February Is Heart Month

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February is American Heart Awareness Month, a time when the country comes together to spread awareness about the dangers of heart disease and show support for those with heart conditions such as CHD. Heart Month is particularly significant to those of us in the adoption community, because many Waiting Children around the world are without families due to medical conditions such as CHD.

What is CHD?

Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) occur when a child is born with an abnormally structured heart. In many cases, CHD presents itself as one or more holes in the walls between the heart’s chambers, an issue with the vessels, or incomplete development of a portion of the heart, which can compromise the heart’s ability to pump blood to deliver oxygen to the tissues of the body.

Treatment

While most cases of CHD are treatable with medication and/or surgery, many of the children in our programs are in situations where they may not have access to the treatment they need. That’s where our Orphan Warriors come in! We’ve seen  countless families open their homes to children with heart conditions, and it’s incredible how quickly we can see improvement in a child’s condition once they’re home and receiving the treatment they need.

Down Syndrome and CHD

Although our matching specialists advocate for kids with a wide variety of special needs, the need most commonly seen among children that we advocate for — particularly in our China Waiting Child adoption program — is Down syndrome. While it’s not always the case, it’s common for children with Down syndrome to also have CHD.

GWCA is currently advocating for many children with Down syndrome. If this is a need that your family is open to, visit our China Waiting Child photo listing to learn how you can be matched with one of these incredible kiddos!

GWCA and CAN’s Waiting Children

Our China and CAN matching specialists are currently advocating for several kids with heart conditions. If your family is interested in learning how you can be matched with one of these incredible kiddos, visit our Waiting Child photo listings or contact our matching specialists today!

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Lena Yi Yi’s Journey – An ‘Older Child Adoption’ Story

We LOVE receiving updates from families that have come home. Not only is it incredible to see how far a child can come in a short amount of time with the love and support of a family, but it’s a great reminder that adoption is so much more than the process we help families through each and every day.

Lena Yi Yi was adopted at the age of 12, and welcomed into a loving family. Now, six years later, she is absolutely thriving, living out her dreams and exploring her passion for dance! Here is an update that we received from Lena Yi Yi’s proud mom:

unnamed (4)Lena Yi Yi will be 19 on March 28th. It goes fast when you adopt them at an older age. Overall we have had a smooth ‘older child’ adoption. Knowing that she bonded with her Chinese adopted family from very early infancy I know helped. She’s very much fit into our family. She is actually so much like her dad in so many ways that except for her appearance one would not know she’s not our biological child. She is still home-schooled and will graduate either in late May or early August depending on how fast she completes her work.

She speaks English well but still struggles with reading and writing English although it’s improving slowly but surely. She is also still 100% fluent in Chinese. I had her take one semester with a native Chinese teacher, who immigrated to the US from China and settled in Nevada. This woman is a certified teacher and the super advanced Chinese lessons were via Skype. The teacher said Lena was very intelligent and read quite well and grasped new concepts in advanced Chinese very quickly.

Lena Yi Yi’s goals after graduation range from continuing to improve in English so she can work as a translator, to being a missionary and work in orphanages all over the world, and to continue training in dance and work in a Christian ballet company.  She is applying to be a part of Wichita State University’s International Intensive English program. Although she’s a US citizen and this program is normally for international students, they do occasionally work with US citizen’s where English isn’t their first language. Regardless of all of her other goals, Brad and I agree this would give her a huge boost in anything she tries to do in life.

Speaking of dance, this has been Lena Yi Yi’s passion her entire time here. Ballet is her favorite although she has also trained in jazz, tap, contemporary, and has been a part of a studio ‘funk team’ and was selected to be a part of a competitive dance team in Wichita. This year she was chosen to be a part of the Nutcracker in Wichita. I am sending an article that ran in our small town newspaper about that.  I am also sending some pictures and Facebook stories.

I feel her story is a good one to share as I know many with older child adoption have had struggles. We are thankful for all the help we had at Great Wall as well as that things really have gone pretty smoothly for us.

If your family is interested in learning how you can adopt an older child through China’s Waiting Child adoption program, visit GWCA’s Waiting Child photo listing or contact our matching specialists today!

Share YOUR Story with GWCA today by sending it to ana@gwca.org!

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5 New Kids Are Waiting

AlfieMeet Alfie! Alfie is a precious kiddo who is about to turn three years old. He was born with Down Syndrome and polydactyly of his left hand. Alfie is a happy, sweet kiddo who would thrive with the love and affection of a forever family! He is able to sit up with assistance and appears to be getting stronger each day with the help of his caregivers. He is not verbal at this time, but he can clearly express his needs (such as hunger, thirst). He loves listening to music and described as being very close to his caretakers! If you’d like to learn more about Alfie, please reach out to Great Wall!

