Hey guys, Migs here... I'm so excited to have another unique and amazing spotlight lined up not just for today, but for the next two weeks. Please meet the Green family. This amazing family has 9 children, plus 2 in heaven, and as you might have guessed many of these children came into the Green home via adoption. And if that's not amazing enough 7 of the Green kids have special needs. In a way this is a 7 part spotlight, but really this spotlight is about the whole family. And once again I'm excited to be talking about special needs and adoption--such a beautiful combination. And get this, the Greens actually emailed me their spotlight from CHINA where they are picking up their 6th adopted child Calli as we speak. I can't believe they even had time to do this! (super humans?) With them half a world away and extremely busy always, I tried my hardest to get pictures of all the kids and label them correctly, but I'm not sure I did it correctly. (I tried!) Without further ado here's part 1 of the amazing Green family spotlight.
Hello there! We are excited for a chance to share our beautiful children with you! My name is Christianne Green, and I am so blessed to be the mother to nine amazing children in our home and two precious spirits in heaven. My husband, Jeremy, and I are sitting in our hotel room in Xi'an, China, as we answer these questions! We are here experiencing such a beautiful week as we have added the most angelic 12-year-old girl to our family! She is our sixth adoption from China-- all amazing kiddos, all with special needs. We also have three incredible biological children, and together these children have blessed our lives in the most perfect way. Our life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, challenges and blessings, heartache and hope--and we wouldn't have it any other way. Jeremy will answer the questions for part one, and I will take part two. Thanks for taking the time to learn a bit about our family and this crazy, beautiful road we have taken! :)
Miggy: Jeremy, you and your family represent another spotlight first--not just 1 or 2 kids with special needs, but 5 soon to be 7! And most of these children have come into your home through adoption. I am SO excited to talk with you today about special needs and adoption. First, will you tell us a little about your introduction to the world of special needs? Did you have a biological child who had special needs and then decide to adopt children with special needs or was it vice versa?
Jeremy: Our first three children were biological. Jessica had some significant medical needs which had introduced us to the world of children’s hospitals and diagnostic tests. This was an important consideration as we decided whether or not to adopt a child with special needs. We were concerned about our ability to accommodate the additional time and energy these needs can demand from parents.
Miggy: Now perhaps this will overlap with the first question, but will you tell us how you came to the decision to adopt and specifically why and how you decided to adopt a child with special needs?
Jeremy: After our three bio-kids were born, we had two sweet babies who were stillborn at about 20 weeks. Tests showed that Christi had a rare blood-clotting disorder, making it unlikely that future pregnancies would be successful. Soon after this realization, we started to seriously consider adoption. Once we had started the process with our adoption agency, we had access to their “waiting children” list, a list of kids with special needs who were waiting for families. Christi started to look through it, and her heart really went out to several of these special children. After some beautiful experiences and much heartfelt prayer, she and I felt strongly that little Dang Mei Hui (now Elli) was right for our family. Adopting Elli and bringing her home was a beautiful and miraculous experience, which opened our hearts to the possibility of opening our home to even more of these special kids.
Jeremy: OK. They are listed in acquisition order:
Taylor: Our firstborn. Taylor has shouldered much responsibility as our family has grown. He is a joy to be around. His kindness and willingness to pitch in and help out have been invaluable to our ability to adopt so many children. He is incredibly brilliant and a bona fide sports nut.
Parker: With beautiful copper-colored hair and a magnetic personality, Parker is impossible to miss. He is loved by everyone he knows. His charm and charisma make him a fantastic friend. But it is his sweet and sensitive spirit that has been such a blessing to us as a family. His sensitivity to the needs of his brothers and sisters is amazing. And he is always willing and often eager to help meet those needs.
Jessica (Jesi): Jesi is our little sweetheart. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and every time we take her to China, the children there think they have met a Barbie doll. Jesi loves to play with her brothers and sisters, and often creates make-believe scenarios to act out with “the littles.” (The littles is what we call Sophi, Lexi, Elli and sometimes Xander. All are eight or younger. Jesi calls herself “a medium” :)
Jessica(left) and Gracelin (right)
Elizabeth (Elli): Elli was our first adoption. She is a beautiful girl and a joy to be around. Her blindness and severe autism combine to make a challenging combination of needs. She has very little communication with us, although she understands much more than she can say. Elli requires a lot of attention, her own room, and lots of TLC. She LOVES music, and can (and often does) belt out the words to well over a hundred songs.
Gracelin (Graci): Princess Graci (as she loves to call herself) is one special kid! Graci’s loving biological parents knew she was dying. Born with pulmonary atresia, her oxygen levels were near 70%. She had blue lips and nails and her little heart simply couldn’t deal with her condition much longer. So her parents made what was undoubtedly an excruciating decision to leave her at a train station at age five, knowing that her likelihood of life-saving surgery would be much higher in an orphanage than in their family. This proved to be the case, and ultimately their selfless act saved her life. We adopted Grace at age 9. She came home with us and in just over a year had two open heart surgeries. She is doing very well at this point and her prognosis is miraculously good. Graci loves her friends and her brothers and sisters. All of the littles (and the medium!) are constantly asking if they can sit by Graci, eat by Graci, be with Graci, etc. This is largely because of how wonderful Grace is with them. She plays with them, helps mediate quarrels and is generally a wonderful person to be around.
Alexander (Xander): Bundle of energy! That’s our Xander. He loves attention and loves to be loved. He wants hugs and cuddles as often as possible. His fun-loving personality makes him very fun to be with (as long as he can keep his crazies in checkJ). Xander with born with CLOVES syndrome, resulting in large lymphangiomas on his lower body. One of these was just removed in a major surgery in July. You should see his awesome scar from the back of his knee down to his ankle! Both feet are also malformed. Despite these challenges, Xander remains an active kid who loves to run and play and shoot a basketball.
