#CharityWeek: On the job with our charity director

xia-athenan-orphangae-2016_croppedFour time a year, CCAI’s Charity Director Xia Zhong makes her way to China to check in on our Lily Orphan Care Centers (LOCCs), meet new orphanage directors, build relationships with partner orphanage staff, train CCAI’s LOCC managers and our China charity team, coordinate hosting logistics and… whatever else needs her attention.

These visits may feel very busy, but with each orphanage visit, Xia’s heart swells.

“I feel so privileged that I get to meet so many of the children that CCAI eventually goes on to adopt before they meet their families,” Zhong shared. “I get to see how wonderful they are and my heart aches, wishing I could make their adoptions immediate.”

Aside from working with orphanage staff and encouraging directors to report, create/update children’s files with haste to quicken their adoption, Xia also helps train the children participating in our hosting program, who might have a harder time finding a family through their adoption file on paper alone. Hosting greatly increases a child’s chances of being adopted by making them tangible and helping families understand their personalities. The majority of children hosted through CCAI’s China Host Program have gone on to be adopted by their host families or another family that learned about them through their host family’s advocacy.

“Hosting changes these kids’ lives,” Xia said. “One of the boys I met who was hosted last summer was very disruptive before he went to the US. I met him again on my most recent trip and he was so well behaved! The orphanage director told me he comes to her office three times a day, asking when he will be adopted. Now that he has had a taste of what it is like to be a part of a family, he behaves in hopes that someone will hear that he is a good boy and want him as their son.”

This experience wasn’t the only heart-tugging one Xia experienced on her last trip to China in September.

“Three years ago I met a baby with clubbed hands and feet and a mouth so small that his nannies had to feed him milk with an eye dropper,” Xia explained. “The nannies named him what translates to English as “swimmer” because it was likely he would never walk, so they hoped he would one day swim. There was a low chance he would survive infancy. Even with the best-tending nannies, it was difficult to give him enough food. He was very skinny. It broke my heart.

I had not heard about him in the time that followed that trip, so I assumed the worst. It was to my great surprise when I returned to his orphanage this September that he ran to me on his ankles! He gave me a hug and clung to me as if to say ‘Help me find a family.’ I held him and bawled. He is so special to me. His file is being prepared by his orphanage currently and I hope he will find a family.”

Xia’s next trip is scheduled for January 2017.

If you would like to support CCAI’s charity efforts, you may make a tax-deductible donation at http://ccaifamily.org/Charity/Donation.

Our adoption story: The Carpenters


“My husband is six years older than I. When first married, Don wanted 3-4 kids and I wanted 0-1 kids. As the years went on, however, I was READY to start a family and Don had switched to thinking perhaps he’d like 0 kids. Neither one of us had a medical condition that prevented us from starting our ‘bio’ family, but I had no interest in being pregnant. In fact, we initially looked in to adopting from Zimbabwe. That was not possible, so we went on a summer vacation to remote Alaska. We used Alaska Discovery as our tour guides and we camped across Hubbard Glacier after taking a SMALL plane and landing in Yakatat, Alaska. We hiked with a small group, and the owner of Alaska Discovery was on the tour, checking out the newly hired tour guide. After three days of deep talks while hiking in bear/glacier country, I felt instantly bonded to the tour company owner. It turns out, she and her spouse were in the final stages of adopting through CCAI. Don and I talked and both agreed to choose CCAI as our adoption agency based on the extremely positive feedback we received from the tour owner. We’ve never looked back.

Alison was in travel Group #103 and Janelle was in Group #340. Both girls have always been healthy, happy, and caring. We can’t imagine what our lives would be like had we not adopted Alison and Janelle. Alison was 10 months when we met her, and she is now 19, in her first yr at Eastern Michigan University, majoring in Arts Management/Nonprofit Management. Janelle was 11 months when we met her, and she is now 15 yrs old, in her second year at Jackson College/LISD Academy (middle college). She is mechanically inclined, has an interest in engineering, computers, robotics, and welding, and enjoys playing electric guitar. Both girls attended ‘Heritage Camp’ in Grand Rapids, MI for 8 years. We flew from MI to Colorado for three CCAI National Reunions and attended one regional reunion in Ohio. Both girls took part in the first CCAI Heritage Tour and both attended an Adopteen summer camp in Toledo, Ohio. We are thankful for CCAI’s guidance and support and are forever grateful to have our family.”


