Meet Carrie Schneider!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone with such a genuine spirit, our Waiting Child Specialist, Carrie Schneider! People can talk about knowing a “sweet spirit” but we don’t think they’ve met Carrie yet–she blows everyone else out of the water! She embodies such virtuous characteristics like kindness, joy, and humility. She’s a sincere breath of fresh air, and it’s our privilege to have her working alongside families underneath GWCA.

So without further ado…meet Carrie!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

I am a Waiting Child Specialist within the China Waiting Child Department. I am here to answer any questions families have about the program, medical conditions, and children available. I also feel very lucky to be a part of the matching process. It is so fun to celebrate with families when they find their forever child!

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I have been working for GWCA since February 2013. I love it here!

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy learning about the precious children who are waiting to be adopted and love talking with families about them! I enjoy communicating with the families and learning about their lives and why they are passionate about adoption. I am also very thankful to be on a team of colleagues who care about each other, have a heart for adoption, and who are dedicated to serving our families.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

It is difficult to see the hundreds of children who are waiting to be adopted, especially the older children and children with more challenging conditions. But I am learning that there are also hundreds of amazing families who are looking to be matched with these beautiful children!

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

I have learned so much about China’s adoption process and about common medical conditions. Working here has magnified my passion for adoption and advocating for orphans.  I find myself constantly talking with my friends and family about all of the children that need families! Also, working with Great Wall families has opened my eyes to see how many wonderful people there are out there who are impacting children’s lives by adopting and advocating. It reinforces my faith in humanity. 🙂

  1. Why do you love adoption?

Several years ago, I spent a summer volunteering in orphanages in Bolivia. I grew very close to many of the children there and learned their stories. I was also able to celebrate with two children who found out that they were going to be adopted! They never let the photos of their adoptive parents leave their side! They would sleep with the photos next to their bed and carried them around during the day. It was so precious. That summer opened my eyes to the struggles that many children all over the world face: poverty, disease, and abandonment and it challenged me to do my part to make the world a better place. Spending time with those children was a beautiful experience that has forever changed my life and my perspective on adoption.

Another story that has greatly impacted me is a friend of mine who was adopted from Russia. He waited a long time to be adopted and as he was getting older lost hope that he would ever be adopted. One day he was notified that a family had chosen him. He cried tears of joy because he couldn’t fathom that anyone would want to adopt him. His story has given me a heart for older children who have been waiting a long time.

Adoption gives children the opportunity to experience what every child should: the love of a family and the freedom of just being a kid. Adoption turns hopelessness into joy, brokenness into healing, and “orphan” into son or daughter.

Fun facts about Carrie: 

1. I love animals. My family has two cats and one dog. We even made a fun video about our cats here:

2. I am an Aggie. Gig ‘em!

3. Coffee and chocolate are daily necessities.

4. My husband and I do photography and videography on the weekends. It is a really fun thing for us to do together and we love the opportunity to capture the beauty of nature and life in this way.

5. I enjoy running and yoga. I ran my first marathon last year and hope to start training for a second marathon soon. My goal is to eventually run in the NY Marathon!!

“Carrie is a very energetic, humorous, and positive person to be around. She keeps the atmosphere light and a great support as a co-worker always offering to help in any way she can.  Carrie is completely devoted to serving and helping our families, and her enthusiasm is always encouraging.” –Carrie’s co-worker

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URGENT: Maxwell needs a family!

At GWCA/CAN we know that sometimes waiting kids just need a little bit of extra advocacy and support. We know that their future family is out there, we just haven’t found them yet! That is why sometimes there are special circumstances when we like to highlight a specific kiddo that comes across our desk. Maxwell is one of those cases. This little guy from the Philippines needs a home desperately. Can you help us find one?

Maxwell was abandoned by his birth-mother at the hospital where he was born. The director of the hospital, who is a doctor took care of the child and stayed in the hospital until he reached 5 years old. At the age of 5, Maxwell was transferred to the custody of a distant relative of the doctor until he reached 7 years old. After which, he was then rescued by the social worker of the City Social Welfare Office after a case was filed against the former custodian who allegedly physically abused the child. He was then transferred to an institution for proper child care management and proper intervention.

