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In addition to this wonderful opportunity to replace his crude, outdated and ill-fitting prosthesis, we had a wonderful time with our host son.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

Hosting testimony; Deciding to adopt!

“Having adopted five times through CCAI, we believed we were finished adopting. We then began receiving emails regarding CCAI’s hosting program. Realizing that many of these beautiful children were considered to be “unadoptable,” I knew hosting might be their only opportunity to have a “you matter” moment in their lives. Although we had planned to do other things in the upcoming summer, I found it hard to make plans for anything else as long as I knew these children were out there needing our help.  My heart won over and we applied to host a 12-year-old young man. It was all so surreal to greet him at the airport and simply take him home with us! I am so use to greeting these children via adoption, which takes miles of paperwork before you can call them “yours”!  But yet, at this moment of greeting our host child at the airport, Josh made a quick introduction and then said, “You are free to go!”  Such fun!!!!

Hosting was magical!  Here we were, responsible for this little guy who came from nothing. He was polite, helpful, funny, and a pure joy! Food differences and communication were part of the experience, and just giving him love was enough to break those barriers! To watch this little guy experience “firsts” was amazing.  We tried to expose him to many “fun” things as possible, but it was the little things really… like the time I realized taking him through a car wash would be a treat!  The look on his face as the brightly colored soap devoured the car was priceless!

Hosting was a life changer for us and our little guy!  There were times I wondered if he was homesick or even bored with his experience as we spent life as we typically spend it, which was filled with mundane tasks such as getting kids back and forth to summer school, sports activities and doctor appointments.  However, it was when his China chaperone called him to remind him that he would be returning to China soon, that enlightened me beyond words.  His reaction of pure and raw grief verified just how important this hosting program is. Although it was an extremely heartbreaking moment, I knew that our hearts had met and bonded. I knew this little boy would carry this with him forever… that he was adored, loved and that he was special.

Dave and I had absolutely no intention of adopting again. We did not go into the hosting program to adopt, but once again, to let a little one KNOW he/she is special and to send a message for him/her to never EVER forget how beautiful they are. However, this little boy had such a huge impact on us and through much guidance, thought and prayer, we made the decision to bring him home. His grief as we departed and my grief as he left our home sealed his fate. He will be home forever and ever, and it is my hope that one day he can share his story over and over and perhaps be able to help those left behind.

Thank you CCAI for this wonderful, wonderful experience and for helping these most amazing children!”

Thank you, Mimi!

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A very special thank you is due to a part of our CCAI family: Mimi.
 
Mimi is not only a CCAI mom of two beautiful sons, she is also a long-time and dedicated CCAI volunteer. As a well-known mural artist, she contributes to CCAI’s charity mission by going to China and decorating Lily Orphan Care Centers with incredibly beautiful wall murals that delight children and caretakers’ hearts.
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This summer she responds to CCAI Joyous Chinese Cultural Center’s need by once again, showcasing her artistic talent. The splendid Chinese garden and magnificent Chinese dragon she painted add authenticity and life to our cultural center. We can’t wait to unveil the new mural to our students next month.
 
If you want to volunteer at CCAI or JCCC, please contact us at mail@ccaifamily.org.

Shared List buzz

As you may know, the “Shared List” is a CCCWA-maintained electronic and secure listing of adoptable Waiting Children with identified medical conditions, viewable by all China adoption agencies around the world. New files are added to the Shared List all the time, and while many of these children are matched sooner or later, others with more significant conditions or outdated files continue to wait…  and wait… and wait… on the Shared List with little to no chance for a family.

Over the years these “waiting” children’s files have continued to accumulate, reaching upwards of 2,000 files, and most have not been updated since they were originally posted. Recognizing this challenge, the CCCWA has decided to give these children another chance by dividing some of their files among four US agencies (including CCAI) and charging these agencies with the task to obtain updated information and network with other advocacy groups to find forever families for as many children as possible.

CCAI has received over 400 files so far from the provinces of Henan, Jilin, Sichuan, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang, Liaoning, Zhejiang and Shaanxi. Right now we’re working hard to request and process updates as quickly as we can, and we’ll be posting their files on a rolling basis as new information is received. We are more than happy to share these “former shared list” children’s files and updates with any agency or qualified family, and we are absolutely willing to transfer a child’s file to another agency for a committed family.  🙂

We applaud the CCCWA’s diligent efforts to persevere in finding a loving family for these children who have been waiting for so long!

From Your Adopteen Team: Adopteen 2016 Summer Report

Adopteen’s 2016 summer schedule closed out with one last hoorah this past weekend with the 2nd Annual Adoptstronauts Weekend Retreat. This year has been an amazing journey for all involved, with exciting new developments and splendid fun had by all.

