There is a Chick-Fil-A about 1.5 miles from our house. Not once have we walked there. We usually jump in the car to go grab a chicken sandwich. Over the past month, we have averaged walking 6 miles a day. For a bunch of Okies that don’t have easy access to public transportation and usually drive everywhere – it has been such a fun change of pace. I told the kids when we get home, we should walk to Chick-Fil-A. They were shocked to hear that they walk much further every day.

99.9% of the time the kids have had an incredible attitude about it. For the most part they are soaking it up too. There have been a couple days in the high 90s and low 100s that we all weren’t loving it too much!

With the shortest legs in the family, our youngest has the most work to do to keep up with the rest of us. She rarely asks to be carried, but she does have her hard days and moments.

Somedays she just acts like the way the rest of us feel.

Sometimes you just can’t go any further and you decide you crawl…up the Great Wall.

5.17tiredclimber-15.17tiredclimber-2She was just being goofy with the crawling, but by the time we made it back down the road and began a walk back to our cabin (more about that later this week), she was done. The only problem was we had at least another mile and a half to go.
5.17tiredclimber-3I handed my camera off to my older daughter, who on her own took this photo. It will be one of those memories I’ll treasure even though it was so hard at the time. I offered to carry my youngest for “just a bit.”5.17tiredclimber-4When she saw her big sister with my camera, she asked to take a picture. Lightbulb moment. I pulled out my phone and my two tired daughters made it back the remaining mile snapping pictures along the road. The walk took us much longer (the boys made it back 20 minutes before we did), but they made it with smiles on their faces.5.17tiredclimber-55.17tiredclimber-6When it comes to walking, hiking, and climbing with little ones we try to be as creative and as distracting as possible. We play lots of games (make them up as we go), let the kids lead, eat lots of snacks, drink lots of water, and find ways to keep their little feet moving…even if it is a slow pace.

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  • Grace G. - Great idea. We are avid hikers with a 4 and 6 year old. We end up playing a lot of games on our hikes (i.e. naming all the animals we can think of, using the alphabet to name all the fruit), but I will definitely consider this in the future!

  • Laura J - Awesome photo Firecracker!

  • Byron - 🙂

  • Nicolet - We usually do this to, give my camera to our son. He likes taking the photo’s and my husbands keeps his camera and takes pictures om him 🙂

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. Coming alongside a struggling family and helping preserve that family. 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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-10

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-12

5.17NewDayFAQ-03

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-14

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-15

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-17

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-04

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.

5.17NewDayFAQ-05

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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!

  • Katie B. - This is great! We are not personally at a point to physically adopt or foster. But my family have alway been involved in adoption (several cousins, an uncle, a grandfather), foster care (my grandmother fostered four children while raising her NINE biological), and encouraging family/children support, whether through volunteering or donating money or advocating. I love the idea of getting my immediate family involved with sponsorship and having my children learn the way to support all kinds of families.

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

  • Sarah Card - Oh, Ashley. Tears. What a gift you are giving your kiddos.
    Yes to this! We are sending our 14 yr. old son to Montana (from Wisconsin) on his own for ten days this summer. He’ll be in good hands, yet knowing when he comes home he’ll be changed, brings pause to my beating heart.

  • Fiona - I have loved reading your blog for a while now, but this particular time frame has been an absolute joy to read. Thank you so much for sharing this precious experience. From my perspective children won’t always understand the value of being ‘stretched’ by an unusual experience until much later. It seems like all of you are soaking up everything this trip brings. Thank you, thank you!. Fiona

  • Sarah - Even though my oldest (a boy) is just 7, this made me tear up a bit. Our time is coming! I already see him becoming his own personality and getting more independent. I love the story behind your picture. It’s really a gorgeous photo, and I love the light. It reminds me of something I’d see in Texas Monthly. Indeed, I think he’ll look back and remember that!