Tuesday, January 29, 2008


We have received some inquiries regarding the presence of Mongolian Spots and thought it was important to share the below information with all Gladney Families. Talk to your caseworker if you have further questions!

Mongolian Blue Spots are flat birthmarks with wavy borders and irregular shapes, common among people of Asian, East Indian, African, and Latino heritage. Bluish gray to deep brown to black skin markings, they often appear on the base of the spine, on the buttocks and back and even sometimes on the ankles or wrists. Mongolian spots may cover a large area of the back. The pigmented area has large concentrations of skin cells called melanocytes, with normal skin texture. They commonly appear at birth or shortly after birth and may look like bruises.
Example of Mongolian Spot

Image Credit: Carl Kirton, RN, MA, ACRN, ANP-CS, Division of Nursing, New York University

Mongolian spots are benign skin markings, and are not associated with any illnesses, complications or risk factors. There is no known prevention and they generally fade in a few years and disappear by puberty. Though occasionally they persist into adulthood, there is no need for treatment.

Because Mongolian spots can be easily mistaken for bruises, particularly by well-meaning white people who have no experience with them, they have triggered accusations of child abuse against some adoptive parents. For this reason, it is important to be sure that both your child's pediatrician and the caseworker who completes your post-adoption work record information on the presence of Mongolian spots into their records. You can assist in the documentation of this information by taking snapshots of the spots and providing prints to be included in your child's files. Since you cannot take for granted that everyone will know what Mongolian spots are, it is good advice to have their presence recorded from the start.

An Insider's Guide to Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall of PACT, An Adoption Alliance, 3450 Sacramento Suite 239, San Francisco, CA 94118; phone (415) 221-6957; website: http://www.pactadopt.org. This article may be reprinted by other groups without permission with the source information reprinted as above.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Waiting Game.....

What can I do to make the wait easier? I wanted to be connected, in a constructive way, to the agency that I had come to love and trust, as well as with children. As a physician I was interested in understanding more about special needs children and their particular medical problems. I read everything I could to see where they fit in the overall adoption process. I had lots of questions about what defined a “special needs child” and in particular what were their medical needs.

Shanghai Super kids caught my eye late one night when I was browsing the Internet. My husband and I are one of Gladneys waiting families from China. We knew the wait would be long and tedious. Now that it was a reality and with only a few months behind us, I was wondering how to make it more bearable. We had focused intently on all the tasks of assembling the necessary paperwork. There was nothing left to do, with huge sigh of relief all the paper work was off in flourish, and we had reached our intermediate milestone of a “log in” date.

After seeing the Super kids web site; http://www.superkidscharity.org
I contacted Janet fink fink.jant@gmail.com to ask about her budding charity and offered to volunteer. A month later I was on my way to Shanghai. The Fink led team was returning to Shanghai Children’s Home to further their previous efforts to develop awareness of the importance of normal development physical rehabilitation and physical touch. The orphanage is a stunning place with lush beautiful grounds and well cared for buildings. Walking down the long corridor of the orphanage the first day I was wondering what I would encounter within. The first room we entered I was met by the outstretched hand of a little toddler, sporting a huge smile, complete with a scar of a cleft lip repair. Chatting all the while to me, he lead me by the hand into a room with a huge floor mat where the team had already assembled and had begun their instructions with the caregivers.

The Caregivers were loving and attentive. The skilled physical therapists with us were demonstrating to them simple techniques to improve the motor skills and ambulatory function of the children. Throughout the week the therapists provided both the rehabilitation staff and the caregivers hands on instruction in therapeutic activities aimed at decreasing developmental delay. I worked closely with the medical staff, learning about the children’s medical issues in hope of supporting their medical care and improving their prospects for finding a family to call their own.

While we ride the ups and downs of International adoption process, it is refreshing to know that the Gladney agency has not lost sight of the orphaned children’s well being. Consider lending your support and or time to the Super Kids Team and the Gladney Initiative. http://www.superkidscharity.org/ and http://www.gladneyinitiative.org/

If you have a similar case of the waiting game blues, being a part of raising awareness of orphaned children’s needs is deeply satisfying. They need our involvement in their lives even before they come home to us. There are many more children who may never be adopted, whose lives we can help improve.
Volunteering has made a word of difference for me. I can say I will be involved even after it is my turn for Gotcha Day, because the memory of the smiles of those wonderful children will be with me for a long time.

E. McAleer, MD