New Orphanage Partnership

New OP1We are honored to announce that the CCCWA and Sichuan Civil Affairs have approved a new orphanage partnership between GWCA and Luzhou Orphanage! Our GWCA Orphan Care team recently had a chance to visit this orphanage, where they were able to meet with children and conduct an initial interview. The information that is gathered in these interviews is incredibly helpful to our China matching specialists, as it allows us to provide potential families with the most up-to-date information on their development and needs. Luzhou Orphanage is currently preparing these children’s files for international adoption so that our matching specialists can begin advocating for them.

If your family is interested in learning how you can be matched with a child from one of our orphanage partnerships, contact our China matching specialists today!

What are orphanage partnerships?

With thousands of Waiting Children in China, agencies have begun to partner with specific orphanages. These partnerships allow adoption agencies to give back to Chinese orphanages by providing them with the resources to help prepare children’s files for international adoption, and improving programs within the orphanage, giving each orphan the opportunity to thrive. This also means the orphanage provides any new files that are prepared exclusively to their partner agencies rather than releasing them to China’s shared list. This gives each child a greater chance of being placed, as the agency begins advocating for their adoption immediately. Some orphanages partner with multiple agencies in order to best advocate for their waiting children. It is not uncommon that we will learn of certain children before their files become available. This allows and even greater chance for child advocacy.

Why are they important?

Orphanage partnerships are an important part of the China Waiting Child adoption process, as they benefit all parties that are involved. Not only do they contribute to the well being of each orphan within the institute, they help in the process of finding them a forever family by ensuring that their files are prepared and provided to an agency. This benefits the agency as they receive both files for Special Focus and Non Special Focus children. These files can then be reviewed by any families that are in process with the agency, as they have exclusive access to the file for a period of time. Partnership with an orphanage also allows for better and quicker updates, more photos, and more videos that aid in the placing of children with their forever families.

If you’re interested in learning more about the orphanages that GWCA is currently partnered with, visit our website or contact our matching specialists today!

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GWCA Partners With Yue Yang Region

regionWe are honored to announce that the CCCWA and Hunan Civil Affairs have approved a new partnership between GWCA and the Yue Yang region! There are a total of 9 orphanages in this region, and we are so incredibly excited to begin working with each of them. Our staff recently had the opportunity to visit these orphanages, where they were able to meet with of the kids that we will be advocating for, and conduct an initial interview. These children’s files should be available to us soon, and we are eager to help match them with loving Forever Families! Keep an eye out on our China Waiting Child photo listing, or contact us to learn how you can be matched with a child from one of our orphanage partnerships

What are orphanage partnerships?

With thousands of Waiting Children in China, agencies have begun to partner with specific orphanages. These partnerships allow adoption agencies to give back to Chinese orphanages by providing them with the resources to help prepare children’s files for international adoption, and improving programs within the orphanage, giving each orphan the opportunity to thrive. This also means the orphanage provides any new files that are prepared exclusively to their partner agencies rather than releasing them to China’s shared list. This gives each child a greater chance of being placed, as the agency begins advocating for their adoption immediately. Some orphanages partner with multiple agencies in order to best advocate for their waiting children. It is not uncommon that we will learn of certain children before their files become available. This allows and even greater chance for child advocacy.

Why are orphanage partnerships important?

Orphanage partnerships are an important part of the China Waiting Child adoption process, as they benefit all parties that are involved. Not only do they contribute to the well being of each orphan within the institute, they help in the process of finding them a forever family by ensuring that their files are prepared and provided to an agency. This benefits the agency as they receive both files for Special Focus and Non Special Focus children. These files can then be reviewed by any families that are in process with the agency, as they have exclusive access to the file for a period of time. Partnership with an orphanage also allows for better and quicker updates, more photos, and more videos that aid in the placing of children with their forever families.

If you’re interested in learning more about the orphanages that GWCA is currently partnered with, contact our China matching specialists today!

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7 New Kids Added This Week!

TuckerTucker is a cute little guy that is 1 1/2 years old! Tucker has Down’s Syndrome and CHD. He lives with a foster family and has been thriving in their care. Tucker has some difficulty sitting up and standing on his own but his file indicates that he’s always trying to strengthen his abilities. We think that with the right family and rehabilitation plan, Tucker will be able to overcome these delays! His caretakers say that he loves being in crowded places so he can be observant. Tucker has good grasping ability and can play with toys on his own. His caretakers say that he loves watching television and frequently giggles at the TV! Contact Great Wall if you’d like to review Tucker’s file!


Miles is an adorable 4 year old boy who loves to laugh with his friends and caregivers! Miles was diagnosed at a young age with hydrocephalus, and had a shunt inserted into his head in June of 2013. The shunt helped to alleviate some of his symptoms, but unfortunately he began to develop excess fluid in his head once again and is now in need of further treatment. He is delayed in language, mobility, and cognition, but has made improvements during his time with his caregivers. His caregivers say that he gets along well with other kiddos, and that he loves to laugh! The describe him as a lovely child, and they are very hopeful that he will find his forever family soon. If you’d like to learn more about Miles, please reach out to Great Wall!

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QuinnQuinn is an adorable little girl from China that is 2 and a half years old. Quinn has Down’s Syndrome and is doing quite well. One of our GWCA staff members met Quinn when she visited China earlier this year and she would be happy to speak with any interested family about Quinn! 

