Happy 14th Birthday, Lucas!

A boy recently adopted by a Nebraska family turns 14, the cut-off age for adoption from China.
by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

Lucas (right) with brothers Christian and Stefan, about to board a plane to Hong Kong on their journey home to Nebraska.

I have such exciting news to share!  On February 1st, Yu Qing* – the boy featured in the summer 2010 Holt magazine – celebrated his 14th birthday with his adoptive parents, Ed and Sandy Kolb, and five new brothers, also adopted.

On the Kolb family blog, Sandy explains the significance of this particular birthday for Yu Qing (who now goes by Lucas):

February First marked another celebration day…Lucas’ 14th birthday!   In his honor, God proclaimed a “Snow Day” in Omaha and so, school was cancelled…(so we told him!) We spent the better part of the day in PJ’s, watching movies, eating, playing games and eating some more!
It was especially sweet to celebrate this birthday with Lucas since at age 14 in China he would have aged out of being eligible for international adoption!  He became our son, by God’s grace, in the nick of time!!
In some ways we are still getting to know each other, in other ways it is as if Lucas has always been a part of our family.

It’s always exciting when a child finds a family.  But actually having met and personally advocated for the child makes it that much more meaningful.  When I met Lucas this past summer at the Journey of Hope camp in southern China, I was struck by what a polite, thoughtful and intelligent boy he was.  A shy 13-year-old, he avoided eye contact and kept his hands neatly folded in his lap – likely to hide the fact he’s missing fingers.  He told us he hoped to one day become a doctor, a feat nearly impossible for a boy with a physical abnormality and no family name – both traits considered “unlucky” in this traditionally Confucian culture.  As an orphan in China, his educational opportunities would be limited.  When he reached adulthood, finding employment – especially as a doctor – would be even more challenging.  With our friendly gestures drawing only the slightest of smiles, Lucas seemed painfully aware of these social stigmas, and the obstacles they would create for him.

Lucas (right) with brother Christian and another new family member (resting on his shoulder).

Here today, as we interviewed children to advocate for their adoption, Lucas seemed not so much excited, but actually burdened by the gravity of the opportunity before him – the opportunity to join a family, as well as a society that doesn’t discriminate based on your family name or disabilities.  At 13, he had only six months to find a family before aging out.

But then something extraordinary happened.  The Kolbs opened their hearts to Lucas. He was home by Christmas Eve.

In looking at the photos of Lucas on the Kolbs’ private family blog, it’s heartening to see such genuinely happy, confident smiles on his face.  Within the first week with his new family, he grows visibly more at ease – and, once informed that his new family will not judge him for missing fingers, he becomes less self-conscious about his hand.  He seems so happy.  And relieved.  His 13-year wait for a permanent family is over.

No longer a looming deadline, turning 14 is now cause for celebration!

Lucas’ story is a triumphant one.  But so many children – especially older children and children with special needs – continue to wait for permanent, loving families.  Like Lucas, many of them are on the verge of turning 14 and becoming ineligible for adoption. All children deserve a loving family – as well as every opportunity to work hard and achieve their dreams!

Click here to visit Holt’s Waiting Child photolisting and read more about the children who wait.

* Name has been changed

Happy Chinese New Year! Read a story from the Rees Family who adopted from the China Child of Promise program!

Happy Lunar New Year! Today, February 3rd, China ushers in the Year of the Rabbit – a year of good fortune for those born in Rabbit years, and a very exciting year in China adoptions!

Never before have Chinese boys and girls, toddler through school-age, had so many opportunities to have loving, adoptive families – particularly older children, and children with correctable/treatable physical conditions or moderate to serious special needs.

To learn more, register for Holt’s upcoming webinar, “Adopting from China,” on the 10th or 24th.

• Learn the different China adoption “tracks,” and flexibilities in their eligibility guidelines.

Discover China’s Waiting Children – including a new category of children described by the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) as “Special Focus” children.

• Learn how Holt works closely with families to match children in the China Child of Promise option, and. . .

• Hear from a family who has completed the China Child of Promise option.

• Get info about preparation and post-placement resources for families adopting older children and children with special needs.

• Ask questions, and get started on the track that is the best fit for your family.

With more than 700 children matched through the China Child of Promise option, Holt International is leading the charge to find homes for children from China!

The following is an excerpt from the Rees family’s blog about Jazyme, their dearly loved China Child of Promise:

Rick and I spend time with Jazmyne…a lot of time! We work with her a lot, but certainly cannot take all of the credit for how smart she really is. And, of course, the twist of fate — such an ironic twist — is that she was adopted through the special needs process for simply having an extra toe on each foot! Jazmyne is a Holt International China Child of Promise who definitely made good on her “Promise!”

