Monday, August 26, 2013

My Story Monday: The Hunt Family

It is sometimes hard for me to believe that just 5 years ago, our family consisted of just two of us.  My husband and I were so eager to have children, but after two years of struggling with infertility we wondered if this would ever be a possibility.  Our hearts had always been open to adoption, but the prospect of actually starting that journey seemed scary and uncertain.  There were so many options, so many choices, so many unknowns.  The length and cost of international adoption seemed almost impossible to us at the beginning, but as we prayed about our decision we found ourselves coming back to this option over and over again.  In January 2008, we took the plunge and began the journey to our son, Matthew, who was born in South Korea.

The moment we held Matthew in our arms, our fears and anxieties about adoption fell away.  He was ours, totally and completely!  We were so in love with our sweet little boy and knew without a doubt that we would be adding to our family through adoption again in the future.  I must admit, even I was surprised to find myself talking about another little one only a few months after Matthew came home!  When he had been home about a year, we started our second adoption. 

This time as we started the process, we started wondering if we might be more open to special needs than we had been the first time around.  We started learning about different medical conditions and prayed that the Lord would lead us to our child.  I spent many evenings reading about waiting children on different websites, and one day I saw a little face that instantly made me smile.  Our Nathan was listed on AAC’s waiting children website and he had the best chubby cheeks and spikey hair I had ever seen!  It did take a while for us to research his special needs and honestly the unknowns were pretty scary for us at times, but we knew he was to be our son and I’m so thankful that we didn’t let our fears get in the way of bringing him home.  We met Nathan in June 2011 and he is an absolute blessing to us!

In December of that year, I told Brad not to worry, I wouldn’t be bringing up adoption for quite a while as I knew our hands were full with two active little boys.

Then in January, I got this strange feeling that the Lord had another child for us.  We started talking about adopting a boy older than Matthew, but in the end the Lord made it very clear that our next little one would be a girl younger than Nathan!  We were thrilled to begin the journey to Hannah last February.  Hannah has the same special need as Nathan (they both have bilateral Microtia, a congenital ear deformity, and hearing loss) and we were so excited to travel to China in January to bring her home! 

Everything about our trip went more smoothly than we could have even hoped. With this being our third adoption, we knew that it might be an easy transition (we’d had one of those) or it might be a really difficult transition (we’d had one of those, too!).  We were amazed at how quickly Hannah took to us and began bonding with both of us.  The moment we arrived home, her two older brothers welcomed her with open arms into our family and they never looked back!

When she was first home, we had Hannah evaluated as it was obvious that she was delayed in her physical development.  At 18-months-old, she couldn’t get into a sitting position on her own, and couldn’t crawl or stand alone.  She had very low muscle tone and was assessed to be at a 6-9 month old level for her gross motor skills.  She is a very determined little one, though, and now just six months later, she is running around chasing her brothers, climbing on things, and she has been discharged from physical therapy!  This week she received her hearing aid and she has once again shocked us with her adaptability and resiliency.  We are so thankful for all of the progress she has made in the last few months and it has been a joy to see her personality emerge as she continues to settle into our family.  Hannah is a cuddly, kind, spunky, sweet, smart little girl and we are so glad that she is ours!

Life is very busy these days with a 4-year-old, 3-year-old, and 2-year-old, but we really wouldn’t have it any other way!  Hannah has fit seamlessly into our family and we can hardly remember life without her here.  We all love her so much!

I never could have imagined 5 years ago the incredible plan God had for our family.  We are blessed beyond words!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Story Monday: Hearts to Hanna

Our adoption journey began in May 2011 when we submitted our application to a small agency near us in Pennsylvania to adopt a healthy infant from Korea.  Fast forward two years and we’ve adopted a beautiful special needs child from China through AAC, and yet, we know we have taken the right path for us.  People say International adoption is a rocky road, but I liken the process more to a narrow trail with many ups and downs, twists, turns and some parts where you have to blaze your own path.

My husband and I have always wanted to adopt, and following our wedding in 2006 we debated if we should try to start our family through adoption or birth.  We researched adoption and attended information meetings, however, we were very lucky to welcome our two amazing biological children in 2008 and 2009.  In May 2011 we moved to Pennsylvania and submitted our application for the Korea program.  After about six months of “paper chasing” we learned Korea was not the right fit for us.

