Outstanding Kid!: Princess Katie

Miss Katie was crowned Young Miss Dickson County, as well as Most Beautiful Overall at the Miss Dickson County Pageant earlier this month!  Her mom was one happy and proud mama!

Katie was awarded the title of Young Miss Dickson County 2012, as well as Most Beautiful Overall!

Katie also got to ride in the county’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this past weekend!  What a treat.

Miss Katie got to ride in the Thanksgiving Day Parade! Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, check your pearls, blow a kiss!

Planting the Seed of Hope

In April 2008, CCAI’s co-founder and President Joshua Zhong put forward a groundbreaking proposal to the Chinese government: Make higher education accessible to high school graduate orphans.

It was almost unheard of in China before 2008 that orphanage children would have the chance to receive higher education.  The very few who were lucky enough to enter and graduate from high school had no opportunity to fulfill their college dreams due to financial difficulties and the lack of community support.

Believing that orphans should enjoy the same opportunity and live a dignified life full of possibilities, Josh decided to break the ceiling by proposing and partnering with China Center of Adoption Affairs (now called CCCWA) to launch the Orphan Higher Education Fund (OHEF).  On September 27, 2008, seventeen high school graduates from ten orphanages received the grant from OHEF and entered Changsha Social Work College, the largest social work college in China.  Three years later, ALL SEVENTEEN kids successfully graduated and found their dream jobs, as counselors, social workers, orphanage managers, etc.

The success of this program not only forced the Chinese government and orphanages to re-examine their traditional mentality, but, in the end, also inspired them to see the tremendous impact orphan education would have on thousands of older orphans wandering in the orphanages across China.  In 2009, China decided to take on and expand this life-changing program.  By 2012, over 200 orphans from twenty-two provinces have graduated from college and 120 more new students have been accepted and enrolled into the 2013-14 school year!
Four years ago, CCAI and Joshua planted the seed of hope.  Today this tree of hope is growing strong.

Where In The World Is Joshua Zhong? – Nashville, TN

In all of the thanks-giving, we almost forgot!

CCAI’s Co-Founder and President, Joshua Zhong, just called to tell us he landed in Nashville, TN! Joshua will be speaking at an information meeting at the Catholic Charities of TN, Inc. from 5:30pm – 6:30pm TONIGHT. If you find yourself in the area with a few minutes to spare, please stop by and say hello!

Adoption Awareness Month is coming to an end.  Don’t let it slip by unnoticed!

CCAI Blog Button

This post is for our many families who have their own blogs and are looking for ways to help!

A quick, fantastic way to help CCAI requires only a few clicks of your mouse.  If you take a look at our sidebar, you will see a CCAI blog button with some text code beneath it.  If you would like to display our button on your own blog, all you need to do is:

[Sidenote: CCAI uses WordPress, so this will be explained in WordPress language.  If you are using Blogger, please adjust as needed. If you have trouble, please let us know!]

Step 1:  Highlight and copy the code underneath the CCAI button.

Step 2:  Go to your Dashboard and look under, “Appearance”, in the column on the left hand side of the screen.  Hold the cursor over, “Appearance,” and click on, “Widgets”.  You will then find a list of WordPress “Available Widgets”.  Find the “Text” widget for arbitrary text/HTML.

Step 3:  Click on the “Text” widget and drag it over to the side column, titled, “Main Sidebar”.  Position it wherever you would like it to show up.  On our page, we have placed it between our “Categories” and “Archives”.

Step 4:  Click the drop-down arrow of the “Text” widget.  You will see a “Title:” box and a blank text box.  You may title the widget, “CCAI website,” or, “Visit CCAI,” if you would like, but it is not necessary.   In the blank text box, paste in the text code you copied from our blog button.  Click “Save” and visit your main blog page to make sure the CCAI button is where you want it.

That’s it!

Please let us know if you are having trouble placing the CCAI button on your blog.

Thank you!

Adoption Awareness Month Featured Blogger: Leslie Sharpe, “Difficult Topics”

Happy endings are the goal for all of us, but the experience of being adopted and processing what that means is not always easy.

