Wonderful Waiting Kids

We’re only just beginning our adoption journey, but we’ve met so many awesome folks along the way so far. A couple of weeks ago, I crossed e-paths with a woman named Annie, who created a website called Wonderful Waiting Kids.

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Annie and her husband adopted their daughter, Lizzie, through Lifeline‘s “special focus” China program in 2008…

Annie_Hamlin

…and this year, she and her husband are anxiously awaiting to adopt two more daughters from the same program. This is Lucy, in the striped pants below:

China_Orphanage

And this is “Fufu”, until they decide on a permanent name:

Fu_Fu_China_Orphanage_1

I’ve only been following Annie’s story a short time, but I cannot wait for the day I visit her blog and see photos of them all together as a family!!

I’ve seen the faces and file descriptions of so many amazing boys and girls on both Annie‘s and Lifeline‘s websites, and we’ve been praying for all of them as we gather up the last of the documents we need to finish our home study.

One of the children Annie is advocating for right now is a beautiful, little girl (currently) named “Halle”, and I’ve really been feeling Called to share her name with you this week. She was picked up in a parking lot at the age of 6 months, and has lived in an orphanage her whole life. I’m not allowed to post a photo of her, but I can tell you that she’s 13-years-old and her orphanage director describes her as well-behaved, quiet, and artistic. I also spoke (via email) with the mother of a 13-year-old girl that went to (public) school with Halle up until she was adopted last month, and she said her daughter smiled very big when she asked her about Halle, and said she is a “very good girl”. Halle will “age out” of the system next January 4th (when she turns 14), which means she will no longer be available for adoption. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about her, please drop Annie a line at [email protected] She is absolutely wonderful and she can share everything she knows about sweet Halle with you!

I read a post on Annie’s blog recently that was written by a teenage girl named Honour. She was picked up in a train station in China when she was 4 years old, and was adopted by a family in the U.S. several years later. The end of her blog post reads, “To me, having a family means having a REAL FAMILY NAME on earth….FOREVER. It means BELONGING to someone. It means getting to go to a Father-Daughter Dance. It means getting to go to Take Your Child to Work Day. It means someone helping me find my talents. It means walking to school with sisters and someone caring whether I come back. It means not being invisible anymore.

I just sat there and stared at that last line after I read it.

“It means not being invisible anymore.”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that she said that.

I have no idea what it feels like to be a parent, but with each new introduction, I am more and more thankful for the Chance to create a family through adoption.

Before I sign off, I’d love to encourage a discussion about adopting older children. (Meaning, a child that is no longer considered an infant.) If you’ve adopted an older child and feel like sharing a bit about your experience, please feel free to do so in the comments section below. (Email readers will have to hop over to our blog to access the comments section.)

We hope to learn the age of our (first) child sometime next Spring, but in the meantime, I feel like there are a lot of us out there with older child adoption-related questions, so I thought it might be helpful to ask about that here today.

This journey just keeps getting more and more meaningful, and I’m so grateful to be able to share links that lead to inspiring people like Annie and Honour, and for all of the encouragement and advice fellow adoptive parents continue to leave here for us to find. Thank you!!!

PS- Click on the banner below if you’d like to follow along with Annie’s personal blog:

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for initiating a discussion and for bringing to light via your widely read blog older child adoption! Can’t wait to see how your family story unfolds!

  2. Melinda says

    I do not personally have experience with adoption, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing. God bless you for your sweet, open heart. I pray that you will soon have your complete family.

  3. Kristie says

    I don’t have any advice on adopting older children (yet) but wanted to share that we are in the middle of adopting a four year old little girl from India. We are nontraditional parents with two adult sons and cannot wait to open our home up to our new daughter. We received our referral a few weeks ago and she is absolutely precious!!! There’s still a lot of waiting while all the paperwork and procedures take place but I feel so blessed to be able to stare at her beautiful little face while we wait. I have loved her (even the thought of her) my whole life! (loosely paraphrased from my favorite quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I’m so excited to watch you journey unfold via you blog.

