Memories of Hosting a Chaperone

During our Winter 2017 Orphan Hosting Program, one family said “yes” to hosting a chaperone from Latvia. It was a wonderful experience that they’ll never forget.

“Hosting Anda was one of the biggest blessings to our family! Anda is an art teacher in Latvia that brought a group of orphans here in December 2017. When we got an email asking if we would host her our initial reaction was ‘YES’… why not?! Saying ‘Yes’ when opportunities present themselves is the most fulfilling way to live.

Over the month Anda was with us we were able to make so many wonderful memories. We took her ice skating, celebrated birthdays, celebrated Christmas, had a big New Year’s party, attended church, volunteered at church, went caroling, made Christmas cookies. She was able to experience American living for the month of December! She also taught us how to knit, make traditional Latvian food, desserts, crafts and decorations.

Anda is missed so much and we love her like family! We are in contact several times a week and are looking forward to seeing her in the near future! I can’t help but think of what we would have missed out on if we would not have said ‘Yes’! If you are considering hosting an orphan chaperone, do it! You won’t regret it!!!”

We are currently looking for families in the US to host a chaperone from Latvia! Our chaperones support the children during the hosting program. They’re excited to be here and look forward to learning about American culture! For more information, contact our Program Coordinator at

Are you ready to be a chaperone host family? Apply today!

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Josiah Needs Your Help – $1,000 Grant Available

Josiah (2)This past April we had several amazing families travel to China for our very first JOY Mission trip. Among these families was an adoptive father who had the pleasure of spending his week getting to know two kiddos, Josiah and Amelia.

Josiah is a 10 year old boy with a heart condition that needs medical attention. The first time I saw Josiah I was watching a video that our hosting interview team had taken of him dancing to music with the biggest smile on his face. This is the second hosting program of ours that Josiah has participated in, as he came to America a year and a half ago for our Winter Hosting program, and we’re absolutely determined to find this incredible boy a Forever Family. In fact, the JOY family that spent time with him in April is so confident that Josiah’s Forever Family is out there, that they have provided him with a $1,000 grant towards his adoption fees! Below is a blog post that was written by Josiah’s JOY family.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about Josiah, you can contact his JOY family at the email address listed at the bottom of the post. For more information on the China adoption process or to learn how you can be matched with Josiah, contact our China Matching Specialists at

The Empty Cup

What are Josiah and Amelia doing now? As I write this from the end of a sunny, spring, Wisconsin day, they are experiencing another Monday morning of their years of routine behind their walls. A routine I am hoping to free them from, in order to establish new routines with families, who  will help them grow stronger.

JOY BlogI came back from China knowing  the JOY Program would be different from last summer’s hosting program, when we hosted Jacob. I When I reflect on Josiah and Amelia, and their future, I am not handling the unknown for them well. Conversely, I know  that Jacob and Wen have met their new families and will be landing in Wisconsin next week. Jacob and Wen are both finding families who, 12-months ago, were not even entertaining the thought of expanding their families. But there they are, in China, awaiting to bring home two tween boys. They know there will be many challenges. Their families are not doing this because it is easy, but because they had room their cups that needed to be filled for these two boys.

There are people who want to help, have some room left in their cup, to help Josiah and Amelia. It might not be to commit to adopt, but will share the stories to connect two hands. They will give words of support and strength. To enlighten others on the greatest gift that can be given: a forever family.

A lot of friends have asked me what I hoped to gain out of my trip to China. They asked if I had fun. Seeing Josiah smile as he was making dumplings (video below). And seeing Amelia grow with pride as she mastered writing another Chinese symbol or master walking down stairs: that filled some of my cup. But that is not what I was hoping to gain from my trip. I am, and was, hoping to connect these two souls to their forever families. Families who still have room in their cups. Families who will enter into the unknown, but who have the knowledge that I will pass on, about how awesome each of these kids are. The knowledge that these children WANT most line their lives, a forever family. They love. They cried. They wanted. Are you their Forever?

How to Help

JOY Blog 1I have gotten a lot of questions about how to help Josiah.  The question is usually prefaced with comments like “What a great kid he is,” and “… it was amazing he could translate between you and Amelia,” and, “he just needs to find a family.”

Easy right?  Well no-one advocating says adoption is easy (neither is childbirth).  But sharing the message is.  I respond the question of how to help with the answer of amplify the message.  But what does that mean?

We all have different circles we run between.  We have our social media networks, we have our work networks, we have our neighborhood networks, we have our church networks, and we have our other research networks.  Your voice can carry a long, long way if you look at all the concentric circles you go between. But what do you say?

Tell your friends, colleagues, co-volunteers Josiah’s story.  It is something to talk about.  People like talking about kids. Tell them he is looking for a family.  Point them to this blog.  Point them to me.  And point them to Great Wall China Adoption if they are interested in learning more.  Share the information:

Blog Link
My Email:
The Adoption Process

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Hosting Tong

Zhao Tong came to America in 2014 for GWCA’s Holiday Hosting Program. During the four weeks that Zhao was here, his host family grew to love him very much, and they began working on the paperwork to bring him here forever! Now, less than one year later, they are getting ready to complete the final steps of the adoption as they travel to bring him home. Read their story about deciding to host this amazing kiddo, and how it has changed their lives forever!