At the age of 12 years old, Maxwell is very active. He speaks clearly and can express his feelings. He is very friendly and talks with respect to elders. At Grade 6, he performs well in school. He can easily comprehend. He has positive outlook in life. He is responsible and learned to do household chores.

At present, he is 13 years old and 1st year High School. His dream is to become a pilot someday. He is good in abstract reasoning and is looking forward to have his own family. 

For more information on Maxwell and his file please contact Kristy immediately at 

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The STUCK Tour Visits Austin!

This time last week, CAN staff had the great privilege of viewing the STUCK documentary at our home-base in Austin, Texas.  Weeks prior to the showing, we were able to join alongside efforts pioneered by our good friends at Both Ends Burning to advocate for the orphan. Both Ends Burning produced STUCK with a clear vision of changing the landscape of present-day international adoption. We are proud to know and support people like them. The STUCK bus is currently on a 67-city tour across the nation. Check out the site here to see when the movie is coming to a theater near you! We can honestly say that you won’t want to miss it. In the words of their fearless Founder & Producer Craig Juntunen, “GO SEE STUCK BECAUSE IT MATTERS!”

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Reports From the Field: Ghana

At GWCA/Children of All Nations we are always excited to travel to the countries where we have programs. At the beginning of this month our CEO, Snow Wu, and Development and Program Management Specialist, April Wareham, traveled to Ghana to continue developing our program to better serve the children and our adoptive families. Check out what April had to say about their most recent adventure!

From Deep in the Heart of Texas to Deep in the Heart of Ghana

Nothing tells you more about yourself than a bumpy, winding, three-hour trip on dirt roads into the African bush with 5 adults crammed into a car on a 95 degree day. Unless you’re an adventure junkie with a bleeding heart for orphans. That’s what all 5 of us (Ghanians and Americans) were in that car, actually, hence our fervor to help the most unreachable children in the villages of rural Ghana. We spent 4 of our 7 days in Ghana traveling on dirt or pothole-filled roads into small towns and villages, working with local child welfare NGOs to find out how we can help the orphanages most in need, and the kids most often forgotten.

There’s a strange feeling that comes over you when you visit an orphanage where children sleep in mud huts on the ground, or on decaying pieces soiled foam that were supposed to serve as their beds. It’s a combination of humility, sadness, compassion, and ardor that ignites a passion to help and a yearning to take all the kids back to your home to give them soft beds, warm baths and savory meals. It’s quite overwhelming, actually, and sometimes I wonder if the reaction is too strong. But one person once told me that the opposite of love is apathy. And that’s why we are so moved by the children’s plight. It’s in those moments that I realize why I do what I do. Without love for these children, what motivation would we have to come to their aid?

That’s why we trekked across the Ghanaian bush, our clothes soggy with sweat, flies and mosquitoes buzzing around our faces in the blazing sun, and downright forgetting the feel of a cool breeze from our luxurious A/C. It’s a luxury those kids never had. And that’s why the adoptive families do it too. How could one not respond to the call of a child clinging to your legs calling you mamma, especially when you’re there to pick up another child that was referred to you? It’s the word of mouth from other adoptive families that these kids need, so someone else will be moved to come back for that child.

Somehow we all push forward, to other orphanages hoping to find one that has better conditions because we are so bewildered by the last. Though the conditions are better at the next, and the children actually have beds, the kids in this place still have to haul their water in basins and buckets from a stream down the road…on their heads. The well had run dry in Ghana’s dry season. They won’t have running water again until the rainy season in April or May. And the question screaming in my head is, how on earth will I ever convince everyone – adoptive families, friends, family, the people reading this right now – how much need and the near desperation there is here? These kids needs homes, families. They need food, medicine, someone to go to when they cry.

Our mission is to find these kids families, and get them placed into foster homes with better care. Our mission is to support these orphanages so they can give better care to all the children, including those left behind. Of course, you can’t just work at the grassroots level to accomplish your missions in the area of child welfare. You have to go straight to the top as well and advocate for these children. Thus, our other 3 days were spent in wonderfully informative and relationship-building meetings with the Departments of Social Welfare in various regions where we will be working to place children. Our trip was inspirational, humbling, eye-opening and successful. We are renewed in our efforts to place children in Ghana, and we hope any families who were looking to adopt in Ghana will be too. As in many African countries, these kids are depending on us, waiting for their families.

