The Tanis Family Adoption Story – From Taiwan to China and Back

Tanis FamilyThe Tanis Brothers are excited for their new sister!

“In late 2014, our family started our very first adoption process. All we knew back then was that because we were not yet 30 years old, we had limited countries to choose from since we wanted to adopt internationally. Because of that, we decided on Taiwan. After speaking with our social worker, she advised us to look into China. At the time, orphanage partnerships were still in place, so waiting until we were 29.5 to apply and submit our Medical Conditions Checklist AND turn 30 would take less time than a Taiwan adoption. We chose CCAI as our placement agency because of the numerous recommendations, speaking of their integrity and transparency.

In January 2016, we submitted our dossier, and in June 2016, we brought home our son Jordan (or Jet), born with complex congenital heart defects. As soon as Jet recovered from his heart surgery in April 2017, we knew he needed a sibling (actually, we knew before then!). That led us to adopt our son, Judah, again from China, matched in August 2017 and home in March 2018. During the adoption process for Judah, China began changing some of their requirements, so we knew that if we “re-upped,” it would be a much longer wait for our third child. We desperately wanted to add to our family by adopting again from China, but we weren’t sure how the new policies would affect us.

This past August, after trying to adopt domestically for a year, we knew our hearts called us back to International Adoption, so we decided to submit our home study and our third Medical Conditions Checklist to China through CCAI. We knew the likelihood to keep birth order (both of our boys are born in 2015 and are only a couple of months apart in age) would make for a long wait, but we prepared because we finally felt we were back “home.” We knew CCAI had a Taiwan program, so we also kept an eye out for kids on the Waiting Child Taiwan page that we felt we would be a good family for—and vice versa—but still assumed we would match through China.

One night in October, I was scrolling through the waiting children list on the Taiwan page, and I saw this little girl who needed a family. It was like flashing neon lights went off on my screen, and we immediately emailed CCAI for more information. We submitted our intent to adopt her in November 2019 and then waited to hear back. The Taiwan process is much different than what we are used to with China, but we appreciate their child-centric way of matching a family to a child. We knew if it were providential, the orphanage would say yes. And if not, we would have both a Taiwan AND China home study since we could submit to both programs simultaneously. This news was a significant perk for us to be able to do that with CCAI!

On January 6, 2020, the entire Taiwan team at CCAI called via speakerphone to tell me the fantastic news that we matched. We are SO EXCITED—but no one is more excited than our two boys—to announce we are matched with our daughter and “baby sister” Abigail Jade Yen Tanis and can’t wait to welcome her into our family and arms late this summer. Amazingly, we intended to adopt from Taiwan five years ago—but instead have two amazing boys from China. It’s even more impressive that had we not waited, we would not be matched with our daughter in Taiwan—back where we started.

I cannot speak highly enough to CCAI’s Taiwan team’s patience, support, and genuine love for our family. They are so encouraging and answer all of our questions (sometimes the same questions over again). Because we are still just starting and have only matched for about a month, we are so thankful to have an agency that knows what they’re doing and cares for our family—all four and soon to be FIVE of us. If you’re waiting with the China program or considering China, I would highly recommend you consider CCAI’s Taiwan program as well.”

You can continue to follow our family’s progress on our blog:!


A Mother’s Love

LOCC story 1

Tales from the Zhumadian Lily Orphan Care Center

 There are some “mothers” who cherish and care for children not of their own blood, yet offer the world’s greatest maternal love.  Today let’s go into the Zhumadian Lily Orphan Care Center (LOCC) to catch a glimpse of the daily lives of its nannies and children.

In the LOCC, there is a boy named Cai Kun, who was born on January 22, 2019, and abandoned shortly after birth.  When he arrived at the orphanage, he weighed only 1.3 kg (less than three pounds) and was a premature low-birthweight baby.  Because of his poor condition, he had to go to the hospital right away for treatment.  He was treated in the hospital for nearly two months before his condition had stabilized enough for him to be discharged.  He entered the LOCC in April 2019, weighing only 2 kg (4 lbs 6 oz).  His body was so thin; we could barely hear his cry.  Pale and weak, there was no light to his eyes.  Even his breathing had a sharp wheezing sound.  His weak resistance made him extremely susceptible to fall ill.  He could drink only a tiny bit amount of milk at a time, so we fed him very slowly and carefully.  Still, sometimes he would choke and spit up his milk all over us.  We would hold him in our arms and look into his eyes, with worry in our hearts.

