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

CCAI Co-Founder Joshua Zhong to Appear on Denver’s KLVZ Radio

photo

CCAI President and Co-founder Joshua Zhong sits with Jennifer Chase, host of the “Reinvention Radio Show” on KLVZ Radio dial setting 810 AM.

To honor National Adoption Month coming up in November, and to celebrate families through adoption, CCAI co-founder and President Joshua Zhong will be the guest during tonight’s Reinvention Radio Show with host Jennifer Chase on Radio 810 AM KLVZ at 6:00 pm. Tune in and hear Josh share his personal story about his road to founding CCAI, learn about CCAI services and how through all this, 12,000 orphans lives that have been changed forever.

LISTEN LIVE (Wednesday Oct. 21st at 6:00 pm)
RADIO: dial setting 810 AM – KLVZ
ONLINE: www.810klvz.com

** KLVZ will replay the interview with Josh Thursday, October 22nd at 10:00 am

Staff Spotlight: August Anniversaries

11696378_809718249144029_2327139295792334915_o
Phyllis

This month I celebrate my first anniversary working with CCAI working with kids, culture and art!

Through a casual conversation with a Chinese Language teacher while I was substitute teaching, I was suddenly hurled into teaching calligraphy to field trip groups visiting JCCC, which eventually morphed into what my job is today. It’s crazy how fast time has flown by!

From designing a huge paper cutting in the JCCC lobby and turning hundreds of toilet paper rolls into a replica of a traditional tiled roof to teaching traditional Chinese Brush Painting and meaningful moments sharing my knowledge and experience with students and families, I’ve been grateful for the opportunities to work as a cultural educator making an impact on the community around me, sharing my love of art and Chinese culture with everyone.

CCAI and JCCC have been treasure troves of meaningful memory-making and a truly special second family. I’ve only grown more passionate about my work in the last year, and am looking forward to many more great adventures!

PHYLLIS CHEN | Director’s Assistant at JCCC

 

Staff Spotlight: July Anniversaries

ALLISONALLISON MINER – BULGARIA, LATVIA, UKRAINE PROGRAM COORDINATOR

As the mother of 2 adopted children, I have been a huge advocate of adoption for many years. It has always been my belief if God puts adoption in your heart, then He has a child for you! After working over 30 years in the corporate world, I was fortunate enough to begin working for another adoption agency with the hopes of being able to work in infant adoption. However I was asked take over the Latvia/ Ukraine programs, and since then my passion and my commitment has been for older children adoption!

A year ago, the agency I worked for closed, and I got a call from CCAI – “Would I be willing to join the CCAI family, and continue the Latvia/Ukraine Programs here?”

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since I joined the CCAI team; it’s gone by so fast! So many incredible things have happened – the adoption programs in both Latvia and Ukraine have continued to grow and we opened the Bulgaria program in January 2015. I have been given the opportunity to travel to Latvia and Ukraine, and meet the teams in place over there. We have matched several waiting children in our Bulgaria Program. I have met wonderful families through our partnership with Project 143. I have discovered that every single CCAI staff person has the heart and passion to serve our adoptive families in their journey to be a “Forever Family”!

I am grateful to Josh and Lily for letting me be a part of this organization. In the past year we have almost 110 “older children” in the Bulgaria/Latvia/Ukraine programs be in the process of coming home soon, or have already come home to their forever families. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!


NANCYNANCY BYINGTON – ACCOUNTING MANAGER

I joined CCAI as the Accounting Manager, at the end of July of 2012. I believe that Family is the most precious asset a person can have and all deserve; so to work in this atmosphere every day is just something that can’t be beat.

My biggest contributions to CCAI over the years was to streamline the payment process for our families, by initiating an on-line payment system and working with Thomas He (IT Director) to create links for our Charitable donations, the Joyous Chinese Cultural Center and for all adoptive families to log-on to our website and make a payment and/or donation at any time day or night!


AMANDA PALMER – CHINA SPECIALIST

I joined the CCAI family last year because after majoring in Chinese and Economics, traveling to China several times and working at an environmental NGO in Yunnan province, my love for China has continued to grow! My passion for China adoption also stems from both my love of Chinese culture and language, and my previous years of experience working with families and children as a teacher.

