and sex education for adolescents with FAS are additional areas of medical concern. As adolescents, these children tend to be sexually curious, yet often lack understanding of socially appropriate sexual behavior. Thus, they are at higher than average risk for sexual victimization due to their impulsive behavior and poor social judgment.

Educational Needs

Children with FAS/FAE have special educational needs. Even very young infants can benefit from early stimulation programs to help with intellectual and motor development. These programs are now widely available, with some even offered at home by traveling therapists and educators.

Preschoolers often have a range of developmental and language delays as well as signs of hyperactivity, irritability, and distractibility. Preschool programs which follow individualized educational plans are helpful for the child as well as for the parents who gain valuable respite time to regroup from the intense demands of these children.

Appropriate placement in special education classes beginning in elementary school is often necessary for children with FAS/FAE. A small classroom setting with clear guidelines and a great deal of individual attention can maximize the intellectual capabilities of these learners. Although intensive remedial education has not been show to increase the intellectual capabilities of children with FAS/FAE, it may prevent further deterioration.

Many patients with fetal alcohol syndrome reach an academic plateau in high school. Many will be unable to hold a regular job. Nonetheless, all of these students need to know basic life skills, including money management, safety skills, interpersonal relating, and so forth. These tasks will enrich their adult lives and allow them a degree of independence. The addition of such a life-skills component to the special education curricula for FAS students can be invaluable. Wherever possible and appropriate, vocational training should be part of the high school experience. Unfortunately, most vocational and technical institutes beyond high school will offer a curricula too academically rigorous for developmentally delayed individuals.

Family Needs

Patients with FAS/FAE are at a higher than average risk for physical and sexual abuse and neglect when raised in their families of origin. These children need a supportive, loving home environment with clear guidelines and clear lines of communication in order to develop to their fullest potential. When foster (or adoptive) placement is necessary, the greatest progress is made by calm, low key individuals, who are secure and comfortable with themselves and live stable and predictable lives. Families who treat the FAS child as normally as possible, combining loving acceptance with firm limit setting seem more satisfied than do those who have high performance expectations.

Due to their poor social judgment, underdeveloped independent living skills and impaired intellectual functioning, most FAS children will require a structured, sheltered living situation throughout their lives. The most severely affected may require a completely supervised and sheltered environment. For more functional patients, a group home or halfway house for developmentally disabled adults may be appropriate if continued residents with a family is not possible or desirable.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


These books provide two excellent resources for families as they help their children adjust to a new life in their home – Attaching in Adoption and Nurturing Adoptions by Deborah Gray. The first book was published in 2002 and my children were already fourteen years old (adopted domestically). I immediately wished I had read it years before, but even then it had helpful little parenting techniques that were beneficial. In one of her vignettes, the father says to the child who was pushing the limits, “I wouldn’t be a good parent if I let you do” such-and-such. That struck me as a different approach and the next time I faced a situation where my kids were trying to get away with things that would not have been good for them, I tried it out and voila’ they looked at me and said, “Oh” and stopped. They looked at me like, “I suppose you have to be a good parent” and backed right down. I’m not saying that this became my number one method of interaction, but the little insights that Deborah gives in this book go beyond attachment issues themselves.

The first book centers on a discussion of the importance of attachment, how it happens, what interferes with it and what can be done to help a child attach to their new family. Deborah has worked with very difficult children and her book is full of examples of experiences of families and the ways they have dealt with attachment and have become healthier. The book is well written and readable whether you are an adoption professional or adoptive parent.

The second book, Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma, published in 2007, has more emphasis on the experiences a child has had before they entered their new home and how these experiences impact the child and their ability to attach to their new family. The book is divided into two sections, the first half is a discussion of the impact of neglect and trauma; the second half are specific interventions and things that a family or therapist can do to help the child relax and re-learn about life in a new way and with new responses. Again, this book is very readable for parent or professional and well worth the cost! Both have been out long enough that there should be low-cost used copies readily available. Both books are a treasure of information, insight and resources. I recommend them highly!

For more information on Deborah Gray please go to http://www.deborahdgray.com/!