Making adoption affordable: How we did it and you can too

van-de-hey-lemonadeOver a decade ago, I had a seed planted in my heart for orphans. Since then, my husband and I got degrees (and debt) and had three children. We struggled to make ends meet for years. We ended up in a place where adoption felt like a fleeting wish or dream that had died in our hearts due to our circumstances, and a journey that only the wealthy and big-hearted could obtain. That’s the thing about dreams: that often we think they have died and really they are just hidden away ready to sprout when the timing is right. One winter day, we decided to investigate international adoption, and just as things seem to happen in our lives when we least expect it, the doors flung open. We agreed to run after a child who would complete our family. My husband and I had said yes in our hearts but our bank accounts said something very different. The fees associated with adoption are terrifying. They nearly stopped us dead in our tracks. I am a school teacher and my husband is an art director at a design firm—we are truly middle class. We do not have a ton of extra money. But we decided that it is better to risk failing chasing down our dream than spend a lifetime wondering.

I committed to fundraising the money we needed. With shaking knees and little knowledge of how to do it, we began.

We began slowly, asking for donations for a garage sale. It felt less vulnerable, asking to take things off people’s hands that they didn’t want anyways. It felt like less of a burden to people. We were putting our toes in the water of asking for help. The garage sale made just under $2,000. We were able to pay a fee and we felt a bit of wind in our sails.

We then were lucky enough to receive tax money as well as a side design job my husband took in order to bring in another $5,000.

van-de-hey-tshirt-fundraiserThe next fundraising endeavor was t-shirts. I have seen this done and not do well. I was committed to making it work. My husband designed a great shirt and we paid a bit extra to get a high quality t-shirt. I slung these bad boys like my life depended on it. I ended sending them all over the country. There were a few hiccups, but it was manageable. The shirts made roughly $1,000 and created what felt like a united front. I felt at this point we had a village working to bring our wee one home.

I then decided to sell Krispy Kremes. This wasn’t my shining moment, but I figured I could turn a quick $700 by selling 100 dozen at our local grocery store in one day. It was brutal, but I sat there and told our story and slung every last donut. I also may or may not have eaten a dozen that day. No one said this adoption thing was making me any skinnier.

We had vision to have a farm-to-table dinner and auction. I had a dear friend who owns a farm and beautiful wedding venue. It holds 160 people and I was committed to selling every last seat. I decided I could get everything that was needed donated. This was wild and outrageous of me to think I could make happen. The good news is that I am a fierce momma, who is incredibly bold. I began asking. I got wine donated from a local winery, beer from a brewery, hard cider from a local company and a caterer to commit to doing the whole event for free. I asked a local boutique to make live succulent centerpieces for cost, and I sold them to turn a profit right off table. I asked every store I ever shopped in to donate for the auction, and every farmer and local grocery store to donate food. People said yes. In the end, we threw a beautiful event where children ran through the orchard meadow barefoot, playing croquet and cornhole. Friends and strangers drank and ate and laughed. I had a musician friend play while we ate and a friend tell her adoption story, as well as sharing our hearts. The event was perfect. It was so beautiful and effective that we plan to do it next year, but give the money to someone else. It was a lovely invitation for my community to step in and play a role in making our child a son. This event made $9,000 in the end and was a huge chunk of fundraising.

van-de-hey-dinnerWe also have an open Pure Charity account which has generated about $2,000.

My husband took side jobs of photography here and there.

A local farmer donated their bumper blueberry crop to us and we paid a dollar per pound for 1,000 lbs of berries and sold them out of my house in one day for $2 per pound. A fast $1,000 dollars. The work was hard, but it was only a day and it was done!

We are only five months into the process and we have paid nearly $20,000. I am a normal person. I had none of this before we started. We are blown away that we are here today, two-thirds done with our payments, and now matched with our newest little love.

Currently, we have a weekly fruit sale starting, where I have purchased local fruit at cost and am selling boxes of peaches, pears and apples. Hoping to rake in some money with that!