So, after all our documents for Korea had been completed, we started from scratch preparing a dossier for China and made the switch to China’s special needs program in October 2011. (Later we learned AAC prepares the dossier for you!)  We were very nervous taking the special needs route, and filling out the special needs checklist (listing the conditions we would be open to) was really challenging for us. That spring we also moved into a new house, delaying completion of our home study.  Finally we finished our dossier in the summer 2012 and we were LID (Logged-In-Date) September 2012.

Our small agency in Pennsylvania only matched from the shared list, so each month we eagerly awaited the releases and longed to “get the call”, and see our child’s face.  During the fall of 2012 we considered the files of three children, none of which was right for our family.  Turning down referrals was heartbreaking, and we wondered if we were on the right path.  It seemed all the children on China’s shared list had more severe medical needs than we were comfortable with.

Then in February 2013 we learn through an adoption Facebook group that an agency in Colorado, AAC Adoptions, had available files of young girls with minor medical conditions—exactly what we were looking for!  It seemed unbelievable that we had waited six months for a match and there was an agency with more files than families!  We contacted AAC Adoptions and they told us about one baby girl they felt would be a good match for us.  Another family was reviewing her file, but a few days later we learned they decided not to pursue her.  AAC Adoptions was kind enough to let us review the file before committing to switch agencies. We had been happy with our agency in Pennsylvania, and already paid many of the fees, so didn’t want to switch unless this was our daughter.  We had her medical file reviewed by the International Adoption team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and decided… this is our Hanna!

We began to transfer our dossier to AAC at the end of February, which added about a month to our process.  We were  LID, through AAC, March 2013—both exactly six months after our first dates.  We received our LOA (Letter of Confirmation) on May 20,and TA (Travel Approval) July 19th.

As we got closer to travel I’d been hoping to leave for China on July 26—my birthday!  However, when we received our TA the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou (where you must have a consulate appointment before leaving China) was closed to move offices, so we couldn’t schedule our CA (consulate appointment).  And since the CA is the crucial final step during the China trip, you can’t make any travel plans without knowing that date.

The night of July 23 I was sound asleep when an alarm woke me around 2AM.  It took me a few groggy seconds to identify it was my phone beeping a weather alert warning of flash flooding due to a thunderstorm in our area. (That’s the only time an alarm has ever been activated on my phone— not even sure how they do that.)  Since we aren’t in an area prone to flooding I shut it off cursing the weather alert system for the intrusion.  Then I noticed an e-mail that had just popped up on my phone 9 minutes earlier from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou confirming our CA appointment for August 5th!

Two days later we boarded the plane as a family of four, and I got the best birthday gift of arriving in China on my birthday!  AAC had prepared all the documents we needed for our trip, and the in-country rep, Judy, worked tirelessly to plan our itinerary and book our hotels, guides, and in-China transportation.  Everything went smoothly!  We spent a few days in Hong Kong, five days in Nanchang— where Hanna is from— and five days in Guangzhou.  We were pleasantly surprised by Guangzhou, which is a clean, cosmopolitan, efficient and beautiful city. The hardest part of our trip was adjusting to the 12-hour time difference—as soon as we overcame the jet-lag in China, it was time to come home and adjust again.  And it’s a shock adjusting to having a toddler again!  I joke toddlers spend all day trying to kill themselves so as parents we spend all day trying to prevent that—it’s constant and exhausting, especially when no one is sleeping well.

Our gotcha day was July 29 and Hanna immediately bonded with me (she’s still a little unsure of her daddy) and is doing great!  We discovered unexpectedly she has a hernia that will require surgery soon, but otherwise have found her medical file was fairly accurate (aside from an erroneous positive Hepatitis B result).  At 17 months her development was assessed generally at a 14-month level, which is to be expected given her circumstances.  Hanna is what I’ve read described as a “Velcro baby”—she won’t let me put her down.  Her comfort level is growing to allow me out of her sight, but only for a few seconds.  Bedtimes have also been challenging and she often cries when it’s time to sleep (I’m not sure if that’s mourning or just typical toddler behavior).  But she’s already making progress and adjusting amazingly well to her new life— she is incredible!

There were times we weren't sure the ups and downs and twists and turns of this path were right for us, but now we realize everything is exactly as it should be.  Ultimately, you just have to follow your heart—our hearts lead us to Hanna. 
Proud Mommy,
Emily Lovely

Monday, August 12, 2013


We all know growing up isn't easy. There isn't a manual on how to grow up and become the best you.