Quinn has been described by caregivers as clever, introverted, cute and energetic. Quinn lives in an imitation family on the orphanage grounds, which is like a foster family, so she is receiving more one-on-one attention than some other children. Quinn can use her hands to hold small objects, such as sticks, books, spoons, etc. Quinn can pass toys between both of her hands and can use hands to support herself. When Quinn is sitting up the child has good balance and can change her position freely. Quinn can crawl, she can stand up by herself and is learning to walk. Quinn likes to walk around using small chairs and stools to help her balance. Like many children with Down’s Syndrome, Quinn’s language abilities are delayed compared to other children her age without Down’s Syndrome. However, Quinn can say words like “ma ma,” “ba ba,” and she imitates what adults and children around her are saying. Quinn enjoys listening to music, looking at picture books and dancing. Quinn can color on paper and play with puzzles.  Quinn is clearly a very curious little girl and always seems to want to figure out how things work.

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

Click Here to Watch My New Videos: Video #1! | Video #2! | Video #3!

JackJack is a sweet 3-year old boy looking for his forever family! Jack’s official diagnosis is cerebral palsy, and it is unclear as to whether or not he has been diagnosed with a syndrome as well. Jack is able to walk with the assistance of his caregivers, and has good fine motor skills. His language is delayed, but he does imitate his caregiver’s language and expressions through his actions. He will even observe his family doing housework and will imitate their movements! He is very close with his foster grandmother and has formed excellent attachments with his caregivers. Jack makes his caregivers very happy, and they said that they love him very much. If you’d like to review Jack’s full file, please reach out to Great Wall!JosiahJosiah was recently apart of GWCA’s JOY program. A family spent a week getting to know Josiah and these are some of the amazing things they have to say about him!

Mr. Josiah is the cool kid who just wants to please! He’s hilarious and has a killer sense of humor! Josiah is not only fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, but he is extremely good with the English language. Often times on our journey we were grateful we had Josiah as he was able to translate for us in a pinch! He REALLY is hoping to find a family, soon! Josiah is an all-around HAPPY dude. He has great friends, including another Joy kiddo named Sean, does excellent work in school & isn’t afraid to jump into the mix of things no matter what they are. One of my favorite things about Josiah is the wonder in his eyes. With every new experience he was ready to take it on with an open mind & no hesitation! Josiah would be an excellent big brother, little brother or only child… he’s really a happy-go-lucky kiddo who just wants to belong & be loved! Josiah has a congenital heart defect. At two years-old he had surgery that, if he was born in the US, would have been done at infancy. This probably saved his life, for now. The procedure was successful, but what happens when kids get older? They grow, and so do their hearts. Josiah will most likely need another procedure. We will not know until a cardiac surgeon has the opportunity to complete a full medical profile. What Josiah wants the most is a family. I witnessed this every moment I was with him last week in China. He wanted to please me. He wanted attention from me and the other advocates. He wanted to be friends with the other kids. And he was all that and more.

SeanSean was recently apart of GWCA’s JOY program. A family spent a week getting to know Sean and these are some of the amazing things they have to say about him! Sean is a clever, well-mannered and helpful 13 year old boy. Our family spent 5 days getting to know Sean, and within hours of meeting him we could see that despite the fact that he is deaf and mostly mute, he is very intelligent. He had hearing aids until he was 3 years old but they were uncomfortable so he quit wearing them. Then, when he came into the orphanage they were no longer accessible. He says he cannot hear from his left ear but he can hear sounds and words from his right ear if he is wearing an earbud headphone. Sean is fluent in Chinese Sign Language and seemed to be keen on learning ASL signs as well. He can also read and write in Chinese. He is very “tuned in” to whatever is going on around him and finds ways to communicate with others. He is well behaved, patient, observant and helpful. Since we spent 5 days with him, we were able to watch him even when he wasn’t aware we were doing so. His excellent behavior was consistent at all times. Sean has an amazing sense of humor! His humor is universal and he understands other’s level of “fun” and play easily so nobody ever got hurt! Sean also knows there is a time & a place for this kind of silly, and quickly reels it back in when necessary. We had younger children in our group, and he was always patient as we had to tend to their many needs. We got to play ball, jump rope, blow bubbles, play tag, and even had a water fight. We could tell that Sean is an incredibly active, athletic and agile kiddo. This young man would fit well into any family. He is longing for parents and even siblings of his own. He is TRULY an amazing young man & the family whom steps up to adopt him will be so fortunate to have him in their lives!

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JadeJade is an adorable little gal that is 4 years old! Jade was born with PKU. She is also delayed compared to her file does not indicate how significant her delays are. She can walk freely, go up and downstairs on her own and can help her caretakers with some basic self-care needs. Jade is delayed on her language development but her caretakers say that she is eager to get the attention of new and familiar people. Jade’s file is limited so GWCA is working on getting an update on her. Please contact one of our matching specialists if you are interested in reviewing her full file!

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Two New Orphanage Partnerships in Zhejiang Province!

OP Feat FlipWe are very excited to announce that our agency has recently gained two new Orphanage Partnerships in Zhejiang Province! Our China Orphanage Partnership team visited the orphanages and screened many kids that are waiting to be placed. We are extremely grateful to CCCWA, Zhejiang Civil Affairs  and our new orphanage partners for trusting our agency with the responsibility to find forever homes for their children.

What is an Orphanage Partnership?

GWCA’s Orphanage Partnerships work directly with our agency to prepare children’s files so that we can place them with loving Forever Families as quickly as possible! Once a child’s file has been prepared by one of our partner orphanages, it is given directly to our agency rather than being placed on China’s Shared List. This means that our families have the opportunity to be among the first to see these children’s files when considering if they would be a good fit for their family. If you’re interested in learning more about the kiddos from our OPs, contact our China Matching Specialists, or visit our China Waiting Child Photo Listing today!

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Meeting Eva in China

Just weeks ago Heidi, one of our China Matching Specialists, had the opportunity to travel to China to meet with GWCA’s Orphanage Partnerships. While there, she met countless amazing children that are in need of loving Forever Families. Here is a blog about her experience meeting one particular little lady named Eva!