One of the things I have struggled with as a parent is how and when to talk with my child about the complex issues that have resulted in so many children being available for adoption in China. Issues like China’s One Child Policy and the reasons for its implementation, as well as cultural traditions that go back thousands of years, are not exactly topics of casual conversation with a six-year-old.

So how can we introduce these issues to our children in a way they’ll understand them, and not feel hurt by them?

Borrowing an idea from a friend who adopted domestically, my husband and I approached these issues early on. Our friend had made a book for her nieces and nephews explaining a bit about adoption and introducing the newest member of their family. I was inspired to do something similar and put together a book that featured photos of Petunia, as well as some factual information about China and adoption. We had received our match in early December and were to travel in mid-January, so it fell at a great time, as we were seeing our extended family at Christmas.

We have all probably experienced well-meaning but invasive and sometimes inappropriate questions, so this was in part an attempt to head those off and to make sure everyone was operating with the facts as we understood them.

We have not yet discussed the One Child Policy with Petunia, but we did address it in the book we had prepared for our relatives — writing about the policy’s attempts to avoid another Great Famine, which had resulted in millions of deaths in China in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

A friend’s daughter recently learned about China’s traditional preference for boys from an older classmate and took it quite hard. This was a wake-up call for us.  We needed to tackle the subject before Petunia heard it somewhere else. Fortunately, I had recently purchased the book, Ruby’s Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges. The book, an Ezra Jack Keats Award winner, is a true story about a girl growing up in nineteenth century China. She was part of a large household and was sad that, unlike her male cousins, college was not in her future.

Image source: http://www.chroniclebooks.com

We found her struggles to be a good way to introduce a difficult topic and tried to put it into context by talking about perceived gender roles in the U.S. as well as in China. We also discussed the Chinese tradition that boys take care of their parents in their old age, and how that might contribute to a tradition of more advantages for boys.  Petunia is not alone in her questions, though.  We are all learning as we go and will do our best to figure things out together.

How have you brought up these difficult topics with your child?  I am a firm believer that families formed through adoption should share ideas and information. Please share your ideas on this topic in the comments section below.

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This is a personal post. The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should they be attributed to, CCAI.

Leslie Sharpe is a former counselor and nonprofit manager who blogs at www.kudzuasheville.blogspot.com.  Her dream of being a mother came true when she and her husband journeyed to Chongqing with CCAI’s Group 1111. Petunia is a pseudonym used to protect her daughter’s privacy.

Adopteen Coordinates “Adoptees Giving Back – 2013 Orphan Service Trip”

Yesterday, CCAI’s branch program, Adopteen, launched their most exciting and ambitious endeavor yet!  And what endeavor would this be?  We’ll let them tell you. 😀
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11/12/2012

ADOPTEES GIVING BACK – 2013 ORPHAN SERVICE TRIP!!!

I don’t even know how to express the magnitude of my excitement about that picture right above us. ADOPTEEN IS COORDINATING ITS FIRST EVER SERVICE TRIP TO CHINA!!! It’s happening! In June! 2013! Ahhhhhh!!!

We have been talking and planning and playing with this project for so long, it feels like a dream to finally be able to announce it and introduce it to the world! We are STOKED.

So what is this, “Adoptees Giving Back – Orphan Service Trip”?

Adoptees Giving Back is a never-done-before opportunity for a group of 30 Chinese adoptees to join Adopteen’s Co-Directors, Art and Amy, on a 12-day service trip to China to volunteer their love, time, and efforts to orphans living in four different orphanages! The trip is exclusively for adoptees and you must be 15 years old or older to travel. There is no upper age limit.

There is a lot more to know before applying to join the trip, so please visit www.chinaadopteen.org to read over the Adoptees Giving Back – Orphan Service Trip Information page, look over the trip itinerary, and check the FAQ’s!

IT’S ALL VERY EXCITING! We cannot wait.