Sure, we have maybe $10,000 left, but we have a plan. Success breeds success and now we know that we can do this. We also have learned to invite people along on our journey. Everyone isn’t called to adopt, but people love to be part of a story that is weaved together beautifully. We envision this being our only adoption, but we don’t envision this being the end for helping change the lives of children. Someday soon we hope to be on the other end of this beautiful adventure, helping others along.

This is possible. We have acquired vandehey-peachesno debt so far, and haven’t even applied for grants yet. This money didn’t fall in our laps. We have worked hard, but it also wasn’t back-breaking work. We are gaining momentum and people are joining in. This journey has taught me how much beauty and hope is in our world. It has shown me how much relationships matter. People are rallying with us and carrying us along, reminding us that we can do this.

vandehey-flowers-for-partyFriends, you can do this. Money won’t fall from heaven like some winter’s day snowfall, but there is money out there. There are people willing to partner with you. Find your people and open your story and lives to them and watch it all unfold. Also, write your thank you notes—I have gone through over 200 so far of handwritten notes. Gratitude makes hearts swell.

You got this.

~Julie and the whole VanDeHey crew


CCAI dad wins award for child advocacy

dick-fischer_croppedDick Fischer and his wife Annie adopted through CCAI in 1995 and again in 1997. Their beautiful adoption experience has had such an impact on Dick’s life that he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to child advocacy. He launched the Adoption Today magazine, then Fostering Families, which attracted readers from all over the country and changed many lives. To honor his commitment and accomplishment, Dick was presented with the inaugural For the Children Advocacy Award on November 6, 2016, during Orphan Care Weekend 2016 at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colo.

Josh and Lily attended the event in support of Dick and his family. “We are so thankful to each and every one of our families for making a difference in the lives of orphans,” Josh said. “Dick has really gone above and beyond and his impact on children in need has been immeasurable.”

Congratulations to Dick!

Adding Joy: The Joy family’s story of adopting a child with Down Syndrome

My husband and I were only teenagers when we found out we would be parents. The road did not begin as an easy one for our growing family, but today we are so thankful we have persevered through the difficulties of parenting, marriage, growing up and learning who we were as people all at the same time. Today our son is almost 16 and our daughter is 12. We have a new addition of whom I will speak of in just a minute. But right now let me just back up a bit.

When we started the adoption on May 9th, 2015, we hoped to adopt a healthy 0 to 3 year old girl. Our MCC (medical conditions checklist) had a few mild to minor-correctable needs. We felt that was all we were equipped to take on. We began looking online and joining different groups, getting to know other adoptive parents. We also began sponsoring babies through a foster home called Morning Star. This is where we began seeing babies, sweet precious faces of children needing homes with severe heart defects. This led us to read and learned more about heart babies. The more we learned, the less intimidating heart defects seemed. We re-evaluated our medical conditions checklist and checked all the little boxes next to all heart conditions. Now, we were saying yes to heart babies.

Throughout the year, we saw many sweet babies with joyful smiles who had Down Syndrome. One little girl stood out because she was so stinkin’ cute! She did some pretty cute things. She made us giggle. She made us smile and even cry happy tears. She had that joy and wonder about the world that was just so special… so different, and it really imprinted itself on our hearts. Looking back, God was already preparing our hearts. And He was using this child to mold us.

If I may be honest, cognitive disabilities have always made me uncomfortable. I didn’t know the appropriate way to act or respond. I had never been exposed to how that reality would look. Yes, the cute faces and joyful personalities brought a smile to my face, and for some reason they drew me in, but I did not feel that I had what it takes to mother a child with this type of disability. So, we put Down Syndrome out of our minds.

Then we began to sponsor a little tiny frail girl who not only had severe CHD, but also Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, this baby lost her battle here on the earth because her heart just could not handle its own brokenness. She died without ever knowing the love of a family, a mommy, a daddy, brother or sister. I remember holding my phone, seeing the news of her death. It rocked my heart to its core. Yet again, a molding of our hearts took place.

Her battle ended here on earth leaving so many raw hearts, including ours.

God showed us a glimmer of the brokenness of this world and used it shape our hearts yet again.

Lilah Lu’s short life changed our whole family forever. When I look back now, I can see the fingerprints, as clearly as the potter working the clay. Adjusting it in a specific way through the series of many life altering paths. Our eyes were being opened. The scales slowly removed. The layers peeled off our hearts to reveal something which was hidden to us.