Heidi & Jin Jia Xiang (Jinhua)I had the privilege of traveling to China a few weeks ago to visit 6 out of GWCA’s 13 orphanage partnerships.  I had an amazing time meeting the staff of these orphanages and 99 kiddos from the Waiting Child Adoption Program.  I got to experience the unique culture of China including their amazing food (let me tell you about how hard it is to eat with chopsticks though!), art, language and customs.  I went to China to meet the kids at the orphanages, learn more about them, and take more photos and videos of them so that when we do receive their files I will have more information to share with families who are interested in adopting them.

Some of the orphanages I went to were in big cities and others were in more rural areas.  No matter where I went though, everyone would stare at me, including the kids in the orphanages.  Most of these children had never met a non-Chinese person before, so they were completely fascinated by me, from the way I talked and how I looked, to how I dressed and even how I interacted with them.  In each orphanage as I was interviewing kids, the rest of the children in the orphanage would gather up in the hallway and peak through the windows and doorways at me.  When I would turn and wave at them and say “Hello” they would  all smile and giggle and run away laughing.  And always they would return shortly after to peer into the room and observe me again.

One of the things I was the most impressed with was the positivity and resilience of the older children who have lived in the orphanages most of their lives.  These are both healthy older children (mostly boys) and children with minor or moderate special needs.  The kids I met have such energy and a zest for life that is utterly infectious the moment you enter the room!

Jin Ru (6)There was one girl, who I’ll call “Eva,” (pictured) that I met while I was in China who is 13 years old and will be aging out of the Chinese Orphanage system next February.  Aging out means that a child will not be able to be adopted after their 14th birthday, so kids like Eva will never get a chance to have a family after they turn 14 years old.  Out of all 99 kids I met over the two week period I was in China, Eva was one that really stood out to me.  Eva walked up to me as soon as I entered the orphanage and with a big smile and lots of confidence she said, “Hello!  I’m Eva.  Good Morning!”  Eva was such a happy kiddo, telling me some in English, some through a translator, what her favorite games to play were, that she is in school and what grade she is in, what her favorite sports are and who her best friends are.  As you can imagine, after years of not being adopted, Eva really wants to be adopted and have parents and a family.  She only has about 10 months left before that will no longer be a possibility.

Every day since I’ve been back from China I have thought about Eva and what a special little girl she is.  Eva is so very deserving of the love and attention of a forever family, as are all of the wonderful kiddos I met in China.  I have been hoping that there is a family out there who will want to adopt Eva and give her the family that she has always dreamed of!  Could you be that family?

If you are interested in learning how you can become Eve’s Forever Family, visit our photo listing, watch her videos below, or contact Heidi at heidi@gwca.org today. She is more than happy to speak with any interested families about her experience meeting this amazing girl.

Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3

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Orphan Hosting Arrival Makes Houston News

This summer’s hosting adventure has officially begun! Kayley, Cayce, and I began the journey Sunday afternoon on the drive from Austin to Houston. We wanted to hit the road early to be ready first thing Monday morning refreshed and ready to go with plenty of time to spare. Lists in hand, families ready to go, we braced ourselves for what we knew was going to be an unforgettable day.

Bright and early, we hit the ground running, barely containing our composure as our anxiety, eagerness, and nervousness began to build. News stations had gotten word of our program and were already calling us for details about the day. That’s when the excitement really set in – this is really happening! The kids are COMING! We must have shouted it at least a dozen times in the car as we made our way to IAH that incredible day.

20150720_131003We did a quick drive through to determine what the terminal distance looked like and what we were likely facing. So many questions ran through our heads: would the kids be able to get from the international terminal to the domestic in time? What about the delay we knew about that had set the children back about an hour? Kayley and Cayce stopped off at the domestic terminals to pick up gate passes from the incredibly helpful staff at the IAH Airport, and I headed over to the International Arrivals pickup where I knew families would be arriving in just a few hours to meet hteir children. A long time family friend of mine also showed up – it’s amazing how much support these incredible children have throughout our communities.

We found the perfect area to hang the banner, moved some seating around, and made ourselves at home. United was INCREDIBLE issuing us gate passes in order to escort the little ones, and boy that was a relief! With three groups departing from Houston to continue on their last leg of their journey to their host families, we knew we needed to help get the children where they needed to go as quickly as possible. Settled in, we began reflecting: 30 kids, 4 adult chaperones, 16 families, 3-4 news crews, ok… we can do this! At one point, Cayce and I checked our heart rates (well over 100!) and took a deep breath to steady our nerves.20150720_160436

It seemed as though traffic was everywhere around Houston and two families were stuck on their way from Dallas, the entire freeway was shut down. We tried to ease their nerves, knowing that their anticipation of meeting their kiddos and the stress of being late would be so much to bear.

20150720_141313Just as families started to arrive, the media began to show up, too! News stations from different parts of Texas could not believe how many stories each one of our families had to tell about their journey. We stated over and over again, EVERY hosting program has these same types of families – ones with big hearts who are willing and ready to help the children who need it most in these orphanages.

After waiting, watching, and hoping, finally it happened! The kids landed at 4:28 pm (we know because we kept staring at the clock!), almost an hour late. Just in time, one of the families who had been stuck in the Dallas traffic arrived. We soon began lining up to wait from them to come through the door of the customs check, not one of us wanting to miss the arrival of the kiddos through the door. We waited 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Obviously, getting 30 orphans through customs was taking a little bit longer than we hoped. Cayce stop on her tip toes staring through the door with a few other parents, and then finally, we see the little red shirts all in a group! At about quarter to six, the children walked through those sliding doors to the cheers and tears of the families waiting there for them! Some of them waved, a few of them ran to their families waiting with posters held high. It was one of the happiest moments I’ve had the privilege to witness, and there were very few dry eyes even amongst the passerby. 20150720_142617

For Kayley, Cayce, and I, there wasn’t quite as much time to feel everything we wanted to. Looking back, the hour after the children’s arrival feels like a blur. Kayley immediately grabbed the chaperones and kids for one flight to run to meet their domestic connection; Cayce grabbed the other group and dashed to another terminal.

