Adopting a Child with Thalassemia From China

hi guys Josephine Bella I’m Josephine viacom a very special guest with me her name is Lindsay Camilleri and she is amazing because I call her the Angelina Jolie of the fellow senior world because she has a son with thalassemia and then she’s adopted a little boy with thalassemia and people ask me was it like to adopt a child with fallacy Mia and there are a lot of people who are interested in adopting children in China and I don’t know if you’ve known this but a lot of children in China actually have thalassemia so I’m going to ask Lindsey to introduce herself and tell us what made you you know think wow you know it would be amazing to adopt a child from China who has Bella see Mia okay thank you for having me so we have currently our children korben who’s 7 KY our adopted son is six and Kali our daughters five so they’re in chronological order now and yeah our oldest son Corbin was born with thalassemia and actually my husband and I had talked about adoption before we were married and it was it was a dream of ours one day but we also wanted to attempt to experience being pregnant and having a biological child we actually had Corbin and kind of explored adoption again and that’s when we really started looking into it and realized the cost and it kind of hindered us from moving forward and we had our daughter Callie and we just long story short just really didn’t feel complete we wanted another child in we pray about it and really just were seeking answers we spoke with a specialist and in peach pear specialist and just try to really think about are we done or do we want another child and adoption just kept coming back to our hearts out of conversations so it’s pretty much then that we were like you know it’s very ironic because when Corbin was first diagnosed I rolled into seven it was super overwhelming for us we were both working full-time and we were trying to squeeze in appointments and get used to this whole new system that required a lot of care in time and we thought how we can’t how can we do this again and then after we had Kali I mean it was funny like we’re in this groove like we’re meant to do this and thousand years our heart and we we just we contacted Cooley’s anemia and said is there any you know children that have thought seen is their way to find out if we can adopt and they put us in touch with a mother who had adopted a child with alsemia and kind of from there we were put in touch with an advocacy group and yeah I mean from then on we just went through those steps to me it’s amazing because like I can see how a parent would be overwhelmed with just one child having thalassemia so how do you manage having two children with maybe even different schedules of going to the hospital and then having a job that’s really it is overwhelming sometimes I mean it’s it’s never if you have disease it’s going great we’re in this routine and then something happens I mean it’s you know things come up hospitalizations and procedures happen we really took a leap of faith and I was part I was full-time and my husband works full-time and when our daughter was born I actually went down to part-time because it was just so much with Corbin and we lived 45 minutes from the hospital that he’s treated at and so it was just a lot of time I mean we coordinating care we thought so when we were thinking about adopting or like we thought can we do this is this going to take up more time you know are we doing can we do it and we’ve been super fortunate the boys are on a fairly regular schedule they transfuse together mostly and we have some random lows where they’re off schedule for a little bit but we’re pretty pretty lucky to get them back together they do a lot of things together a lot of procedures a lot of tests a lot of just preventative follow-up stuff but we do have unexpected stuff that come up and it’s just I mean I would say more than anything it is a lot of time well how did your natural born son Corbin feel about having a new brother with the same illness I mean wasn’t shocking it’s funny because the adoption itself was

shocking just getting used to everything he is one of those children he’s a mommy’s boy and he loves to have my time every day so can you play with me Mommy can you have some time to do where his sister is independent you know I want to do my own thing so week I came into the family it was it was hard for him if he took it the hardest and in the beginning it was difficult but I will say just like having any other sibling I mean you just adjust it’s hard at first even for the parents it’s a lot you’re juggling a trade meet everyone’s needs and this thing for him I mean he got it did not take long for him to get into the Big Brother role again eating all these little kids around and just thinking he rules the roost he really loves it it from a thousand his standpoint honestly there’s been nothing but positive nough I’ve never I’m amazed still that from Kai coming home to just the beginning days where it was traumatizing for him to do some simple things just because maybe it was hard for him in China ever it was a different experience having a core been there a core been saying okay I’ll do my needle stick person and you go next or we’re going to get my blood pressure taken and then you can do it after it’s ok how you can watch me from the beginning days it made everything just really so much easier in Corbin feels like you know and he does have a big role his brother looks up to him and feels like you know it’s he can have Shokai what what’s getting done explain it to him and they really have a great bond now I mean transfusion days I they dubbed themselves the blood brother seriously they have this little thing that call themselves the blood brother so I would say from medically speaking it’s I haven’t seen anything negative we fight over who gets their labs done first sometimes how does her daughter field since she’s not part of that she really um she does not get jealous at all about it I would say Corbin is more I think you know that he’s getting older too and he’s realized England I have to miss school I have to miss some stuff that’s important to me and fun and for transfusions I think he’s had a little a couple moments where it’s not fair and it’s not I mean I don’t know you know I tell him it’s not fair and how he doesn’t have thalassemia and I do and it’s not fair that my sister doesn’t have it and he’s right but Kali she comes along for the ride a lot sister is there she’s at transfusions she’s meeting all his little buddies at transfusions she’s at a point man sitting there in the waiting area so she’s a big piece of his care and um she has never expressed like I’m jealous that I don’t I don’t get to do stuff that they get to do because they do get some special treats because they go through a lot but um you know she’s aware of that we try to keep like the communication open and this is why you know they have a special day or they get a special treat they’ve been through this and we try to really give them all their own time and really even though she’s not you know sometimes our special time might be in a transfusion babe me and the boys but she can get her own special time too and actually the other day when they were arguing Corbin was getting in trouble and I said turn around tell your sister five things that you like about her and the first thing he said you’re a very supportive sister Callie and I almost cried it was very sweet but now he already knows like she says yes support system you tell her that is she’s very important you know just being there for him and it’s a very important role so so far what was the experience of adoption like like how long did it take and you know what were some of the I guess growing pains like if you could give advice to someone else yeah so for us because we went through the special needs program kai was how does adoption was able to be expedited and because we didn’t know that care that he was receiving we didn’t know if he was getting transfused if he was running a little hemoglobin for a long amount of time and we knew that it was critical that he get home as fast as possible so he we were able to expedite a lot of steps in the process with Kai’s adoption so from scratch we started in February he was in our arms in September so is seven months which is a pretty quick process some people even quicker with Allison yeah and other like very hard conditions and stuff that are very serious and it was I will tell you