I truly have enjoyed working with each child’s file and learning about the personalities and characteristics of these unique children. CCAI offered me the perfect opportunity to mix my passion for children and my love for China. Every day I look forward to working with our loving adoptive families and passionate staff here at CCAI. I am so thankful to Josh and Lily for having faith in me to do this amazing job!

One of the most memorable moments I’ve had with CCAI by far was my first match call and creating a new forever family! It’s things like making match calls as well as getting to work with our wonderful families, getting to see all of our adorable children, and working with the amazing women of the Waiting Child Program that make this the best job I could ever ask for!

Staff Spotlight: June Anniversaries

JaimeI had been working for CCAI for about a week when I first heard the Chinese Proverb about the invisible red thread:

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.”

I remember thinking that it was a really sweet thing to say about adoption. I had no idea that 10 years later, this proverb would affect me so profoundly time and time again. What started as a nice sentiment has grown into a daily exercise in faith, hope, motivation and perseverance. In ten years, I have been blessed to witness many amazing adoption stories, but the ones that have always stood out to me are the little details that ultimately had profound reverberations. The twists and knots that may have seemed like the end of the road, that ultimately connected so perfectly, the people that needed each other the most at that time.

I’ve witnessed this thread connect people that turned grief to peace, confusion to clarity, isolation to inclusion, and a shortage of resources to an abundance of knowledge.

The miracle that is this thread is a daily reminder of the significance each one of us plays in another’s story. Making a positive difference in the world isn’t a bad way to spend your day and for that, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this organization and to our families for trusting me to care for and sometimes untangle the thread wrapped around me.

Sincerely,
Jaime Chmielewski
CCAI Georgia Director
ccaiga@ccaifamily.org


 

HANNAH-ANNIVERSARYI am so thankful to have been able to celebrate my 3rd anniversary at CCAI on June 1st!

The last 3 years, for me, have been filled with moving stories and character-building circumstances. Most importantly, I have found a continual growing conviction in my spirit that every child in this world deserves to know the love of a family.

Prior to joining CCAI, my professional, academic, and personal experiences had instilled in me a deep appreciation for world cultures and advocacy. It has been at CCAI that this appreciation has increased and developed into something much greater. Every year, I am more thoroughly convinced of the necessity for bold voices in this world to speak on behalf of children that have been overlooked and devalued. I am proud that at CCAI, we are one of these resolute voices and resilient advocates!

Thank you to my co-workers at CCAI; Your commitment is incredible! Thank you to Josh and Lily; Your determination is inspiring! Thank you to each of our CCAI families; You will never know the immense effect of your love and commitment! I am honored to be able to be a part of each of your stories.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

Hannah Curry
CCAI Travel Specialist

travel2@ccaifamily.org

Staff Anniversaries in May

This month, we’re celebrating Kimberly Elstun who manages the Dossier Department, Kathi Sundrup who oversees “Other Country Adoptions,” and Cathi Velez who is the CCAI Florida Office Case Manager. Each of these outstanding ladies are celebrating their anniversary with CCAI and have each written a little about themselves and their time here!

Kathi and Kim

OCA Program Coordinator Kathi Sundrup and Dossier Department Manager Kim Elstun.

Kimberly Elstun
This month, I am proud to celebrate my ELEVENTH year at CCAI—can you believe it?! As I completed my undergraduate studies in Sociology with emphasis in Peace & Justice Studies at Regis University, I felt a calling to explore beyond my own backyard and traveled to several countries on the other side of the globe. Of all the amazing countries I visited, China stole my heart.

After an internship in the adoption field and several personal experiences with China adoption in particular, I found myself at CCAI. As a nerd at heart, supporting families through the ups and downs of the dossier paper chase is something I find not only intellectually stimulating, but emotionally satisfying as well. Each family has their own unique story and I am truly blessed to play a part!

I am very grateful to Josh and Lily for giving me the opportunity to pursue my passion with such a wonderful organization, to my amazing coworkers who make each day at the office one of great love and spirit, and all the families who have allowed me to support them in this incredible journey—you each fill my heart and have made the last 11 years so memorable!