A Seed is Planted

Several weeks later I was abruptly awakened from a deep sleep to sitting straight up in bed to someone calling out “Mom”.  Jamie & Jayden always call me Mommy and they come running in to our bedroom if they want me. Troubled, I got up and checked on them and they were sound asleep.  In the morning I told Jeff about the voice I heard.  No comment from him.  I told Jeff I really think God wants us to do this.  He responded well God needs to show me too.

About this same time Justine and Jenna our older daughters started asking us when we were going to go back to China and adopt another child.  I shared my dreams with them.   They were convinced it was what God wanted us to do.  So they started asking Jamie & Jayden if they would like another brother.  Jamie and Jayden said definitely “NO”.  Jayden listed reasons why not; 1. There is no room for him to sleep at our house. 2. He would break their toys. 3. He would fight them. 4. They already had a brother, Jerus. No new brother was coming to our house.

In December Jeff shared with me a dream he had. In his dream, he was out to eat with some people for work.  Someone asked him how many children do you have?  Jeff answered 5.  Then a little boy sitting next to him grabbed his sleeve and said “What about me, Daddy?”  Jeff was beginning to believe God wanted us to adopt but brought up Jamie & Jayden’s reluctance to having another brother.   Jamie & Jayden were still always answering NO to talk of a new brother.

In January as we sat down to eat Jayden says out of the blue, so if we did get another brother where would he sleep?  How old would he be?  What kinds of things could he do? As I answered each of his questions he and Jamie would look at each other and then he says what do you think Jamie, let’s get a new brother.  Jamie agrees with Jayden and then looks at me and says “Wow what made us CHANGE OUR HEARTS.” God finally got our entire family on the same page.

In the summer of 2014 we learned about Great Wall China Adoption’s (the adoption agency we had used for Jamie and Jayden) winter hosting program.  This is where a family has a child from an orphanage come and live with them for four to six weeks. The time period for hosting was mid-December to mid-January. So in September of 2014 we set off on a journey to host a boy from China.

Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA) Hosting Program

Meeting Zhao Tong

Who the heck is Conrad

Highlights from Our Time Hosting Zhao Tong

The Decision
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Hosting Yu Yu

“Hon, I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but I want to host an orphan from China this summer…” This is how I greeted my husband the day that I dared to take a peek at the photo listing of children who needed placements for the summer hosting program. After adopting my daughter as an infant (I was single at the time), I felt in my heart the pull towards adopting an older child. But after marrying and settling in to the joys and challenges of a blended family, I figured that dream was behind me. Well, what a surprise when my husband said “I don’t think you are crazy!”, and we quickly moved ahead to meet the looming deadline to be matched with the child we felt drawn to host.


While we were open from the start to the idea of adopting if things went well, we were very nervous about all the ways that things might NOT go well. Hosting seemed like the perfect way to see what it might be like to add to our family in this way, and to see if this particular child was a good fit. And he was. After weeks of nervous preparation, our lives were forever changed by the adorable 6 year old boy who greeted us at the airport with a huge smile on his face. He was small for his age, and acted much younger than 6, but he drew us in with his humor and the sheer delight that he expressed with each new thing that he tried and experienced with us. I spent about a day feeling a bit worried about his immaturity, nervous about how the summer would go, but it didn’t last! I had worried so much about communication with a boy who knew no English, but really that was not a very big deal. He surprised us by singing some songs in English that he had learned in school in China (BINGO, Twinkle Twinkle, ABC Song) . He very quickly learned some words and phrases in English, and we learned a few essentials in Mandarin. What we didn’t know got communicated through gestures and pantomime. Yu Yu fell in love with ice cream at the first, unexpectedly cold lick. Every time we went out in the car after that, he would say “Mama!” to get my attention, then pantomime holding and licking an ice cream cone, as his way of asking to go get some ice cream! (I could hardly ever say no!)


The best part of hosting was falling in love with this amazing little boy. Experiencing him learning to love hugs and being held, snuggling in close and giving kisses – all things that seemed new to him. Watching him play and bond with our girls. Seeing the utter joy on his face as he experienced not only the big fun stuff, but the everyday things like a bath, being tucked in, and eating a picnic lunch in the yard. Seeing him go from fear of the water to actually swimming! Seeing how well he compensated for his right arm disability. Was every moment fun and easy? Well, no. He did his share of testing the limits, and laughing when reprimanded. He turned out to be a sensitive boy, crying easily at small things and sometimes just shutting down. Those were the times when the lack of common language was the hardest. But as the weeks went by, I feel like we were starting to see wonderful progress with his trust of us, his bonding with us, and learning to live with the limits. Those sparks of progress gave us hope that this was a good fit, and that he was meant to be with our family.


To be honest, the hardest part of hosting is right now, afterwards. Watching him leave us at the airport was one of the hardest moments in our lives. He already felt like our son, and we were losing him. Now, to be separated so many months as we go through the adoption process, it is really hard. At times it feels cruel to both him and us. But I also know that we would NOT be adopting right now if we hadn’t hosted. I know that we wouldn’t have been brave enough to take on the unknowns of an older child without meeting him and feeling him melt into our family. What a gift he was to us. What joy we have in looking forward to the day when we will finally be reunited with him, this time forever!


Thank you to Yu Yu’s Host Family for allowing us to share their beautiful story.

Visit to learn how you can be a part of our Hosting Program.

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