especially having you know going through pregnancy and that whole nine months it was people say oh it’s almost as long as it’s a pregnancy you know to do it but it is it was hard it was really hard after a few months and I just you know we we asked China if he could be our son and they said yes and we were doing the paperwork and I really really felt like he was mine it was weird feeling you know we were going through the process but it was so hard to know that your child’s in another country and like there’s nothing you can do about what’s going on that day and who is caring for him if he’s okay you know especially with this care it was really hard for me because I knew what he needed and I knew he needed to be home and it was even harder for me there was a lot of Tears those seven months because I that’s his mom I knew what he needed and wanted him to be home so bad so I knew that he was safe and I was reading him stories at night and tucking him into bed and he was getting fed that I was meeting his needs so emotionally it was really hard having a child from China and then he also has they’ll see me and is probably not aware of English I mean what would the what were the challenges when you brought him home and then also brought him to a doctor in America it’s funny because you know it was very difficult to communicate we just learned a few simple Chinese phrases and we in China when we went to get him we um the kids had no problem they just communicate through play and it was like immediate my biological children were watching Chinese cartoons on the iPad cracking up with him and he was talking to them in Chinese and they were laughing like they knew what he was saying it’s pretty funny I mean they had a very quick bond and it was I mean he learned a lot of English from his siblings coming home I mean it was it was an adjustment for everyone for him I don’t it’s hard for me because I don’t know what he’s been through I don’t know you know the trauma the loss and as much as I try to the beginning days were really difficult in the hospital we actually requested a translator and our hospital provided that and it I think it just really depends on a child Chi had a really hard time with the translator she he actually it made things worse so we after a couple appointments we just we just chopped it up and said no we’re not gonna do the translator he was much better we didn’t get information of them but it wasn’t worth it for us so I think we didn’t need to do any additional testing when he came home I mean a couple things we were already doing an MRI so we added on just some some testing some MRI think of his brain just to test and see if his brain was deprived of oxygen from having low hemoglobin for so long we did a bone scan just to make sure that his was appropriate some little things not nothing really invasive weary immunized but for the most part it was straight straightforward I mean we got right into his fallacy Mia care and testing and just retest to make sure we had definitive diagnosis and stuff like that but it was I mean still his nurse says I just can’t believe the child he is today from when he came in because it was it was a lot it was overwhelming no one spoke his language but he just caught it up like I mean he caught on like that he’s doing so well he’s such a bright child and really just I mean he’s super proud too when he he goes in and does his thing at the doctor and they tell him how big he is which he is amazing and so he yeah it seems like a distant memory again he’s it’s it’s pretty routine now and it must have helped so much to have Corbin they’re going through a similar experience tremendously that was I really think it’s eased him into a lot and just for been watching Corbin we learned quickly that if Corbin did it first and he saw his brother do it he knew he’d be okay in the beginning he didn’t have to do a lot of things um by himself because we wanted to get him in right away make sure nothing serious was wrong but when as soon as he started being able to do stuff with his brother it was yeah it helps so much and Corbin still really calms him down there’s been so many unexpected blessings with him he’s the perfect middle man in the middle of County and Corbin the boys bond is amazing but yet hey Mike how are your little besties too so it’s it really is it’s neat to see unfold so if a parent was interested in adopting a child from any country with an illness what are some questions that they should ask the

