A photo. A video. A story. An interaction. Many of us can trace pivotal decisions in our lives back to a key moment. In the area of adoption and foster care, it is often a photo or a story that a family can point to and say, “That changed everything.”

Before I get into common questions I’ve been asked about New Day, I want to speak to those that have been moved by a specific child’s photo that you have seen me post.

5.17NewDayFAQ-01After seeing a photo, if you feel your heart drawn to a child or moved towards adoption/foster care in a new way, I would encourage you to continue taking steps towards adoption/foster care even if you are unable to adopt that specific child. Sometimes a photo of a child is what is used to turn our hearts in a new direction. For you, it might actually be that specific child, but for many the photo is just a first step in a beautiful journey.

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5.17NewDayFAQ-02If you find yourself open to adoption or a specific special need that you were not before, do not discount that if the child is not available for adoption. Consider other children. Consider domestic adoption. Domestic foster care. Child sponsorship. If you are open to one child with a medical need, consider that there are many more across this globe with the same need that are also waiting for a family. You may never see a beautiful photo of them, but they are waiting.

My daughter was one.

God used a photo of another little one with a cleft lip and palate to turn our hearts towards adoption of a cl/cp kiddo. There was no one advocating for our daughter’s orphanage. No beautiful pictures. No knowledge that she was even a child waiting, but she was waiting. She for us as we were longing for her.

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If you feel something changing in you as you see the photos I post of these kids, don’t push that down or ignore it. Maybe what is ahead for you is foster care, maybe it is adoption of a child with tough medical needs, maybe it is volunteering to be a mentor to older kids in your area, maybe it is welcoming in a teen about to age out of the foster care system, maybe it is the adoption of a child at New Day….don’t let fear keep you from taking steps to figure out what is ahead.

I’ve heard countless adults generations ahead of me say that it is not the things they did that they regret, rather the things they did not do.

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Over the next few weeks I will continue to share about our time at New Day Foster Home and the children that are here. For those unfamiliar with Chinese adoption, foster homes and New Day, I know there are a lot of questions. I hope to answer the most common ones here.

What is New Day?

New Day is a foster home in China that cares for children with serious health issues. Most of the children receive life saving surgeries while at New Day. Local orphanages request New Day’s help in caring for their most vulnerable children. Many of the children live on the New Day campus, others are part of the New Day foster family program. This program is much like foster homes in the US – children live in a home with their foster parents, but come to the New Day campus for school, therapy, check-ups, etc.

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Are all the children at New Day waiting to be adopted?

Yes. A few of the children are already matched with families and are waiting on the adoption process to be finalized. You can see which children are matched on the New Day website (there are * by their pictures). The majority of the children are waiting to be matched with an adoptive family.

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How can I adopt a child from New Day?

New Day does not function as an adoption agency and cannot facilitate adoptions. If you are interested in adopting a child from New Day, you will need to have your adoption agency contact New Day and request information on that child’s file. New Day cannot give any information to individuals about specific children.

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What is child sponsorship?

Child sponsorship provides for the basic care of the child, things like:

  • Food and Clothing
  • Basic Medical Supplies
  • Childcare Supplies
  • Adoption Paperwork Preparation
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Staff and Caregiver’s Salaries (*foreign workers do not receive a salary)
  • Facility Maintenance Costs

Sponsors receive monthly updates on the child and can send the child cards and mail. For more information on what all is involved in child sponsorship, visit the New Day website.

If you are local to Beijing, as a sponsor you can visit the home.

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Can I help provide for a surgery?

Yes! Help covering the costs of surgeries is a huge need at New Day. The children at New Day all have some type of medical need and many need life-saving surgeries. Many need heart and orthopedic surgeries. Several of the children have continued medical needs as well. For instance, Owen (pictured below), who has Thalassemia, needs monthly blood transfusions that cost $400 a month. Any help covering the medical needs of these children is greatly appreciated.

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Can my business be involved?