Alexis (Lexi): Lexi is the most un-shy person you will ever meet. As soon as a new person walks into the room, she makes a beeline for them. Being blind, she wants to hold their hand. She will then proceed to ask a multitude of questions. These questions won’t stop until someone tells her that question time is over. What’s your name? How old are you? (She’ll remember this forever and tell other people, too!) Why are your hands rough? Do you have kids? Etc., etc., etc. Lexi is doing well at school, learning braille and mobility skills in addition to the regular curriculum. Lexi has an endearing, sweet, outgoing personality.
Sophi (Sophi): Sophi is pretty much the cutest thing ever. She is four years old and was born without arms and with a missing fibula. This has resulted in a 5cm leg discrepancy. Her ability to do things with her feet is almost unbelievable. She can eat, brush her teeth, color, even comb her hair with her rather talented toes. She is undaunted, wanting to do anything and everything other kids do and wanting to do it on her own. She is loved by everyone who knows her. The urge to scoop her up in your arms is strong when you meet her. I hope she stays this age foreverJ.
Calais (Cali): Sweet, pure, angelic Cali. She has been part of our family for exactly three days. And she is a perfect fit. Cali loves having a mom and dad and has bonded wonderfully well with her sisters Jessica and Graci. Cali loves to please others and has the sweetest smile ever. Cali was born with Spina Bifida. Around age three she started using crutches after a failed surgery. She is now in a wheelchair and likes to use it more like a race car. It is rather funny to see this meek little girl tearing down a wheelchair ramp just as fast as she can. We are SO grateful to have Cali in our family.
Conner: We are still in the process of adopting Conner. He is completely blind, but can play the piano beautiful. We have little information on him at this time, but have seen a video of him on the piano. We are looking forward to meeting him and bringing him home. Hopefully next summer!
Miggy: Tell us a little about the process of bonding with your adopted children while also about learning the ropes of their conditions at the same time? (Perhaps this is a lot to ask in just one question, as I'm sure each child has been a different experience, but even if you just want to choose 1 or 2 children and talk about them--whatever you think will be beneficial for people to know. These are just suggestions, feel free to answer how you want. :))
Jeremy: Bonding with each of our children has been different. Some have taken longer and some have been extremely quick. Xander, for instance, saw us walk into the room where he was waiting, jumped up and said, “Mama! Baba!” And that was it. He was so glad to have a family. With each child there have been unforeseen challenges that have arisen. But they are all very good kids, and we have been able to work together to overcome any issues they might have. In general, it seems that the younger the child is when they come into our family, the quicker and easier the bonding process is.
As far as learning the ropes of their condition, it has mostly been a case of jumping in with two feet. We have known ahead of time of all of our adopted kids’ special needs (except Elli), so we have had time to mentally prepare for and do some research on each of their special needs. The school system has been a great help, as has the center for assistive technology. We are always looking to others who have experience for the expertise and advice on how to best cope with the challenges we face. As I mentioned above, the one child who came to us with an as yet undiscovered special need was Elli. We know she was blind, but we did not know she had cognitive disorders. The lack of communication or judgement capability has provided many unique challenges for us. Things are often scattered about randomly. This is not malicious, but simply because Elli doesn’t know better. And yet Elli is a pure, innocent spirit. She is a joy to be around. As Christi puts it, “Elli is like oxygen to me. I need her in my life every day!” So along with the challenges come great rewards.
Miggy: You have several children with varying special needs, I can't imagine how you manage to do it all! Tell us what an average day in your house looks like. Do you have some tips/tricks/systems to keep everything running smoothly?
Jeremy: Christi and I have a saying. “Every day is a big day!” It seems that every night when we go to bed, we look at each other and say (sometimes with a sigh): “Wow! That was a big day!” We finally realized that the truth of the matter is that every day is a big day. We’re up at 6:45am. Christi works on getting kids ready. I pack the lunches. The three oldest are picked up at 7:25am. Jesi, Lexi and Xander are picked up at 7:45. Elli’s bus comes at 8:30 and Sophi starts pre-school at nine. Christi then has a couple of hours with no kids! This is, of course, assuming that no is sick and staying home from school. This is a rather large assumption. With as many people as we have in our family, odds are that someone will be sick on any given day.
Christi picks up the kids at 3:00 pm, and Elli’s bus arrives at 4:10pm. From that point on it’s a mad rush of homework, dinner, basketball practices and games, dance lessons, scouts, swim lessons, church activities, etc. I try to read to the kids each night before they get tucked in. Getting ready for bed often takes over an hour by itself.
I have the following tip: selectively procrastinate. If it’s not VERY important, don’t do it! You just don’t have time. One way of handling a family the size of ours would be to be extremely organized and regimented. This is NOT our family. We go to the other extreme. Most things are done on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants basis. We make sure to get the essential things done, do as many of the important things as we can, and let the rest fall by the wayside. It works for us. We’ve definitely learned increased patience as we’ve had the incredible opportunity to be parents to such incredible kids!
Thank you so much to the Green family. I think I just realized I have a lot more time and energy than I think I do... the Green family amazes and inspires me. I also love that last tip--if it's not VERY important don't do it! Good advice for everyone, no? Stayed tuned for part 2 next week. Read more about the Greens on their family blog here. Also a family friend started a fundraising blog on their behalf which you can check out here. (What a great friend!) Thanks again Greens! Have fun in China and we'll see you next week.
As always if you or anyone you know would like to be part of our special needs spotlight please email me--or have your friend email me directly!--at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com.
Have a great weekend!