Kathy L, MA

Monday, September 20, 2010

Special Focus Child Nicholas waiting in Asia!

Dear Little Nicholas is a true 4 year old full of vigor and is ready to go- go -go! He is as handsome as be and has a smile that warms your heart!! He is living just outside the capital city of Inner Mongolia. He is a son of the vast grasslands of Mongolia. His city's name means "where the deer are found" and is located at the foot of the Yinshan Mountains, and on the bank of the Yellow River. It is also where the oldest section of the Great Wall is found.

We are so truly hopeful that for a family, their "little DEAR" can be found in the adoption of this curious and delightful little boy. Nicholas entered his SWI when he was 1 month old but is currently living with a foster family to whom he has a close attachment. His special need is that he has an abnormal development of his right eye. He likely has little or no vision in his right eye but it has not slowed him down in the least! He is capable of doing everything from running and playing to talking up a storm and he is writing Chinese characters too... AT FOUR YEARS OLD! Nicholas has a wonderful personality and interacts with both kids and adults who say he likes to LAUGH alot. Like most boys his age he is smitten with with balls, little planes, cars and guns but he also likes to draw, learn to write and play counting games. He sounds like a remarkable little boy who has adapted to the vision loss in his right eye and is healthy and robust in every other way.
There are also websites that can help families understand vision loss better.
Two of those websites:  http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/sight/visual_impairment.html and http://www.afb.org/ (American Foundation for the Blind) are great basic resources.  Please take a minute and go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHIWaitingkids/photos/album/1196536476/pic/list and look at his darn cute pictures! This little guy is bound to bring his laughter with him to a "for always family" of his own.

Friday, September 17, 2010

PBS Adoption Series Continues with "In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee"

Click here to view this intriguing documentary which is part 3 of the PBS point of view on adoption series>

"In 1966, Cha Jung Hee was an 8-year-old girl at Sun Duck Orphanage who became one of the thousands of Korean orphans adopted by Americans in the years following the Korean War. U.S. military presence, Cold War politics and the realities of a war-torn society still struggling to climb out of the ruins made Korea the primary source for international adoptions by Americans, and it would remain so for many years.

All such adoptions can present daunting challenges to adoptees as they come of age and try to understand their split heritage. But this story had a further twist.

For Cha Jung Hee, the good fortune of being whisked away to an affluent country by loving new parents masked even more troubling questions. For one thing, Deann Borshay, as little Cha Jung Hee became known in America, wasn’t an orphan. As related in Liem’s earlier documentary First Person Plural (POV 2000; encore presentation Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010), lingering memories led the filmmaker to discover that her birth family was still alive. And there was another buried memory. Liem wasn’t Cha Jung Hee at all. She was Kang Ok Jin, another 8-year-old girl at Sun Duck Orphanage. Her identity had been switched with Cha Jung Hee’s just before the latter was to be adopted by the Borshay family in California. She’d been instructed to keep that secret even from her adoptive parents. But why was the switch made? And what became of the real Cha Jung Hee?

Liem’s quest to understand the act that determined the course of her life impels her to find the real Cha Jung Hee. Armed with a tattered black and white photo of Cha Jung Hee and the shoes her mother-to-be sent more than 40 years earlier for her journey to America, Liem returns to a bustling, modern Seoul and a Korea vastly different from the devastated country she left in 1966. As In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee shows through old photos and newsreels, endemic poverty, lingering destruction from the war and a huge population of orphaned, lost and abandoned children set off humanitarian campaigns in a dozen Western countries to encourage adoption of Korean children. During Liem’s visit, she attends the annual gathering of the International Korean Adoptee Associations and meditates on the randomness of fate that turned her into an American rather than one of the Swedes or Danes she meets. She also learns that the tide of Korean adoptees — some 200,000 — peaked as recently as 1985, well after the country had become developed, democratic and prosperous. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee raises a troubling question: How and why did a humanitarian effort become an industry worth millions of dollars?