As I flew home I started thinking, how can one go from deep in the heart of Ghana, back home to the heart of Texas? It should take more than 2 days and a few plane rides to get back, because these places seem worlds apart in reality. How are we living on the same planet, but not in the same world? To return from places like this, you have to let Africa drain from you drop by drop, slowly, to readjust to your daily latte (that costs the price of a day’s salary of a rural Ghanian), to your refreshing A/C, and all the other luxuries you didn’t realize you had until you were away from them.

I do know, however, that when we do go back, and when our adoptive families head to Ghana, they will be met by some of the most welcoming and friendly people in the world. Each and every person we met greeted us with “You are welcome” or “Akwaaba” in Twi. The people of Ghana have a heart for hospitality and a heart for their children, they just need our support.

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Meet Jennifer Taylor!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone with a great big heart, our Africa Adoption Counselor, Jennifer Taylor! Jennifer is all things great. She is poised, intelligent, and collected. This partnered together with her natural spunk and zeal for life makes her one phenomenal woman! Around this office she is a tried and true visionary. She has this ability to look out into the distance and start formulating needs before the rest of us even know that they are there. We couldn’t ask for a better staffer than that!

So without further ado… Meet Jennifer!

  1. What is your job title and description here at CAN?

Africa Adoption Counselor- Families begin working with me once their dossier has been submitted. I work with them through the waiting phase, and then once they are matched with a child I help them complete their adoption. I work with 4 countries- DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda.

  1. How long have you been working at CAN?

Since June 2012

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working on developing new ways and programs to support the children in the orphanages. My “baby” is our JumpStart program which is a really AMAZING education + counseling program we started in DRC. There is NOTHING better than getting those updates from our instructor and watching these amazing children learn and get excited about meeting their new families.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Not being in control of the adoption processing in the foreign countries. It is quite a challenge to feel like you are successfully supporting families when there is just so much that is completely out of your control. We all just want to unite these families as quickly as possible!

  1. How have you grown personally from working at CAN and with their families?

This job certainly keeps you humble, and as I learn more and more everyday through my job about the struggles of others living in the countries I work with, it reminds me how easy my life is! I see pictures, videos, and hear stories about these children who have nothing yet they are laughing and playing. I follow these children throughout their adoption journey and am constantly amazed at how brave they are- leaving everything they know when they come to the US.  It is inspiring and helps to keep everything in perspective.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because it gives these children a chance to feel unconditional love, to have a home where they are safe, to be kids, and to have a real chance at life. The reality of what these children face if they are never adopted is terrible. I also love the kindness of families to open their homes and hearts to children who they have never met who may be older, or have special needs. They take a big risk on these children and I really admire that. It is always such a great love story!

Fun Facts about Jennifer:

1. Im obsessed with my French Bulldog, Hazel. She is the cutest little stinker!

2. My husband and I got married in Macerino Italy in October of 2011- a year and a half later and I am still having withdrawals from my “Italian” way of life.

3. I consider myself a margarita connoisseur and am determined to find the perfect margarita in Austin Tx.

4. I majored in Anthropology at the University of Texas and am fascinated by primate studies (social behavior, anatomy, ecology, etc).

“Jennifer is the best co-worker one could ask for! She is always there to help other colleagues and she deeply cares about the families, the children, and the in-country staff she is working with. I know her job is not always easy, and she goes above and beyond to do her best!”– Jennifer’s co-worker

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Meet Lora VanHoogstraat!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone that works so hard that she makes the rest of us look bad, our Dossier Specialist, Lora VanHoogstraat! By description, Lora’s job is one that requires dedication, hard work and paying attention to the little things. Fortunately for us, she embodies those characteristics!  We like to say that this job is not for the faint-of-heart, and she knows this more than anyone. She goes above and beyond at all times, and for that she is very loved. Today we are thankful for Lora’s commitment to our purpose. She’s a gift to our families and our agency.