Those interested must apply in order to be considered.  Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received – a.k.a. if you’ve got your heart set on going, you’ll want to submit your application as soon as possible.  30 is a very small number.

Applications must be submitted by February 28, 2013, at the latest.

Visit www.chinaadopteen.org to APPLY NOW!

What? Adoptees Giving Back – 2013 Orphan Service Trip
When?  June 16th-28th, 2013
Where?  Beijing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, China
Why?  To reach out and give back love and care to those who need it the most.
Who? Chinese adoptees, 15 years old and older

I really hope you all are as pumped about this as we are.  We have been waiting so long to make this happen.

We await the amazing applications with bated breath.

~Adopteen

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There you have it!  Straight from the belly of the beast.  This trip is an incredible opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We are so happy for Adopteen and hope you all do consider applying to be a part of such a great trip!  Travel with purpose, as they say.

Adopteen will also be hosting one of their fantastic camp-conferences in Fort Worth, TX come January 19-21, 2013.  Everyone’s invited!  It is yet another great Adopteen event you won’t want to miss.  More information regarding the Adopteen Camp-Conference in Fort Worth, TX is available on their website www.chinaadopteen.org.  Here’s the flyer!

Come one, come y’all

Where in the World is Joshua Zhong?: Big Lake, MN

To celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, CCAI’s President Joshua Zhong will be flying around the country a bit, shining that charming smile of his, doing his part to raise awareness about adoption, and encouraging people to become involved in the adoption community.  This past Sunday, Bethany Christian Church in Big Lake, MN, invited Joshua Zhong to speak with its congregation on God’s heart for orphans.

Joshua used the opportunity to share his personal stories on how he feels God has been using him, his wife, Lily, the team of CCAI staff, and thousands of families to bring homes, healing and hope to over 10,000 abandoned children. “A church without an orphan ministry is not a complete church; a Christian life without caring for orphans is spiritually inadequate.”  Joshua challenged individual believers to reach out to orphans around the world one way or another through prayers, advocating, financial support, mission trips, foster care, and ultimately, adoption.

Josh with Jim and Jean’s eight beautiful kids from China!

Jim and Jean adopted eight children with special needs from China and were one of the many CCAI families in the Minnesota area who took a special trip to see and support Joshua at the service.  Pictured above is Joshua with Jim and Jean’s eight incredible children!

Thank you everyone for your support!  Our special thanks go to Amy and Joseph Krambeer who arranged all the logistics for Joshua’s trip, and to Amy’s extended and very loving family members who prepared all the delicious cookies for the after-service social.  Yummy!

Wyoming Adoption and Foster Care Alliance Conference

This past Saturday, November 10th, Judy Winger, CCAI’s Director of Adoptions, joined a group of adoption professionals with adoptive & foster care families for the 3rd annual Wyoming Adoption and Foster Care Alliance Conference in Casper, Wyoming!  The conference welcomed over 70 adoptive and foster parents and families who joined professionals from 4 different adoption agencies.  The day provided an opportunity for professionals & adoptive families to share their knowledge and experiences in adoption and foster care, with attendees seeking information to guide them through their own “Journey of Adoption and Foster Care.”  Families all had amazing stories to share about their own adoption experiences, helping other families seeking information and education to be well prepared and successful with their own adoption story.  Families helping families!  It’s always a great thing to see and be a part of.

Though only a day long, it was a day chalk-full of sharing and learning.  CCAI is so happy we could be a part of such a great event!

Outstanding Kid!: Kathryn

My husband, Tom, and I were members of CCAI’s Group 53 in July of 1997.  That July, we adopted our daughter Kathryn from DB Orphanage, China.  We will forever remember our wonderful trip through China on our journey to adopt our daughter through, in no small part, the efforts of all of the wonderful members of CCAI who helped make her adoption possible.  Kathryn was 17 months old when she joined our family and is now an amazing, bright, kind and compassionate 16 year-old who continues to amaze and delight us daily.