4I1A1788The summer’s first Adopteen Camp-Conference marked another important milestone – our first international conference!  From June 30-July 4, 2016, Adopteen explored the Great White North in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Though it was a smaller group at 4I1A1774just 37 campers (representing 15 states, 13 provinces and two countries ranging from age 13-21), we had all the fun of a bigger group, while also being able to take the time to bond more as a team. Campers had the chance to visit popular sites around the beautiful city of Vancouver during a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, as well as visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Workshops included History of Adoption, Self-Confidence, Dance, Friendship Bracelets, Tie Dye and Survival 101. Fantastic conversations were had, amazing milkshakes were drank, dancing and laughing happened and we’ll be missing Vancouver always.

4I1A2592As soon as we got back from Vancouver, it was time for the Summer Adoptees Giving Back–Orphanage Service Trip (AGBOST) in Anhui! This 10 day trip from July 13-23, 2016 was Adopteen’s fourth summer trip, and we brought 25 travelers along with two chaperones to volunteer for the children of Hefei City Children’s Welfare Institute.  Travelers ranged in age from 15-21 and represented 13 states and 10 provinces (with 7 coming from Anhui Province!). Before they even stepped foot in China, this group of travelers made AGBOST history with the most money ever raised for a province–over $9,000! This money was used to purchase 10 industrial washers, three widescreen televisions, and two large refrigerators. The remainder of the funds were dispersed amongst other Charity Fund 4I1A3705projects and orphanages in need. For five days–an entire work week–travelers volunteered with the children in the orphanage, ranging from toddlers to teenagers. As always, each child has made a lasting impression on all of our hearts that we will never forget. We are so thankful to the amazing staff at Hefei City Children’s Welfare Institute for their never-ending kindness and generosity.

4I1A4577Washington, D.C. and Georgetown University provided the perfect backdrop for an amazing week at the second Camp-Conference of the summer from August 37,2016.  70 campers representing 34 states, 16 provinces and 2 countries, ages 13-21 joined us for a hot, humid, spectacular time. We cruised on the Potomac to spend some valuable time with the riverside monuments, as well as visited the National Mall for a “choose your own adventure” style day with museums and sights galore. On campus, we played Adopteen’s version of Mario-Kart (balloons, all the balloons), had some friendly team competitions, 4I1A4591showed off our talents during the Adopteen Talent Show and hosted workshops including: Cooking, Ballroom Dancing, Self-Confidence, Personality Tests, Self-Defense, Tie Dye and Adoption 101!   D.C. was amazing–a very genuine and special thank you to our fantastic volunteers in the area is due. We could not possibly have done it without you!

The 2nd Annual Adoptstronauts Weekend Retreat, our final event of the summer, was a beautiful and relaxing overnight in the mountains of Colorado and a perfect cap to the season. This was a quick opportunity for our adoptee friends over the age of 18 to meet up with one another and connect for the year.  Attended by eight adoptees age 18-24 and led entirely without Adopteen staff (huge thanks to Claire Deskin and Jenny Trenchard, who coordinated the entire event!), the night was full of good food, conversation and a dash of Adopteen fun.

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Thank you again to everyone that made 2016 special for Adopteen. We made huge strides and cannot wait to get started on yet another year of life-changing programs and meaningful fun. Look out for our entire calendar of events for 2017 by the end of September, including:

  • the 2nd Annual Adopteen Fundraiser
  • Adopteen Midpoint
  • Adopteen Camp-Conferences
  • AGBOST
  • Adoptstronauts
  • 2016-2017 AdopTween!

Are you on our mailing list?  Email info@adopteen.org to receive all the latest news and updates from the Adopteen team!

CCAI celebrates achievement of summer intern, China adoptee

Maddie receives a certificate of achievement from Lily and Josh for successfully completing her summer internship with CCAI

Maddie receives a certificate of achievement from Lily and Josh for successfully completing her summer internship with CCAI

Staff Spotlight: Maddie Holland

Position: Post Adoption Intern

 

How did you connect with CCAI?

I really wanted to work for the adoption agency that I was adopted through, but when I started doing research, I found out they had gone out of business. I was really upset, so I asked my adopted friend’s mom what I should do. She told me CCAI was a really good agency. I wrote a letter to their Director of Adoptions, who is a certified social worker. I felt a connection to her because that’s what I’m going to school for. I told her my story and asked if CCAI offered any internships. She wrote me back and told me that I had the job.

What is your story?