We nannies all said: “This child is so small, with no way to tell us his needs.  We can’t let him waste what precious strength he has to cry.  He must rely on us, on everyone’s careful attention.” So with this thought in mind, all the nannies paid close attention to his expressions, carefully trying to figure out his needs.  Despite having many children to care for, the nannies checked on him every hour, day and night.  Whenever Cai Kun made a sound, a nanny would rush over to change or feed him.  Whatever it was he needed, the nannies would pick him up and gently comfort him back to sleep, fearful that his crying could suffocate him.

With the nannies’ great care and love, Cai Kun’s condition slowly improved.  We started to see life come into his eyes and a bloom grow on his cheeks.  His crying also got louder!  Now he can roll over, lift his head, and do his best to creep forward.  Best of all, he now weighs 6 kg (over 13 pounds)! Every day, when he sees his nannies come to work, he gives them a great big smile.  Nothing could make us happier than to see those big changes in this tiny little boy.

The LOCC staff often says, “Taking care of a baby under three months old is the most tiring work.”  These little babies, especially preemies, constantly need to be fed, checked on, and carefully watched.  As parents know, it’s exhausting both physically and mentally.  However, although the work is demanding, it is these smallest children who have the biggest changes.  When we as nannies see them growing stronger, with rosy cheeks and smiles on their faces, all of our exhaustion vanishes into thin air.  For the nannies, love is never a request; it is not an exchange of equal value, but giving it is a heavy responsibility.  The LOCC children may not have “mothers,” but they have the same maternal love.

LOCC story 2


Look at the difference that the loving care and nurture of an “LOCC Mother” can make in a child’s life….

Cai Kun, September 2019

Abigail’s Story

We wanted to highlight some of the before and after stories of our amazing families and their beautiful children. At any given time, China has over 3,000 children waiting to be adopted. These children range in age from 36 months to 13 years and all have varying degrees of medical conditions. We need families who are open to adopting these amazing children and can help them meet their full potential!

For more information contact us at:
This week we are featuring Abigail’s story. Abigail was diagnosed in China with Meningocele. Her mother recently shared with us how their family took the leap of faith to bring their girl home:

“Our journey to our daughter Abigail started long before we ever consciously made the decision to adopt. My husband, Zach and I often talked in theory about adopting a child. Then life happened and we started having babies. The next thing we knew, we had 3 boys and were happy as a family of 5. In our minds we were done having children. We had three wonderful healthy boys and were living a happy life. Then one day we felt God talking to us again. Through prayer, research, and a lot of discussions we felt that God had been talking to us, telling us that yes this is His plan for us. After many discussions with our boys and research we as a family decided to step out in faith to follow God’s leading. In February of 2016 we decided to follow this path of adopting a little girl from China. This was one of the scariest, humbling, faith building experiences that God has ever asked us to do.


Adoption had been something Zach and I had talked about, but we never seriously thought that we would be an adoptive family. We did not save thousands of dollars before starting down the adoption path. In fact, we had saved zero dollars, nada, nothing, not one penny was set aside for adoption. We also had never considered adopting a child with special needs. In fact, I distinctly remembered a conversation where my husband said we could not afford to adopt a child with special needs. I believe God got a good chuckle out of that one. Little did we know we would be stepping out in faith that HE would provide in amazing ways both financially but also that we would choose to adopt a child with such a scary diagnosis.


Right after we decided to follow God’s path of adoption, I had a dream that we adopted a little 4 year old girl from China. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew it was our daughter. We embarked on the daunting task of raising funds, completing a Medical Condition Check List, the home study, filling out paperwork, and completing the dossier. Our family is an active family. We enjoy hiking, camping, skiing, and all three of our boys play lacrosse. Our prayer was that God would bring a child into our family who would be physically able and adventurous enough to join right into our family activities. We were concerned after being cautioned from our social worker that our new child may not like all the activities our family enjoyed. This of course could happen, but we also knew that God would bring us the child we were meant to parent. God doesn’t make mistakes.


