In this Q&A, Dr. Eckerle and Dr. Gustafson share answers to some of the top questions parents ask about adopting a child with alcohol exposure. Both Dr. Eckerle and Dr. Gustafson are Korean adoptees who work with adopted children and their families, with a special focus on alcohol exposure and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
Q: If a child has exposure to alcohol, does this always mean that they have FASD?
A: No. Most alcohol-exposed kids will not be on the FASD spectrum. The issue is that, when they are young, we do not know if they will be more or less affected.
Holt clinical social worker Zoila Lopez answers the most commonly asked questions about adopting a child on Holt’s waiting child photolisting.
Who are the children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting?
The children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting are a diverse group of kids in orphanage or foster care with individual needs ranging in ages from 1 (which is an outlier) to 16 years old. All the children on the photolisting require additional advocacy to help identify the best adoptive families for them. Every country program has different child profiles, and the range of special needs is broad. There are many children who are physically healthy whose only special needs are their age (as children age 5 or older are considered “special needs”), a history of trauma and some level of developmental delay. There are also children with very involved medical, emotional and/or developmental needs. Continue reading “Adopting a Waiting Child; A Q&A With Holt Social Worker Zoila Lopez”
Ready to adopt, but short on funds, Kevin and Sarah Brown reach out to their community — and learn a beautiful lesson in return.
After watching a documentary about children growing up in orphanages in China, Kevin and Sarah Brown decided to build their family through adoption . “We reached out to our local homestudy agency and to Holt and started barreling down the path," says Sarah.
While the Browns had ample resources to care for a child who needs a family, what they didn’t have the funds needed to adopt. Determined, they started to research different ways to fundraise. They planned a garage sale at their church and held a benefit concert featuring singer-songwriters from their hometown. “We raised almost $7,000 in one weekend from those two events, which is pretty incredible,” Sarah says.
While family and friends rallied around them, they realized how much just sharing their story would inspire their extended community to support their adoption. “We created a blog so people could have insight into why we’re adopting,” Sarah says. They also built a profile on Adopt Together — a crowdfunding site that helps families raise funds to cover their adoption expenses.
Key to their story was the fact that their daughter, Julia, had special needs that might require medical care or specialized therapies once home — an extra expense that more and more adoptive families are now facing. Recognizing this growing need, many organizations now offer grants specifically for families adopting children with special needs, including Holt.
Julia had fairly severe developmental delays when she joined her family. But through physical, occupational and speech therapy — and most importantly, the devoted loving care of her parents — she made rapid progress. Through the generosity of their community, the Browns were also able to save for the cost of her therapy — which, “oh my goodness, got expensive,” says Sarah.
“Don’t be bashful,” Sarah says to those who are just starting to raise funds for their adoption. “You just have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. And then get ready for an outpouring of love and support.”
For Kevin and Sarah Brown, adoption felt like a natural choice. High school sweethearts from Nashville, Tennessee, they – like many young couples — knew they wanted a family someday. But also like many young couples, they weren’t in any hurry. “Then we turned 35,” Sarah says. After watching a documentary about children growing up in orphanages in China, they made up their minds. Continue reading “No Holding Back; How One Family Funded Their Adoption”
Adoptive mom Jen Skipper shares about adopting her son who has developmental delays — the unknowns, the hardships and the hope she now has for his future.
It was time to go and meet our fifth child, our second adoption from China. Our path to him had been clear — we knew he was the boy that God had led us to. He was to be our son. We knew he would come to us with a couple medical diagnoses and some developmental delays. We thought his developmental delays included learning to walk and speak late. At 2 years old, he was just starting to babble.
I had poured over his paperwork and felt like all of his reported delays were simply related to being institutionalized, and I was encouraged by the great strides in his development after joining a foster family in China. I had heard stories of institutionalized kids coming home to their forever family and overcoming so many of their delays. I was optimistic and ready to welcome my son into my heart and our family forever.
The moment he was placed into my arms in China at almost 3 years old, I knew his delays and issues were more severe than I had anticipated or imagined. He was laughing and smiling, and that was not how kids are supposed to act when being placed into a stranger’s arms.
We took him back to our motel room and I realized he was not making eye contact with any of us. He had no verbal communication and was rummaging through every garbage can he could find, looking for something to play with. He hit himself repeatedly and when we went anywhere new, he would go cross-eyed and grind his teeth. He was so scared and couldn’t communicate it. And so was I.
As prospective adoptive families learn more about adoption and the children who are waiting to join families, they may frequently run into the term “developmental delays.” But what does this mean, exactly?
Developmental delays can present in many different ways, often encompass unknowns in a child’s development, and are different for every child.
Here are five of top things to know about adopting a child with developmental delays:
“When we think about Micah’s future, we feel an incredible sense of excitement for what is to come and the successes and joys that he will experience…. And we continue to celebrate that Micah is valuable and worthy just the way he is.” – Jade Presnell and David Sekula
“Keeping an open mind and open heart has been the key to our family. He’s fit so well in our family and made everyone’s life better.” – Shawn and Jaime Butcher
“She was very sweet and calm in China. I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, she is like an angel child.’.... She does fuss, and she has opinions, and she has this little stubbornness about her. But mostly, she is just an absolute joy.” – Robert and Mindy Hostetter
“SNAF [Families Not Finances] donors essentially gave my daughter life. Without them, she wouldn’t have a life,” Sara says. “She’d live, but she’d have no chance at ever being independent, finding meaning in her life…They made that happen.”– Sara Croasdaile
Every day 2-year-old Shelby Jane spent in an orphanage in China, she grew weaker. She needed to join her adoptive family — and fast — but finances stood in the way. That’s when a Holt donor stepped in to help.
Two-year-old Shelby Jane had a hole in her tiny heart, a blood condition called thalassemia and chronic cases of pneumonia and bronchitis that caused her to be hospitalized just about every month of her 24-month life. She could not speak, could not crawl and could not chew food. Every day she spent in an orphanage in China, she grew weaker.
Her adoptive parents, Michelle and Adam Campbell, needed to bring her home — and fast.
“We knew we needed to go get her because she wasn’t getting the care she needed. Waiting,” Michelle says, “wasn’t an option.”