We are so excited to announce that three of our families received referrals from Burundi! Five kids in total between the ages of 3-11. Soon these children will be joined by their new families and experience family life for the first time.
If you would like more information about Burundi adoption visit https://childrenofallnations.com/adoption-programs/africa/burundi-adoption/.
One of our families also shared with us their adoption journey after referral and meeting with son for the first time. Come check it out via: https://www.almostproperly.com/new-addition-to-the-family/.
If your child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, what are your next steps? A mother of a child with Down syndrome shares her recommendations.
Down syndrome occurs in one of 691 births, or 6,000 births per year in the U.S., as a result of the presence of an extra chromosome 21 at conception. Although individuals with Down syndrome tend to experience some health problems throughout their lives, recent medical advances have increased their life expectancy. Moreover, parents of children with Down syndrome have access to therapeutic and educational supports through early intervention and the public school system. A recent study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics demonstrates the positive impact of Down syndrome on families; it found that 79 percent of parents report that their outlook on life was more positive because of their child, 94 percent of siblings report feelings of pride about their sibling with Down syndrome, and 99 percent of people with Down syndrome feel happy with their lives.
Gerald Mahoney, Ph.D., who developed a research-based strategy called Responsive Teaching for improving cognition, behavior, and communication in children with special needs, says: “Parents are far more influential on their children’s development than teachers and therapists are. Early developmental learning for all children can occur in the context of any interaction or activity the child is participating in throughout their day. And parents, especially in the first five years, have much more opportunity to interact with their children than do teachers in classrooms or related service specialists.” In other words, our role as parents makes a big difference in our children’s development.
When our older daughter, Penny, was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, it felt daunting to consider the medical, social, educational, and behavioral challenges ahead. I had no idea how much support and encouragement we would receive from family, friends, and the larger community of other parents with kids with Down syndrome, as well as from dedicated and caring therapists, teachers, and medical professionals. Although we have many years to come, and many lessons to learn as we parent Penny and our other children, here are a few pieces of advice. Children with Down syndrome can bring a lot of happiness to a family. Living with the motto ‘She can do anything you can do,’ one dad of four describes how his youngest enriches their everyday life.
There’s a lot of misinformation about Down syndrome, and for women who have received a prenatal diagnosis and for women who have just given birth and received a diagnosis for their child, accurate and up-to-date information is critical in making decisions and maintaining a realistic and positive attitude for the future. According to Stephanie Meredith, writer of Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis, a booklet that offers current information for medical professionals to deliver a diagnosis, “Most of the misinformation that exists is simply outdated information before early intervention, inclusion, and progressive healthcare were the norm. Since society has begun investing in children with Down syndrome, life expectancy has doubled to about 60, and people with Down syndrome are increasingly completing high school, attending special college programs, and living independently.”
The National Down Syndrome Society provides checklists for doctors’ visits and other resources for medical intervention and support. But learning the facts about Down syndrome also involves understanding the social and emotional reality that most people with Down syndrome enjoy their lives, and that most families raising children with Down syndrome report positive benefits from their child’s presence. Siblings report greater compassion toward others, and parents report a lower divorce rate than the norm.
When understood from both a medical and social perspective, Down syndrome is no longer a negative diagnosis.
One of the advantages of a Down syndrome diagnosis, in contrast to rare or undiagnosed conditions and syndromes, is that it is easy to connect with other parents who are raising kids with Down syndrome. Two major national organizations — the National Down Syndrome Society (www.ndss.org) and the National Down Syndrome Congress (ndsccenter.org) — provide support to parents through information and conferences. Inspirational stories are also available in the online book My Great Story (www.ndss.org/stories). The NDSS advocates on behalf of people with Down syndrome in Congress in order to secure funding for research and social programs that will provide support in school, at home, and in the workplace.
Many local communities have support groups for families. You can find a local group through the affiliates page on the NDSS website or by contacting a social worker in your area. In general, the Internet offers support to parents of children with Down syndrome and with other disabilities. Search “Down syndrome” on Facebook to find groups and connect with others or search for reputable blogs and websites to read personal stories and get advice.
A child with Down syndrome is just like any other child, needing doctors’ appointments, back-to-school clothes, and rides to birthday parties. Children with Down syndrome, though, have regular visits to medical specialists as well, and their parents meet regularly not only with classroom teachers (or case managers for younger children) but also with therapists, special educators, and other professionals. Developing a system to keep relevant information on hand provides a historical perspective for you and for the doctors and teachers involved, and enables others to care for your child in your absence.
Start keeping track of your child’s chronic health, treatments, and education records. Both the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Seattle Children’s Hospital offer guides to assembling Care Notebooks, 3-ring binders that include medical and educational information about your child. Their websites offer sample pages for these notebooks and a system to keep track of everything through the years.
