Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Child Behind The Picture

From Guest Blogger, Kathleen Carscadden

We all understand that Chinese adoptions are moving along at – well – a snail’s pace. The long wait time has spurred an interest in China’s Waiting Children/Special Needs program. This is GREAT news for those children who need homes now.

Unlike traditional referrals from China, with the Waiting Children program prospective adoptive parents get to see a picture and a little information as to the child's needs before ever applying to see the file. Wow, that's great isn’t it? You get to see and oftentimes fall in love with “your” child very early in the process. If you have spent any time observing the Waiting Children process you will notice a trend…the pretty kids find homes first. The children that are considered “cute”, no matter how great their special need is, tend to have multiple families ask to review their files or, as is the case with Multiple Agency lists, those files are locked immediately. But what about those that don’t have the cute picture?

Take a look at this picture. This little one was number 20717 on the March 2007 Waiting Child list. The special needs were a repaired cleft lip/cleft palate and the fact that this child was considered “old” by adoption standards at nearly 4 ½.

Is this child a girl or a boy? We are used to seeing boys dressed in pink and “girly” clothes because in an orphanage you wear what they have. But this child? Nothing pink or girly at all.

The March 2007 list was chock full of adorable pictures of little girls and boys. Some of those cute pictures had dozens of people ask to review their files. The way it worked back then was a lottery system – you submitted an application for a child and an applicant was randomly picked to review the file, the pictures were updated with the number of people who had applied to review their file. The phone calls were made and the internet was abuzz with news about who was picked.

Back to #20717. The number of people who had applied to review the file? Zero. Why? The special need was relatively minor. Well, as it turns out that number, zero, was a mistake. One family had applied for this child. Mine. My husband saw something in those eyes, a spark, a hope, a smile that wasn’t on her face.

#20717 is my very own Miss Jessica HuaLiang. You can’t tell by the photo that she is in fact a she. What you can’t tell by the photo is that she has the bubbliest personality; she has a wickedly funny sense of humor. You can’t tell that she is amazingly smart; she has only been home a year and a half and speaks nearly perfect English. She is loving and affectionate. She has her father wrapped around her little finger. She is healthy and well bonded. What you can’t see in that first mug shot is the amazingly delightful little girl she has blossomed into.

Next time you are reviewing the Waiting Children/Special Needs list I want to encourage you to look past the pictures and into your heart, to see the bigger picture. Are you truly only open to a girl? Maybe your daughter is a SON. Maybe your infant is a toddler, or a 4-year-old…maybe he or she is 9? Maybe older.

Look past the picture and see instead the possibility…

Pictured: Six-year-old Jessica loves her hair long. Here, she stands in front of the scroll given to her by her Chinese foster family.


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CHI's China Waiting Child Program

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