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Kristie! I am so happy for you and your family!! :-D That quote is BEAUTIFUL- thank you for sharing it! I’ve read that any child above the age of 3 is considered an “older child”, but I’m not sure there’s a clear cut age. ? Does anyone here know if that’s true? I’ll have to ask our social worker about that next time I talk to her. Anywho- good, good wishes are coming your way today and you move one step closer to your little one!! XO

  4. says

    Thank you for this post. We actually filled out our “parameters” sheet yesterday for our adoption through Lifeline, and listed a pretty wide age range.

  5. says

    We’ve adopted four times and two were older (Justin 6 and Kendra 11). People’s first question is always “Is it harder to deal with an older child.” My answer is yes and no. It’s different and hard but in different ways. You don’t have to wake for a 3am feeding but you do have to learn about this new person and their personality. I have always likened those first weeks and months to dating. Imagine living with a first date: you don’t know each others eating habits, bathroom habits, clothes preferences. It’s awkward getting to know each other. It’s a special kind of dance. But it’s a beautiful one that makes you a stronger family.

  6. says

    oh my.
    i LITERALLY want to scoop up those kids in that picture and bring them all home.
    why does it have to be so hard?
    why does it have to cost so much money?
    ugh! good things we serve a GREAT BIG God Who can take care of all of that.
    my husband and i have a heart for china and those kiddos.
    we are praying about these kids and what to do next.
    xo

  7. Missy says

    I’m sitting here crying my heart out…..I can’t imagine what it feels like going through life feeling invisible. I pray God will send someone to these children to love and care for them! My heart just breaks thinking about it! Layla, I cannot wait to catch that first glimpse of the face of YOUR child….I know you can’t wait! I had a dream about you the other night. I dreamt I was in your house and we were sitting on the sofa and a lady came in with your child. You had no idea they were coming and you literally melted into a bawling puddle on the floor. It was the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen…..brown eyes, dark hair and beautiful milk chocolate colored skin. He was beautiful. You and I were both bawling……I felt so honored to be there. :) I woke up crying so hard!!!!!! Love you girlie and I’m so excited for you both!!
    Oh….TJ and I are going back to Tybee this year…had such a wonderful time last year! I’m waiting on Denise to get back with me about whats available in August. :) Yay! Thanks for everything last year…it was wonderful!

  8. says

    I’m so excited for your journey which I’m following closely! We adopted locally, two of our 5 foster children. I’m writing a book about one of them who was born addicted to Meth. I think the journey is beautiful which ever way you go, but people should never forget how many incredible children We have right here in the US so many children who need a forever family. Don’t be scared off by children who have been born into traumatic situations. We families of faith are called to the adoption and building our families for eternity – not to having a perfect little child (which there is no guarantee of anyway). Older children especially need our families. They all come with baggage, and although challenging sometimes it’s the most interesting part. I hope you are united with your child very soon. Adoption is our chance to do something really important with our lives. It blesses you just as much as it blesses the child!

  9. says

    I’m anxious to hear (read) more comments!! We are a couple weeks away from being approved to adopt “older” children through Foster Care. I’m ready to make them feel VISIBLE and loved!

  10. says

    Layla,

    Thank you for highlighting Annie’s advocacy site! I am her co-worker at Lifeline, but most importantly her friend! I am also the Mother of 5 boys! Ages 15-8. Our 8 year old is our biological son and our 4 older boys were each adopted from China. Our family story is at http://www.rylandsfamily.blogspot.com and our oldest son, Colin, age 15, writes a blog of his own at http://www.lifeasanadoptedteen.blogspot.com He shares his story of adoption and what it is like waiting in an orphanage and almost aging out before being adopted. I hope his words will encourage others!