 

Kathi Sundrup
I have been with CCAI for 14 wonderful years and currently work with “Other Country Adoption” families. I have two beautiful daughters of my own who are from China and were adopted through CCAI.

Besides working with my families and helping them through their adoption process, one of my favorite things to do is to help the Waiting Child Department, making calls to waiting families about a child who needs a family. It is the highlight of my day when a “match” is made!

In the time that I have been at CCAI, one of my favorite memories is helping a special family bring home their critically ill “little miracle” daughter from Uganda. It was probably the best example of how well the adoption process can work when everyone has the same goal; good-hearted people bringing a child to her family as fast as possible. It is experiences like this that let me look forward to coming in to work every day, knowing that I have a part in helping children and their families through their adoption journey!


Cathi Velez

CCAI Florida Office Case Manager Cathi Velez.

Cathi Velez
I have been with CCAI for one year, as of May 30th. I have a passion for adoption (all three of my children are adopted and I grew up with foster siblings) and was taking a three year break from my career to spend time with my three children. My youngest was starting kindergarten so I was looking for a part time job, when a friend in Colorado (one of my CCAI travel group- all of whom I love dearly!) mentioned a part time job at CCAI in Wesley Chapel.

Since I am a CCAI parent that had a great experience, I applied. And I’m sticking around! I love helping families adopt and seeing children find their forever families.

My favorite memories are talking to and meeting so many of the families and rejoicing with them when they find their child. I have also loved promoting CCAI at various events and sharing what we do. I look forward to meeting so many of the children that I have prayed for along the way and I am excited to meet all the rest of the CCAI crew at the reunion in June!


 

We all want to thank each of these incredible women for their years of dedicated service to all of our families at CCAI. We are so grateful for and blessed with all they do!

Help us celebrate them! Leave your well wishes and happy messages for these wonderful ladies below!

CCAI Interns Say Good-bye

Interns

(from left) Jordan, Elyse, Mari and Reyn.

Every day, CCAI works passionately and diligently to make sure your adoption process is as smooth and worry-free as possible. With the number of families we get to work with and all of the great events and projects happening in our office and around the world, we are always so grateful for our fantastic team of intern volunteers! Unfortunately for us, their time with us this year has come to an end.

Each of our interns have come from different backgrounds; however, it was their shared love for adoption that brought them to intern at CCAI. “Adoption is one of the least talked about, but one of the most important aspects of parenting and [we] wanted to gain a more robust understanding of the entire process,” said Metro State Master’s Candidate Mari.

During their time here, the interns experienced all of the ins and outs of CCAI, helping with everything from Waiting Child Program to Post Adoption and AdopTween to website development! Each one said they learned so much from the CCAI team. “[We] were so excited to come to work every day at a place where there wasn’t a single person who didn’t love their job and came to work with a smile on their face, working to fulfill the mission of CCAI,” said Metro State senior Elyse. “CCAI has taught me how to communicate effectively as a team to meet a larger goal to make a difference in the world.”

We would like thank each of the interns: Elyse, Mari, Jordan, and Reyn for their great work this year and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors! Please come back to say hello, soon!

If you or someone you know would like to inquire about interning or volunteering with CCAI, please call us at 303-850-9998 or email us at mail@ccaifamily.org.

Our Cultural Center Director Receives High Award

YuLiAward

Chinese Consulate General Zhao Weiping from Chicago presents JCCC Director Yu Li with the award for her Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Culture Promotion.

We are very excited to announce that our own JCCC Director, Yu Li, was honored during a luncheon with the Chinese Consulate General, Zhao Weiping, last Thursday in recognition of her Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Culture Promotion!

Yu Li is a 19-year veteran of the Joyous Chinese Cultural Center (www.joyouscenter.org) and has been one of the key players in helping to build JCCC from a single room at the original CCAI office in Littleton, CO to now one of the only Chinese cultural center in the country with its own building! She has taught everything from cooking, games, dances, and language to recording tapes for language lessons and music for Chinese songs.

“I knew from the beginning that our school started out right. We were the only school specifically organized for adopted Chinese children. Our kids have grown up more confident and with role models and friends who look like them. Our school is where kids really discover their roots,” says Yu Li.

