A family photo before Pauline’s surprise birthday party at Nori Nori…that little guy ate his weight in sushi! Thank you Scott for inviting us and caring and Pauline and kids for loving us so much!

Part 2  is finally here.

We have decided to adopt our summer orphan! 

I had to wait for China’s pre-approval (which came a week ago) to be legally allowed to even mention this publicly. Then of course, I had to let it all sink into my head a bit. I have a mound of paperwork to do already. They tell me it takes 6 months to prepare the dossier. I believe them. CCAI is the acronym for Chinese Children Adoption International. Our little Emily was adopted through this program 12 years ago. CCAI is chock full of orphans and the angels helping them. Close to 12,000 children have been placed by them in the last couple of decades. They are amazing folks.


I was unsure of how to proceed with part 2 of this; my Chinese Orphan Series. You see, I was unsure of whether we would even be allowed to adopt a child, due to my Churg-Strauss Syndrome. I was torn on moving ahead with advocating for this child. I wasn’t ready to give him up to a stranger. Not after he stole our hearts. My job this summer was to advocate for dental, vision and health check ups for this little guy. I did that, and I will say that I did it well. I did it well only because God put the best doctors with goodness in their hearts in my path. These doctors all donated their time, efforts and full exams to our little man’s disposal. They were amazing. As was this little boy.

I have also had some awesome support from friends and family in making this happen. Thanks to all of them!

This child has been an orphan since he was two weeks old. He turned 12 on February 29th of this year. He’s the size of an 8 year old. He is bright, he is kind. He is full of mischief and love. Today will not be the the day that I share his full personal story. I have too many tears just thinking of it all: the pain that he has felt, the family he has missed, the God he has never even been told of…

Medically speaking, he should not even be alive. He beat the odds. God has purpose for him; for me, for our family.

I have decided to simply post the ‘gist’ of my answer to the very first question on the very first ‘pre-approval’ form:  Preliminary Assessment for Special Needs Adoption.

Because LOVE wins.



How did you arrive at your decision to adopt a child with medical needs? Please address the attitudes of all your family members towards this decision.

We hosted ‘our’ special-needs child, Ni Zhang, in our home this summer because we had prayed to the Lord for guidance on being more in tune with doing ‘good’ in the world. How, I asked God, can I find what it is that you need us to do Lord? Ni Zhang was what I prayed for, and we fell in love with him in the 3 weeks that lived in our home and moved into our hearts. We had to make a decision to advocate for him to find him a forever family or to make a move to adopt him ourselves. I stalled as long as I could, try to be sure that I was the right Momma for the job, so-to-speak.

I asked my daughter a few weeks ago in a quiet moment on a paddleboard, out on a lake, in the middle of East Tennessee: “Can I do this Whitney? I don’t know. What good would I be to a child if I were too tired. I’m older now, I’m not the 25 year old I was when I had you. Would that be unfair to a child? Why am I doubting myself? I asked for this!?”

My wise and beautiful daughter explained to me, without hesitation, just as if our roles had suddenly changed and she was now in charge:  “Would it not be better to have a Momma who is tired, than to have no Momma at all?”


I will say that this was the pivotal moment. I have never looked back.

Whitney the Wise has reminded me too, on occasion, that she knew how I had always wanted to help a child. “Remember, how you always wanted to teach? How you said, ‘If I can save one child from dropping out of school, I will have done some (good) in the world.’ Well, Mother, you helped Robert and you helped me to be proud, honorable high school graduates. You taught me how to work for a master’s degree, for what I believed in and wanted for myself- not what someone else wanted me to do. Your love is what taught your son to be loyal to himself, his family and his country- your love taught Robert humility and humor, it also taught him how to be secure in himself and the Marine that he became. You are also making an impact on Emily like no one else in her life ever has.

My wonderful daughter reminded me how I have introduced young Emily to a whole new world in the last 3 years. I know she’s right, I know that I was unsure of how to step into the life of a child whom I had never met in her previous 10 years. I have taught Emily of the beautiful and abundant love that God has for her. She has been given responsibility and learned of the satisfaction that can be reaped with that responsibility; how to do things for herself, not wait for someone to do it for her. I have taught her to to cook a few things and help prepare meals and to not be afraid of the oven or the knife- “yes, Emily, you will get burned and you will get cut, more than once in life; you will learn from it and you will grow strong and wise and accept new challenges.” I have shown her that she is a beautiful person who is capable of standing on her own two feet and thinking for herself. She has learned that I am tough; my guidelines on life come heaped with love and acceptance.

Thanks to my daughter, Whitney, for her young, but infinite wisdom; her sincere and true love for me. Thanks to her for reminding me that I am Momma! Thanks to her for knowing truly, that I am more than capable of making the best life for Ni Zhang that he would never have without my motherly love.

This is how we, (and I personally), came to the decision of adopting young Ni Zhang, medical needs and all. My Vincent and his big heart, Emily and Whitney as loving sisters were already fully decided; my son – in summer college courses, so far away in Texas – and his wife were not able to meet Ni Zhang while he was here. My son knows of my wishes and he supports me- he agrees this child deserves our family. Their support will be fully wrapped around Ni Zhang as will my entire, large and extended family’s love and acceptance. I only had to get past my  own self beliefs that I am not perfect. I realized finally that perfect has never been asked of me. Ni Zhang is a blessing of goodness that the Lord has bestowed upon me and my wonderful family. He loved us unconditionally while he was here. These are the reasons why we have decided to adopt this child.

Ni Zhang on the day before he went back to China with the photobook of summer memories I surprised him with that morning.

In closing, I will say that I realize that anything could happen. Something along the way could derail our plans. This child begged me for 3 days not to send him back to China, it was gut-wrenching for all of us. We have to go and get him. 

I have FAITH…if this is truly God’s will, then let His Will be done. Blessings to all for your love and support. Prayers are always appreciated.  

With love, Dawn and Vince

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