    • says

      I just read through several of Colin’s posts. Wow. It is wonderful to read about his experiences and see a little glimpse into his perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  11. says

    Hi there! Through Lifeline, we adopted a 4-year-old in 2011. We adopted her through the China SN program. Her SN was listed as “delayed mental development,” but no one really knew what that meant. Since “delayed mental development” had NOT been a need we had originally been open to, we prayed over her file for weeks–as long as Lifeline was allowed to place a hold on it. When we finally decided YES, we were filled with a sense of peace. We didn’t know what this child’s needs truly were, but God did, and He had handpicked her to be our daughter. Fast forward almost 2 years, she is in kindergarten now, and we are beginning to get an idea that her “delayed mental development” is some sort of language disability. We cannot imagine our lives without her, and she makes a WONDERFUL companion to our older daughter. Feel free to check out our blog: http://www.vandalgrads.com
    Amy

  12. KimC says

    I so appreciate the info on adopting older children! Is it cheaper to adopt older children? I am very interested in adopting, but the cost is 20k plus for a young child and we could never afford that. It’s so sad, because we have a loving home and can provide for more children, but we don’t have an extra 20k to invest.

    • says

      It is so expensive to adopt for sure, but don’t let that be too discouraging. I always have to remember that its not writing a 20 or 30 thousand dollar check. You pay in increments and there are so many ways to raise mooney and so many grants available. You will be amazed as well at how generous people can be. It is overwhelming to think about but it can be done.

      • Erin says

        Great point! Another option is foster care. we adopted from the foster system which was basically free plus we received medical and living expenses.

  13. Angie W says

    Oh my goodness! Honour just brought tears to my eyes with her closing sentence. But I can only imagine that ‘not being invisible anymore’ is exactly what they feel. How sad for all those children growing up in orphanages. I’m so thankful for all the wonderful families that can bring these lovely children into their homes. Thank you for letting us share this journey with you.

  14. Jennifer says

    Beautiful post! My husband and I currently have two children that have a genetic condition and I have a few health problems that make it difficult to get pregnant. We have to decided to get my tubes tied, and if we choose to have another child adopt. We were thinking of a child from another country but there are so many orphans here in the US also. I can’t wait to see the rest of your journey!

  15. Carole says

    I’m reading and watching your adoption process with interest. My husband and I have no children, and we’re a bit older than you and Kevin, but we’ve still talked about adoption from time to time. An older child would be great w/ and for us, as we feel they’re even more in need of someone to make them feel needed/wanted, to help guide them, to help prepare them for the world at large. Someone to let them be kids while they still have the chance to be kids (you know what I mean?).

    I was a foster kid for a few years, and though I had a great family, life circumstances dictated that I become an adult much too young. I can relate (though perhaps in a slightly different way) to feeling as if you never truly belong anywhere. When you’re floundering, that feeling can be overwhelming.

    I understand the procedures that prospective parents have to go through for the opportunity to adopt, but I admit, the cost seems overwhelming to someone who lives comfortably, but has a small bank account.

    Good luck to you both. I know everything will come together for you, right when it’s meant to be. :-)

    “It means not being invisible anymore.”

    That gave me a catch in my throat.

  16. says

    Hi,

    Having adopted three times, one at 2 and one at 3, I can say that it totally depends on the child/history. The definition of what an older child is depends on agency and country, but typically means 2 or older. We would not hesitate to adopt a waiting child again, but you do need a good basis of knowledge and a lot of support! I think the biggest mistake people make with older child adoption is either erasing/ignoring their child’s history. These children come with history, personality, culture, language, experience, and often baggage (as we all do!). I think it’s often a reflex to want to pretend our child’s life started with us.

    I wish you the best in your journey,
    Tova

  17. says

    I love Annie and I’m so glad you connected with her. She was one of the first people I reached out to while we were in the process of adopting our son, Jack. Jack was three and a half when we got him. He changed our lives forever. He wasn’t an infant but he also wasn’t what I think of when I think of older child adoption. Best wishes on your journey. You’ll be in my prayers.

