Eleven years ago today I stepped off a train into mainland China for the first time. I look back on that moment now and smile as I remember thinking it might be the only time I would ever be there. It was my first adoption trip, and I had a thousand thoughts running through my mind, from excitement to fear to exhaustion to anticipation.
I look at my daughter today on this very special family anniversary, and I see a vibrant preteen who believes she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I still can’t believe I was so blessed to be her mom. I am sure that most people who know she is adopted think she is the one whose life changed the most, traveling all the way from China to the U.S. and slowly becoming an American. What they probably don’t realize is how very much her adoption changed MY life as well… changed it completely in fact, in the most wonderful ways. I am so glad that I get to have that wonderful “insider” knowledge that family isn’t about genetics. A friend reminded me this week of the great line from the move “The Blind Side”: Family isn’t who you are born to; it is who has your back. I am so glad to be part of an adoption community that treasures children and rallies in incredible ways to make sure as many kids as possible find homes. And of course Anna’s adoption made my heart open to the needs of orphaned children all over the world. That first step off a train 11 years ago was really the first step toward the establishment of LWB, although I sure didn’t know it back then!
All of us at LWB are so passionate about adoption, and we wish that every orphaned child in our programs could someday find a permanent home. Recently I have been saddened whenever journalists write that adoptions from China now take four to five years, as I believe it causes so many people to not even consider adopting from there. Yes, we all know that the non-special needs program takes that long, but the media shouldn’t ignore the fact that over half of all adoptions last year from China were of children with medical needs. Right now there are almost 2,000 orphaned Chinese children waiting for a family to choose them on the “shared list.” Most of those adoptions can take place within a year of finding your son or daughter. Please help us spread the news that thousands of incredible children are waiting right now in orphanages throughout China – waiting for someone to realize how very precious and special they are. Waiting for someone to see their photo and say, “YOU are the one I’ve been missing in my life!”
Without a doubt… adoption changes EVERYTHING for an orphaned child. There is no greater gift to a child in an orphanage than a permanent family. But today let’s also remember that it changes the lives of us adults as well. How blessed I have been to have my heart grow again and again to parent another amazing child.The simple words of a song from my childhood certainly sum it up best:
“Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more.”
Isn’t MORE LOVE a beautiful thing? Happy family day, Anna JoLin ZiHan Eldridge. Thank you for changing my life for the better.
Executive Director, Love Without Boundaries
(LWB has several resources to help families learn more about the waiting child path to adoption. Visit www.adoptspecialneeds.org for our educational site about most pediatric medical needs seen on China’s shared list. Visit www.youtube.com/lwbvideos to watch our video, “Adopting the Waiting Child” and to watch videos on specific special needs as well.