Because Rick and I both work in special needs education fields, we felt we had the skills to help any child, with any disability, live up to their fullest potential! Never in our wildest dreams did we even entertain any thoughts that our child would be exceptional!

Jazmyne has seven doctor’s kits and proclaims: “I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up!” While in China, she spent a lot of time with the Qian Jiang orphanage doctor, both in the doctor’s clinic and her home. The doctor even went so far as to travel with Jazmyne to meet us on Jazzy’s “Gotcha Day.” She traveled with Jazzy to make sure that we knew that, in her professional opinion, Jazmyne was not “special needs” at all, but, in fact, “gifted!”

The good doctor was absolutely correct in her opinion! I have no idea if Jazmyne will keep on the course of wanting to be a doctor, but I can tell you something for certain even now: Whatever she chooses to do in life, she will be successful!

Our Jazmyne Rose: abandoned at a bus station at 10 months old, living in an orphanage for over a year, adopted by foreigners, 3 months later having an operation to correct her feet, all while learning a new language.  Today, Jazmyne excels in preschool and is the star of her dance class, gymnastics and skiing classes.

Thank you, God, for the incredible gift of our beloved Jazzy Rose!

Click here to read the Rees family’s blog, and view an adorable dance recital video of Jazzy Rose!

Holt needs families interested in adopting children with correctable/treatable physical conditions. Click here to learn more about the China Child of Promise program, Holt’s expedited process for children with correctable/treatable physical conditions

Don’t Let the Day Go By

Please Help find Grace a Family

By Ashli Keyser, managing editor

I remember, 2 years ago, a group of six Holt employees sitting around a table when the name “Journey of Hope” entered the conversation. As we discussed this new and promising program — made up of older, mostly healthy children from a southern province in China — twenty-five individual child folders, packed with photos, medical history and biographies were passed around the table.

When a folder made its way around to John Aeby, Holt’s late director of communications, he set it on the table and opened it slowly. Staring back at him, with a shy, unsure smile, was 7-year-old Grace. What a beautiful child,” John said softly. “What a joy it will be to help find her a family,” he continued, with a quiet sigh that seemed to express a sense of responsibility for Grace, and for all the Journey of Hope children.

Months before John’s sudden and unexpected passing in September of 2009, he would spend hours preparing for the launch of the Journey of Hope program, pouring his heart into every word he wrote, and every video he edited. As he worked diligently for all the Journey of Hope children, he would continue to keep a special place in his heart for Grace. “I wish we could find her a family,” he would often tell me.

From the moment he stepped into the office every day, John’s purpose was clear: Help find families for children, and pray for them continually.

“Oh, how he loved the children,” his wife Clarice told me recently. “He seemed somehow to feel God’s pain at their loss and felt privileged to have a small part in helping to relieve it.” John would often tape children’s photos above his computer, “to remember why I am here,” he would say. He even handed out photos of children in care to Holt staff. “Make it your responsibility to pray for this child today,” John would tell them. “Don’t let the day go by without praying for this child.”

Two weeks ago, I clicked on Holt’s Journey of Hope photolisting and slowly scanned through the page. Amazed and grateful to see how many Journey of Hope children had been blessed with families since 2009, I also felt sadness to see Grace still on the photolisting, two years later. I quickly remembered John’s words, his wish for this little girl to have a family. I wondered why no one had brought this beautiful child into their home.

Reading Grace’s description, it’s hard to fathom.

Grace’s foster family describes her as clever, shy and kind – the girl with the loving heart, who walks around her foster home singing. Grace’s favorite activities include helping out with the younger children, sliding at the park and playing with dolls. She regularly attends school, although is said to be somewhat delayed in fine motor skills.

Loved by the adults in her life, Grace often shies away from strangers and needs a family able to help her through grief and loss. With a few small neoplasms on her ear, Grace also needs a family who can provide her with the medical care she may need.

I would love to find Grace a family for John. But more importantly, I want Grace to know the love of a permanent family. For her to walk around singing in a home of her own — singing to a family of her own.

“Don’t let the day go by,” John would say. I encourage you to remember John’s words, and remember Grace throughout the day. Don’t let the day go by without praying for her. Don’t let the day go by without reposting her story to your Facebook page, blogs and other social networking sites.

Together, we can find Grace a family, and make her one less child on that Journey of Hope photolisting. John spent so much time helping children find families, the least I can do — the least we can do — right now, is help this one child find a family of her own. For John….but most importantly, for Grace.

For more information about Grace, contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org