When Becky and Nick DeTrempe married four years ago, they became a blended family with Becky’s two children, Joci (14) and Bill (13), and Nick’s son, Austin (18). Their life in Morton, Illinois was busy and rewarding, yet they wondered what it would be like to have more children. That conversation invariably turned to the idea of adoption, specifically adopting a child with special needs.
“Our daughter, Joci, has Down syndrome,” said Becky. “We thought it would be wonderful if she had a sibling like her to grow up with and to be friends with for life.”
In August of 2019, as the DeTrempes started looking into adopting a child with disabilities, they learned that children in China are eligible for adoption until the age of 14. When they age out of eligibility, children with disabilities are often sent to a facility where they stay for the rest of their lives.
Nick said he and Becky were disheartened to hear of this, so they put into place a laser-like focus for how they would grow their family. “We became very specific in our search. We only considered 13-year-olds who had a disability. That’s how we found Gia.”
A few months after first seeing pictures of Gia, Becky and Nick received videos that showed her looking at books, playing and laughing. They immediately felt an even deeper connection. With Gia’s 14th birthday only a couple of months away, they would have to compress the average years-long adoption timeline to just weeks. Little did they know the pending deadline of Gia’s birthday would only be one of their obstacles. “We were already on the fast track because of her age,” Becky said. “And then, COVID-19 hit.”
The majority of families who were in process of adopting children internationally were unable to move forward in their process until the pandemic restrictions eased up and allowed for safe travel. However, because of Gia’s age, the DeTrempes didn’t have that option. “If we didn’t go right then, before everything shut down,” Nick said, “there’s no way we’d get to Gia in time, before she aged out.” The thought of missing the window of bringing Gia to her forever home was heartbreaking.
As they considered their options, the DeTrempes leaned on the adoption specialists at Children’s Home for advice on how to work with government and travel agencies, and complete the reams of paperwork. “We were anxious to get to Gia quickly,” said Becky. “There were so many obstacles, and Children’s Home was right there, guiding us. It wouldn’t have happened without their help.”
The clock was ticking as the DeTrempes arrived in China with only a few days until Gia turned 14. They greeted her with gifts — a book and a doll from the movie, Frozen — which helped break the ice with their soon-to-be daughter. The official adoption ceremony took place a day later, less than 48 hours before Gia would have aged out.
“I was in tears. I couldn’t believe it had all finally come together, when just weeks earlier we thought we were going to lose her.”
“I was in tears,” Becky remembers. “I couldn’t believe it had all finally come together, when just weeks earlier we thought we were going to lose her.”
The DeTrempes look forward to celebrating Gia’s first Christmas as a new family of six. “We are eager for the holidays and the joy of exchanging gifts,” said Nick, “Giving and receiving is something we have a greater understanding of this year, more than ever.”
+Support families like the DeTrempes this holiday season by making a gift to our Little Red Stocking Campain. Your gift today helps unite children with loving, nurturing families through adoption.Donate Now