I couldn’t run away from it any longer. It was like a magnetic force urging, pulling, pushing towards the same idea. I was drawn to explore the world of Down Syndrome adoption.

I began to seek out every article written by parents who were beyond blessed by kiddos with DS. Through my reading and searching I also learned some pretty disturbing truths. The two that stood out, among many, were facts that babies with DS in China were unadoptable for years and years because they were “unworthy.”
Did you hear that label?

God’s creation labeled by humans–UNWORTHY.



It wasn’t until about 2013 that a law changed because of one determined mama who fought for the rights for these children with DS born to mothers in China.

Another article spoke of a baby born with Down Syndrome to a young Chinese mother. A mother who was urged by the nurses in the hospital to leave without her child with these words: “This baby you have is bad. She is broken; she is a no good baby. You go home, we take care of this.”

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

My tears could not be stopped. How can this be? A human is still human, no matter their disability! I was angry. Sad. Enraged. Confused.

The molding of my heart continued.

Many articles later and hearing families speak on how much richer their lives were because of this amazing road they have walked with children who have Down Syndrome, was incredibly refreshing. It intrigued me, actually. How can a child with such a lifelong disability bring that much joy into a human life? The pulling was so strong, and by this time we were certain there was nothing else to do! We knew this is what we were called to. We knew deep in our hearts this is what was meant for us all along. Our hearts just needed a bit of weeding, of removing our wants and desires.

So, on May 15th, we took the huge leap of faith. With every ounce of confidence, pushing fears aside, we added Down Syndrome to our Medical Condition Checklist. I remember telling Kevin, “If God doesn’t have this for us, He won’t send a child our way with DS.”

Our hearts had amazing peace. The peace which cannot be described…not unless you have lived it do you know what I am speaking of… it’s the very center of a beautiful plan. This astounding knowledge deep in your heart that you have done what you have been called to all along.

Everything calm.

Everything still.



A day later…

Did you hear that??

Only ONE day after we added DS to our MCC, on May 16th at 11pm, I received a private message request from a China director of a different adoption agency on Facebook pleading with me to take a look at their children with Down Syndrome. She said 80 percent of their babies have DS and none of their families were open to this need.

We knew we wouldn’t switch agencies, but we looked at their waiting kiddos anyway.

This is where our world would be changed forever!


My hubby was at work and logged into the waiting children’s website first. He saw the faces of the babies waiting for someone to say ‘yes’ to them!

My hubby and I chatted on Google messenger as I was trying to log in, when he sent me a photo from the website…

The most beautiful China girl I have ever laid eyes on!!

I don’t know what happened next, but everything faded out of existence, my heart paused for a split second, a deep sob came out of my chest and tears fought their way to the surface.

Here looking back at me from the computer screen was the face of a stunningly beautiful little girl – as if reaching to the deepest parts of my heart.

Her eyes, piercing. Calling. As if saying “Mama.”

My husband, my best friend, the man with whom I feel so connected with, our minds so often thinking the same thoughts, was feeling the same emotions towards the same child.

A feeling he later described as a “lightning bolt.”

We just knew! This was our girl.img_6719

In that very moment, nothing else mattered. Not the fears of her lifelong need. Not the fears of being totally uneducated, having no experience with Down Syndrome, nor the fact that we had no time to learn. It was time. She was our daughter. This was the girl whose face we had waited to see for a year. I searched for her among the hundreds of faces over the last year. And here she was, staring back at us. A child so beautiful, so perfect in every way! I covered my face and cried right there! My heart just knew…

Because she was with another agency, we knew we would need a miracle in order for us to get our hands on her file. We knew agencies do not typically share files with other agencies. However, this child has been waiting SO long, her file was just three days from going back to the shared lista huge sea of kids with more severe disabilities, kids unable to be matched to families and their medical condition checklists.

Kids often forgotten.

Kids left to tumble through the system.

Kids just wanting to know the love of a family.

A miracle occurred, our agency worked very hard with the other agency and we were handed our daughter’s file. We said yes, and the rest is history. We have been home for a month now and it is beyond amazing how well she is doing. It is absolutely mind blowing the love you can feel for a child born to another mother. I struggle to keep my emotions calm as I write this.