GloriaMeet Gloria! Gloria is an amazing 11-year old girl in need of a family to call her own. Gloria’s left leg grows at a much faster rate than the rest of her body, but it doesn’t stop her from running, jumping, swimming, and being an active and happy kiddo. She has a bright and beautiful personality and would thrive with the love of a forever family. A volunteer with Bring Me Hope had the chance to spend some time with Gloria, and they wrote about their experience with this amazing girl:

“Gloria is a very special girl. I have been blessed to be her volunteer for two years at Bring Me Hope Camp, and can truly attest to the fact that she positively affects the people she comes in contact with. Her smile is absolutely beautiful, and her laughter is contagious. It has been a joy to get to know her!

During camp, Gloria especially loved painting nails. Hers, our camp director’s, other kids, a boys…it didn’t matter! It was a joy to watch her carefully concentrate on making everyone’s nails beautiful. She spoke clear English as she asked people: “What color? Blue, ok!” The simple activity of nail painting truly showed her high intelligence. She not only spoke many English words, but was also so neat and proper in the nail painting.

Gloria’s special need is left foot hyperblastosis, which means that her left leg grows much faster than the rest of her body. That’s it! She is still fully capable of self care, running, and even graceful dancing. I feel that her biggest special need is for a caring Mama and Baba to lovingly and genuinely tell her how beautiful and amazing she is. We would always tell her that she was beautiful at camp, but she would respond with an adamant “No!” She needs to know how gorgeous she is, inside and out. Gloria is an awesome little girl, and I can’t wait to see her in her forever family.”

We have incredible advocacy and update information for Gloria that we would love to share! Please reach out to Great Wall if you would like to learn more about this special girl!

TommyTommy is a precious little boy from China that is about to turn 3 years old. Tommy’s primary diagnosis is thalassemia (β type) for which he needs blood transfusions every one to two months. Tommy has good mobility abilities and good fine motor skills as well. He can follow simple instructions like throwing away trash when he is asked by his caretaker. Like many little boys his age he does not always like sharing his toys. He likes to build towers with blocks when he is playing and he really likes playing ball games. Tommy is speaking simple words and phrases. He knows what the different parts of his face are and he will point to them when his caretaker asks him to identify his nose, eyes, mouth, ears, etc. Tommy knows how to put his shoes on by himself. He gets upset when he doesn’t get enough cuddles from his caretakers. When Tommy goes to sleep at night he usually sucks on his fingers.

You can contact the China Home Finding Team at Great Wall if you would like to learn more about adopting Tommy. We hope we are able to find Tommy his Forever Family soon!

KevinMeet Kevin! He is a 7 year old boy who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Kevin is a kiddo with lots of personality. He is in the Sunshine School in his orphanage and has made a ton of progress since admission. He can follow his teacher’s instructions, count to 100, knows his colors and different types of food and can talk about the months on the calendar! He is described as being a positive kiddo who can get along with all of his classmates. Kevin receives rehabilitation training for his Cerebral Palsy and seems to have made a lot of progress. His hands and feet are much more flexible than before and can could put on his socks and shoes independently. Kevin has improved from relying solely on his crawling abilities to being able to run! Contact one of our matching specialists today if you’d like to review his medical file! LizzieMeet Lizzie! She is an adorable 2-year old girl with Down Syndrome! Lizzie is a happy, giggly kiddo who loves to spend time with her caretakers. She can stand and walk with assistance and has excellent fine motor skills. She loves to cuddle and hug her caregivers! If you would like to learn more about Lizzie, please reach out to Great Wall! Read More

Eight Months Home – Learning Our Dance

YourdonFamily-2016.10.27-NealDieker-278It was eight months ago today that we brought our daughter home and began our life as a family of nine. I will never forget the day we met that little girl in the pink dress. The look on Naomi’s face during those first moments together is etched in my memory. She was so brave and clearly intrigued by us. At the same time, she had the “blank look” I have come to recognize as a sign that she is overwhelmed and nervous.

You see, 8 months ago, we were total strangers. I was already in love with her or at least the idea of her. She had seen our photographs but could not be fully prepared for what was to come. We were instantly mommy and daughter, all the while still strangers to one another. The dance of attachment was beginning for us but we were nearly four years late to the party. I didn’t know her cries, her looks or her needs. When you bring home a new baby from the hospital, you study them. You ask yourself countless times a day, what does she need? I found that the same was true for our little Naomi. I needed to become a student of her, study her sounds and her actions. I would love to tell you that I did this perfectly but I did not. There were times we were both in tears from sheer frustration. There were times I was not as patient as I should have been and lost sight of what was really important. I have had to apologize and ask her for forgiveness more times than I like to think about.