20150720_175704As I saw each child’s face, my heart burst as I remembered seeing their sweet faces just months ago in their orphanage. I couldn’t believe it, they were finally here! We spent some time corralling the children, making sure everyone was with their family. There were some sweet moments, some teary moments, and some unforgettable moments. I watched as parent’s embraced their soon be children for the first time, and my heart warmed for them. I watched young kids meet strangers and take them like it was nothing. I had to pinch myself to remind myself that everything around me was actually happening.

Many families were able to depart quickly and start their official hosting journey. Some of the children needing some coaxing – the reality that they were in a foreign place with strange people really setting in. We had prepared the families for these kinds of fears, and the resilience these families showed, to stand by the children and wait to be the person who was there to hug them, hold them, and love them was indescribable.

For one family, arrival day was a true testament to their commitment. They had been stuck for five hours in the traffic outside of Houston. Cayce met them downstairs to bring them up to their kiddo, and it was clear that the stress of the day had taken its toll. Despite all they had been through, both parents and all of their kiddos were THRILLED to finally be there, finally be arriving to see their child waiting at the airport. And what a cool little dude he is!

Finally, with everyone where they needed to be, we looked at each other and were able to see the exhaustion (emotional and physical) in each others’ eyes. After 10 straight hours in an airport, we decided to stay in Houston. We settled some baggage issues and then went on our way to stay at my mom’s house for the evening, who, like the amazing woman she is, had hot pizza waiting for us (THANKS MOM!). She also already had the TV up and on record – we were on the news! We sat squealing in front of the television, pizza in hand, as the amazing stories of these children and families scrolled on the screen.

Without any further hitches, we received confirmation one after another that all the rest of our 14 kiddos had made it safely to their destination. It’s been a whirlwind, and we are happy to say that we’ve received countless stories already from the families with updates. While orphan hosting is not always sunshine and rainbows, it shouldn’t be. These are children who have been through some tough experiences, and standing by them is what makes these families the true Orphan Warriors they are. We will continue to keep you posted on how the children are doing – for now, enjoy the awesome photos!

Check out KHOU Houston’s News Story

photo (3)IMG_0194 IMG_0219 20150720_182653IMG_0192IMG_0182image1 (5)IMG_0226 IMG_0229 IMG_0237

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A Family’s Adoption Journey


What an incredible week we have had in the city of Guangzhou, however, we are ready to get home! Suitcases are packed. Ready for to take a train to Hong Kong and then hop a flight to the good ole’ USofA  – 6547 miles to home!!! Spent the last morning in Guangzhou sleeping in, eating a late breakfast, sneaking some bread from the breakfast buffet to feed the koi fish in the pond, then enjoying a lunch with another adopting family.





A total of six families from our adoption agency traveled together and we so cherish each of them! Incredible that six more children now have families and are sons and daughters. Gives you chills to hear how god moved in mighty ways over the last year to unite these families with their children. We are grateful for how they all took care of duo and i as well. Our guide, Kelly, was also a precious gift as she took great care of us. We boarded a train from Guangzhou to get to Hong Kong. My incredibly silly son passed the time by making faces for the camera!



After arriving very late in the evening at our hotel, regal airport hotel, we ate dinner and went to sleep. The next morning we woke up early and boarded the flight to home. We happened to be flying on the same flight as our friends that just adopted a precious 2 year old girl and sat next to them. Made for a fun 12 hour flight! Duo slept a good half of the flight (thank goodness!) and watched movies the rest of the time. He was as happy as can be… lots of food, drinks, and cartoons!




We landed in seattle – duo is the newest citizen of the usa!!! That smile tells you how he feels about it!


We had a three hour layover in Seattle as we waited for our flight home to Portland. We walked around, ate more food, and watched all the airplanes on the runway. He was so exhausted from the time difference he slept the entire flight to Portland. We were the very last people off the flight because he wouldn’t wake up! Groggy and dazed Duo arrived home in Portland and I captured his first photo on the famous airport carpet!


The most incredibly talented and kind-hearted friend, Colette Hoekstra of coco photography, documented Duo’s homecoming. Through the adoption journey Colette provided photo sessions for families and donated all the profits to the adoption. We are forever grateful for her generosity! And we are so blessed by the amazing friends who welcomed Duo’s arrival home! Though he was exhausted he felt very loved, as did we. Thank you to everyone!








It feels like he never left. Like he has been here, a part of our family, forever. He jumped right in his bed, smiling and happy, feeling perfectly at home. We expected to rest in the week after getting home but we’ve done anything but rest. Duo has been ready for every adventure around the corner. He picked out a new bicycle, went to church (even chose to go with his siblings to the kids church), spent a day at the local aquarium, and has been having a blast playing with his brothers/sisters. We’ve been working on Phonics so he can start reading. I was shocked when he spelled out mom, dad, Duo, Evy, Noah, Jude, Piper, love, and fun. He knows all the ABC’s and can count in English. He communicates his needs in English very well. This morning he said “I want noodles and two eggs please.” He is learning hundreds of new words each day. So proud of him!





Duo Duo


Guangzhou – Part 2

We have had a sweet time of fellowship and fun in Guangzhou this past week. As I am buried under a pile of clothes that I need to somehow figure out how to get back in the suitcase I thought I’d share a bit about our week. My husband returned home last week in order to care for our five children and so I pressed on alone in China with my new son, excited for the individual time to spend with him. It has been better than I could have hoped for. In Guangzhou there are so many adopting families and our agency put our entire travel group at the same hotel, which makes for a great sense of community in a foreign country. We have been able to explore the city, eat meals, and do activities together, all while supporting one another through the transition of adoption. The Garden Hotel changes the lobby decor frequently and i just love the new display. My poor son was not as thrilled when I made him go take a photo by it!