  18. sara says

    Oh wow! I follow both the Cornbread and Chopsticks and get updates from the Wonderful Waiting Kids and didnt put them together that they were done by the same person! Good to know!

  19. Laurie says

    Thank you for your beautiful heart for orphans that reflects Jesus’ heart for the broken and forgotten. Thanks for telling us about Annie and her precious family. I wept when I read “not being invisible” anymore. We have 3 little ones and are praying about adoption possibly from Eastern Europe. Thanks for the encouragement! I love your cottage blog, have read it for years…always uplifting and full of fun and creativity and beauty!!

  20. Sue says

    I will most definitely remember to pray for Halle because my second child is named Halle (short for Hallelujah)! My Halle is 12 almost 13 so I can imagine all of the changes this sweet Halle from China must be going through. I do not have any personal experience with adoption, but I think it is such a picture of Christ! Layla, I am praying for you and Kevin and trusting the Lord to put the God-ordained child in your life soon! I noticed the name “Chance” in your post. I think that would be a totally unique and special name. Just saying….
    Bless you!

  21. says

    I just LOVE how you’re sharing about these beautiful children. I hope God touches many hearts and encourages the right families to step out and consider opening their doors. What precious kids each one of them is! Makes my heart ache just reading this. Also…how exciting is it to know that God already has your sweet child all picked out for you? I can’t wait to read more of your journey!

  22. Christie says

    We adopted our girls 4 years ago. They were 5 & 8 (now 9 & just turned 13!), and had been living about 5 miles from us! Their mother died of cancer & they never knew their fathers. My husband & I were “older” as well, lol (39 &42), We had been married 17 years and the thought of children entering the picture was both exciting & scary. But where we lacked in energy, we thought we could make up with learned wisdom, lol. They look like they could be our biological children, so when behaviors & learning delays stemming from their traumatic neglect popped up, we felt people were looking at us as the cause. What can I say – we are newbies! Another surprise – ADHD. Both. of. them. No matter what age you adopt or where they come from, though, there will be surprises. Some wonderful, some…well…not so charming. As a new parent, my first piece of advice that helped us – shore up your support group! This will include your family, but MUST include people who have adopted before. There are feelings you will express & questions you will have that may cause bio-parents to give you funny looks, but the adoptive parents will “get” where you are coming from! Trust me – they’ve heard it all! Take a large notebook to your support meeting – you’ll need it to write down all the wonderful helps & encouragements you will receive. Avoid comparing your child to the “typical” children who will inevitably appear to shine in their seemingly perfectly “green backyards”, while you are watching your child struggle with the “weeds” at times in your own yard. (Get it? The grass always looks greener? um. ok. so I’ve learned to have a poetically quirky sense of humor). It’s ok – he/she is on God’s timetable, not the public school system’s or anyone else’s system. You are responsible for loving, teaching, training, & protecting, etc. your child. You may in wisdom decide to take what looks like drastic action to everybody else in order to help your child. Gasp! We unplugged from TV! (You would not believe the people who think we are denying our children an American rite of passage. They don’t know, though, that the TV was on 24/7 BU (before us) & messed with our girls brain development so much that they could not tell the difference between fantasy & reality.) Gasp! We decided to homeschool because they wanted to send my child to 2nd grade & she didn’t know how to add 1 + 2. I would suggest you keep your home life quiet & simple until you see some trust developing. Although you WILL NEED RESPIT, don’t overwhelm your child with too many places to go & too much stimulus if you can help it. This has worked well for us, and reduced their anxieties. Ha! Surprisingly, they still choose Joshua Bell’s violin music & harp music over Justin, lol, so don’t underestimate your home environment! Don’t compete with their past. Accept it, embrace it, talk about it, and process it together. In the long run, this builds trust between you because they will know they can talk to you about anything & you won’t freak out. Time WILL tell! Four years has shown us that family time – especially conversations at the dinner table – has been valuable! Pointing them to a Sovereign God in a painful world has been a rock we can all cling to. God DOES love us! Four years ago we really struggled & I wondered how & even IF our girls would progress, but now we are seeing some wonderful fruit in their lives. It’s like watching a flower finally bloom after years of careful tending! Finally, someone said this to me at my support group last night: “Our valleys seem much deeper, but our mountain tops are much higher!” The journey is hard at times, but so worth it, especially when you experience the triumphs together! God bless you & Kev for desiring to follow Him in this exciting journey.

