CCAI Texas Reunion

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CCAI families in the great state of Texas gathered at Cameron Park in Waco on Saturday to celebrate the blessings of international adoption.

Cameron Park by the Brazos River is especially beautiful this time of year. Kiddos enjoyed the splash park, children’s games and a delicious BBQ lunch before taking a walk through the nearby zoo. For the full story, check out the article on our Facebook page.

Do you live in a different state and would like to coordinate your own local CCAI reunion? Let us know! We would be happy to work with you!

Our story of adoption

Tom and Nancy

When we were married, we knew adoption would be our most likely route to parenthood. We talked with friends, co-workers and family members who had adopted children domestically and internationally from several different countries. We got wise counsel from a Catholic deacon and his wife who had adopted three children and who conducted workshops for couples considering adoption.

In the end, we chose–or better the Spirit led us–to adopt a child from China. Many prayers, a nearly 6 inch stack of paperwork and 2.5 years later, we returned from China with our handsome son Michael.

2016-water-slide-two-boysWhen we were ready to adopt a second child, we wanted Michael to have a brother from China. Nearly all the Chinese orphans being placed overseas now have special needs. As older parents with no medical training, our options were limited. The Lord led us to David, a seven-year-old boy with alopecia (no hair), rough skin, vision problems and other manageable issues caused by a rare genetic abnormality.

With the help of the Adoption Clinic at the University of Chicago, David’s medical 2016-easter-two-boyscondition has improved in the year that he has been with us. With medicated creams, powerful eyeglasses, lots of love and good nutrition, he is growing, learning English at an amazing rate, doing well in school, playing sports and adapting to family life in the US.

The transition wasn’t easy for David at first, though. He spoke virtually no English and had been in a pre-school program at the orphanage in China. First grade was a challenge for him and for the teachers and aides. Nevertheless, he came home after just a few weeks in school with a drawing of our family (Dad, Mom, two boys and a dog) with the words “Thanks for my new family.”

We didn’t adopt children to get praise or store up graces in heaven. We simply did it because we felt it was the right thing for us. Adoption was the way that a childless middle-age couple became a family. And now, we hope that we can guide these two young boys to be good, loving, caring, responsible people… and that we will have good health and live long enough to see them grow to adulthood.

-Tom and Nancy

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CCAI 24th Anniversary

4i1a9883Yesterday we celebrated our 24th anniversary here at CCAI. We couldn’t have done it without you!!! Thank you so much to all of our families, and all who have stood beside us in our mission to bring hope to children, one orphan at a time.

Check out our photo album at: https://www.facebook.com/CCAIfamily/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1188049477924633

An adoption dream come true

When we were introduced to and asked if we would be interested in adopting another child, we said we would be interested in reviewing his file. Nothing in his file was particularly worrisome, but we were very concerned about the financial ramifications of adopting again so soon—especially since we were still dealing with Landon’s kidney transplant issues. So we ended up turning the file down. When we were sharing this with a friend, they asked if the biggest thing stopping us was the finances. We said yes. Our friends told us perhaps they knew of someone who could help us financially… they would speak to him. We emailed CCAI frantically and asked if we could have more time, which we were granted. My friends contacted their acquaintance and we spoke to him on the phone. He committed to helping us bring our matched child home, but he needed to first see we were 100 percent committed to adopting him.

On Tuesday of this week, this wonderful stranger flew from Florida to Minneapolis on business, and last night we met for the first time, went to dinner and had a fabulous time. At the end of our meal, we went outside and he asked us to wait for a moment. He came back from his car with a rolled up piece of poster board and had us open it. As you can see, he has raised and committed to funding $18,000 dollars to bring our child home. This kind individual flew from Orlando, not on business, but to present us with this awesome gift. There are some true angels in this world!

-The Scheideggers

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Charity coordinator extraordinaire: Xia Zhong!

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Xia wears many hats at here at CCAI. Bilingual and possessing much knowledge of Chinese culture, Xia is vital to our staff. She leverages support to CCAI’s China charity offices and is an important resource for orphanages and officials across China. She is the liaison for CCAI’s charity work and oversees the entirety of the Lily Orphan Care Center operations! Here is an abbreviated summary of Xia’s many hats:

China charity staff supervisor

  • Director of charity offices in Beijing and Hangzhou
  • Direct supervisor of 92 staff members in China

Orphanage liaison

  • Builds and maintains relationships with orphanage staff and provincial officials
  • Encourages orphanages to report children’s files so they become eligible for adoption

China charity program director

Hosting program (REGISTRATION NOW OPEN) China liaison

  • Directs orphanages in preparing paperwork for hosting (arranging for passports, etc.)
  • Coordinates training workshops for chaperones and children in preparation for their hosting trip

We are so grateful to Xia for all that she does here and abroad for CCAI and children in need!

Chicago Consul General Hong Lei pays visit to CCAI

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On Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, Chicago’s Consul General Hong Lei stopped in to see us at our headquarters in Centennial, Colo.