The hotel’s pond and garden area has been so lovely as well. Most mornings we eat breakfast and then go for a walk in the garden and take bread out to feed the koi fish. Such a nice little retreat.


Thankful for the older kids in our travel group as they have included our son in everything. They don’t let the language barrier stop them from having a good time. The first two or three days duo refused to engage with the other children, partly out of shyness but mostly because of insecurity. As the week progressed he began walking near them, then even sat with them at dinner, then he really came out of his shell at the swimming pool. Amazing to see his confidence grow so quickly.




I think I may need to buy a camera for him. He loves taking photos and videos of everything. At this moment he is watching a cartoon but recording it on his iPad! he and I have a fun game of taking fun selfies that leave him in a fit of giggles. He loves it so much!

We are beginning to work on some fine motor skills so sticker books and coloring with a fine tip marker have kept him busy as we pass the time in our hotel room.



He has also become quite silly when I ask to take a photo of him. Instead of the cute smile I used to get he will give me a cheesy grin, pretend he is asleep, stone cold face, or stick his tongue out. Photographers kids are the worst!!!

I snapped a few shots this week that I want to remember – the first is Duo’s breakfast. We go down to the buffet every morning and he fills two plates and one bowl full of food. This week he has been eating a hard boiled egg, bone broth, congee, fish balls (???), watermelon, fried noodles, rice, bok choy, and sushi. He tells me how many sushi he wants – today is was 8 pieces. For breakfast!

The second photo is a photo duo captured on my iPad when we ate dinner at a hibachi restaurant. He was enthralled with the chef and wanted to take a photo to show his dad.

The third photo is to remember the way duo sits against a wall when he is bored or waiting for something. He simply walks over to a wall and squats down. I used to do those exercises in boot camp and could hold it for seconds, much less minutes!!!


We went to shamian island for souvenir shopping. so impressed with a gift from china (they donate 100% of proceeds to orphans in china) and jenny’s place. Both stores are owned by believers and they were the kindest, most generous people. We bought an English/Mandarin bible and a Mandarin scripture wall hanging, as well as lots of gifts for the kids. I purchased a special gift to give Duo for each of this birthday’s until he is 18 years old.


This is a famous statue among the adopting family community – lots of sweet photos with newly adopted children posing cutely between the statue. My son was not as excited as I was to have him pose with the statue. He grumbled and pouted as I told him where to stand. Poor kid. Shopping for two hours and then posing for photos with some random statue… not his idea of a good time.


The next day we woke up early and went to the us consulate to apply for his immigrant visa. There has been some delays in processing visas over the last week but we are hoping his visa will be issued on time tomorrow so that the moment we land on American soil in Seattle he will be a us citizen!!


On our free day we decided to go to the Chimelong Safari park. I have been to a lot of zoos but this blew everything out of the water. The safari animals were all roaming around, cage free. There were 14 pandas and one of the momma pandas had triplets recently. A Jurassic exhibit was the highlight for the boys – dinosaurs!!!




























Our time has been so amazing here. It is bittersweet to leave. Part of my heart will always stay in China. The people and the culture are beautiful and unique. It makes me very emotional to take my son from his homeland as it is such an important part of his life. I hope to always keep his culture present and give him the opportunity to return on a homeland tour one day. For now we will be packing our bags and making the long journey home tomorrow through Hong Kong, Seattle, and finally home to Portland. In a few days we will all be together as a family. We will all be reunited.
Orphan Hosting to adoption has been the sweetest journey – my children have spent the last 10 months praying, waiting, raising money, and preparing for their brother to come home. Soon. They will be back together again!!!

Guangzhou – Part 1

Leaving his birth province and heading to Guangzhou (southern China) to complete our adoption trip with a USA visa by the end of the week. We all flew together to GZ then my husband took a late night train to Hong Kong and from there will fly home to take care of our other children (Duo was not thrilled with the plan that his daddy was going to America early).

Untitled_0663We had a 3 hour flight delay in to Guangzhou because of bad weather so we sat in a hot airport (no air-conditioning ) for three long long long hours. this is where i finally had to use a non-western toilet, aka squatty potty. China southern airlines was amazing, however, and provided drinks and meals to make up for the delay. We said goodbye to our guide, Emma, who has taken care of our every need in Beijing and Jinan. We boarded the plane and Duo’s smile was larger than life. He has said that he wants to be a pilot when he grows up so this was very exciting for him. The only other time he has been on an airplane was when he came to america for the summer hosting program. He was bouncing up and down in his seat with excitement, studying every part of the plane’s wing. The flight was a short and then we dropped off my husband at the train station where my son then proceeded to get carsick and vomited all over the backseat of a brand-new car. We tipped our driver well, very well.Untitled_0665

Untitled_0667Our guide took us to our new home away from home… the Garden Hotel. I have never in my life been to such a swanky hotel. It was an upgrade from our last hotel for sure. The great thing about this hotel is that a ton of adopting families stay here so we are able to connect with one another. Our entire travel group is staying here so it is comforting to have support and help as we all are walking through this transition. The garden hotel is beautiful. It has a waterfall, koi fish pond, garden area, indoor play room, the best breakfast I’ve ever had, and is located in the middle of the best restaurants around. Starbucks and H&M are across the street so we’ve already been there!!