The beautiful thing about a family is that we just keep loving and moving forward. There have been countless victories in these eight months, reasons to celebrate and solidify the bond that we have created. We parent our seven children in a way that gives us the great gift of time. We home school so there is no need to rush off in separate directions each morning. Granted, Daddy has to go to work but we are all excited when he walks back through that door! Learning the rhythm of our family has been accelerated for Naomi as she watches the way I interact with all her siblings on a minute by minute basis. Giving her a solid foundation of what family means is our priority. We know that her little heart still has plenty of healing to do. A child who was abandoned at the approximate age of two certainly needs time to feel safe and secure. She asks me often, “Momma, gonna go bye bye?” I rarely leave the house without my children but the thought of being separated from Momma is still unnerving for our little girl. On the rare occasion that I leave the kids with Daddy or Grandparents, I remind Naomi, “Momma comes back. Momma always comes back.” We have a little song we sing with these words. It is an important ritual for us.

YourdonFamily-2016.10.27-NealDieker-178Naomi’s big sister, Izabella, is just a few months older than her. Izabella was our only girl for four years. We had no idea how their bonding would go but we prayed fervently that they would be a gift to one another. Their relationship has exceeded our wildest hopes. I will never forget one of their first nights together, Izabella hugged Naomi tight, looked at me and said, “Mom, thank you so much for my sister!” They take great joy in spending time together. They are little mommas to their baby dolls. They love to color and make crafts together. They sit next to each other for every meal. They are taking a weekly ballet class together. The sight of them in their little tutus is more than this momma’s heart can stand. They attend the same art class and story time class at our home school co-op. They are precious little shopping buddies and love it when we have girl dates. They often say, “girl power!” when they accomplish a difficult task. I am grateful to have a front row seat to watch their relationship develop. A sister is truly a gift.

YourdonFamily-2016.10.27-NealDieker-260We have been amazed by Naomi’s patience and kindness with all her siblings. She has learned to stick up for herself when she needs to. We think this a terrific sign of how comfortable she has become in her family. Her adoption was our first experience with adopting out of birth order. Naomi is older than our two youngest sons. They were two years old when she arrived home and she was weeks away from turning four. We felt that Izabella would keep her identity as our oldest daughter and the little boys would keep their identity as our babies. We were right. The transition has been seamless.

Every night when I tuck Naomi in bed she says, “Momma, sing Jesus!” She snuggles her teddy bear and baby doll and settles in for this comforting nightly routine. I rub her back and sing this song, “Jesus loves Naomi this I know for the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus love Naomi. Yes, Jesus loves Naomi. Yes, Jesus loves Naomi. The bible tells me so.” Then I lay my hand still on her back and whisper a prayer in her ear to the King of Kings. I thank him for her life. I praise him for the restoration he has done and will continue to do. I ask him to continue to bind our hearts together. I pray for her best friend from the orphanage who is happily home with her family. If I forget this part, I am quickly reminded. I ask God to draw her heart to his. I pray that she will grow up to boldly walk in the calling he lays on her heart. I have no doubt his plans for her are great. When I say amen, I kiss her little face and tell both my girls, “Goodnight my princesses.”

In the past eight months, there have been challenges to overcome, memories to make and milestones to celebrate. We are no longer strangers. We are well on our way to forever. Not only do we know the steps to our dance, we are tearing up the dance floor.

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April Has a $2,000 Grant Available!

Introducing our Sponsored Star for February, April!

April Sponsored StarApril is a beautiful 13 year old girl form China who is in danger of aging out on her 14th birthday this September. Her file was recently prepared by one of GWCA’s Orphanage Partnerships and we are so hopeful that she will find her forever family very soon.

April’s file indicates that she has ametropia in both eyes, but other than that she seems to be doing very well! She was abandoned at birth, but was temporarily taken in and raised by a family until she was three years old.

At the age of three, April was taken to the orphanage where she lived before moving to a foster family. Her foster family describes her as obedient and very helpful with chores around the house. She is a very sweet girl with a quiet and introverted personality.

April is now in the 8th grade, and her favorite subjects are Chinese and English. She has been asked directly if she would like to be adopted by an American family, and she said yes.

As our Sponsored Star for February, April has a $2,000 grant available towards her adoption fees! If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about April, please visit our photo listing or contact our matching specialists today!

What is a Sponsored Star?

On the 1st of each month, Great Wall China Adoption will feature one of the kiddos from our Orphanage Partnerships as our monthly “Sponsored Star!” As our Sponsored Star, that child will be provided a $2,000 grant towards their adoption fees! Each of the kiddos selected will be a Special Focus child,  meaning they have not found their Forever Family yet due to their age or the degree of their needs. Together, we can find loving homes for these amazing kids!

We encourage any families interested in learning more about our Sponsored Star of the Month to visit our China Waiting Child Photo Listing, or contact our China Matching Specialists to learn how you can be matched today! Check back on the first of each month to meet the newest featured child!

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