Yes! Corporate sponsorships make a huge difference at New Day. From covering the cost of surgeries to providing for therapy rooms and equipment, corporate donations allow for the children to thrive in a safe and loving environment. One local business provides birthday cakes each month for the children, another brings in a team to plant flowers to create a beautiful environment for the kids, another funded a remodel of therapy rooms and many others provide for surgeries and basic needs.

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I am sure there are countless more questions. I encourage you to visit the New Day FAQ page for more detailed answers and information on things I did not address (which is a lot!).

Every child – the ones you see on this post, the ones pulled from their home and in your local foster care system, the ones next door, the ones an ocean away – every child deserves to know they are valuable, loved, safe and have a bright future. Sadly, every child does not know that. A bright future is not possible for many children, unless loving adults get involved. As you hug your little ones today, look around your empty nest or long for the laugh of a child in your home – consider those near and far longing to be known and loved and the role you might play in their lives.

Consider it.

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  • Maria - I’ve discussed with my husband that once our own kids are older, teens maybe, we are going to “take in” someone. A foster child, or an exchange student, an au pair – someone that would benefit from having us in their lives, and we from them.

    I read your post with tears in my eyes.

  • Stefanie - Such wisdom. Could not love this more <3

  • Donzel - I am sure that this post took some time to formulate & write and I thank you for your kind & sensitive words. At this point adoption doesn’t seem to be part of our lives, but we do some of the other things you mentioned in the post and have found delightful joy & rewards in knowing that we are doing the good works He designed for us to do. I’ve been praying that your time there would be fruitful in an eternal way, and perhaps God will use your family to bring many people further into the act of loving their neighbor, whether that neighbor is right next or, or across the ocean. Thank you, again, for the pictures and the post.

  • Jane - After 7 failed IVF attempts its finally clear that being pregnant doesn’t matter to me, having a family does. Your post comes at the perfect time for me and my husband as we start the daunting task of starting to find our route to adoption. Thank you as always for your wonderful blog

  • Roxana - Thank you so much for your beautiful, encouraging words. I started looking into New Day a few days ago after having seen your initial posts about it. I’ve been in tears every day. I’ve also been so encouraged by reading about your journey to bring your youngest daughter home. A large part of me longs to adopt a child, especially one with special needs (one of our sons has Down syndrome, so a child with special needs feels less scary than it used to), but part of me is fearful. Plus, our extended family thinks I’m crazy. I know I need to submit these thoughts and feelings to God.

    In the meantime, we just started sponsoring a child in New Day’s care. One of the kiddos in your pics, in fact. We hope and pray that this precious child would would know Christ’s love throughout life.

  • bethanyblntn - thank you for posting about this. I turn 28 tomorrow and you know what I am most excited about? being able to start the adoption process next year! We have wanted to start this journey with Living Hope for so long now and seeing your posts and Instagram about these beautiful children just make it that much more real for me!

As soon as my shutter clicked, I knew it was going to be one of those photos – the kind that records a moment that forever marks a life. It would be a photo that would take my breath away for years to come.

On his own he walked to a little nearby restaurant, overcame language barriers and ordered dinner for our family. I caught up to him sipping his Sprite and looking out at the dusty Chinese road. It was his first time to do something independently of his parents in a foreign country. Things like that mark you. When I took the photo I told him he would forever look back and remember this experience. He laughed at me and told me he would forget, but I wouldn’t.

Maybe he will forget. He might forget the details and even the moment, but something changed in him and there is no going back.

This trip is changing him.

It is a strange season as a parent. I am no longer taking pictures of a little guy running around in a costume and wondering what kind of boy he will be one day. This season I am getting a clearer picture of the man he is becoming. Sitting at that little table in a Chinese restaurant was not the 13 year old that boarded a plane in Oklahoma 3 weeks ago. Sitting in that restaurant was a confident young man ready for adventures of his own.

I sure hope one day he invites me to tag along. I’ll buy his dinner and Sprite.

 

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  • Steffany - Beautiful, Ashley, just beautiful. Your awareness of life is so front and center…puts me in awe and makes me look for the things you see. Seems like you are having a wonderful adventure; I am enjoying, as ever, following along for the outside ride 🙂

  • rarejule - A moment in time, so special and rewarding. Blessings.