This child has filled our life with so much joy and laughter. The second she hears music her body just cannot help it, but move to the sounds she hears. She shrieks with joy at the mention of bath time. She soaks in everything we show her and mimics every move we make. It’s so cute and hilarious. Let me tell you, this girl has so much sass and knows exactly what she wants and how it should be done. Even her grumpiness makes her laugh at herself. She stays mad two minutes tops before the laughter and giggles erupt.

img_3011We simply could not imagine life without our girl in it. There was a time when I was afraid to say yes to Down Syndrome, but it has been the greatest blessings onto our livesand it is only the beginning!

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CCAI Texas Reunion


CCAI families in the great state of Texas gathered at Cameron Park in Waco on Saturday to celebrate the blessings of international adoption.

Cameron Park by the Brazos River is especially beautiful this time of year. Kiddos enjoyed the splash park, children’s games and a delicious BBQ lunch before taking a walk through the nearby zoo. For the full story, check out the article on our Facebook page.

Do you live in a different state and would like to coordinate your own local CCAI reunion? Let us know! We would be happy to work with you!

Our story of adoption

Tom and Nancy

When we were married, we knew adoption would be our most likely route to parenthood. We talked with friends, co-workers and family members who had adopted children domestically and internationally from several different countries. We got wise counsel from a Catholic deacon and his wife who had adopted three children and who conducted workshops for couples considering adoption.

In the end, we chose–or better the Spirit led us–to adopt a child from China. Many prayers, a nearly 6 inch stack of paperwork and 2.5 years later, we returned from China with our handsome son Michael.

2016-water-slide-two-boysWhen we were ready to adopt a second child, we wanted Michael to have a brother from China. Nearly all the Chinese orphans being placed overseas now have special needs. As older parents with no medical training, our options were limited. The Lord led us to David, a seven-year-old boy with alopecia (no hair), rough skin, vision problems and other manageable issues caused by a rare genetic abnormality.

With the help of the Adoption Clinic at the University of Chicago, David’s medical 2016-easter-two-boyscondition has improved in the year that he has been with us. With medicated creams, powerful eyeglasses, lots of love and good nutrition, he is growing, learning English at an amazing rate, doing well in school, playing sports and adapting to family life in the US.

The transition wasn’t easy for David at first, though. He spoke virtually no English and had been in a pre-school program at the orphanage in China. First grade was a challenge for him and for the teachers and aides. Nevertheless, he came home after just a few weeks in school with a drawing of our family (Dad, Mom, two boys and a dog) with the words “Thanks for my new family.”

We didn’t adopt children to get praise or store up graces in heaven. We simply did it because we felt it was the right thing for us. Adoption was the way that a childless middle-age couple became a family. And now, we hope that we can guide these two young boys to be good, loving, caring, responsible people… and that we will have good health and live long enough to see them grow to adulthood.

-Tom and Nancy


An adoption dream come true

When we were introduced to and asked if we would be interested in adopting another child, we said we would be interested in reviewing his file. Nothing in his file was particularly worrisome, but we were very concerned about the financial ramifications of adopting again so soon—especially since we were still dealing with Landon’s kidney transplant issues. So we ended up turning the file down. When we were sharing this with a friend, they asked if the biggest thing stopping us was the finances. We said yes. Our friends told us perhaps they knew of someone who could help us financially… they would speak to him. We emailed CCAI frantically and asked if we could have more time, which we were granted. My friends contacted their acquaintance and we spoke to him on the phone. He committed to helping us bring our matched child home, but he needed to first see we were 100 percent committed to adopting him.

On Tuesday of this week, this wonderful stranger flew from Florida to Minneapolis on business, and last night we met for the first time, went to dinner and had a fabulous time. At the end of our meal, we went outside and he asked us to wait for a moment. He came back from his car with a rolled up piece of poster board and had us open it. As you can see, he has raised and committed to funding $18,000 dollars to bring our child home. This kind individual flew from Orlando, not on business, but to present us with this awesome gift. There are some true angels in this world!

