Meet Diedra Connolly!

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.

Get some sunglasses, shield your eyes, and hold onnnn because the woman that we are about to introduce you to is a straight angel! We want you to meet our China Program Director, Diedra Connolly! There are not a whole lot of words that do this incredible woman justice. She is warm, inviting, empathetic, thoughtful, servant-hearted…and that’s just the beginning! For Diedra, there is always a solution to any problem that may arise, and no task is too big to tackle. She’s got a big heart and every time that far outweighs obstacles set in her path. We wouldn’t be the same without her.

So without further ado…meet Diedra!

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

China Program Director. I manage and supervise all China Program adoption services. I also manage, support, and provide training for our wonderful Great Wall China Adoption staff. It is such a privilege to work with dedicated staff that have a true passion for adoption and child advocacy.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I began with Great Wall China Adoption in Feb. 2007 as the Dossier Specialist.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love talking with our families at all phases in the adoption process.  I enjoy getting to know them and seeing their joy and excitement when they have been matched with a child.  The best part of all our jobs is when families send photos once their child is home, or even better, when they come by the office to introduce their newly adopted son or daughter.

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

Dealing with delays due to government processes. However, I realize my frustration is nothing compared to the family that has been impacted by the red tape. My goal is to help look for ways to circumvent obstacles or solutions to navigate the barriers.

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

Early on I discovered I have a heart for the Waiting Child Program. I love talking with families and helping them learn more about the children in this program. I am amazed everyday by the wonderful families that have opened their hearts to these beautiful children. The only “need” these families see is a need for a child to have a Forever Family.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

No child should have to live out their childhood in an institution. Every child deserves to feel safe and cherished. Adoption allows children to know the security of a home, the bonds of a family and the unconditional love of a parent. I feel very blessed and humbled to have been a small part of uniting a child with their family.

Fun Facts about Diedra: 

1.  I love to read, go to movies and listen to all types of music.  When I’m at home my radio is always tuned into the top country music station.

2.  My husband and I met in high school and have been married 30 years. Everyone says he makes the perfect frozen margarita and I agree!

3. We are blessed with a 21 year old daughter who is a senior at The University of Texas. She is completing her degree in Exercise Science/ Kinesiology and plans to get a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

4.  I have degrees from 2 of the state’s biggest rivals – The University of Texas and Texas A&M.

5. I have been called a Garage Sale Diva. For years I helped organize huge garage sales to help raise funds for a girl scout troop. I have assisted friends with garage sales to get rid of their unwanted treasures (notice I don’t say junk). As the reigning Queen of Garage Sales I am personally challenged to make sure no shopper leaves without a purchase!

“Diedra is truly THE BEST.  She takes care of GWCA families as if each were a member of her own family.  Diedra also comes around the office every morning to say, “hi!”  She cares so much about adoption and advocates for her families, the children, and her staff.  Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness makes each adoption journey memorable.”- Diedra’s co-worker

Read More

April Places Everyone

On April 10, 2013 the China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) released they completed matching for families whose dossiers were logged in through 10/24/2006.  I am monitoring the status of referrals regularly and will keep you updated.

If you are in the 10/26/2006, 11/7/2006, and 11/13/2006  LID group and have not been in contact with me please call or email me at 512-323-9595 ext. 3092 or email kristin@gwca.org ASAP to review your status.

NEWS & UPDATES:

 NEW GREAT WALL CHINA ADOPTIONS AND CHILDREN OF ALL NATIONS ADOPTIONS FORUM

Great Wall and Children of All Nations has just started a new Adoption Forum, so all our families can connect to have positive, inspirational, and informative discussions. The Forum will have discussion topics about our country programs.  Our Adoption Forum also contains a book club. Each month we will post an intriguing adoption book to explore and discuss.  Join our Adoption Forum today and become more interactive in the Great Wall and Children of All Nations family herehttp://childrenofallnations.com/forum/

NEW WEBINAR THIS MONTH!
China Waiting Child Program: Craniofacial Conditions

I want to  let you know about a new webinar being hosted by our Waiting Child Team: China Waiting Child Medical Conditions Overview: Craniofacial Conditions. In this webinar series we will be providing information on specific special needs that we see in the China Waiting Child Program. The goal is to provide some education to help demystify a special need. We know the medical terms can be overwhelming and even intimidating, so our goal is to help you understand a certain special need that you may not even have previously considered. And of course, we’ll be telling you about beautiful Waiting Children who have that special need.

This webinar will cover common Craniofacial medical conditions that we see in the Waiting Child Program. Topics will include Cleft Lip and Palate, Hemifacial Microsomia, Microtia, and Facial Deformities. You’ll have a great introduction to learn more about this common medical condition, to see before and after pictures, and an opportunity to ask questions.  When families hear the term “special needs”, many may assume this means a child has a severe, life-long, life-altering medical or developmental condition. In the Waiting Child Program we often see children of varying ages with needs which are easily treated, correctable or manageable, such as Craniofacial conditions.  Everyone is encouraged to attend!