  23. Angela says

    I’ve been a teacher for a few years now, so I’ve come across quite a few children from all walks of life. I’m also a parent to 2 biological children, and we’re starting the process for becoming foster parents as well.

    What I can tell you is this: no matter what age kids are, no matter what their life circumstance is or how bad they act or how loudly they yell that they hate you or sing that they love you, they just want two things.
    Acceptance. Safety.
    They want to know that even on their worst day, you’ll come back for them. And they want to know that when they mess up, they’ll have a soft place to land.

    As you wander through the parenthood journey, just remember that. Nothing else matters. Acceptance and safety. Everything else will work itself out.

  24. says

    Beautiful post, Layla. Those words are also now imprinted on my mind. No child should have to feel invisible and it is so sad there are so many that are and do. Thank you for writing this post today. The Lettered Cottage is the first blog I’d ever read and I so enjoy your writing, your design work, Kevin’s Shoot Fly Shoot and sharing this journey of adoption through your writing. x

  25. Jodi says

    Wow! I was so touched yesterday when I saw this story on a local station in Minneapolis about these sweet, beautiful siblings looking for a family. http://kstp.com/article/25/

    Today I see your lovely post.

    I feel like I’m being nudged.

    Jodi

  26. says

    I just read this post out loud to my family and now my 11 year old daughter is begging us to adopt Halle!

    I do have a question for BTDT parents. We are open to and have a heart for adoption and have done some research. I”ve read quite a bit about how important it is to not adopt out of birth order. Does that seem to be the general consensus? Are there “success” stories with adopting out of birth order or is it really best to follow that guideline?

    • says

      Hi Elisabeth. Families do adopt out of birth order quite frequently. It works for many families. I would be happy to talk to you further. Just email me or we can talk over the phone.

      Blessings
      Annie

    • Kate says

      Elizabeth, I think there are definitely success stories for adopting out of both order. However, having been a child that had the birth order thrown off by my parents adopting an older child than me…i would avoid it if possible. I was in 3rd grade when my parents started inviting a child (middle school age) from the local children’s home to stay with us on the weekends, spend holidays with us, and go on vacation with us. I was ok with all of that…another playmate! Also worth noting is I already had 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters. But, a couple years later when I found out my parents were going to adopt him..it was not happy times in our family. My adopted brother had some learning and social issues, so although he was a few years older than me, he acted younger than me. He was hard to get along with and took up most of my parents time. My sister that also was younger than him had just as many problems adjusting. My other older siblings were mostly ok with it all. Looking back now, it’s hard for me to understand why exactly I had such a hard time with it. I was sympathetic to all he had been through, but I guess in the moment it was hard for my little preteen/ teenage mind to deal with it all. I knew he needed lots of attention, but “I’m younger, I need attention too, and they’re my parents!” (oh yeah, in case you’re wondering, there was lots of therapy for everyone…not very helpful). Having said all that, I am actually interested in adopting my own children…especially passionate about kids in the US. I know there is adjustment and can be issues no matter what, but I will not adopt out of birth order.

  27. says

    Dear Layla, I just wanted to comment and say thank you for such a beautifully stirring post. You have moved many hearts my sweet friend. I am happy to talk to any family who might be considering older child adoption or adoption in general. For our family, it was and is an amazing, life changing, faith building experience, one in which you see the very hand of God at every single step. Awesome!