Part of the visa process is a required medical exam and TB test. Duo had a height/weight check, eye/ear exam, and then a full physical exam with a focus on his special needs. A blood TB test was taken and results will be back in a couple days. He was so brave and followed all the instructions the doctors gave him. He did not resist the blood draw and walked away proudly showing off his band aid.


To celebrate completing the medical exam we went to a grocery store and I told him he could pick out anything in the entire store. He loaded the cart with Pringles (meat flavored), mints, pineapple gum, shrimp flavored chips, jello, and fruit gummies. He kept trying to grab bags of noodles and seaweed wraps but I tried to explain that we can’t cook them in our hotel room. At breakfast he loads up on noodles and seaweed. I am going to have to find some new recipes!!!


We visited the chen clan academy (also known as the Guangdong folk art museum or chen family temple). It was used to offer sacrifices to ancestors and for study. Now it shows off the characteristic guangdong architecture.


Inside was an incredible artist that was creating scrolls with the traditional Chinese calligraphy. We purchased a large scroll that says the Raney family in Chinese characters, a name plate for duo with his entire new name in Chinese characters, and a painting of a panda. duo was fascinated with watching the artist work.



We went to the pearl market for a bit of shopping. These strands of pearls are fresh and just beautiful. Many people buy a strand or two to make necklaces or bracelets for future wedding gifts for their children.


Duo and I are having a great time together as we continue bonding. While I desperately miss having my husband here I am grateful for the individual time with Duo. He is slowly letting me be his mother more each day. He is very independent as he has taken care of himself for so long and he struggles to allow me to be his mom. He doesn’t know what the role of a mother is and so we are starting at ground zero, helping him to break down the walls of security he has built. Letting me in and letting me help him is hard. But we are making steps towards it. Right now we are trying to bond through having fun – lots of being silly and laughing. Boundaries are very loose – letting him eat junk, drink sodas, stay up really late, and watch lots of television. When we get home we will begin tightening up on boundaries but for now this transition time to be fun. We are off to see baby pandas at the safari zoo!


Time Together

What a wonderful week it has been together. We spent five days all together in the capital city (Jinan) of the Shandong province. Most of our time was spent exploring the city, trying new foods, and bonding in the hotel room. Our morning ritual was letting duo go down to the hotel breakfast buffet – filling two plates of food and devouring them. Then we all walked to a local coffee shop where my husband and I had breakfast and coffee.

My husband gave Duo a special necklace that had the character for ‘family’ inscribed in it. Very precious and Duo has not taken it off since. They bonded so much during the week together. They would race up and down the hotel hallways, play games on the iPad, wrestle on the bed, playing hide and go seek in the bed comforter, do sticker books and build legos. They truly have a special relationship.





We went to a local market and duo chose grapes and cherries as a snack. He loves food, especially fruit and vegetables. He eats tons of boiled eggs, congee, rice, fruit, and vegetables. He still is weary of western food, especially chocolate, ice cream, and breads. He took a trip to Haagen Dasz for ice cream and he could only do a few bites before he pushed it away. He does not like cold foods as he is used to hot water, hot tea, and hot noodles.



We promised duo a remote control helicopter so our guide took us to walmart. My husband was snapping photos of all the products in Chinese… he was very excited as he found China’s version of Mr. Clean.Untitled_0623

We spent an entire day walking through five-dragon spring park. One of the most peaceful, beautiful places I’ve ever been. Feeding small koi fish in the ponds, walking underneath hundreds of willow trees, gazing at the incredible architecture and details throughout.


You can hear music and singing all throughout the park. We thought it was a group or choir that came together to play but our guide said that it is simply people within the community that come together to sing and play music throughout the day. Someone brings sheet music, others bring instruments, and they spend time meeting one another and making beautiful music. We came upon several different groups of people that were doing this. Such a great way to build community!!!


Duo’s shirt says worth the wait. I bought this shirt a few months in to the adoption process when we were really exhausted and tired of waiting. So incredible to see him wear the shirt and he is absolutely worth the wait.Untitled_0643





As we were walking through the city we stopped by a small temple where people were worshiping the warrior god.


On another day we explored daming lake park, which literally means lake of the great splendor. Again it was filled with hundreds of willow trees. So beautiful. The lotus flowers will begin blooming on the lily pads next month.







Again there were many groups of people gathered to sing and play instruments. We stopped for a while to hear this sweet couple play (she brought a microphone even!).  Such a peaceful time to slow down and enjoy life.



We also saw a ton of bride and grooms taking wedding photos. Our guide is engaged to get married so she explained that couples go to a photo studio and rent gowns/tuxes many months before the wedding to take photos. They take a day or two worth of photos, both indoor and outdoor. It’s a big deal.



What a fun week we had together. Loved the city of Jinan. For five days we did not see a single person that was not Chinese and enjoyed being in a city that was not very influenced by the western culture. Now we are packing up to take a flight from Jinan to Guangzhou as that duo will have his medical exams and visa appointment with the us consulate. My husband will return home to take care of the rest of the children and we will return home next week. I truly believe god ordained this time for duo and I to bond. He and my husband have bonded so well but not it will just be the two of us so we will have some good time to bond without fun daddy around!!


One of the things on my bucket list has been to ride a bullet train one day. Well i wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming crowds at the train station. It was one of the most stressful times of our traveling experience thus far. The station was huge and extremely crowded. We had to fight and push our way through the crowds to get to the trains, which i am learning is just the way you do things around here. Pushing people is the only way you will survive – push or be pushed.