 Be sure to register to for this webinar which will be held on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, at 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT. To sign up please follow the link below:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/902467920

Help us get to know your family and what you are hoping for in an adoption with our Waiting Child Profile! Waiting Child Profile. To fill one out, please visit: http://www.gwca.org/waiting-child-profile-init-2/

Read More

8 New Referrals for Great Wall Families!

On February 27, 2013 we received 8 referrals for families whose dossiers were logged in on October 16th and 19th, 2006.  This referral group included 7 girls and 1 boy whose ages ranged from 1 year to 3 years . Children in this referral group were from the Guangxi, Jiangsu and Jiangxi provinces. Congratulations to these families!

If you are in the 10/26/2006 and 11/7/2006 LID group and have not been in contact with me please call or email me at 512-323-9595 ext. 3092 or email kristin@gwca.org ASAP to review your status.

Read More

USCIS Paperwork Information

Families have two options: you can apply for extensions of your paperwork with USCIS, or allow your paperwork to lapse and re-file with USCIS under the I-800A once closer to referral.  Keep in mind that we do recommend families interested in adopting a child through our Waiting Child Program keep their USCIS approval current.

Please remember you are NOT required to continue refilling for the I800A approval.

Per CCCWA guidelines, families are now required to work with a COA accredited or Hague accredited home study agency for post adoption reports, unless using the same home study agency that you worked with during your dossier phase.  If you have moved during the process and are working with a new home study agency other than the agency that assisted you during the dossier phase, your new agency must be COA accredited or Hague accredited for the purpose of your post adoption reports. If you are no longer working with your original home study agency please let us know so that we can confirm your current agency’s accreditation status. Remember GWCA must review and approve each home study and home study update before it is finalized.  Do not hesitate to contact us directly should you have questions about this process.

Read More

The LID Edge: Families with log in date have the EDGE!

The CCCWA adds new children to the Waiting Child shared list once a month. For the first month that a child is available for adoption, they can only be matched with a family that is logged-in. CCCWA allows families who already have a dossier logged in (like you) to adopt a child with a treatable or correctable condition. You would work directly with our staff to select, review and be matched with a child with minor health conditions. Only families with a LID can request these children. The Waiting Child team monitors the shared list for potential matches for our LID families. You are able to designate the gender, age range, and conditions you are open to. When families hear the term “special needs”, many may assume this means a child has a severe, life-long, life-altering medical or developmental condition. In the Waiting Child Program, we often see young children with needs which are correctable and easily manageable. LID families who are open to special needs such as cleft lip and palate, minor orthopedic issues, minor heart conditions, and others are currently being matched in just 1-6 months. Children with commonly accepted or “minor” conditions will generally be placed very quickly with a family who has a LID.

Our Waiting Child Team is offering a Waiting Child webinar which will go over special needs and include information about the LID Edge. Join us to learn more about the Waiting Child process for LID families, as well as some of the special needs we see most often.

China Waiting Child Webinar: Adopting a Child with Special Needs
Tue. Feb 12, 2013 11:00 am – 12:00 PM CST

To register for this webinar:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/251604273

If you are interested in the Waiting Child program help us get to know your family and what you are hoping for in an adoption! We encourage families who are interested to complete our Waiting Child Profile. This is a free, brief survey that doesn’t commit you to the waiting child program but will allow us to gain a better understanding of your adoption desires. To fill one out, please visit:   http://www.gwca.org/waiting-child-profile-init-2/
I hope that you will consider attending the webinar and then get back to us with any questions or concerns.

USCIS Paperwork Information

Please remember you are NOT required to continue refiling for the I800A approval.

Families have two options: you can apply for extensions of your paperwork with USCIS, or allow your paperwork to lapse and re-file with USCIS under the I-800A once closer to referral. Keep in mind that we do recommend families interested in adopting a child through our Waiting Child Program keep their USCIS approval current.

Per CCCWA guidelines, families are now required to work with a COA accredited or Hague accredited home study agency for post adoption reports, unless using the same home study agency that you worked with during your dossier phase. If you have moved during the process and are working with a new home study agency other than the agency that assisted you during the dossier phase, your new agency must be COA accredited or Hague accredited for the purpose of your post adoption reports. If you are no longer working with your original home study agency please let us know so that we can confirm your current agency’s accreditation status. Remember GWCA must review and approve each home study and home study update before it is finalized. Do not hesitate to contact us directly should you have questions about this process.

