Our Story

Here at CCAI we have a little tradition—when each staffer hits an anniversary milestone, he/she shares their “CCAI story” with the rest of the group, and/or what makes us feel proud to be part of the CCAI family.

Well, I recently had a turn at the front of the room, as in early May I celebrated my tenth year here at CCAI.

As I reflected on the past several years in preparation for my annual address, I realized that there isn’t a single story that can adequately summarize my time here at CCAI, or express my joy and gratitude to the families that have allowed me to walk with them in their adoption journey. Instead I realized that my story is made up of their stories, and together, they form our story . . .

To date, one of my most memorable moments at CCAI occurred on June 15, 2004, when I was able to make my first match call! Jerry and Kimberley of Tennessee were the lucky recipients of my call that ended with the first viewing of their daughter’s beautiful face, an image I still can recall by memory today:

Jerry & Kim's angel referral picture

I remember they were THRILLED to finally be able to see their angel’s face, and were so happy to do so—almost a year earlier than they had expected! They waited 6 months from LID until match day. Like all parents who finally get to see the face of their little one, they couldn’t wait to get on the plane to bring her home!

Today, I’m happy to say that Savannah (now ten years old) is doing well, and as energetic and busy as her initial referral paperwork indicated (yes, I still remember!). She’s been onstage in several productions (quite the thespian!), plays harp, has a pet sitting business, and enjoys swimming, bowling, hiking, climbing trees, and rock climbing. She wants to be an ornithologist when she grows up, and so is learning all about birds as well. Here is the latest photo of her (isn’t she beautiful?!):

Jerry & Kim angel girl

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Another favorite story of mine is from TJ and Renie of Texas, who I worked with to put their dossier together. (They were quick and had it done in about 4 months!) On June 27, 2005, I got to call them and introduce them to their daughter, whom they’d eventually name Kacie:

TJ & Renie babygirl referral picture

I followed their story even after our call, and celebrated with them (from afar) on Gotcha Day. And every year since then, on the anniversary of that special date, I am delighted to receive a note from the family with a photo (or two!) and update of “our” little girl (who arguably, is not so little any more!):

TJ & Renie big girl

TJ & Renie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the fall of 2005, I worked with Chris and Carla (here in CO) through a somewhat difficult dossier process. (In fact, my infamous “dossier train” analogy to explain the sealing process was born during this time!) The family stayed in touch even after their dossier was done, and visited our office often during their three year, one month wait for a referral, attempting to stay connected and hopeful. I still remember when Carla emailed me in spring of 2009, excited that for the first time ever, she could see more than her daughter’s back in her dreams—seeing her face was, in her mind, a definite indication her referral was soon on its way! And sure enough, a little over one month later, I got to present the file of this little angel to them:

Chris & Carla little angel

Ciara is now a (kindergarten) graduate! She loves to play with her older siblings but also doesn’t mind taking charge of things at home as well. She is an “old” soul, who responds to life with wisdom beyond her years!

Ciara kiddy graduation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of the biggest benefits of working in the Dossier Department is having the opportunity to work with families adopting from countries other than China as well. I have LOTS of memories from working with families adopting from Haiti, however one of my favorite families began the process in the summer of 2009. They were matched to twin boys from one of our partner créches and I was lucky enough to travel with them on a bonding trip that fall. After the earthquake hit in January 2010, they were able to bring home not only the twins, but a young girl who had also captured their hearts during their previous trip.

Now, Joshua, Joseph, and Hope are all thriving at home, and make up half of the family’s six children, including two biological kiddos and one adopted from China. Jake offered the following update on the kids:

“Josh is reading on his own and is always thinking. He’s the kid who is emptying dishwasher and sweeping the floor before most everyone else is awake (partly because he knows he can’t play video games until chores are done!). But he takes initiative and works to reach the goals he sets for himself.

Joe has been one of the leaders of his class this year. Along with Josh you can’t put any sort of ball within 10 feet of them before they have it and are kicking/tossing/rolling/bouncing it. He has a great sense of humor. He’s also always thinking and is usually planning two steps ahead. His current way to demonstrate this is to get really good at making his older brothers and sisters really frustrated. So, he’s either going to become a really fast runner (to avoid getting pummeled) or he’s going to learn to put these skills to good use by entertaining and making friends of his enemies!

Hope’s teacher this year said that in her 8 years of teaching Hope was one of her favorite students of all. She has really overcome some fairly big hurdles. Last year she truly hated going to school, partly out of frustration with math. Her end of the year math score this past year was 90%. She’s looking forward to being a 5th grader next year and one of the kids ‘in charge.’”

Josh, Joe, and Hope

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matt and Jenny started the process for a non-special needs child in late 2010, and got their dossier sent off to China in early 2011. We had a very difficult time securing a home study with the broad approval language CCAI requests, as the family’s home study agency warned them we were simply wanting the broad language so as to “brainwash” them into accepting a child with special needs down the road. We laugh about this now, because as certain as they were about adopting a non-special needs child from China, the broad language provided them flexibility and in late summer 2011 Matt and Jenny fell in love with a boy with malformed feet/hands on our website, and knew that he was meant to be theirs! They immediately submitted a dossier copy to China (leaving their original dossier in line in the traditional program) and brought sweet Benjamin home in early 2012!