RF Blog 2The hour and a half train ride itself was so relaxing as we were able to enjoy seeing some of the countryside. Plus we had the cutest 4 year old boy sitting in front of us that Kyle taught magic tricks the whole trip. We arrived in Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province, and were shocked at how big the city is. We were told it is one of the smaller cities in China, at only 7-8 million people, but that is a huge city in my book! Our guide, Emma, took us to the Jihua hotel so we could get settled in. My excitement was brimming as we unpacked in our room knowing this is where Duo would sleep the next evening. We settled in a bit but decided that we wanted to check out the city so we went exploring with only our hungry stomachs and a physical map of the surrounding area. We have not seen a single other non-Chinese person in this city. Not one. That means that we stood out a lot walking down the street. Somehow we came upon a mall and a pizza hut! Both of us have been a bit nauseous with trying some of the different foods so we decided to eat something a little less exotic; and pizza hut is nice here… a full menu of calamari, chicken dishes, seafood, and pizza of course.

RF Blog 5Here is a photo of the endless stream of people coming to gather the spring water. we see them walking long distances with buckets in hand, just hoping the spring water will be available.

Mopeds and bicycles are everywhere. It’s one of the most incredible sights to see how all the bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists share the roads/sidewalks with no collisions. We have felt a bit like the video game, frogger, dodging everyone because we can’t seem to make sense of the traffic logic. It feels like mass chaos but it works!!!

Gotcha Day!

RF Blog 8OK… now to Gotcha Day!!! We woke up early in the morning (3am early) and we were a bundle of nerves. The orphanage was running late so we had to wait several extra hours which felt like an eternity. Finally we got the call that they were near and so we met in a local hotel lobby. We were told that he had a very difficult morning – saying goodbye to all his friends, he got carsick on the 3 1/2 hour car ride, and he was so emotional he couldn’t eat lunch. So we went in to the moment not expecting smiles or hugs, remembering that scared little boy we met last summer and knowing this day was bittersweet for him. It was one of the hardest moments of my life to see the boy we love so much grieving so deeply. The orphanage official told us that he has been waiting for so long for a year to come get him and that he has been telling everyone that his family would come get him but that this moment was overwhelming for him.

In order to give our son space to process his emotions we were very careful with those first few moments with him – no camera and trying not to hold in our emotions. It was about him and not us. All i wanted to do was run to him and hug him but instead we refrained from adding to his stress. After a few hugs and kisses we went next door to take our family photo and his personal photo for the adoption paperwork. During this time we pulled out the iPad which made all the difference in the world. It allowed us to sit near him but distracted him from all the emotions he was trying to process. Then we all drove to the civil affairs office where the adoption paperwork would be processed and finalized.

TRF Blog 16his is when Duo broke down in to tears. He sobbed for about 45 minutes as we just held him in our laps, comforting him. Due to Duo’s age he has to consent to the adoption, which means he has to verbally tell the official that yes he wants to be adopted. He was so emotional and just cried and cried. We were at a loss for how to comfort him because of the language barrier. Our guide and the civil affairs officer (the beautiful lady in the yellow shirt) were angels from above during this time. They talked with him for about 15 minutes explaining what adoption means and showed him photos of our time hosting him to help him remember how much he loved america. He communicated that he was so upset because he didn’t want to leave his friends but that yes he did want to be adopted and go to america. He began to calm down as he consented to the adoption with his hand print as his signature.

Adoption always comes from a place of brokenness. Redemption and healing is hard. the pain and grief he experienced as he left all he knows is overwhelming for me to comprehend. While I know how much we love him and that a family is the design of a family, he doesn’t. He will learn to trust us and understand that our love is unconditional and forever. But that takes time and a lot of patience. For now we will slowly be learning how to be a family. He will be learning what a mom and a dad are. He will be learning that he is a son and a brother now. Those roles are foreign to him. So we now will spend the rest of the week learning together.

Everything our son brought from the orphanage. He has slept with this pillow with our photo on it every night for the last year. He had all of family and hosting photos – worn and tattered from looking at them. The sweet caregivers at the orphanage told him he could take any toys he could fit in to the spider man backpack (the one we gave him last year) and so there are several random, toys that he decided to bring. One was a treasured broken remote control car. Going to buy him a new one as soon as possible. So impressed with his orphanage. They gave us a camera filled with photos he had taken himself – we will go develop that film. They also gave us a USB flash drive with many photos from his childhood and a farewell that they taped on his last morning before the adoption. He was loved well.

RF Blog 18The first morning together was so precious. He slept in bed with his dad and inched closer and closer through the night. Woke up to his smiles and giggles, jumping from bed to bed in delight. We went down to have breakfast and he was so excited – filled two plates full of food. He shoved food in his mouth faster than he could swallow. We ate a bit but then went down to the local coffee shop where we love the barista…  she gets so excited to see us and practice her English.

We then went to the meet the officials at the notary office to finish signing papers. Duo went from a happy, bubbly kid to a confused, fearful boy. He sat in a chair, stiff and shaking, as we signed papers. We had planned to take a trip to the orphanage later this week to take photos, meet his friends, and see the spot he was found. But it was at this point that we decided to cancel our trip to the orphanage as we don’t want to harm the bonding/attachment process any further. While we would love to know more of his childhood we have to do what is best for him moving forward. So a change of plans means we will just stay in this city exploring parks, eating lots of food, and having fun together, all while he learns to trust us.RF Blog 23

That smile. Thankful he feels safe and secure in our arms. Our Gotcha Day was better than I could have ever hoped for. He trusts enough to grieve in front of us and be comforted by us. Healing is happening.