Children with Down syndrome have a different set of guidelines for routine tests, and a different set of growth charts. They benefit from regular appointments with specialists and therapists along with visits to a local pediatrician who can perform routine physicals and treat common illnesses.
Mary Pipan, M.D., Clinical Director of The Trisomy 21 Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explains the difference it can make to have at least one visit with a developmental pediatrician who specializes in Down syndrome. “A pediatrician who sees many children with Down syndrome has the knowledge to evaluate what areas are important to cover specifically, and how various diagnoses are best evaluated and treated. General pediatricians do not usually have the time to be as thorough as needed, and most pediatricians have only a handful of patients in their practice with Down syndrome, so they don’t have the breadth of experience acquired in a dedicated Trisomy 21 program.”
The National Down Syndrome Society provides a link to the most up-to-date health care guidelines. In addition, many major children’s hospitals have clinics devoted specifically to caring for children with Down syndrome.
One of the joys of raising children comes from sharing their accomplishments with others. Many friends and family members would love to offer support, encouragement, and delight when your child learns new things.
According to Sue Levine, who conducted a six-year study of individuals with Down syndrome and their parents and siblings, published in American Journal of Medical Genetics, “Having a family member with Down syndrome tends to be an eye-opening and enriching experience. Brothers and sisters told us that they have more patience and acceptance because of their sibling. They treasure the small things in life, having learned important lessons in compassion and responsibility. The majority of parents shared with us that their outlook on life is more positive because of their child with Down syndrome. They affirmed that true success in life is not measured by accomplishments or possessions, but by love and small victories. While there are certainly struggles, as there are with parenting any child, the joys tend to far outweigh the difficulties.”
The benefits of knowing a person with Down syndrome can extend beyond the immediate family and into the community. If you and your family have already been involved in a faith community, stay involved. You may have to work with your local church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship to create structures and practices that allow your child to be included. The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School offers a list of resources for congregations and leaders of many different faith communities so that families with children who have disabilities can remain active members.
As soon as Penny was born, I stumbled as I tried to describe her. It seemed somewhat inaccurate to call her my “Down syndrome baby” and yet I didn’t have another way to talk about her. I soon discovered “people-first” language, a way of using language to reflect the reality that children with Down syndrome are children first. I learned to refer to Penny as a “baby with Down syndrome” to emphasize her common humanity. This linguistic shift helped me to stop seeing her as a diagnosis and instead to perceive her as a child with particular needs.
Participate in whatever activities you both enjoy. For infants and toddlers, this might include playdates with other friends, joining a local music class or story hour, or just going to the grocery store together. As your child gets older, look for activities designed for children with special needs, often called “adaptive” programs. The Special Olympics runs a Young Athletes program for children ages 2? to 7, provides developmentally appropriate support for your child, and offers an array of informational and educational workshops for parents.
Low muscle tone and an array of other factors that often contribute to delayed speech and difficulty with articulation can affect kids with Down syndrome. Thankfully, speech therapists offer strategies to strengthen your child’s muscles and improve communication. The same muscles are used in both eating and speaking; feeding therapy, a precursor to speech therapy, often begins within the first year of your child’s life.
Many children with Down syndrome want to communicate, and will be able to communicate, months or years before their mouths will produce intelligible words. According to Brian Skotko, M.D. (www.brianskotko.com), a specialist in the Down syndrome Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, “Children with Down syndrome have a lot to say and they deserve to be heard and to be listened to, but while we are waiting for the language to set in it is imperative that we give them ways to communicate their wishes and desires. Sign language is one form, and many use picture communication symbols as they get older and other augmentative devices as they become whizzes at technology.” These various forms of communication “decrease frustration and behavioral problems while increasing relationships and friendships in those formative years.”
For infants and toddlers, baby sign language books, websites, and videos exist to introduce both parents and children to simple sign language. The book Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome, by Libby Kumin, Ph.D., offers further advice and resources for augmentative communication devices.
Although your child will face physical and developmental challenges, he or she will have a distinct personality and distinct strengths. It can be tempting to focus upon the things your child can’t do or isn’t interested in, but this type of attention leads to a negative cycle in which both you and your child become frustrated. Another approach for children with special needs is called Responsive Teaching, where parents and caregivers respond to the areas of interest and strength that the child already exhibits, leading to positive emotions and growth on both sides.
Gerald Mahoney, Ph.D., one of the pioneers of the Responsive Teaching approach, explains that when parents are trained to respond well to their child, it leads to increased cognition and communication. Mahoney’s program offers 65 different strategies to help parents learn to be responsive. He lists behaviors such as, “reciprocity, a balanced interaction where parent and child are contributing equally and responding to and effecting behavior of the other person; contingency, where the parent focuses on responding quickly and supportively to behaviors their child initiates; shared control or non-directiveness, when parents are moderately directive with their child, which allows him to be more responsive; parental affect, which focuses on parents’ expressiveness, enjoyment, and acceptance of their child; and interactive match, in which parents focus on doing things with their child that are matched to the current level of developmental functioning and behavioral ability.”