-The Scheideggers


Update on Shu

Shu’s guardian that has been hosting him in the prep and recovery periods of his surgery sent us this update. So glad the Lord has placed Mandie in Shu’s life. She writes:


The surgery was successful. They revised a few things in his right eye, removed stitches, assessed for possible rejection, and gave him an injection in that eye to halt the beginnings of rejection that were showing there. His vision was also assessed and it is recommended that he begin wearing +3 lenses in his glasses asap. I’m waiting for an appointment to get these ordered and in the meantime he is wearing big grownup reading glasses for school. They are cumbersome, but he’s a good sport and is tolerating them. His left eye surgery was successful as well. Currently he has a lot of stitches in that eye (16, I think) and they said his vision may be blurry. We are seeing him show much more interest in smaller details of drawing and building with Legos. He can also see distance with his right eye (for example when we are driving, he calls out “red light…stop!” or “Green light…go!” appropriately.

He will have a follow-up appointment next week where we will discuss his next glasses, therapies, and recheck his right eye for overgrown vessels (a sign of rejection). In the meantime, the very best thing we can do for him is let him be a kid. He spends hours each day just playing with my kids and learning social skills, jumping on the trampoline, playing with the dog. Every outing is a sensory learning experience for him. He watches English and Chinese cartoons on the iPad and plays several games specially designed to enhance visual acuity. Because we’re with him every day, it can be hard to realize how much he has grown and changed since May, but when I took him to the hospital for surgery, the Child Life Specialist who worked with him last time broke down in tears multiple times because she said she hardly recognized him. He was a “completely different child”. The nurses and doctors could not believe how much he was talking, expressing needs, showing willingness to reason and try new things. That was really encouraging for me to hear.


He seems to be developing in English and social/developmental skills at about a preschool level currently. His interest is mostly in baby toys and colors/counting/parroting everything we say. That being said, he impresses us daily with his intelligence and willingness to learn. Many of the autism-like behaviors he was exhibiting back in May have completely disappeared and he is slowly gaining more and more appropriate social skills. He has a very strong will and gets angry when he doesn’t get his way, but is also reasonable and has learned how to ask forgiveness and “make things right” when he has conflict with his “siblings”. We’ve noticed that he likes predictability and routine, so he has a set schedule that he follows at home, regular chores and responsibilities that he loves to complete, and likes knowing what to expect as far as where we are going and whether or not we will eat when we get there. 😉 

His favorite American foods so far are: bananas, yogurt, bread, and ice cream, but he’s a great eater and never turns down a meal – even when it’s something new. He has shown a great ability to form healthy attachments. So far he has not exhibited good skills at interactively playing with other children, but is good at side-by-side play and every day we’re seeing him desire more and more interaction with peers.


Our local public school has been such a gift to our family over the last year. They know us well and when I went to them and explained Shu Wei’s situation and needs, they were thrilled to be able to accommodate him. They have a vision specialist on site who is working with him 4 days/week to give him the skills he will need to function in the vision-impaired world. He will begin learning Braille, which seems very wise. Even though his vision will likely continue to improve over the next several years, the fact that his pupils will never be reactive to light means that his eyes may be at higher risk for vision loss as he ages. Because of these surgeries, he will likely always have more vision than he would have had otherwise, but everyone I’ve consulted (including his prospective adoptive family and their local school for the blind) believes that even highly functioning vision impaired individuals should learn Braille, just as people who can hear/lipread still benefit from learning sign language because it connects them to a community in which they can find like-minded friends with similar experiences. There will also be a mobility specialist coming to the school to help him learn to not only navigate the school functionally, but also to teach him skills such as walking and scanning his environment for obstacles. Right now he only looks down at a 45 degree angle when he walks, so he often bumps into things at eye level, so they’ll work with him on those skills and may even teach him to use a cane – something that could help him navigate very bright outdoor environments where he tends to struggle most, relying on the cane to judge the ground so his eyes can focus on what’s ahead of him at eye level, people’s faces, etc.

He absolutely loves school and drives us crazy all weekend asking to go back to school “tomorrow”. When I asked him what his favorite part of school was, he answered in Chinese, “Teacher and friends.” The school loves him and has really come together to work at record speed to accommodate him quickly. They are excited to see his potential and help him grow and develop while he is here. My hope is that beginning in school while he is here will help even more with his next transition.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for this precious boy. We love him dearly.


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.”

Gill 2