  • Jodi Thompson - Ashley, what a beautiful post and a wonderful journey for you and your family!

  • Stacy Hutchens - I’ve read your blog for years, but don’t think I’ve ever commented. This reminded me so much of my younger cousin who spent his summer after high school traveling around Europe… with his grandmother. Tagging along with my kids on their adventures is certainly a goal of mine, but those two gave me a new goal that I’d never even considered!

  • Daenel T. - Absolutely love the photo and the story. What a beautiful memory. My son is now 21 and living on his own (a couple of states away), but every now and then, he sends me a snapshot of himself doing something “grownup” so I can be a part of it. Your photo reminds me of how quickly it goes by and how easy it is to lose that connection. Hold on and keep snapping away.

  • Sandra - Oh boy, isn’t it crazy that its very true that moments like this do mark you and more so far away from home. At least you’re photographing all the moments.

  • ratna - Beautiful photo!

    May I know what how you travel with your camera? What bag did you use to carry (if any)? Or you just hold your camera all the time? My children are younger than yours, I need extra hands to hold camera while trying to enjoy the moments with them.

  • AmyK - This is the reason I read your blog. What a great reminder that the days are long- but the years are short. You must be so proud!

  • Anna - This made me cryyyy. We’ve never met, but I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. I remember your post about this boy’s 8 year old Beaver Birthday Party. My oldest is 7 now and I can just see these days coming. So heart-breaking, but SO EXCITING. Thanks for sharing.

  • jenny - what a beautiful moment. i love the way you share these experiences.

  • Dana - This photo is beautiful. I know just what you are talking about. My daughters and I visited my husband over in South Korea and I was nervous about how they would get along. They amazed me with their curiosity and their willingness to try everything. I marveled at their never-ending wonder. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it. To this day they still look back on photographs from that season and the stories they remember make my heart swell.

  • Jeanne - I’m crying ugly tears. My own 13 year old son is sitting next to me as we read up on the information for a series of classes he is taking at the community college this summer. I get it. I’m so glad you were able to record the moment, and thank you for sharing it with us.

  • AshleyAnn - Anna – that beaver cake still makes me laugh…that whole party was so funny! Thank you for reading for so long!

  • AshleyAnn - Ratna – When walking about I often just carry it in my hand. I don’t need hands free for little ones anymore. When I am not snapping photos, it is in an insulated lunch sack in my backpack. There are little camera bags available, but they are $$$. You can find a small insulated lunch sack (insulation makes it padded) for really cheap and they slide into a backpack easily.

  • Hanna - I teared up by reading your post. I don’t even have children (yet), but your words are so touching. Don’t even know why I sit here and cry. What a gift you have to find words, that make complete strangers go on a emotional rollercoasters. I love to read your blog! Big Hugs from Germany

Today half our crew left the apartment early and three of us stayed behind to take care of laundry and such. Soon rain began to pour and we could either run in the rain the 3/4 of a mile to New Day for lunch with friends or stay put. I was with two of the boys – both opted for running in the rain. As we reached the half way point,  a car pulled up next to us and the gentleman driving held out an umbrella.

Despite getting soaked, I tried my best to tell him we would be okay (in hand motions and facial expressions). He was insistent, so I smiled and the three of us finished our journey under the cover of an umbrella – a fancy, nice umbrella.

I can’t begin to express the kindness others have poured on our family. Umbrellas from strangers, homemade granola from neighbors, coffee delivered to our door…I could go on and on. Countless smiles on the bus. Numerous laughs and help as we try our best to pronounce difficult words. We feel so welcomed in this place.

{Working on math ~ Granola and coffee for breakfast}

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Last week I mentioned that the most difficult part of our trip has been the restriction on foreigners regarding taking photos in our village. Many asked why the restriction is in place and what would happen if I chose to ignore it. Well, I don’t know all the specific reasons, but I do believe it was a decision made in the best interest of the community. The village is not huge and a steady flow of foreigners come through…not all respect or understand the privacy of citizens and a community.

Could I break the rule and just pull out my camera? Probably. Would I suffer tremendous consequences? Probably not. However, those that live here and those that come after me would deal with the affects of my selfishness. Not worth it.

