Julia and Asa lived in the same orphanage in Xuchang, China, and were nearly inseparable. When Kevin traveled to China to adopt Julia, he noticed Asa, the cheerful boy who rarely left his daughter’s side, and made sure to take several pictures of the pair. Kevin asked about this boy and learned that he, too, would soon be joining a family.
When Kevin and 8-year-old Julia arrived home, Julia had bouts of homesickness for China. “She wanted to call her orphanage and talk to anyone familiar,” mom Maria tells us. “She was so sad. They had been her family for 5 1/2 years and now they were gone.” While on the phone with WACAP Case Manager Lindsey Chandler, Maria asked if Lindsey happened to know who was adopting the boy from the photos. Not only did Lindsey know, but she had that family’s paperwork sitting right there on her desk! Lindsey quickly got in touch with Asa’s family, and gave them Kevin and Maria’s email address. “It was really great being put in contact with Maria” says Asa’s mom, Shanon. “We e-mailed for months before [my husband] Jason and I traveled. There were days when Maria and I emailed every day. She shared the experiences she had with her two daughters, what stories Julia told her about Asa, and pictures of our little guy!” Meanwhile, Julia was thrilled that her friend was coming home. Every time a jet flew overhead she asked if Asa was on that plane.
Finally,6-year-old Asa arrived home. He was ecstatic to learn that his new family was friends with Julia’s family. Since the two families live in different parts of the U.S, they quickly set up a Skype session so the kids could catch up. “Their first Skype she was very shy. He talked and talked, but Julia just smiled,” Maria recalls. “Their next phone call she did a lot more talking. She asked him if he was happy and he said he was. He has lots of fun!”
Both moms recognize how important this connection is for their kids. “When everything is changing and you don’t get to control any of it, it is scary”, Maria says. “Back when Julia was so homesick I would have done anything to give her a connection to someone she knew from China. Just knowing Asa was coming home and she would get to talk to him got her through the transition. I have to think Asa was happy to have someone from his former home, too.”
Shanon agrees: “It was a comfort to Asa, knowing someone he loved was there to talk with when he returned to the U.S. Not only are they both from the same orphanage, with shared memories, but they loved and cared for each other while they were there.”
While maintaining these ties to the past, Maria and Shanon look forward to the future. “Our hope is that Julia and Asa will be able to maintain their friendship as they grow and maybe, as some of the other kids from Xuchang arrive home they will join the circle of friends!”
Thank you to Maria and Kevin, and Shanon and Jason for sharing photos and stories.