adoption agency well I would say first I mean it’s like us we were specifically looking for a child without seeing so I was able there’s some to online resources and I was able to go into advocacy adoption on because these sites and you can there’s folders by disease state and if there’s something they really feel like we were comfortable with we may be how to sibling or grew up with someone or a friend or something that we really feel like we’re called to parent I mean you can definitely choose by disease day or give it up and say you know I’m who whatever child is meant to be the I would say even before starting medical insurance is huge when you have a child with special needs it’s costly and it’s tripled not just doubled when we have another job I’ll see me our medical bills are a lot and insurance seems to get work every year and I really think that that’s something if you’re considering a child with special needs requiring chronic treatment chronic disease management expensive transfusions you know procedures that aren’t going away you really look at your medical plan and know what you’re looking at medication wise they copay wise I would start there just because that alone can be overwhelming also the cost of adoption I mean it’s expensive honestly especially internationally we chose international adoption because you know we that’s where a child was and we wanted a child without Xenia um but and it’s rare in the States but there’s a lot of children who need homes in the States and domestic adoption is not I mean you can if you do like foster to adopt you it’s definitely something that you can help a child who’s in need also that doesn’t have a home for so there can be so many reasons and I have friends that I can put you in touch with or them in touch with that have adopted domestically and that’s a lot less costly but yeah I would say those are the two most important things and then I mean really when you contact an agency we were all new to this and once we found our child we had to start looking for an agency and then you’ll start to see fees and have to there and you go through a major background check so you’ll know if you’re able to adopt a child if you have a type of mental illness you might be excluded there’s certain things that you have to really know you do have to get physicals and all this stuff and documentation so they look at your salary they look at a lot of these things so you’ll know if I mean you definitely they thoroughly know that you are capable of adopting before you’re even able to so I would say and there’s a lot of advocacy sites out there and that that are just as simple as Google and then once you get a little more information you can you can get passwords and stuff then see children different countries are very different so different processes are different in our requirements China we yes we met our son in China and it was we chose to bring both of our children we wanted it to be a family affair and did you go to China to take him home we did in some countries require you to go visit the child and have like so many consecutive visits China you do everything get all your approvals we were able to send him things but not actually meet him until until we’re officially adopting him so when we went there his nanny from the orphanage brought him to the hotel a few nannies and we basically just did some paperwork and they the child stays with you for 24 hours overnight and you finished the next day and it’s very um the court case serious the next day you go in and you know you say that I love this child forever and I’ll never neglect them and it was it I mean you you have 24 hours to make that decision which I came to this country to bring it home baby though I mean it was yeah it was very like scary just because we’re in place we don’t know we didn’t know what to expect I was like hyperventilating before he came in he was late I’m like what if they bring me a different time but it’s just such an inspiring story and I think that um a lot of people will be fascinated by it thank you no I really just want to say too I feel like people who have thalassemia no matter what type of thalassemia I think that even now my biological children say they want to adopt when I say how many kids do you want when you grow up Kali says I want one from my belly and I want to adopt one from China it’s um I would say if you have thalassemia I

really think that if you chose the adoption route that you would have this bond with your child that no one else will be able to have because I will never you know truly understand what they go through like they do and I think as a mother it’s I have I have a friend who is has seen in her adopted daughters do and they just I really think have this unspeakable bond and they’ll always get it they’ll always have someone to lean on and to be able to be real you know and really get what you went through your whole life and I think it’s something special a special opportunity now that especially being in America and having the health care that we have I when we first started looking at no idea that China was had just this huge population of thousand people I mean I know was it it was rare here but I didn’t know there was a stigma attached to give me blood and they couldn’t get blood because no one was giving blood and you know they forced their military to give blood and then I mean it’s crazy the stuff that I learned through this even kind of now he’s a wonderful rambunctious boy and he says I don’t feel tired because I get my blood and we come to us I mean he took four hour naps every day at 4:00 and he really knows like he feels different and he knows that you know his care is great so I feel like I just feel like it wouldn’t even be more special if he had you know that that to share so I just think about seeing in population its if they didn’t feel like it was something that they want to look I do I’d be happy to help and I’m not a pro by any means but I have lots of friends who who’ve adopted also that are advocates and know the ropes that could help and there’s lots of resources out there there’s lots of funding too so I would say even though it is costly especially if you want to adopt internationally there’s a lot of help too I think that that’s basically most of the questions that I’ve been given by other people or things that I’ve read on our support network so thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story did you have a Webster personal website I have a blog and I do blog a lot about thalassemia panting that was seen yeah yeah it’s cami clan CA mm I see LAN at all right so thank you again