So without further ado… Meet Lora!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

Dossier Specialist – Advise, advocate and provide knowledgeable information to families working through the dossier process.  From the very beginning whether they are already matched with a particular child or whether they are waiting to receive their LID, I am there every step of the way until dossier is sent to China!

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

May 2012

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love making the “dreaded paper chase” process as smooth and exciting as possible. It is the first big step in the adoption journey and I like that I am able to make it enjoyable.

When a family signs up for the Dossier Dragon Service, it allows me to take some of the burden off of their hands. Maybe I’m a little bit of a control freak, but I love that it helps families worry a little less.

Finally, I enjoy talking to families about their little ones, advocating for families and most definitely receiving pictures when the adoption is complete!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Working with outside government entities can be difficult. Sometimes documents going through the process can encounter delays that are not in my control.  It is difficult to have to explain this to the family especially when they are matched and have a little one waiting for them in China.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

I have learned a ton! Not only about the adoption process as a whole, but how there are so many amazing families in this world. I never knew until working here that so many families considered a special needs adoption… and from another country! It continues to amaze me every day.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

There is nothing to not love about adoption! It brings a family together. It makes a child who has had no control over his/her life thus far, be able to live a new life with a loving family. It brings hope to families who are not able to have children or who just want to expand their family to a child in need. It is an amazing process and I’m lucky to be a part of it!

Fun facts about Lora:

1. I am from the mitten. (That’s what Michiganders call Michigan) Go Blue!

2. My boyfriend of 5 years and I recently purchased our first home.

3. I have 2 cats (although I am a dog person at heart), named Kiki and Pooka. They drive me crazy, but I love them.

4. I am a very picky eater, but breakfast tacos are my favorite food.

5. I might have an addiction to Groupon. This is not a paid advertisement- they just have great deals!

“Lora goes out of her way to make sure families feel comfortable and secure in the process for their China dossier. She answers all their questions, helps fill out all their forms, and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make sure her families are on the right path. Lora goes out of her way to help her co-workers anytime, and forges a positive attitude within the agency! Our families always walk away from the China dossier process feeling supported and ready for the next phase of their adoption journey!”- Lora’s coworker

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Come out and join CAN/GWCA staff on March 15th (next Friday night) at 7:00 PM for the Austin premiere of STUCK! We will be supporting our good friends over at Both Ends Burning and we want YOU to join us! Tickets are on sale here, but hurry and get your families’ tickets now because they are going to be sold out fast!

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Meet Leigh Anne Graf!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone that we don’t think we could really live without around this office, our Vice President, Leigh Anne Graf! Leigh Anne is the kind of person that everyone can count on 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Her empathy level runs deep and it translates into the way she so easily identifies with families and serves them throughout their adoption journey. Leigh Anne can always be counted on to go that extra mile, and in today’s world that’s a hard quality to find. She truly inspires each of us to meet the bar that she has set- and we strive everyday to measure up.

So without further ado… Meet Leigh Anne!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

Vice President of Great Wall and Children of All Nations. I have a variety of tasks that I work on throughout the agency. A lot of my work involves oversight/consultation for our international programs and staff, strategic planning, Hague and State licensing compliance, Quality Improvement, Program management, Staff Training and work with the Children of All Nations Waiting Child Program.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I started with Great Wall in 1998.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that each day is different and that I get to share the happiness and challenges of building families. I also love the staff we have here at Great Wall/CAN. Everyone is passionate about the work that they do and we have an amazing crew!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Feeling frustrated when the bureaucracy and red tape of international adoption adds barriers and additional challenges to children uniting with their families.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

In looking back at my time spent here – a few key things come to mind:

  • Children are resilient. Never, ever give up on their possibilities and potential – no matter what challenges you think they may face.
  •  Being a part of something greater and more global is essential to being happy with my work.
  •  I feel I have a stronger sense of taking things “one day at a time”, at work and on a personal level.
  •  I have learned that when something changes – it is important to bend with the changes and look for the opportunities and lessons provided by the change.
  1. Why do you love adoption?  

Every child deserves a loving home no matter where they come from, or what challenges they may face. Adoption provides these amazing children with a chance to have a family of their own. I am honored to be a tiny part of their story.