I was abandoned as a baby and raised in a foster home. Where I’m from, and in the more rural parts of China, I personally think that a lot of foster parents just foster for the money and don’t really care about the kids. I was abused.  When I was 11, I went to live in the orphanage and was so happy. I made friends there and began to get comfortable. It was the most stable environment I had known, especially because so few adoptions of older kids like me were going through. In attempt to find more of us homes, the orphanage took my peers and I to a CCCWA (the government agency that oversees adoption in China) camp for older kids.  They invited American social workers to come get pictures and video to share with prospective parents. Each child prepared a song or poem to perform and it was recorded. As I was up on stage, I began to cry in the middle of my performance. The pressure was so great because I knew my only shot at finding a family very well might depend on my performance and I feared that no one would want me.  A few months after I turned 13, I started to panic because I knew I was going to age out if they couldn’t find a family for me soon. I was worried, so I wrote another letter. This time I wrote to someone at the CCCWA. I told her to hurry up and find me a family and begged her to do it soon. I also told her that China held no future for me at all. She wrote back and told me she would try, but offered no guarantees. I am so thankful for the reality that I wasn’t aware of at that time; that there were people out there who wanted me. My parents saw the video of that performance and said God spoke to them and told them that I was meant to be theirs. They filed their paperwork as soon as possible and the orphanage told me that I was going to be adopted.

Were you excited?

Yes and no. I knew that this would be my only chance at having a decent life and felt like I should be grateful because my wish for a family finally came true, but I had a lot of anxiety about leaving the orphanage I’d been in for the past two years, especially because all my friends were there. That really was my happiest place from my childhood.

How was the transition to the States?

HARD. My parents were nice, but all I knew how to say in English when I was first adopted was yes and no and a heavily-accented thank you. I didn’t know how to communicate my emotions and needs and honestly, I didn’t even know how to express myself in Chinese either. I became really rebellious, which was my childhood go-to coping mechanism.  My parents were patient with me, even though it was frustrating on both of our ends not knowing how to communicate. We had a lot of arguments and attachment issues, but we survived after years of struggling. I thank God every day for their commitment to provide; I would never be where I am today without them. I now look back and think I made things really difficult for them, but I’m so thankful they were understanding and loved me anyway.

Did you go to public school?

Yes, and that was really difficult. They didn’t even have an ESL (English Second Language) assistant there when I first started so I just sat in classes and didn’t have a clue what was going on around me.

When did it start to click?

The second half of my sophomore year. I finally began to understand entire conversations and that’s when I really started trying in school. I started making friends and things got better from there.

Where do you go to school now?

I’m a junior at the University of Missouri.

What was most rewarding about your internship with CCAI?

Helping other kids who are in the same boat that I once was in. I was able to speak with many older children that were either adopted recently or in the hosting program this summer. Their families didn’t know how to help them and called our Post Adoption department and I was able to speak Chinese to the kids and share my story and hear theirs. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but it was so rewarding. For the hosting kids, a lot of times they just listened, but their parents said it really helped. For the recent adoptees, it was my privilege to be able to hear their stories and share my stories with them—to let them know this is a long adjusting process and that they are never alone in this.

What are your career goals?

I want to work for an adoption agency–hopefully CCAI–and be a social work mediator between the US and China.

My parents and I standing at my abandonment place, Temple of Heaven, days before we flew to my new home in the States

Maddie standing with her parents at her place of abandonment, Temple of Heaven, days before they flew to her new home in the States

2017 Heritage Tour dates announced

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ANNOUNCING THE 2017 HERITAGE TOUR SCHEDULE!

We are thrilled to announce the 2017 Spring and Summer Heritage Tour schedule as well as our Winter Tour scheduleAll China adoptees of any age travel FREE for in-China tours!

Spring Schedule:  April 9- 19, 2017

Summer Schedule:  June 11-June 21, 2017 & July 16-July 26, 2017

Winter Schedule: December 24, 2017- January 3, 2018

 

Some incredible highlights of the 2017 tours are:

  • China adoptees of all ages are FREE for in-China tours!
  • Ten days and five spectacular cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Guilin and Yangshuo.
  • Visit the mystical CCCWA (formerly CCAA), climb the Great Wall, tour the Forbidden City, be awed by the Terra Cotta Soldiers, hold a giant panda, cruise the poetic Li River, enjoy wonderful Chinese cuisine, and much more!
  • Includes all in-China air/train tickets and ground transportation, hotels, park entrance tickets, and most meals during the dates mentioned for each tour (Panda hugging in Chengdu costs extra).
  • All of this for $2,099 per non-China adoptee adult (12 or older) and $1,599 for non-China adoptee children.
  • Optional visit and tour to your child’s orphanage is available before or after the main tour (additional costs apply).

Online registration is available on our website at www.ccaifamily.org/heritagetour for all four tours! 

Note: In order to benefit from the free Chinese adoptee in-China tour package:

  • Adopted Chinese children must travel with their own parent(s).
  • Each adoptive couple (both traveling) can bring up to three Chinese adoptees
  • Each single parent can bring up to two Chinese adoptees

These tours are open to everyone: CCAI families, non-CCAI families, your friends or relatives.  So please spread the word!  Over the years our Heritage Tour family has grown to include adoptive families from countries other than the USA as well – the more the merrier!  If you are a FCC chapter member in your area, please help us get the word out to FCC communities.  Thank you!!! 

For any questions about the upcoming 2017 tours, please feel free to email heritagetour@chinesechildren.org or call 303-850-9998 x 48.