    Blessings dear Layla,
    Annie

  28. ellen says

    We adopted our daughter at 14 yrs old. She stayed with us during an international hosting program called Open Hearts, Open Homes, Open Worlds when she was 13. We can’t remember when she was not with us. I always tell her this story … I picked her dad and he picked me. We picked her and she picked us. We want her to know that it is okay to trust and to really feel connected to someone. I also always tell her about the first day we saw her picture and how we felt. She loves this story. There have been bumps in the road but they have been very insignificant.

  29. Sarita says

    The words about not being invisible anymore ARE POWERFUL. We all feel that way at one time I think. I also like that she said a family men’s someone helping find her talents. Great words to ponder.
    Thankfully God already has your child waiting for you and Kevin.

  30. says

    Layla,
    I think this awesome what you are doing for these waiting children. If it helps to make one less child invisible it is completely worth it. We just switched over from the Peru program to the Hong Kong program with Lifeline. Everyday I check the waiting children list to see if it has been updated. Hoping that someday I will find our little girl waiting for us there.
    Currently we are adopting a younger child, trying to keep the birth order with our biological daughter, Noah, who is seventeen months. God has been working in my heart lately, giving me a compassion for multiple sibling groups. These children are often overlooked because they must all be adopted together but still deserve a loving home and the chance to not be “invisible”. God may already be preparing me for our next adoption. :)

  31. says

    tears falling…
    we have a daughter from China, lydia, who is 6 now.
    we brought her home when she was 11 months old, and she’s the joy of our family.

    invisible….that must be how all orphans feel. i’ll never forget those words..they’ll be with me forever.

    praying that the Lord would speak to my husband about another possible adoption.

  32. says

    We have talked before Leila…
    We adopted our daughter from China in August 2010 when she was 5 years old. She was considered “special needs” because she had a partial cleft palate in the back of her mouth. A super easy fix in America. She has been nothing but a delight and super smart. It feels like she has always been with us, not just 3 years, this coming August.

    We are one of the happy ending folks. I know when I was doing all of my research prior to getting Jade-Rose, I came across many blogs and Yahoo groups that had one sad or scary story after another. I understand those people needed an outlet to vent, but everyone I know in my local adoption community has happy stories, and we are certainly one of them. My daughter spent over 5 years in an orphanage, she was not in foster care, but I think we were one of the lucky ones and her caretakers gave her the best care that they could. She is loving and sweet and smart and fearless!

    We found our daughter’s picture on a website called Rainbow Kids.com. They feature primarily older and special needs children. The term ‘special needs’ might be frightening to some, but there is a wide range of health issues a child may have, and many of them are very mild or easy to manage. My daughter had one surgery to fix her mouth and has had speech therapy, and that’s it!

    If anyone is interested in reading about our adoption process, you are welcome to read my blog at http://konuchfamily.blogspot.com. It does not have our most recent information, but it does include the entire adoption process from beginning to end.

    Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to see how your child comes to you as soon as possible.

    • Rachel Carey says

      Hi Layla! I have not adopted myself, but I have an adopted uncle and cousin (brothers). Their mother was my grandmothers foster child. My grandmother adopted an INFANT when she was 62! After having 14 children herself, she was still able to give!

      Congratulations on your journey!

  33. Kerri says

    My eyes are filled with tears as I see all of the children just sitting.. waiting in that room… Dear Lord, please find them forever homes.. soon.. My heart breaks for them.

  34. Jen in NM says

    Hi, Layla –
    I first adopted a one-year old girl in southern China, and then a 3-1/2 year old boy from Xi’an who was considered “special needs”. He had a cleft palate. Of course we consider that an operable birth defect, not a life-long detriment. He was prepared extraordinarily well for his adoption, was and is healthy, and watching him learn to be a child in a family has been a joy. I wish I had video of the first time he saw the produce department in our local grocery store. And even if they come from an orphanage, boys come wired the same – the look on his face the first time he saw a basketball game and a forklift at Home Depot were absolutey pricess. Anyway, there’s a lot of support in the adoption community for adopting children who aren’t infants, and all of them can’t get to a family fast enough. So I would encourage other families to take a leap of faith.

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