Fun facts about Leigh Anne: 

  1. I have a 2 year old – Avery Kate who amazes me every day!
  2. I’m an Aggie – Whoop!!
  3. I wanted to be a truck driver when I was 10 years old.
  4. I’m a music junkie! Love all kinds
  5.  Family Bucket list:  visit every National Park in the U.S.

“I can always count on Leigh Anne, and I know our families feel the same way.  Leigh Anne is the best person to go to for problem solving.  She is also detail-oriented…which is necessary in international adoption!  Above everything else, Leigh Anne is extremely caring and passionate.  I feel very lucky to have her as a coworker!”-Leigh Anne’s coworker


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A Child’s Perspective: Life with Hydrocephalus

This is the story of one very brave little girl, living life with Hydrocephalus and refusing for it to do anything but empower her. We can’t get over how much Hannah inspires each of us, and we know that she will do the same for you too. Hannah now resides with her loving parents and 3 siblings in Orlando, Florida. GWCA had the great privilege of facilitating her adoption in 2007.

This is My Story
By: Hannah Eadan Miao Moore, Age 10

Hi, my name is Hannah. I have two sisters and a brother. I am scared sometimes because I think that I won’t be as good as other people because I have some problems from being sick, but I am not scared anymore. My Mom told me to remember that I am one of a kind, and I make a difference on this earth.

I was born in Henan, China. I was an orphan until a great family adopted me in 2007. Before that my condition was bad. When I was left at the orphanage, I was 4 months old. The orphanage did not have enough money for the surgery I needed. I was born with Hydrocephalus & Spina Bifida, and I was very skinny and sick. They told us that the Director, paid for my surgery out of her own money. I was the first baby brought to this orphanage in 2002. When I was 2 years old, I got an infection in my brain. I was in the hospital for 3 months. They shaved off all my hair & took out my shunt. They did not have more money to put in a new one. I did not like looking like a boy.

When I was adopted, we went back to see where I had lived. The Director cried. I got to keep the clothes I was wearing from the orphanage, and I keep them in a bag under my bed.

When I came home from China with my new family, I had a surgery to help my head, it was called an ETV. I can’t say the big name. Anyway, in about 8 months my Doctor said that it had closed back up, so I needed another surgery to put in a new shunt. When Dr. O. put in my new shunt, he tried to remove the parts still left in my brain from before, but it was stuck. He could not get it out. He is very nice. He did not cut off my hair, and he put in the new shunt where I had my old scar. I have lots of scars, but they don’t hurt anymore, sometimes they just itch.

Last year and again this year, I got slit ventricles. The Doctor examined me, and told me I would have to stay in the hospital again. I was crying, it hurt so bad. I kept getting sick. My head hurt & my stomach hurt. I kept telling my Mom I don’t want to stay here forever. I was so scared. My Mom Told me it would be OK, and I would not have to stay for long. My head hurt all the time, and the lights made it hurt worse. I know when I have a headache, I have to tell my Mom, or call my Mom if I am at school. That’s how I got here, with the best parents ever. When I am in the hospital they never leave me. My Mom comes in the morning and stays all day. Then my Dad comes at night, and sleeps on the sofa in my room next to me.

Do you ever wonder what hydrocephalus means? It means water on the brain. I have had to get many tests because of my hydrocephalus. Some hurt and some don’t. I had to get an implant in my arm when I was six. I was growing up too fast, they called it CPP. They put a new one in every year after my Birthday. My eyes sometimes don’t work right, that is from the Hydrocephalus too. I sometimes run into things, or lose my place. This year after the slits, they did something called an EEG. They told my Mom that I have Epilepsy, so now I have to take medicine so that I do not have seizures. I hope no more children have to have hydrocephalus. It is not fun, and can make you very sick. I sometimes have to
miss doing things with my friends because I have to be careful that I don’t get hit in the head.

Last year I got a new sister named Haven. She has hydrocephalus too. We can talk to each other about it, because we both know how it feels. It feels good to have a sister who knows what hydrocephalus is. Now I am not alone, we can help each other get through this.

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