Let the J.O.Y. Begin

I am excited to have a new opportunity to share the stories of a few orphans who need help finding their forever family. In April, I will be amplifying their voices by traveling to China as part of the Journey for Orphaned Youth (J.O.Y.) Advocacy Initiative.  I will share their stories in this format via social media.

The JOY Initiative is a one-week program where a group of families’ travel to China to meet children waiting for a forever family.  These children may not be able to travel as part of the hosting program.  It’s an amazing chance for families’ and children to connect by sharing the world the children live and discovering their dreams.  This will be an amazing opportunity for me to share their stories.

The hosting program that we participated in this summer was very rewarding. We were able to find Jacob his forever family and help other families discover they had the open hearts and open homes to welcome children into their lives.  We hope we can duplicate the success we had with Jacob through this process.

I appreciate all the support I have received to go on this journey.  We are looking for families to join us.  Please share this post with family or friends who may be interested.

… stay tuned for more.

This is Josiah, one of the orphans I may be advocating for in April through the JOY Program
This is Josiah, one of the orphans I may be advocating for in April through the JOY Program

Adoption Means Unconditional Love


Words that adoptive parents live by are bonding, attachment and trust.  I was reading a handbook that is given to older orphans in China to explain what is happening.  The first section has several statements defining adoption for the child.  There are statements with pictures. The one I like the most is, “adoption means unconditional love and support.” 

unconditional love


Bonding is about the parent’s feelings for and sense of connection with their child. While attachment is about the emotional bond that typically forms between a child and parent/caregiver. This emotional bond stimulates brain growth and affects personality development. It is also important in the development of the lifelong ability to form and maintain stable relationships (http://www.handinhandinternationaladoptions.org/parent-tips-bonding-and-attachment/).

Because we adopted our children when they were all under the age of two, initial attachment activities focused on the primal activities. These activities are the regular activities around feeding, sleeping, playing with toys, safety and compassion. They were dependent on us for this.  This is what formed their attachment with us.  However, to be clear, they will alway be manging some concious and sub-sonciousenedd with attachment and relationships.

But what about bonding and attachment with someone who is no longer solely dependent on a parent for the primal needs?  A 12 year-old has some memory or recognition of his or her trauma. How do they form that attachment and trust with their new family? Luckily there is a lot of support groups and resources for this topic.

There is the initial bonding and attachment when, in this case, traveling to China and the first few weeks at home. Adoptive family typically spends 17 to 21 days in China. The majority of the time the parents will be with their child.  What do you do? A few ideas in helping with attachment through this period include:

  • Sightseeing
  • Playing Uno or other games
  • Swimming
  • Eating (this may be the sub-plot to this whole blog)
  • Painting fingernails/toenails or rubbing lotion on hands and feet.
  • Singing and dancing

One other note is that parents should take as much time from work once coming back to the stated.  Form some sort of routine.  Have a calendar of activities and talk about the daily activities or schedule each morning.

In the past few days we have felt a lot more bonded to Jacob.  He has become comfortable with us and us with him. This was demonstrated today by Jacob making breakfast and lunch for Michelle.  He is being more present with us and others.

Each child will handle the transition and their ebbing and flowing emotions as they continuously attempt to reconcile their identity differently.  In most cases that reconciliation will not be possible.  As parents our job is to be the foundation that supports their lifelong journey. We will love them when they act out.  We will give a shoulder to place their head to cry. We will give them safe outlets to explore their emotions to find their identity as they grow from children, to teenagers to adults. And we will have behold the unconditional love for our child.

This one of the hard discussion points when finding Jacob a forever family.  His new family will behold that love to bond, attach and grow. That is what we are searching for on his behalf.

Some Interesting links:





Question: Am I eligible to adopt?

There are many questions about the adoption process. Once such question relates to the parameter for eligibility of potential patents. There are a lot of misassumptions about eligibility requirements. I will provide some of our insight into the eligibility requirements., however, we encourage you to validate this information with the experts at Great Wall China Adoption by calling 512-323-9595 or via http://www.gwca.org/contact-us/.

I admit the eligibility requirements may sound daunting at first, but take a moment read through them and I bet if you are reading this, that you or someone you know is eligible to adopt. Please note, if your family falls outside of these parameters and you are interested in adopting from China please contact the GWCA Waiting Child Team (http://www.gwca.org/contact-us/) to see if they can find a way to work with your family.

