“We Could Have Missed This: Adopting a Son”

The Pickett family had decided together they’d adopt a girl.

They completed their home study, submitted the paperwork to adopt from China, and waited to be matched with a child, their soon-to-be daughter.

But everything changed when they learned about one little boy, including their plans …  


I woke up one weekend morning in December 2016, looking through social media as I usually do. We’d just had our paperwork “logged in” with China’s adoption authorities and were planning to pursue adoption of a girl. Little did I know, I would soon see our future son’s face.

We knew we definitely wanted to add another daughter to our family. There were enough other unknowns about the adoption process that at least we felt we were familiar with raising a girl. There was an element of comfort in knowing that. “We had a biological daughter already, so why not give her a sister,” we thought.

We had researched and discussed many medical conditions with our pediatrician but hadn’t yet submitted a checklist of which ones we were open to considering. We thought we had time to decide as our dossier would be in China many months before we would get matched.

But that morning, as I scrolled through my newsfeed, I saw a photo that made me pause.

An advocacy group had posted a photo of a handsome little boy with round cheeks and a serious face. The toddler was looking intently at the camera. His hand was extended, beckoning to the photographer. He was standing in a large, sunny room; wearing a blue shirt with pictures of penguins and the letter P scattered across it. The picture was labeled “Theo,” his advocacy name.

toddler at orphanage

Advocacy photo for James

Tears ran down my face as I lay there, not sure why I was so moved by seeing this little boy.

From a logistical standpoint, he was technically available for our family to adopt, as our adoption agency was partnered with the orphanage in which he was located.

The caption near his photo described a lower limb difference, which was a need we were open to supporting.

I remember thinking what a beautiful boy he was. His eyes captivated me. I showed my husband, Greg, the photo and he agreed. I even showed our 4-year-old daughter, Lily – saying “Isn’t this picture cute?” She agreed; she loves looking at photos of other kids.

I “liked” the photo and soon got up and went about my day, but kept thinking about that picture.

I was enjoying time with some family members later that day.

I showed them the photo and talked about how much we looked forward to the day when we were matched with our girl.

But all weekend I thought about this little boy.

Our reasons for wanting to adopt a girl suddenly seemed so insignificant. We couldn’t and didn’t want to ignore it: This boy was a child in need of a family, and we were a family wanting another child.

After a bit more discussion, Greg and I decided to request to view his information. On Monday, we received the file.

I was at my office, and Greg, a teacher, was at work in our local school. It wasn’t long before I received an email from Greg saying, “I had to go into the back room. I didn’t want my students to see me. I’m in love with this kid already.”

My thoughts exactly.

We navigated a few logistical hurdles that week and the following Monday we submitted our letter of intent to adopt “Theo,” whom we would name James.

A few short months later, we were traveling from Iowa to China; arriving in Jinan, Shandong province on April 9, 2017, the same day James joined our family forever.

mom comforts her young child

‘A Very Scared James and Mama on Family Day’

It’s now been a year since our Family Day. It has been amazing to see James grow, change, and thrive with the love and care that can only come from being a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin … a member of a family.

Toddler at farm red barn and horse in background

‘James at Grandma and Papa’s Farm’

We’re so thankful that God put James’ picture in front of us. I can’t imagine James not being our son. It’s an honor to be his parents, and we will forever be thankful for his birth family and for the care he received at his orphanage.

We are proud to be a multicultural family who will always value and honor his Chinese heritage.

Siblings at the pumpkin patch

James and His Sister, Lily, at a Pumpkin Patch

There are so many boys who wait for families: Currently, over 70 percent of China’s waiting children on the listing China shares with adoption agencies are boys.

We could have missed out on so much.

We are so thankful we decided to change our plans so we could adopt our amazing son!

family of four at holidays

‘Baba, Mama, Lily and James at Christmas’


Thank you to Sara Pickett for sharing her family’s story.

If you are interested in learning more about international adoption, adoption from China, and how to get started on your homestudy, contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

To learn more about the children waiting for families, or to join our advocacy efforts, contact us at familyfinders@wacap.org.

About WACAP

WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Images of Family, Welcome Home and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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