A Father Prepares to Reunite with His Son

One of our families in the China adoption program has shared their thoughts with us as they prepare to travel to to China to reunite with their son, Duo. After hosting Duo last summer, they have been longing for this reunion since the moment he left. Read their full blog at http://raneytraditions.com/blog/ to learn about their experiences throughout the adoption process, and follow their journey as they prepare to return home with the newest member of their family!
In just a few hours my wife and I will be jumping on a plane, crossing several time zones, and landing in the country that our son has called home his entire life. All of the details have been set and the plans that we have laid out for the last 9 months are finally coming to fruition. It is hard to believe that soon we will be reunited with the little boy that stole our hearts last summer and it is amazing to reflect on how God has orchestrated all of these events to lead us to this night.   Tonight I should be worrying about flight delays, customs agents, and exchange rates.Tonight I should be thinking through our check list, doing a last minute run-through of our busy schedule, or making sure we have packed enough clothes for the journey. However, tonight I am not thinking about any of those things, though I know I probably should.   Instead, tonight I am thinking about Duo Ezra Raney. For so long the idea of him joining our family has felt like a dream, yet soon it will be a reality. I am thinking about when he plays on his first little league team and slides into home. I am thinking about Duo 1the first time we get to go camping together and he makes his first smore. I am thinking about the first time I nervously sit in the passenger seat of a car has he attempts to learn how to drive. I am thinking about his first date and how nervous he will be trying to get everything right. I think about the day he leaves for college, ready to take the world head on. I’m thinking about the day he gets married and how proud we will be when he finds the love of his life. I’m thinking about when he becomes a father and feels about his child the same way we feel about him.   Tonight I should be thinking about every single detail that the next few days will hold, how stressful the trip could be, and worry if we have missed something. But I can’t.Tonight, I think of Duo and the many milestones that he will accomplish. I also think how blessed we are, that God will allow us to see every one of them. That is what I am thinking about tonight.
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The Joy of Boys!

“He continues to amaze us. This past Saturday he earned his yellow belt in karate and even broke a board! He was so excited! When we started our adoption journey to China, I imagined a world of princesses and pink. Little boys are so sweet and I would have missed out on seeing so many police cars, big trucks, and airplanes. We are the lucky ones!” – Micah’s Family
Over the past several years China adoption has shifted, and we are now seeing that there are more boys who are looking for a forever family than girls. While many of our families start the process imagining themselves traveling across the world to bring home their daughter, the captivating faces of the boys on the photo listing can often lead them down a different path!
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WOW Kids


Hi there, my name is Joanna and I am five years old! I was born with a few conditions that the doctors call CHD and Turner syndrome. Last year, some nice doctors performed surgery on my heart, and now I am feeling much better! Right now I am living with a foster family, and we get along great! I am also enrolled in kindergarten, and my teachers say that I am attentive in class, eager to answer questions, and skilled at interacting with my classmates. I am very talkative and I love to put on performances for my teachers and foster parents! In my spare time, I also really enjoy playing with my best friend and my foster sister…our favorite games are hide and seek and pretend house! I also love it when my foster mom takes me to the supermarket and the local playground. I hope that my friends at Great Wall can find me a forever family to share my happiness with!


Hi! I’m Hanson! Due to my epidermolysis bollosa I see doctors and nurses a lot so I have a good relationship with them. Even though I get sores on my body, I rarely cry and I try to be very strong! I can be quiet but I love getting to play with the other children. Although I have some difficulty, I can walk by myself, and will cooperate when getting dressed. I like to sing and play with toys but I especially love getting to go outside. I understand what my caregivers say to me and I can express my needs as well as follow directions. My caretakers get nervous of me playing with other children due to my condition, but I really like getting to play around. I always have a ready smile and am a very active little lady!


Hi my name is Jill and I am 2 years old! My doctors tell me I have something that affects the way I hear so it is hard for me to hear soft sounds. I respond well to louder noises and communicate through gestures and smiles! I also have mild scoliosis and need some assistance walking but I don’t let that get me down! My caretakers love me and say I’m an extrovert who is always smiling and giggling. I love bright colors, swinging on the swing but most of all; I love to be held by my caretakers! My friends at Great Wall are working hard to find me a family that I can love forever!



My name is Daisy and I will be 5 years old in March! My file suggests that I have something called cerebral palsy but now I’m able to walk around all on my own! I also had a cleft lip and palate, but some nice doctors operated on it and I’m feeling much better now! I love to be outside, play with my baby doll, and listen to happy music! My caretakers say I am a curious and friendly little girl who can care for herself! My friends at Great Wall are working hard to find out more about me!



Hi there, my name is Joel and I am 9 years old! The doctors say I have something called thalassemia, so I need blood transfusions about every-other month. That can be challenging for me, but other than that I am a very happy kiddo! I have been living with a foster family for five years now, and they say that I have adjusted to family life very well! I am active, energetic, and great at making friends. Some of my favorite activities are listening to music, reading books, and playing games. I really loved the time that my foster family took me to an amusement park! I hope that my friends at Great Wall can help me find my forever family soon!


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5 Reasons to Adopt an Older Child

1. Needs- While China is now considered a Waiting Child program and we no longer see “healthy children,”  many older children have very minor or previously corrected needs.

2. Make a Difference- Due to their age, even older kids with needs which have previously been corrected are considered harder to place. By opening up to the idea of adopting an older child, you are providing them with the opportunity to experience the love of a forever family.

3. Quick Process- Since older children are typically considered Special Focus, the process from start to finish is relatively quick compared to most other programs. Depending on what your family is open to  in terms of age, gender, needs, etc., you could bring your child home in just 12-18 months after you apply!

4. Fewer Unknowns- When adopting an older child, there are fewer unknowns when it comes to their needs and their personality as they are further along in their development than the younger kiddos at the orphanage.

5. Eligibility- With the recent changes to China’s eligibility requirements, there is no longer an official age cutoff for adoptive families. Single applicants can now adopt a child who is no more than 45 years younger than themselves, and married couples can now adopt a child as long as they are no more than 50 years younger than the younger parent. This means that families in all walks of life have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a waiting child.

Visit our latest WOW Kids blog post or visit our photo listing to learn more about the older children that our agency is currently advocating for. YOU have the ability to make a difference in their lives before they age out!

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