My New Perspective on CCAI

Previous Image
Next Image

info heading

info content


IMG_0137BY Sarah Suitter | Asst. Dossier Manager

I love my job; I love our mission and that has been true since my first day at CCAI. But, like any job, the daily grind can sometimes cause one to lose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the daily tasks that my job entails but after going to China, my perspective of what I do here at CCAI everyday has forever changed.

From time to time, CCAI so generously sends staff on adoption trips to observe what an adoption trip is like, to take in the culture, and to see why we are all working so hard. I was so excited when I was told it was my turn to go!

If I could sum the trip up in one word: incredible. I loved all the tours in Beijing, I loved meeting all of CCAI’s amazing China-based representatives, and I loved watching families adjust to their newest family members. Overall, Gotcha Day was what I expected — total, beautiful chaos, kind nannies, brave foster moms, scared tears from upset little faces, happy tears from adoptive parents who have been waiting for this day for so long… But, what I found to be the most impactful part of my time in China was the days to come after Gotcha Day. To watch families over the next week and half of the trip — to see the triumphs, the struggles, the good days, the bad days — made me feel so connected to this whole incredible process.  This is life and this is real and this is love.

I saw this love expressed day in and day out on all sides, but I saw it most intensely expressed by the moms and dads on the trip. It was so powerful to observe parents being, well, parents. Again, more struggles, more triumphs. I saw parents wrestle with how/when to discipline. Do they wait to discipline their child until she understands them and trusts them? Do they start parenting full force, discipline and all, right now? I had (and continue to have) no idea!! I’m sure there are many schools of thought on this. I knew it before, but these families and their hearts made me realize even more so, just how hard adoption really is in so many ways. You don’t know your child’s history — how they were parented (if they were fortunate enough to have a solid parental figure), how they were taken care of day-to-day, what their happiest memory is, what their saddest memory is, why they have certain scars, why they do the things they do, etc. I cannot imagine what those first few weeks of parenting are like, or for that matter what the next 20 years of parenting is like. I’m so glad there are parents who want to rise to the challenge and I admire them endlessly.

What I didn’t expect on this trip was to think about dossiers, but I did! About halfway through the trip, I felt so anxious, thinking, “I should be reviewing dossiers RIGHT NOW! I need to get our families to China IMMEDIATELY!”  I knew my teammates back home had everything under control; but if I was back at work, that would mean one extra person there to get things done!  I couldn’t shake this sudden sense of urgency, a stronger urgency than I had ever felt before!  Of course, I’ve always known it’s important to get our work done as soon as possible, that there is a little life at the end of all of this paperwork, but something about actually being in China, seeing our families in person, seeing the children in person… It changed me and made me see just how important these daily tasks that I do, are and how much patience/love/respect our families deserve in this crazy process!

I had a short but special time with the families I traveled with and got a tiny window into what adopting from China really looks like, something for which I am so grateful! Now I am back at work with a renewed sense of purpose and energy (and with that same sense of urgency I felt on the trip!). I will also never again say, “Your dossier is done! You’ve finished the majority of the paperwork for your adoption process!” since, truthfully, I see now that the ENTIRE adoption process is paperwork (and it continues on your adoption trip and beyond)!

I’m not Wonder Woman and balancing everything that needs to get done in a day still isn’t easy but I can guarantee this … That I will show up every day, completing as much has humanly possible as quickly as possible. I will do my best to keep in mind that despite the monotony the dossier process can sometimes bring (for probably both myself and parents alike!) on the other end of a phone call or email is an AMAZING human being who is courageous and loving and wants nothing more than to bring a child home.

 

CCAI Staff: Sheri Celebrates 1000th Group!

Here at CCAI, we like to celebrate as many milestones as we can — both personal and communal!  Today, on this beautiful First Day of Spring, our Travel Department Manager, Sheri, has officially worked with 1000 groups (3000+ families!)!!!

4I1A9721

Our Colorado office celebrated with a delicious red velvet cake and Sheri wanted to say a quick thank you to all of the amazing, loving, beautiful families who she has had the honor of serving in her journey with CCAI!