Kathryn has excelled in her every effort and has achieved many successes in her young life.  She has now become a student and the University of North Texas through a program called “TAMS.”  This program is the Texas Academy of Math and Science and is open to students by invitation, only after a rigorous application process, who have excelled in their high school academics and want to advance their studies in the areas of math and science.  Kathryn has long aspired to become a doctor, so this program is a perfect medium from which she can begin her higher education.  When she graduates from TAMS, which is a residential program at UNT, she will have amassed 60 hours of college credit, in addition to finishing her high school curriculum.  Yesterday, a local newspaper, the Cross Timbers Gazette, published an article about Kathryn’s accomplishments.  I have attached a copy of the article for your information.

Needless to say, having Kathryn in our lives has been a blessing we could never have imagined had it not been for the help of Lily, Josh and all of the caring and professional people at CCAI.  We will be forever in debt to your wonderful organization for all you have done to bring Kathryn into our family.  May God bless you in all of your endeavors to bring children into loving homes with parents who will provide them with the future they would never have otherwise known.

Thankful for you all this holiday season.

Norma and Tom,  Proud Parents of Kathryn

Adoption Awareness Month Featured Blogger: Leslie Sharpe, “Dreaming Big”

I was in my daughter’s first grade class last week when her teacher read, If I Were the President (Dream Big!), by Thomas Kingsley Troupe. It’s a sweet book about all the cool things a little boy dreams of doing if he were President.

Image source: www.amazon.com

The book also gives the qualifications for becoming President. So in the middle of her first grade buddies, Petunia learned that she was the only person in the room that cannot meet the qualifications to hold the highest office in the land.  I had a vague recollection about this from the fuzzy period of my life when I was knee-deep in adoption paperwork. But then I remembered that we had “re-adopted” her in America, giving her an American birth certificate. I hung onto the hope that that might make her eligible, but sadly that appears not to be the case.

When I was working on becoming a parent, this didn’t seem like a big issue. So what if she couldn’t be President? Only a few dozen have ever had that privilege, and what were the chances she’d even want to become President.

But now that I’m a parent, I see that it’s really not about that. It’s about having limitless possibilities. I want her to be able to dream big.

I was told as a child that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be.  That’s one of the most wonderful things about America. And now that we have finally had our first African-American President, that dream seems all the more real to millions of children.

I want my daughter and all the sons and daughters who were born abroad but have found their homes and their families in America to have the same chance. If I had a biological child, her dreams wouldn’t be limited, so why should Petunia’s? She has lived here since she was 12 ½ months old. She is as much an American as any kid in her class.

Except she isn’t. Not while she is barred from running for President. I wasn’t sure if she took in what she’d heard, but while doing her Kids Voting assignment last night for school, she very matter-of-factly mentioned that she couldn’t be President. She has already taken it in and seems resigned to a future of limited possibility.

Petunia learned the Pledge of Allegiance at school this year. And one recent afternoon she decided to write it down. It’s full of first grade creative spelling and was written with a heart full of pride by a little girl excited about declaring her allegiance to her country.

“I pleg aleges to the flig of the younidestaes of amarka and to the rpubek for wech it stas 1 nashin udr god envesuol lerro and justas for all”

Our country is full of bright, hard-working people who love America. And while they share their talents and their labor, not all of them have the privileges that most of us take for granted.

Don’t take yours for granted this election season. Please vote.

And if you agree with me that internationally adopted children should be treated the same as children born abroad to U.S. citizens and automatically granted full rights of citizenship when they’re adopted, please go to Equality for Adopted Children, an organization that lobbies for the rights of adopted children, and join. It’s free!

And if you feel so moved, share this on your Facebook pages and email it to your friends. Your actions will only take a couple of minutes but could help open up a world of possibility to thousands of American citizens.

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This is a personal post. The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should they be attributed to, CCAI.

Leslie Sharpe is a former counselor and nonprofit manager who blogs at www.kudzuasheville.blogspot.com.  Her dream of being a mother came true when she and her husband journeyed to Chongqing with CCAI’s Group 1111. Petunia is a pseudonym used to protect her daughter’s privacy and because “Petunia for President” has a nice ring to it.