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30 November 2015

Adoptions from Asia: Our Twenty Years of Adventure and Love – By Judy Wheeler

November is National Adoption Month, and over the past three decades, Judy Wheeler of Roanoke, Virginia has raised 15 children, two biological and 13 adopted. Twelve of her adopted children were orphans from Vietnam and China. Many of her adopted children had special needs that were easily treatable in the United States, but would have remained untreated in their home countries. The following is her story, in her own words, of determination to love and help children in need. 

It was in the mid 1990's when I first heard about baby girls being abandoned in China, due in large part to the “One Child” policy, and my heart was deeply touched by their plight. In 1996, I traveled abroad for the first time in my life to adopt my baby, Rebekah, the first child I adopted from a foreign country. Traveling to such a foreign place was terrifying at first, but my faith and other members of my travel group kept me going, and it ended up being the greatest trip of my life.

Rebekah, who was 8 months old at the time, was very malnourished, weighed just 11 pounds, and was living in a loving but very overcrowded Chinese orphanage where many of the children were likewise undernourished. It was mid-winter and many of the children were sick.  Little Rebekah was handed over to me wrapped in layer after layer after layer of clothing. I was crying tears of joy when I held her for the first time.

Once I returned home with Rebekah, I told my husband, Patrick, what I had seen. We both felt compelled to adopt another child, but we couldn't go back to China due to the adoption center in Beijing being reorganized, allowing only childless couples to adopt.

From left: Judy, daughter Rebekah, husband Patrick

Another adoptive parent told me to look at adopting a child in Vietnam. Right away we saw our Seth, who was 8 months old, but he had a special need. He was born with a cleft lip and palate which was still unrepaired. My husband Patrick went to Vietnam to get him in 1997. Fortunately, we were able to treat Seth’s cleft lip and palate with a few surgeries which were easily accessible in the United States, but inaccessible to him in his home country.

From left: Judy, son Seth, and husband Patrick

Then the door opened up for us to go back to China in 2000. Patrick again traveled and brought home a 15-month-old baby boy named Nathan who also had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. What touched our hearts is that after we accepted him, our adoption agency told us that nobody else would have adopted him. He is now 17 in the gifted program at his high school, takes college classes, and makes top grades in his advanced classes. His dream is to be a neurologist and he is fascinated by the human mind.

In 2014, we were very humbled and honored when our U.S. congressman selected us for an award called, "Angels in Adoption". We traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive this award with our children. At the time, we felt our family was complete with 10 children from China and Vietnam.

Then one day in May 2015, I saw a boy named Samuel in China. Samuel was about to age out of the adoption system.  According to China's law, once a child turns 14, he or she can no longer be adopted. I did everything I could to advocate for him, but nobody came forward to adopt him. I called several agencies to get their opinions, and each told me that there wasn't enough time to bring him home before he turned 14. 

Despite the obstacles and limited time, I was determined to press forward. With the help of a wonderful adoption agency, support from my friends, and the dedication of an "angel", a USCIS Officer named Brenda, I was able to make it work. With only days remaining, I was able to adopt Samuel. While I was working to adopt Samuel, a social worker told me I could adopt two children, and I decided to also adopt a 12-year-old boy named Aaron who had wanted a family of his own for many years. I travelled to China and completed their adoption process in two different provinces. When we arrived home on U.S. soil, our sons were U.S citizens. We feel so blessed to have Samuel and Aaron in our family.  And, as with the other children in our family, they are adjusting well to their new family, and their new lives in America.

What I want to tell others considering adoption is that if they have love in their hearts, adoption is a wonderful thing, and I hope that I can always encourage others to share their lives with a child in need.



At November 30, 2015 at 5:18:00 PM EST , Blogger Unknown said...

Amazing story! You are a unique and special couple to bring so many children caring parents.

At November 30, 2015 at 6:17:00 PM EST , Blogger rakhi sadanandan said...

really great , God bless your family.

At November 30, 2015 at 7:09:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful family!

At December 3, 2015 at 1:53:00 PM EST , Anonymous Immigration Attorney Roy Petty said...

For USCIS immigration through adoption is a priority. The Dallas Field Office of USCIS processes these I-600 (adoption petitions) fast. If documents are needed, the officers call because they understand that the new parents are worried about the processing times and being united with the children fast. Hats off to the USCIS.

At December 15, 2015 at 10:03:00 AM EST , Anonymous Martha Nichols said...

Really inspiring!! Judy and Patrick are angels on Earth!!! <3

At December 26, 2015 at 11:18:00 AM EST , Blogger webcashbuilder said...

Is immigration official above the law? My small family has been on immigration case for over tens years for a fault that was not ours. It took the department more than seven years to give my wife green card, June of 2015, she went for her citizenship exam passed, she was told to wait to be invited for citizenship ceremony to no avail, after two months my small family became disturbed, we scheduled appointment to go to the office here in Oklahoma to our dismay we were told that unfortunately my wife case was selected for more scrutiny. It was baffling to us to say the least why my wife records is the one that comes up for more scrutiny starting from her green card to citizenship. If they are suspecting my family let the department come out and say it, I think the problem was and is we are blacks and poor therefore my family is now an escape goat of whatever that is going on in the department. Not all Muslims and not all Christians are terrorist, we are proud christian, and I have been a US-citizen for more than twenty years without any criminal records that is why we are totally and absolutely confused why the stress. Since my wife came over in November 2012 we now have three children ranging from five, eight and nine years old all born in USA.The reason why we are treated as such is beyond our understanding and we couldn’t make out any sense of it.

Cited from: Is immigration actually bad for the United States? | The Avvo NakedLaw Blog


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