Now take a moment to imagine growing up with something different about you... it would be much harder, sometimes making you feel alienated from those around you. 

Often adopted kids experience this. Majority of the time they don’t live near other adopted kids. Or may have a few kids in their life that are adopted but they don’t see on a regular basis. 

Role models in society for adopted kids can be few and far between.

Connect-A-Kid was created by a Korean adoptee, Brian Conyer, who grew up with two older sisters, also adopted from Korea. Having them as role models helped Brian develop into the successful and happy young man he is today. He believes that the connection he had with his older siblings helped him cope with the differences between him and his friends. Not only was he adopted but he grew up in a trans-racial family, making them often times stand out in their community.

Connect-A-Kid is a mentoring program that pairs adopted children, ages 4-17, with adult adoptee mentors.  Through this program, children will have an opportunity to interact with others whom they can relate to and look to for advice within a safe and comfortable community. Brian states that "the focus of the program is to provide support to the children, but our goal as mentors is to support the entire family."

The primary goals of the organization are:
To connect the adoption community through the mentor program
Embrace cultural diversity
Celebrate adoption

Currently Connect-A-Kid is looking for participant families in the Southern California (LA/Orange County), Northern California (San Francisco) and Denver (Front Range) region. Please visit our website for more information about Connect-A-Kid at  Or you can email Andrea Wieland, Director of Family Outreach at 

Connect-A-Kid is excited to announce the launch of 4 new mentor teams in Southern California! The Los Angeles Fire Department will co-host the kickoff event at Fire Station 112 in San Pedro on August 24th, 2013! Participants from San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles will come together to join their respective Connect-A-kid teams, partake in lots of fun games and activities, and enjoy a Fire Boat Tour along the coast!

DATE:  August 24th, 2013
TIME:  11:30am to 1:30pm
LOCATION: Fire Station 112, 444 South Harbor Boulevard, Berth 86, San Pedro, CA 90731
RSVP:  Spaces have already been reserved for mentors, kids, and parents.  Please contact Brian Conyer ( if you would like to join the event to show support for the organization.  Space is limited, so RSVP early!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Double Feature Friday: Henry and Parker


Sweet little Henry was born on July 2012, weighing 7.8 pounds. 

He loves to babble and squeal and is meeting all developmental milestones. 

An echo cardiogram shortly after his birth revealed “AS (valvular and subvalvular, dp+47mmHg) c subaortic membrane and aortic valve thickened.” His heart condition continues to be monitored. A follow-up echo was performed January 22, 2013, and another echo was performed recently and looks good.

Henry’s birth mother was prescribed medications for insomnia and depression from February to March of 2012, and took electroencephalo therapy once at a mental health center. She also received mental health consultations. 

 There is a $3,000 grant available to assist with his adoption costs.

Families living in Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, California and Washington may apply to review Henry's file. If you would like to review his file, please submit a pre-application on our website, and mention Henry's name in the comments section.



Little Parker was born April 2012. He is described as "cute and lovely". He loves to play, babble and squeal when he is excited. He likes picture books. He is shy around strangers but very outgoing. He is developmentally on target. He is now walking and running! 

When he was a couple months old he had surgery to correct Malrotation of Colon. He healed very well. He does have ASD, reduced mild, and Cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart.

Parker's birth mother would like to stay in contact after the adoption through photos and letters.

He is available for adoption in the following states only: Colorado, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Washington.

A $3,000 grant is available for this child's adoption.

If you would like to review this little sweetheart's file, please submit a pre-application online and be sure to mention Parker's name in the comments section.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Feature Friday: Phineas

DOB: November 2011

This sweet boy is Phineas, and he is almost 2 years old. He is fond of interacting with adults and also playing Hide-and-Seek and Pass the Ball with his foster mother. He really likes to dance when music is being played. At 15 months he could take a couple steps by himself and walk while his hands were being held.

Phineas has under gone Anoplasty and is doing well. He suffered from no other special needs. All development is on schedule for his age.

Phineas' file is only available for review by families who have an LID in China.

If you would like more information about this child, head on over to and fill out the application or click here. Please mention the child's name in the comments section and when your LID is. The application fee is waived for all Waiting Child inquiries.

Feel free to contact our office by phone at 970-532-3576 or email at