Lei was previously the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry in China and has been in his new role at the Consulate for approximately one month. Lei expressed this was his first stop on his trip to Denver and that this visit was very important to him because, through CCAI, “There are so many American families joined together with China.”
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When addressing the staff of CCAI, Lei said, “I’m very proud of your important task and meticulous efforts. You have set up a very important bridge between China and the US to bring kids into families.”

The consul general says he hopes to attend CCAI events in the future.

You can read more about the consul general at http://www.chinaconsulatechicago.org/eng/.

Update on Shu

Shu’s guardian that has been hosting him in the prep and recovery periods of his surgery sent us this update. So glad the Lord has placed Mandie in Shu’s life. She writes:

SURGERY:

The surgery was successful. They revised a few things in his right eye, removed stitches, assessed for possible rejection, and gave him an injection in that eye to halt the beginnings of rejection that were showing there. His vision was also assessed and it is recommended that he begin wearing +3 lenses in his glasses asap. I’m waiting for an appointment to get these ordered and in the meantime he is wearing big grownup reading glasses for school. They are cumbersome, but he’s a good sport and is tolerating them. His left eye surgery was successful as well. Currently he has a lot of stitches in that eye (16, I think) and they said his vision may be blurry. We are seeing him show much more interest in smaller details of drawing and building with Legos. He can also see distance with his right eye (for example when we are driving, he calls out “red light…stop!” or “Green light…go!” appropriately.

He will have a follow-up appointment next week where we will discuss his next glasses, therapies, and recheck his right eye for overgrown vessels (a sign of rejection). In the meantime, the very best thing we can do for him is let him be a kid. He spends hours each day just playing with my kids and learning social skills, jumping on the trampoline, playing with the dog. Every outing is a sensory learning experience for him. He watches English and Chinese cartoons on the iPad and plays several games specially designed to enhance visual acuity. Because we’re with him every day, it can be hard to realize how much he has grown and changed since May, but when I took him to the hospital for surgery, the Child Life Specialist who worked with him last time broke down in tears multiple times because she said she hardly recognized him. He was a “completely different child”. The nurses and doctors could not believe how much he was talking, expressing needs, showing willingness to reason and try new things. That was really encouraging for me to hear.

DEVELOPMENT:

He seems to be developing in English and social/developmental skills at about a preschool level currently. His interest is mostly in baby toys and colors/counting/parroting everything we say. That being said, he impresses us daily with his intelligence and willingness to learn. Many of the autism-like behaviors he was exhibiting back in May have completely disappeared and he is slowly gaining more and more appropriate social skills. He has a very strong will and gets angry when he doesn’t get his way, but is also reasonable and has learned how to ask forgiveness and “make things right” when he has conflict with his “siblings”. We’ve noticed that he likes predictability and routine, so he has a set schedule that he follows at home, regular chores and responsibilities that he loves to complete, and likes knowing what to expect as far as where we are going and whether or not we will eat when we get there. 😉 

His favorite American foods so far are: bananas, yogurt, bread, and ice cream, but he’s a great eater and never turns down a meal – even when it’s something new. He has shown a great ability to form healthy attachments. So far he has not exhibited good skills at interactively playing with other children, but is good at side-by-side play and every day we’re seeing him desire more and more interaction with peers.

SCHOOL:

Our local public school has been such a gift to our family over the last year. They know us well and when I went to them and explained Shu Wei’s situation and needs, they were thrilled to be able to accommodate him. They have a vision specialist on site who is working with him 4 days/week to give him the skills he will need to function in the vision-impaired world. He will begin learning Braille, which seems very wise. Even though his vision will likely continue to improve over the next several years, the fact that his pupils will never be reactive to light means that his eyes may be at higher risk for vision loss as he ages. Because of these surgeries, he will likely always have more vision than he would have had otherwise, but everyone I’ve consulted (including his prospective adoptive family and their local school for the blind) believes that even highly functioning vision impaired individuals should learn Braille, just as people who can hear/lipread still benefit from learning sign language because it connects them to a community in which they can find like-minded friends with similar experiences. There will also be a mobility specialist coming to the school to help him learn to not only navigate the school functionally, but also to teach him skills such as walking and scanning his environment for obstacles. Right now he only looks down at a 45 degree angle when he walks, so he often bumps into things at eye level, so they’ll work with him on those skills and may even teach him to use a cane – something that could help him navigate very bright outdoor environments where he tends to struggle most, relying on the cane to judge the ground so his eyes can focus on what’s ahead of him at eye level, people’s faces, etc.

He absolutely loves school and drives us crazy all weekend asking to go back to school “tomorrow”. When I asked him what his favorite part of school was, he answered in Chinese, “Teacher and friends.” The school loves him and has really come together to work at record speed to accommodate him quickly. They are excited to see his potential and help him grow and develop while he is here. My hope is that beginning in school while he is here will help even more with his next transition.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for this precious boy. We love him dearly.

