Adoptions from Asia … Our Twenty Years of Adventure – and Love

wheelerfamily2014It was in the mid 1990’s when I first heard about the baby girls being abandoned in China; and my heart was so deeply touched. I traveled to China in 1996 to get my baby, Rebekah, who was 8 months old and very malnourished. She was in a loving but very overcrowded orphanage where many of the children were likewise undernourished. It was mid-winter and many of the children were sick.

judypatrickandrebekahOnce I returned home with Rebekah, I told my husband, Patrick, what I had seen. We both felt led to adopt another child but we couldn’t go back to China due to the adoption center in Beijing being reorganized and only childless couples could adopt at that time. An adoptive parent told me to look at Vietnam. Right away we saw our Seth, who was 8 months old, but he had a special need. He was born with a cleft lip and palate which was still unrepaired. My husband, Patrick went to Vietnam to get him in 1997. We saw how correctable with a few surgeries it is. Outpatient surgery is all that is needed to repair the lip and to repair the palate a child is in the hospital only 1 or 2 days.

judyandpatrickandsethThen the door opened up for us to go to China in 2000. Patrick again traveled and brought home a 15 month old baby boy who also had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. What touched our hearts is after we accepted him our agency told us that nobody would have adopted him if we hadn’t. He is now 17 in the Gifted Program in high school, takes college classes and makes top grades in his advanced classes. His dream is to be a neurologist someday for he says the human brain fascinates him.

We later brought home Annalise from China in 2002. She too was cleft affected. Later, Andrew came home from China in 2004. Likewise, he was cleft affected as well. Then Luke came home in 2006 from China, also cleft affected.

We found out that Vietnam – which had been closed for Americans to adopt – had reopened in 2007. Seth really wanted a sibling from his country. I went to Vietnam in 2007 to bring home our almost 4 year old, Caleb, who was also cleft affected. In again, in 2008, I went to Vietnam to get our baby, Jordan, who had had no surgeries on his bi-lateral cleft lip and palate. I remember getting a lot of stares but it didn’t bother me for he was a baby and he didn’t know.

judyandpatrickwithdanielAfter bringing Jordan home, we felt we were too old for babies or toddlers. I started seeing that the older children kept waiting and waiting for families. My heart was so touched. I went to China in 2010 to bring home our 11 year old, Jacob who did not have a special need except for his age. And in 2012, I went back to China to bring home 10 year old Daniel, who had a repaired cleft palate.

At the time, we felt our family was complete with 10 children from China and Vietnam.’ In 2014 we were very humbled and honored when our U.S. Congressman selected us for an award called, “Angels in Adoption”. We traveled to Washington D.C. to receive this award with our children.

I had always been an advocate for orphan children on Yahoo groups. However, for about 2 years I stopped being an advocate. I felt that I had to start advocating again. I joined Facebook in April 2015 of this year. I clicked on anybody to join who had a heart for orphans needing the love of families.

judyandaaronThen, one day in May of this year – 2015 – I saw an “aging out ” boy in China. According to China’s law, once a child turns 14, he/she can never be adopted. I advocated so hard for him but nobody came forward to adopt him. I called several agencies to get their opinion. They told me that there wasn’t enough time to bring him home before he turned 14 on Oct. 25, 2015. Then I called CCAI, an agency in Colorado, which told me that they would try to help bring him home. I had my FB friends to rally around me, and a wonderful agency and social worker, CCCWA in Beijing, to expedite the process, and an “angel” USCIS officer, Brenda Langewisch, who was wonderful in expediting their approvals.

I had a social worker who told me that we could bring home 2 children home, so I saw a 12 year old boy who had wanted a family of his own for many years.

On October 5 of this year, my 15 year old daughter (who was 2 when she came home from China) and myself left for China to bring home our two sons. After I did their adoption process in 2 different provinces we went to Guangzhou to get their Visas at the U.S Consulate. I adopted our Samuel 2 weeks before his 14th birthday. After we arrived home and landed on U.S soil, according to Hague adoptions, our sons were U.S citizens!!! We feel so blessed to have Samuel and Aaron in our family. And, as with the other children in our family, they are adjusting well to their new family, and their new lives in America.