I ache a little each day to pull out my camera. There is one wall in town that is slate gray with a beautiful, thin green tree growing up it. There are long stemmed roses lining streets. Community gardens with citizens working the ground in the early hours of the day. Fruit piled on tables in the street. Chippy paint. Little teal carts carrying parents and kids. It is all so beautiful! However, I chose not to pull out my camera in town and honor the citizens that have so graciously welcomed us into their community.

That being said, I do jump at any chance to go explore just outside of our village!

Several of these I posted on Instagram. I never know if most people see them there…should I rewrite the captions here too if I post them on IG? What do you guys prefer?

{When you can’t read the signs, are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the culture and are trying to figure out what is okay and what is not – observation becomes so important. Look around, observe, listen, take note…this kid has got it down. ~ Ordering a snack and tying a hairband around chopsticks to make them easier for her little sister to use.}


Chris makes friends everywhere…and takes a lot of photos with his new friends. His oldest daughter is following in his footsteps.

They have a goal to try every flavor they can find.


Over the weekend we tromped around a little bit of Beijing with friends. While walking down one street I had the thought, “No one is in athletic clothes and my hair is not in a ponytail.” I quickly messed with my camera settings and asked a friend to snap a photo of us. Everything about this makes me ridiculously happy!

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  • Emily - And your littlest isn’t dabbing! #winning!

  • Debbie H - Holy COW!! Those boys have been on a growth explosion! What a difference a year makes. . . Next year at this time you’ll probably be seeing eye to eye or eye to nose with a few, Ashley! Great photo! When you don’t see all standing next to each other very often, it is hard to realize how much they are changing. Thanks for the descriptions of your village. I’m impressed at how clean the streets appear in the photos you do take. A fun journey to watch, that is certain!

  • Jenn - great post.
    great photo.

  • Trish - Oh wow! You finally got a great family photo with all smiles. I appreciate your blog so much and I am super happy for some complete strangers to be enjoying their journey.

    Trish from WV:)

  • Lisa K - Your mother’s day photo was just a little bit late. Beautiful photo. Definitely worth the wait I am sure.

  • Ethel - Love the posts, feel like I’m visiting along with you, thanks

  • AshleyAnn - It was worth the wait 🙂

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Trish!

  • AshleyAnn - You are so right Debbie – the next three are quickly catching up to me!

  • Laurainsacto - WOW! What a great family photo of all of you smiling! Awesome. Love all your posts.

  • Claudie - Really nice family photo! Everyone seems very happy. They are very lucky to have you both as parents. I’m certain that with your attitude and openness you bring upon yourselves all the kindness that is poured on your family.

    Regarding the IG captions, I wouldn’t mind reading them twice here. I think that the people who follow you only on your blog would really like to read them here.

  • Byron - Post captions for your pictures! Not all of us are on Instagram.

    Love the face paint. Is that a cat?

    It’s obvious everyone is having a great time! God bless!

  • Heather - I loved trying all the random flavors of Fanta soda when I was traveling through Mexico. The chips of course were varying levels of Diablo ?. Maybe you and the kids could watercolor paint some of your favorite things you can’t take photos of… I did that a lot while traveling.

  • Susan - Captions are welcome, I’m not on instagram. I love following your adventures, it’s like getting lost in a wonderful book

  • Amy - Your beautiful kids are growing up!! I have loved following you guys for years! Please put everything you can on FB since I don’t have an Instagram;)

  • Krystin - Oh, I just love everything about this! I am so happy that your family is feeling so welcomed in a new community. You all seem to be naturals at this new adjustment! The family photo is wonderful, too! I cannot wait to see more of the journey! Good luck and best wishes to you and your family.

  • Rebekah - A belated Mother’s Day present!!! And in China, no less. What a gift. My guys don’t like pictures at all. Last year on while on vacation, a lady saw me with my camera and asked if she could take a family picture. I quickly said ‘YES’ before my guys could say no. I never saw that lady again while at that spot. I think of her as my “family photo angel.” I will always treasure that picture and that memory.