Read More

Chinese New Year

This weekend marks the beginning of the celebration of Chinese New Year. This is the most important and longest of the traditional Chinese holidays. 2013 is the year of the snake. The holiday is from 2/8 – 2/15. Businesses, including CCCWA will be closed during this time.

Here are some fun traditions to incorporate to your family’s celebratory weekend! ( Reference and Source: History Channel)

**Red envelopes -Called “hong bao” in Mandarin, the red envelopes filled with money are typically only given to children or unmarried adults with no job. If you’re single and working and making money, you still have to give the younger ones the hong bao money. The color red denotes good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance in the Chinese Culture and is often worn or used for decoration in other celebrations.

**Dragon – The Dragon is present in many Chinese cultural celebrations as the Chinese people often think of themselves as descendants of the mythical creature. On the fifth day of the New Year when many people have to start going back to work, they will also have the Dancing Dragons perform in the front of the office building. On the 15th day of the New Year (Yuan Xiao Jie), they will also have dancing dragon performances. The dragon represents prosperity, good luck and good fortune.

**Traditional Foods-The Chinese New Year’s Eve meal is the most important dinner of the year.Many families often celebrate New Year’s Eve dinner at a restaurant. These dishes used to be all made from scratch, but now people can easily buy them prepackaged at the supermarkets.
•Eight Treasures Rice (contains glutinous rice, walnuts, different colored dry fruit, raisins, sweet red bean paste, jujube dates, and almonds).
•”Tang Yuan” – black sesame rice ball soup; or a Won Ton soup.
•Chicken, duck, fish and pork dishes.
•”Song Gao”, literally translates to “loose cake”- which is made of rice which has been coarsely ground and then formed into a small, sweet round cake.
•”Jiu Niang Tang” – sweet wine-rice soup which contains small glutinous rice balls
•a sweet soup made of cut-up fruit: Cut fruit is added into hot/warm water which has had a thickening agent (like cornstarch).

Check your family’s local resources; there might be some fun activities in your area to celebrate this holiday!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! “Best wishes and congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year.”

Read More

Congress Extends Adoption Tax Credit

January 2, 2013 – Alexandria, VA – Late Tuesday night,
Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act which will become law upon President Obama’s signature. Amongst the provisions of this Act was an extension of the adoption tax credit.

Complete details of implementation are still to be seen, but the bill permanently extends the adoption tax credit which is set at $10,000, but may once again be scaled for inflation, potentially bringing it to near the 2012 amount of $12,650. Families with incomes under $150,000 will receive the full credit and it will gradually phase out for higher incomes.

“Congress is to be commended for remembering children and families as a priority. The adoption tax credit is an important layer of support for families who adopt. The credit helps ensure children find their way to safe, stable, loving, and permanent families” says Megan Lindsey of National Council For Adoption. “We are grateful to Congress, the Obama administration, and our many partnering advocates in the Save the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group for their tireless efforts on behalf of this important credit.”

The complete language of the American Taxpayer Relief Act is available here.

Read More

The Stork has landed

Hello! The Stork has landed at Great Wall China Adoption. CCCWA has completed the matching process for families with dossiers registered through October 10, 2006. Last week we received 5 referrals for families whose dossiers were logged in on October 9, 2006 and 1 referral for an expedited family with a log in date of 10/10/2007.(The qualifications for an expedited family are US Citizens living and working in China for at least one year prior to sending in their dossier. Or one of the prospective adoptive parents is Chinese and born in China or one full set of grand parents are Chinese and born in China.)

This referral group included 6 girls whose ages ranged from 9 months to 1 years old. Children in this referral group were from the Sichuan, Yunnan and Jiangxi provinces. Congratulations to these families!

Please contact me ASAP if you are in the 10/16/2006, 10/19/2006 or 10/26/2006 to review your status.

Catherine Silbiger
Referral Consultan

Catherine@gwca.org
512-323-9595 ext. 3051

Read More

USCIS Paperwork Information

Families have two options: you can apply for extensions of your paperwork with USCIS, or allow your paperwork to lapse and re-file with USCIS under the I-800A once closer to referral.  Keep in mind that we do recommend families interested in adopting a child through our Waiting Child Program keep their USCIS approval current.

Please note you are NOT required to continue refilling for the I800A approval.

For information on the form I-800A, and to download the form, please visit the USCIS website at: http://www.uscis.gov/i-800a

Per CCCWA guidelines, families are now required to work with a COA accredited or Hague accredited home study agency for post adoption reports. If you have moved during the process and are working with a new home study agency other than the agency that assisted you during the dossier phase, your new agency must be COA accredited or Hague accredited for the purpose of your post adoption reports. If you are no longer working with your original home study agency please let us know so that we can confirm your current agency’s accreditation status. Remember GWCA must review and approve each home study and home study update before it is finalized.  Do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have questions about this process.

Read More