The Medical Conditions Check List at first was very overwhelming. There were so many special needs we had never even heard of. The first time we completed the MCC we were very restrictive as to what we would accept as a special need. Once we submitted our MCC we continued to research some of the special needs listed that we were unfamiliar with and began talking to other adoptive families that we knew and friends in the medical field. We updated our MCC to be more open a few different times before we were matched with our sweet daughter. One of the conditions that we initially said no to was spina bifida or meningocele. Through talking with a friend who adopted a child with meningocele and who also had a close family member with meningocele we learned that there are different types of spina bifida with a wide range affects. I had worked with my friend’s daughter for years in Sunday School and had no idea she had meningocele. Meningocele cannot be cured but in some cases it can be managed well. Little did we know that in September of 2016 we would be presented a file of a little sweet little 3 1/2 year old girl who had meningocele.


Our daughters file was two years old when we received it. It was very basic without very many details at all. She had not had surgery and the file said that she did have a tethered spinal cord, however there was no MRI to definitively even diagnose the spina bifida. There was nothing else in her file to make us believe there were any other underlying issues. We asked for an update and immediately asked our pediatrician to look at her file. Our pediatrician reviewed the file along with the pictures and sent them to a colleague as well to get a specialist opinion. We only had 48 hours to decide if we could accept her file or not. Our biggest hope was that she was physically capable to participate in the activities our family enjoyed. Could she walk unassisted? Would she be able to hike? Could she ever learn to ski? Our house has stairs and stairs and more stairs. We couldn’t afford to move. Will the stairs be a problem? We didn’t have the answer to any of our questions. Neither of the doctors who reviewed her file saw any underlying issues that we weren’t aware of, but they also cautioned that her file was very basic and they didn’t have any scans to look at. We had been presented with a file a few months prior to our daughters file but we felt uneasy from the moment we received the little girls file. Saying no to a file of a child who needed a home was one of the hardest decisions we have had to ever make. In comparison, when we received Abigail’s file even though it was so basic and we had so many unanswered questions, we had a peace that surpasses all understanding. After much prayer we decided that this little girl was our daughter. We were all in love and couldn’t wait to bring our daughter / sister home.


In February of 2017 by God’s grace and provision we traveled as a family of 5 to China to become a family of 6. On February 6, 2017 a scared, quiet, shy, Mandarin speaking little almost 4 year old girl was placed in our arms. We were strangers to her and her to us. We were filled with hope, excitement, and a little trepidation as to what our new future and family was going to look like. Over the past 2 ½  year this little girl has flourished into a joy filled, extroverted, affectionate, smiling, dancing, singing, clothes matching, flower in hair, Minnie Mouse loving, craft loving, food loving, adventurous 6 year old. She has embraced our active family lifestyle with camping, skiing, hiking, a multitude of lacrosse games, biking, swimming, and road trips. Abigail has changed before our eyes in so many ways. She is not the same little girl that was placed in our arms 2 ½ years ago. We are so thankful and blessed to have her join our family. We didn’t know for many years that we were missing a piece to our family puzzle, but God knew. He knew that Abigail was our daughter. He knew the journey he would take us on to her. He knew the perfect little one that would complete our family. We have seen our boys pour love, care and kindness into their sister like we never could have imagined. Abigail, we love you to the moon and back.


Medically, Abigail is doing amazing. She has no side affects from the spina bifida. We do know that at some point she will most likely start to show symptoms and will need surgery. Currently we see two specialists every 6 months just to make sure everything is still at her base line. One thing we didn’t expect was that she did come home with some hearing issues, which has been corrected with a quick outpatient surgery. I know not everyone’s story will end like ours. Some families find unknown medical issues. For us, we took a leap of faith. We didn’t know what we were walking into when we agreed to adopt Abigail, but if we hadn’t taken that leap of faith, we wouldn’t have the joyful girl filling our lives today.”


CCAI Support China Social Workers Development

China SWS Training

China’s orphan care is coming to a new stage with the government’s call to build a Social Worker System. On February 24th, CCAI Director of Adoption Judy Winger and social worker Moya Smith flew to Wuxi, China to provide a five-day training to orphanage social workers from orphanages across China. From child care history theories, Trust-Based Relational Intervention, foster care family management, to team building and field experiment, Judy and Moya spent hours teaching, engaging, and challenging social workers on how to build a child-centered system and environment.