 

Hosting testimony; Hosting to give hope

“Hosting for us came soon after we’d returned home with our recently adopted daughter. We were working hard on attachment while trying to maintain balance with our other children. Even in the “crazy chaos” of that period, I still had a strong desire to help another child. Adoption wasn’t an option at that time but I knew there had to be something else we could do. Late one night, I stumbled on the hosting website. It also happened to be on the day the photo listing was released. I called my husband over to show him, knowing in all probability he would veto the idea of hosting. He took one look and, somewhat surprisingly, said, “Let’s host!” After looking through the children, he pointed to our host son and said, “We can get him a new prosthesis, make a difference in his everyday life and I know you can find him a family.” That sealed it for our family and our mission was set, to get our host son a new prosthetic and a forever family.

Gill 1Immediately, I started connecting with the limb difference community to get prepared. I started writing letters to hopefully get a grant for the prosthetic. I found a wonderful prosthesis company about an hour from our home that was willing to make the prosthesis at a lower cost.  Thanks to the First Hand Foundation for their generous grant and to Thomas Lizotte and his team at Washington Orthotics and Prosthesis, we were able to get our host son a brand new prosthesis!

In addition to this wonderful opportunity to replace his crude, outdated and ill-fitting prosthesis, we had a wonderful time with our host son. His favorite thing to do was put together puzzles. Once all my toddlers were in bed, he and I would try conquering a new puzzle together.  When he first arrived, he was happy to complete a 100 piece puzzle. One day he asked if he could try a 300 piece puzzle. By the time he left, he had put together a very difficult 500 piece puzzle and was beaming from ear to ear! I found a 1000 piece puzzle for him with pictures of famous American monuments to take back with him after hosting.

Our final goal for him also came true when a wonderful woman contacted me with interest in our host son’s adoption. She is a sports instructor for kids with varying abilities and her boys are close in age to our host son. We were thrilled to take part in so much life change for our host son. His willingness to open up and attach to us coupled with his courage to accept a brand new type of prosthetic leg was inspiring to all who met him. He has a very bright future ahead of him.”

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Hosting testimony; Hosting to advocate

garland“Our month of hosting had its ups and downs; steps forwards, steps backward and many eye opening experiences and self-revelations. We learned so many things. While looking at the hosting photos, we noticed this tall boy with a sweet smile who was about to age out. We wanted to help him before that happened. We started advocating for him right away, speaking at churches and getting the word out any way we could. We were sad that no one really seemed too interested in committing to his adoption. We couldn’t understand why, but hoped that eyes were opened and hearts were stirred for orphaned children. Just a few short weeks before he arrived, we were contacted by CCAI telling us a family in another part of the country was interested in meeting him! In the days leading up to his arrival, fear set in. fear of the language barrier, fear that he was a teenager (something we had no experience with). What were we thinking? Then again, I could not imagine what was going through his head! Once our host son came through security, we all quickly learned to use the translator on our iPhones and iPads. We were so proud of how our boys included him in everything. During hosting, our host son was able to Skype with the interested family. It became very clear that this family was perfectly orchestrated. We were at peace. This family, who plans to move forward, has thanked us over and over again for the opportunity to get to know him. That is what hosting is about! Many families host for the reason we did, to advocate and to help get the kids exposure. These kids are wonderful!  Each one brings their own history and brokenness, but each one has a family waiting for them. I believe that! All children are worthy, let’s help put an end to the word ‘orphan.'”

Hosting testimony: Hosting to advocate

“Hosting was never on our radar. We have three biological kids and one adopted with special needs, so our house is plenty full and lively. Most of my concern with hosting centered around the kids who didn’t end up getting adopted. It seemed unfair to bring them, give them the experience of a family only to return to the orphanage without the hope of getting a forever family. When God led us to host, I was shocked and tried to turn my back. One day, I was skimming through a blog about China’s Waiting Children. I had read these child descriptions many times in the past and always thought the same thing: “How sweet. I hope someone adopts that child.”

This time was different. When I read Fu’s story, my heart started beating out of my chest and I felt an instant connection. I was sitting in the living room with my family and I tried to shut the computer, but my husband noticed… then my daughter noticed and suddenly I was reading his short story to my family. I assumed my husband’s response would be: “How sweet, I hope someone adopts that child.” Instead, he smiled and said let’s pray for him and see what happens.

Before I knew it, our daughter came to us with all of her savings saying she felt we were to host him and wanted her money to help bring him here. It turns out we had very little time; the deadline was fast approaching, but God provided every step of the way. That sweet boy we chose for hosting did arrive and captured the heart of our family immediately. My opinion of hosting changed very quickly after I realized what an impact having him in our home would make. Hosting is not just about what we teach them, but about what they teach us. No longer did I doubt the importance of bringing him into our home, even if for only 4 weeks. The hosting experience was a priceless experience. We were so impacted; I now see the value in the host experience for everyone involved. Finding Fu was one of our family’s greatest joys.”gipe 1