Here he is now, 3 ½ years old and over three feet tall. His dad recently noted, “Benjamin has grown since we met in Zhengzhou. He’s grown from the sick little boy so obviously full of fear with night terrors to match, to a wonderfully happy ‘big boy’ at ‘free’ years old speaking incredibly well, and shrieking like a wild child in delight when he sees mommy or daddy pick him up from preschool. Ben is simply awesome! He’d tell you smiling is the best thing. Ever.”

Benjamin

I look forward to receiving word of the family’s next referral (will it be a brother or sister for Benjamin?) as the time comes!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These are just a few of the stories that make up the pages of my CCAI story, which continues to lengthen on a daily basis. (We’ve sent over 7693 dossiers since I’ve been here — and with active programs in Haiti, Latvia, and Ukraine, that number continues to grow!) I am forever indebted to ALL the families who have trusted me to walk a portion of their adoption journey with them and allowed me to support them in their all-important paperchase.

I also want to extend a special thank you to all of the families featured here who so generously allowed me to share my history with them to the greater CCAI family. You all are what make my time here at CCAI so special!


Kim's bio pic

Kimberly Elstun is CCAI’s Dossier Department Manager. Mother of three crazy boys and lucky enough to be married to her best friend in the entire world, she just celebrated her 10th year with CCAI!

Older Orphan Summer Hosting a Success!

Partnering with P143 (www.p143.org), CCAI launched our Older Orphans Hosting Program this year to enable some older and special needs orphans, ages 6 to 13, to live with a loving family in American for four weeks and experience the love and fun of a family.  Nineteen children from Zhengzhou and Luoyang orphanages were the brave pioneers this summer and, during their four-week stay, these kids experienced culture shock, learned to eat and enjoy American food, had tons of fun at parks, swimming pools and zoos, enjoyed playing with their host siblings, shed lots of tears for their friends and foster parents in China, and even threw some fists when things did not go their way! 😉

P143 hellos

Michelle from P143 and Xia and Sheila from CCAI worked extremely hard every day to provide support to the wonderful families and all of the kids who were trying their best to communicate their needs to their host parents.  It was truly a great and capable team.

P143 goodbyes

All of the kids and chaperons said their sad goodbyes and left the USA on July 24th to return to China safe and sound!  The children know they are very much loved and prayed about for their lives and future.  We truly hope that some of the children one day will find their forever families and cannot wait for the children coming for their hosting adventures this winter!

2013 China Adoption Statistics

News Item One:

According to the newly released National Civil Affairs Annual Report by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, a total of 21,399 children were adopted in China in 2013 – 18,147 domestically and 3,252 internationally.

News Item Two:

Adoptive Families magazine recently released their 2013 survey results on Adoption Cost Distribution between programs and agencies around the United States. Below are their numbers for the China adoption program.

 

Adoption Cost Distribution – China Program

Adoption Cost

$20K – $30K

$30K – 40K

40K – 50K

50K+

Percentage of Agencies

39%

42%

16%

2%

The average total, all-inclusive, and no-hidden-charge fee and cost to adopt through CCAI is about $27,000. We are very proud to continue to be the best and most affordable China-focused agency in the USA. Your dream deserves the best and we are thrilled to provide nothing less!

2014 Summer Adoptees Giving Back Orphanage Service Trip Returns

From the desk of Adopteen (www.adopteen.org/news.aspx)!

The second ever Summer AGBOST (Adoptees Giving Back Orphanage Service Trip) wrapped up last night as all 25 travelers made it home after a delay and an unanticipated overnight stay at an airport hotel. Oh the joys of travel!

It was definitely hard to say goodbye…We feel like we’re kind of just floating in and out of life right now, wanting to go back and see the kids and hang out with eachother forever…

Not much more can be said about that. We really really love eachother.  The children we worked with at Shenyang Orphanage stole all of our hearts!  A couple of the older kids we got to work with are about to be adopted and we were SO happy to know that.  You have to meet these kids…they are all so incredible and inspiring. We go on this trip thinking we’re going to change the lives of these children and help the orphanage, but, after all of it, it’s hard to say who’s helping who. Being with the children, seeing what their lives are like, and having them run up to you giggling…it definitely sets your priorities straight. It’s unlike anything in the world.

The Summer 2014 AGBOST group was made up of 25 adoptees who together raised a grand total of $8,000+ for Shenyang Orphanage and the children!  We definitely set the bar very high.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our trip and supported us on our journey!

If you would like to look at some photos of the Summer AGBOST, you can search #AGBOST2014 or #AGBOST on Instagram.

Thank you to Amy, Art, Lily, and Janelle for so awesomely and fearlessly leading and guiding us!  Thank you to Lisa, Vivian, Tang Laoshi, and all of the amazing Shenyang Orphanage nannies and teachers for your mentorship and guidance as well!

All Yours,
Summer AGBOST 2014

It looks and sounds like the Summer AGBOST volunteer group had an amazing trip!  We can only imagine how life-changing a trip like that can be for them!

If you would like to learn more about Adopteen and their Adoptees Giving Back Orphanage Service Trips, please visit their website at www.adopteen.org.  CCAI and Adopteen coordinate two AGBOST trips every year for Chinese adoptees, ages 15 and up!

Be sure to join Adopteen’s mailing list to receive news as soon as the service trip dates and locations for 2015 are announced!