Holt adoptive parents Ed and Sandy Kolb recently traveled on Holt’s China ambassador trip to advocate for older children living in an orphanage in Beijing. Below, they share about the two children who they spent the week getting to know — Tilly and Jaxson — and the indelible mark they left on their hearts. Please read and share this blog on social media and in your community to help find the loving families Tilly and Jaxson have been waiting for!
We are the Kolbs, parents to ten — seven who were born into our hearts through adoption. Although our adoption days are over, when asked to be a part of the Holt Ambassador Program, we jumped at the opportunity!
We were assigned an 11-year-old boy, Jaxson, and an 8-year-old girl, Tilly, to get to know while in China and then advocate for once home. Both are on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, so we were able to see their pictures beforehand. We learned that they were each in wheelchairs and a little about their special needs. Jaxson is diagnosed with scoliosis and hip dysplasia and can stand for short periods of time. Tilley has a diagnosis of Spina bifida.
Traveling to Beijing, we got to know our fellow ambassadors. All of us are adoptive parents and also joining us were our three beautiful adopted daughters from China. For all, it was our first ambassador experience and we all shared in excited anticipation and planning for the week during our flight.
The morning after we arrived, we met “our” kiddos. Jaxson shyly grinned up at us. His impish smile had both Ed and I at “Ni Hao!” He was especially drawn to Ed and always greeted him warmly.
Although shy, he gets along well with others. We noticed that although Jaxson was not the first to volunteer to participate in activities, he did enjoy being a part of them. He loves to play Chess, is good at Legos, likes airplanes and is talented in the arts. He likes to draw in great detail and make clay animals. We learned from his caregiver that in school, he likes science and history and is the top student in his SWI class. He is an avid reader, can use the computer well and likes to share his interests with others.
Tilly squealed with delight when we met her and she gave each of us a big hug. She is gifted with a sweet, infectious smile. Although confined to a wheelchair, she enjoys fully participating in activities with the other children. She receives Special Ed and some therapy in the orphanage. She is very independent and loves to show this off. Her nanny says that she likes to shower and make her bed herself and is cooperative and shares well. Tilly and her nanny seemed close and affectionate. We learned that Tilly had a sense of humor and laughed easily. She loved to give big hugs often and and eagerly shared “news” with us through a translator. She happily accepted the chocolate we brought but was quick to share it with others.
All of the children from the orphanage were staying at the same hotel. That morning, they planned a show for us and entertained us with songs and poems. For the rest of the week, we shared our meals together and went on outings to the zoo and a shopping mall.
Jaxson had never been to the zoo before. He spent most of the time in wonder, looking around intently as if studying the animals. He especially loved the monkeys!
Mid-week, on the day we were scheduled to go shopping, it started to snow! It was magical and brought great excitement to our outing. All the kiddos were well bundled and they enjoyed seeing the fancy mall and eating in a western-style restaurant the largest pizzas we have ever seen! They were delicious too!!
Tilly was very shy when we went into a market and asked her to choose some candies and a toy. This must have been a new experience for her and we kept encouraging her that it was OK to choose what she wanted. When we left the store, she was grinning from ear to ear, clutching her bag.
My favorite time with tour kiddos is when we spent time alone together in our hotel room playing games. With the translation help of our good friend Meilin, who lives in Beijing, we were able to get to know the hearts of Jaxson and Tilly.
Tilly also loved to play games, do puzzles and draw with us. We observed that Tilly was very intent when painting, careful to stay within the lines and persevered when building with Legos until completed.
We learned that afternoon the special desires of both children. Jaxson wishes more than anything to be able to one day walk and to visit the ocean with his own forever family. Tilly, whose heart seems to always be bursting with love, wishes to share her joy with her own parents and siblings.
At the end of the week, we celebrated together at the closing ceremonies of our ambassador week and had to say our sad goodbyes to the children. It was very hard! We knew we would miss Jaxson, sensitive and talented, and Tilly, gentle-hearted and loving. They both definitely made a huge imprint on our hearts!
As I sat afterwards in my hotel room, watching the snow falling lightly on the trees, I had a heavy heart. What was to become of these children? We were told that it is only until they are 14 that they can stay at the orphanage. It is only until this age that they can receive schooling. If we don’t find an adoptive family for them by the time they are 14, they will be housed at the social welfare institute for adults, filled with homeless and mentally impaired adults. Often, they are abused and taken advantage of. For Jaxson, this will be in less than three years. How will both children protect themselves when they are wheelchair-bound?
Jaxson’s wishes are to walk and to go to the ocean with his family. Tilly has so much love to share and deserves to be part of a loving family. What are the chances that these wishes — as children living in a social welfare institution in China — will come true? Adopted by a family in the U.S., their sweet wishes could be a possibility.
Forever families, where are you? Who will answer the call??
Sandy Kolb | Omaha, Nebraska
For more information about Tilly or Jaxson, please contact Jessica Zeeb at email@example.com.
Check out this cute video of Jaxson!