CCAI co-sponsored the social worker training financially, a charitable investment that will no doubt impact many orphans’ lives!

Judy Moya training 3

Colorado Gives Day is Here!

CO gives

Today is Colorado Gives Day and thousands of people in our community and across the state will show their support for the causes close to their heart.

We would be honored if you would keep CCAI in mind when you give on this special day. No matter where you are in the world, you can participate in Colorado Gives Day and make your donation go further.


This 24-hour movement is a chance to increase the value of your donation, thanks to the $1 Million Incentive Fund. Created by Community First Foundation and FirstBank, the fund increases the value of every dollar donated proportionally. This means, when you donate to CCAI through Colorado Gives, your money will go even further! Even better, you can still specify where you would like your gift to go, such as toward a favorite program like JCCS or Adopteen, or 100% to our charity efforts around the world!

Thank you for your passionate support.


J&L signature




Joshua Zhong & Lily Nie

What 2018 Brought Us — CCAI Circle 2018

2018 CCAI Circle newsletter cover page

Our 2018 CCAI Circle Newsletter is finally out!  Read about all that 2018 brought us and learn about some exciting new happenings that 2019 has in store for our community! China’s changing policies, CCAI’s Eastern Europe and Taiwan program updates, amazing family stories, MyTaproot birth family search, our new The Park Adoption Community Center — It’s all here!

DU Communications Class Partner with CCAI


Dr. Suter’s 10:00 Senior Communications elective course at the University of Denver has partnered with CCAI for their community collaboration projects for several years now and it is always a fantastic experience.  This year, the students worked with CCAI’s Waiting Child, Dossier, The Park Adoption Community Center, and Joyous Chinese Cultural School teams to provide vital support in their programming!  From classroom painting to developing waiting child profiles, the DU seniors were invaluable to CCAI’s daily work to fulfill our mission. We cannot wait for more future collaborations!

Thank you to Dr. Elizabeth Suter and our fantastic volunteers for their partnership and support!

CCAI All Staff Training


On October 11, 2018, the entire CCAI Colorado office attended a half-day training to help better understand how to provide trauma-informed care for our families, our children, and ourselves!  The event was presented by DrDSC02198. Gizane Indart , Executive Director of Denver Child Advocacy Center (DCAC),  and Jessica Gershwin, LCSW, Med., a bilingual child & family therapist at DCAC.  Dr. Gizane Indart is a bilingual and bicultural professional who has worked with traumatized children and their families since the early 1990s and is a ChildTrauma DSC02197fellow at the ChildTrauma Academy under the direction of Dr. Bruce Perry.  Jessica is also a registered yoga teacher for children and adults, and she regularly incorporates mindfulness, breath-work, and movement in her therapy with clients.

CCAI staff enjoyed spending the morning learning more about trauma, resiliency, mindfulness, and self-care strategies. Through learning how to better support ourselves, we hope to continue to provide the best and most meaningful service and support for our families and children.



CCAI Family Brunch with Josh

Josh with kids in D.C.

Kindly organized by Linda, Kevin, and their wonderful daughters Jasmine and Jenna, over 80 CCAI kids and parents gathered for a fun (and delicious!) brunch in Washington, D.C. on September 30th to meet CCAI President Joshua!  Joshua found time from his speaking engagement at the United Chinese American Conference to spend brunch with CCAI families and to hug as many kids as possible.  Joshua was so touched by everyone’s praises of CCAI’s service and had such a blast getting to know the energetic, joyful and amazing children.  What a beautiful world!  Thank you for such a wonderful event!

D.C. Brunch

Joshua Speaks at Chinese American Convention

Josh in D.C.

CCAI Co-founder & President Joshua Zhong was invited as a panelist to speak at the 2018 Chinese American Convention held at Washington, D.C. on September 27-29.  Joshua spoke on the History of China’s International Adoption: Past, Present, and Future.

Joshua was delighted to meet with some CCAI families and children at the convention and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the East Coast community of adoptees and adoptive families – a pleasant rarity!