But Liem’s first stop is the Sun Duck Orphanage. She reviews the orphanage’s files with current director Kim Dae Jin and discovers another photo of the real Cha Jung Hee. A switch certainly was made, and the social worker who cared for the children reveals the reason: Cha Jung Hee was not an orphan. On a night shortly before she was due to leave for the United States, her father showed up and took her away. Rather than disappoint the Borshays, the orphanage substituted one 8-year-old girl for another, complete with a forged passport and brand new American shoes. Was this a purely humane decision or was there some financial motivation as well? In any case, the real Cha Jung Hee had disappeared with her father, and no one knew what had become of her.

Liem’s quest leads her and her interpreter to make calls to more than 100 Cha Jung Hees in the phone book, and she meets several women named Cha Jung Hee who turn out not to be the one she seeks, but who give her a glimpse of who she might have become. Then Liem visits the Police Separated Families Bureau and encounters a policeman who specializes in reuniting families. The stories of Koreans who lived through the dark past, begin to accumulate, offering a rare and intimate recollection of a shared time of violence, social disintegration and difficult choices. But the Cha Jung Hee who haunts Liem’s dreams remains elusive.

Ultimately, she does meet a woman who may be the Cha Jung Hee she is seeking. The photographic evidence is striking and the outlines of the two women’s stories intersect. The little girl’s shoes that Liem has saved even spark memories and tears in this Cha Jung Hee. But there is no way to be certain. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee still manages to get inside the stories that determined the fate of so many Korean children and changed the lives of many American families.

Both a meditative quest and an historical whodunit, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee reveals that in today’s world the search for identity — by Korean adoptees of the 1960s and ’70s, or by any child displaced by history — may yield more questions than answers.

“For years, Cha Jung Hee was, paradoxically, both a stranger and also my official identity — someone unknown but always present, defining my life,” says director Liem. “I felt I had to search for Cha Jung Hee finally to put my questions to rest by meeting her and finding out how she has fared. In the course of my journey, I met many women named Cha Jung Hee and through their stories imagine what my life would have been like had I stayed in Korea.

“Although I arrived in America walking in Cha Jung Hee’s shoes, I can see now the path I’ve taken has always been my own. And if I look closely, I can see a glimpse of the girl I used to be and I can picture her stepping out of the past and into the present.”

In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is a co-production of Mu Films and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Katahdin Productions and American Documentary POV."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Waiting Child TINA

not a photo of the actual child Tina
This sweet brown-eyed girl has been waiting in Africa for many months to find her family.  She has celebrated other children's "gotcha" day and I am sure she is wondering when her new Family will come for her.  She came into care last January and was underweight and small for her age.  Since being in the care center she has celebrated her fourth birthday.  Tina has gained over 10 pounds since entering care.  She has good sleep and eating habits.  Doctors noted on exam that she has a systolic heart murmur and club feet.  Tina has been treated for her club feet by wearing splints at night and exchanging her right and left shoe during the day.  She is able to walk and play actively with the other children.  She is a chubby cheeked little girl that will win your heart!  Please email patty.fuchs@chiadopt.org for more information!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Adoption Nutrition Resource on the Web!

I encourage you all to pass on the word about a super new resource available on the web on Adoption Nutrition!  This website has detailed information for adoptive parents on nutritional issues they may encounter with their adoptive children.  Topics include how to switch your child from a traditional diet to an American diet, food hoarding, and special diet concerns.  This is a super interesting website for everyone to check out!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


You don’t have to put out extra money or do anything strenuous! All you need to help another child find a home is call up our office and ask for a poster to put up at your place of worship, your business or worksite, or even your local bank or grocery store.

Remember all those “coincidence” stories you have heard or even experienced yourself as you began your adoption journey. Like driving past a billboard with large, beseeching eyes just as you thought that maybe there was a child out there somewhere for you to love and care? And then you took the road less traveled and your life has never been the same. Just a minute of your time to get permission to put the poster up (most places are more than happy to do this as long as they know and approve.  To request a poster please email me at kslconsulting@frontier.com with your name and address and we will get one out to you!

You could change the life of a child and family and maybe never know it!

We’d love you to help us get the word out.

Kathy L, MA