  • You do not have to be married to adopt.
  • Married couples/singles must be at least 30 years old.
  • For married couples, there must be no more than a 50 year age difference between the youngest parent and the adopted child. For single applicants, there must be no more than a 45 year age difference between the adoptive parent and the child.   For example, Jacob is 12 years old, so potential adoptive parents must be younger than 62 years old.
  • Each potential adoptive parent(s) must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • Couples must show a positive net worth (assets vs. liabilities) of at least $80,000. Singles must show a positive net worth of $100,000.
  • Adoptive families must have an annual income of at least $10,000/person in the household, including the adopted child. For example, a married couple with two children living in the home must earn at least $50,000.
  • Families are not eligible to adopt if any of the following health issues apply:
    • Current diagnosis of major depression/anxiety; consult GWCA for more information.
    • Diagnosed with alcoholism within the last 10 years or any history of illegal drug/narcotic use or abuse.
    • Major organ transplant/surgery within 10 years
    • Any previous history/diagnosis of cancer. However, if the other spouse is and the other’s medical condition does not inhibit their ability to parent a family, the family may be eligible to adopt a waiting child. Please consult GWCA for more information.
    • BMI must be less than 40. An example: 45 year-old women who is 5’7’’ weighing 250 pounds has a BMI of 39. You can use this BMI Calculator.
  • Families are not eligible to adopt if any of the following apply:
    • Current warrants or currently on probation
    • Any use of/arrests for illegal drugs; any felony arrests
    • DUI or DWI charges within the last 5 years, regardless of outcome
    • Any arrest for a violent crime (examples: assault, domestic violence, child abuse/neglect)
  • Couples must be married at least two years at the time their dossier is submitted to China (first marriage). If either spouse has one or two divorces, the current marriage needs to be a minimum of five years.
  • Families with religious beliefs prohibiting any kind of medical treatment will not be eligible to adopt.
  • One parent must be a US citizen.

GWCA has an on-line tool to check against elegibility requirements at http://www.gwca.org/eligibility-check/. Keep in mind that for some eligibility concerns, GWCA may advocate on families’ behalf to help them adopt. 

These parameters are in place for the welfare of the child. Agencies like GWCA are looking to place children in stable, safe environments where the family (married or single) structure will support the child’s bonding, attachment and trust. The eligibility requirements to adopt from China are not GWCA’s, they’re actually China’s requirements that they’ve put forth for families who want to adopt from their country.

If you have questions about eligibility or questions about the process you would like to see addressed on this blog, please let us know.


Upated “Adoption Stories” Page

inthesandToday I have added new links to stories about adoption on our Adoption Stories page. These stories are about what adoption means to Chinese orphans and the evolving demographics of Chinese orphans.  There is so much information out there that we can link to.  Please explore.

If you have your own story you want to share here, please let me know bu completing the form at Ask us Question. Just let us know it is okay to publish.

Enjoy the day!!!

Broadening our Circles of Advocacy

This post is to answer a common question of why we have been receiving:

“Why are you advocating to being a Chinese orphan to march him with a forever family?”

So here is our story …

The day was April 13, 2013. We flew into Beijing the day before, and this was the trip to bring Max (our youngest son) into our family. We were there to visit the orphanage our son Max grew up. At the time, Max was 23 months old. He had 2 surgeries while there, and his orphanage was exemplary. The nanny/child ratio there was 1:2, which is unheard of in China. He was in a high-need medical facility, and only the most fragile children were admitted. We arrived on that day, anxious to see where Max lived. Max was not there, since he was transferred back to his state run orphanage, which is protocol for Chinese children. But we wanted to experience his surroundings and personally thank his nannies.  We got our tour of the facility, and we did thank his nannies, the founder of the facility, and his nurses. After that, we got to play with the children who resided there.

Ready to Play2That’s when our lives changed forever. We were surrounded by cute, smart, medically fragile children, who were happy, playful, and full of spunk. They were like countless other children who we knew back in the US. BUT there was something missing for them. They had no family. They had no parents who would go to the end of the earth to take care of them. They deserved a family. They had none. Most children did not have a family working to bring them home. Most were available for adoption. But there were simply no families to come forward for them. If left in China, they would ‘age out’ at 14 years old. They would live on the streets. With no blood lines, and no social structure, they lived in a culture that has no value for a person without blood lines. Our hearts hurt thinking of all the children left on the streets, to join gangs, to be sold for sex, to be left to survive in any way they can, with no hope.

Ready to PlayOn that day, when we waved good bye to the orphanage founder, and drove off, back to our hotel, to then fly to Max’s home province, we knew we would never be the same. Our view of our world had changed. We felt empowered to make a difference. The orphan problem is a world problem, and we couldn’t solve it all. But we can make a small change, whatever that may be. Our hearts are led to advocating for orphans. There are many families who we know who would make great adoptive parents. That’s how we were led to take a leap of faith, and advocate for an orphan, and hopefully, help facilitate in him finding his forever family. We can not adopt them all. And believe us, some of those faces we met on April 13th still haunt us in the middle of the night. But we can broaden our circle of advocacy, and create a community who supports orphan care. We are walking this road, not really knowing who will step forward. But in our hearts, we feel that someone will. And then the circle of orphan care immediately gets larger. More people will be aware of the plight of orphans. More people will then advocate. And that’s why we are doing it. To broaden our circles of advocacy. We hope you will help in getting the word out for this one person, Jacob. And for those of you who never thought you may need to adopt a 12 year old boy, please follow your heart, where ever that leads. One of my favorite quotes is, “We can not change the world. But we can change the world of one person.” We will be posting on Facebook and this Blog daily. If you would like to casually meet Jacob, please contact us: stefan@wahe.us, michelle@hearts-content.com. We have cleared our calendar, with our priority in broadening our advocacy circle, to find this one boy, a family.