We had the opportunity to hear Dr. Mahoney speak when Penny was only two months old, and we tried to take his advice and focus on her many strengths. Keeping a positive attitude became easier as we realized that there are organizations, doctors, therapists, teachers, other parents, and family and friends who want to support and encourage us every step of the way. Penny is about to reach her sixth birthday, and Down syndrome has largely faded into the background of our family life as we have fallen more and more in love with our daughter.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.
Amy Julia Becker blogs at Thin Places (www.patheos.com/blogs/thinplaces). She is the author of “A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny” and she lives with her husband and three children in New Jersey.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
By Amy Julia BeckerRead More
So many Bulgarian children are still waiting for their forever families. New kids have been added to our photo listing. Check it out.Read More
We just updated our photo listings and added several sibling groups and children from Dominican Republic. Go check out their bio’s and learn more about these children who are in need of a home! http://childrenofallnations.com/waiting-child/photolisting/.Read More
Our 2019 Winter Hosting Program is open! How would you like to give a child from Latvia the opportunity to spend Christmas in the U.S.? We have photos of the children available on our orphanhosting.com website. Start researching today!Read More
There are so many children in Burundi looking for a family. We need you to help us find these orphans a forever home. Adoption changes not only the life of a child, but the lives of everyone involved. Contact us today at 5123239595. or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
Lets talk about Dominican Republic Adoption (DR)! Did you know almost 200,000 children in the Dominican Republic are legally deemed an orphan? Most of them were either abandoned or found working on the streets because of the poor economic status of their parents.The children eligible for adoption in DR range from young toddlers to teenagers with many being sibling groups. These children want to find their forever families so start searching today! Use our links below to get involved!
or email email@example.com
In our years processing adoptions running heritage tours and exchange programs, we have often been asked what it is like for Chinese adoptees in other areas around the world. So we created our Adoptee Cultural Exchange Program, A.C.E.
This exchange program provides Chinese adoptees a chance to explore their heritage and meet other children who have the same life experiences as they do all within the safe confines of a host family who also adopted a child from China.
All the American girls are very well integrated in their families and they get along really well with the Spanish girls. They are becoming very good friends.
Each family is doing different things in different parts of Spain: they are going to the beach, to the swimming pool, to the mountains, doing cultural visits… They really want the girls to have fun and enjoy their stay in our country.
Our Program Coordinator in Spain
This is one of the most unique cultural exchange and heritage tour opportunities available for a Chinese adoptee, and we are the only U.S. agency currently offering this opportunity! To learn more click the banner below!
We are so excited that CAN has received 3 kiddos referrals from HAITI in the past two months!! We’re also thrilled to announce that 4 Haitian children came come home to join their Forever Families!
We cannot wait to see what the future holds for our Haiti Program, and would love to talk with you about the adoption process.
CAN is currently accepting adoption applications for 2019, and we work hard to advocate for all of our children!
Please contact Becca, our Haiti Case Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more info or schedule a call!
We’re eager to speak with you and to bring more amazing kiddos home!Read More
Connecting children with their cultural heritage can be so helpful for children and your family. A great place to start is at home, and what better way than to host an exchange student!
Meet The Vitek Family!
Hosting Unai was a family decision that we made because we wanted a role model for our 6 year old son and we could not be happier with how everything turned out! Unai, was more than just a role model, he really was another family member!
Unai was a great student and had no problems adjusting to high school in the US. We were worried about how well we would be able to communicate with each other, but his English was very advanced and we had no problems. We would work on homework all together after school and always had dinner together at the end of the day. He really just meshed with our family so well. Unai was into skateboarding, surfing and skiing and was even able to teach our son how to surf after a few trips to the beach!
We have learned so much from Unai over this past year. Mainly that we have a lot of love to share with others and we are more than willing to share with the exchange students that stay with us. Our son has learned a lot too. He can speak a bit of Spanish now and is more willing to try new things. I think Unai opened our hearts to hosting and showed us the huge impact personal connections make.
Mrs. Vitek, host parent with Student Ambassador Exchange
Hosting an exchange student is a great way to connect over shared and new experiences. Students come to the US to study at a US public high school, and live with host families. These students are ambassadors in their host communities. Students are encouraged to share their country, and culture with their host family and their community. Plus, Children of All Nations offers its own program called Student Ambassador Exchange so you can work with the same CAN team members you already know!
Students are from nations all over the world and are between 15-18 years old and have a wide variety of interests. Students are selected for the Student Ambassador Exchange Program based on their academics and comprehensive English abilities. And Host Families can host for a few months, a semester or a full school year, so there are options that work for your families.
Meet the Exchange Student and fill out an obligation free application to see the student’s full, unblurred profiles!