When my husband and I first began our adoption journey in 2013, it was hard to know where to start. We were interested in adopting internationally, but we were not sure which country would be a good fit. We knew that most international adoptions were now special needs, which—to be honest—seemed a bit overwhelming, but the more we learned the more we felt sure that international adoption was right for us.

Two adoptions from two different countries later, we now know a lot about international adoption, and we are familiar with the different types of special needs adoption. Throughout our journey, we had moments where it felt like we were wandering around in the dark, grasping to figure out what our children needed and attempting to draw conclusions from the information we had in their respective referral files. A lot of our decisions were leaps of faith, and we wouldn’t change them for the world, but we do wish we had tapped into the international adoption community sooner or connected with a program like Gladney’s Superkids.

Erin Martin1

Superkids is a program that started in 2007 within the Asia Waiting Child Adoption Program of the Gladney Center for Adoption. The program was started as a way to provide pediatric therapy for special needs children in Chinese orphanages. In the past 13 years, Superkids have increased their work to include other medical and child development specialists who, together, have worked to change the lives of 1,700 children at 12 different orphanages throughout China. In 2012, the program expanded to provide the same loving care to waiting children in Taiwan.

In addition to providing aid to waiting children in need, Superkids works as a child advocacy program. What is so unique about Gladney’s Superkids Program is that it allows prospective adoptive parents to connect directly with a waiting child and to learn more about that child from Superkids team members. Typically in intercountry adoption, a prospective adoptive parent will work with an agency, receive a file of a waiting child from that agency, and then make a decision based on photos and observations on that child from the orphanage staff in the child’s country of origin. What is different about Gladney’s Superkids is that Superkids team members visit the orphanages, interact with the children, and record videos and write blog posts to advocate for those kids. These interactions allow for prospective adoptive parents to chart the progress of a child, see how she or he is responding to various interactions and specialists, and allows for the prospective adoptive parents to be better prepared for when their child finally comes home.

Kelly & Kenss

As an adoptive parent, I can say firsthand how important this information is as it can be overwhelming when a child first joins your family. Between attachment issues, jetlag, missing medical information, and navigating life as newly adoptive parents, I remember our first months as a family as being particularly challenging. We felt like detectives trying to piece together the story of our child’s first few years and felt anxious about his respective progress. If we had worked with a program like Gladney’s Superkids, we would have had the benefit of gathering impressions from U.S.-based pediatric professionals who spent time over one or more visits with our child.

Gladney’s Superkids Program routinely hosts information sessions on waiting children, and incredibly, they have been able to continue their advocacy even during the current global pandemic. Earlier this week Erin Martin, an adoptive mother and Superkids team member, appeared on Facebook Live to advocate for a 3-year-old boy named Kash who is in institutional care in Taiwan. Erin traveled to Taiwan and met with Kash in November 2019, and she was able to speak firsthand about the kind of care Kash was receiving, the caregiver-child ratio at his orphanage, and the progress Kash had made since her last visit. As Erin relayed, she has worked with Superkids since she began her own adoption journey over ten years ago. In that time, she has witnessed the closing of some intercountry adoption, such as in Russia, the end of partnership agreements between agencies and orphanages in China, and now a global pandemic. Throughout it all, Gladney’s Superkids have adapted, found new ways to meet the challenges they encountered, and continued to meet the needs of waiting children in China and now in Taiwan.

Gongzhan Wu1a

In 2018, Gladney’s Superkids expanded to a hosting program that allows prospective adoptive parents to host children from China and Taiwan for one to two weeks over the summer. These hosting opportunities are a great way for a prospective adoptive family to get to know the prospective adoptee, and many host families turn into forever families. In 2019, the program expanded even further to create Ai Xing Da Shi, China’s Loving Heart Ambassador program, which allows prospective adoptive parents to visit waiting children and to learn more about their prospective adoptee firsthand from the caregivers and staff at the child’s orphanage.

Whether you are just thinking about international adoption or have felt called to build your family through adoption from China or Taiwan, Gladney’s Superkids Program is a terrific resource and a great way to make a difference in a child’s life. And the best part is that Gladney Center for Adoption can walk you through every step of your adoption journey from home study and dossier assembly and submission, to matching and travel, to meeting your new family member, and to supporting you through your first year home and beyond.

Interested in learning more about Gladney’s Superkids Program? Contact Gladney’s Superkids team (superkids@gladney.org) for further information or check out the Superkids blog to learn about the amazing kids whose biggest special need is love from a forever family.

Nancy Dobson4aa