‘The New Normal’: How COVID-19 affects international adoptions

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — COVID-19 is impacting the way we do many things now. In our “New Normal” series we take a look at how our daily lives are now being affected by the virus.

One local adoption agency says international adoptions are down since the virus began.

KOLR 10’s Madison Hever tells the story of one family whose international adoption from China during the pandemic was successful.

The Champion family had deadlines, obstacles and hoops to jump through to adopt their son, Luke, before he aged out of China’s system at the age of 14, all while a global pandemic was pushing against them.

Anne and Chris Champion decided after seeing a photo of Luke on social media that they needed to adopt him.

“So, we started the process of adopting Luke last August,” the Champions said. “December, we started hearing about the virus in China and thought, ‘Well, hope that doesn’t affect us.’ January it started getting worse.”

“First of all, their son was getting to the age where he would be aging out so they were already facing a time crunch in trying to adopt him before he aged out,” said Regina Smith with Nightlight Adoption Agency.

On top of that and travel restrictions, as soon as the Champions arrived in China to bring Luke home they had to quarantine immediately for two weeks.

“It didn’t quite work out the way we expected,” the Champions said. “We were constantly looking at contingency plans, ‘Well if things get worse here, what happens if one of our family members gets sick or something?’ So, there were times when we had an extra plane ticket booked back so that, ‘If one of us had to come back and one of us had to stay, how is that going to work?'”

Not to mention relations between China and the U.S. were not great in March and April. And China was worried about foreigners bringing the virus back after it had already shut down.

“Chinese hotels really weren’t very welcoming to foreigners,” the Champions said. “(Nightlight) worried that they would be able to find places for us to stay in China. I would say some of the biggest challenges were more mental. Which is just, you know, when you’re undertaking a trip like that, you want to be able to control as much as you can control about how you’re going to get there, how it’s going to work. Well, there wasn’t a whole lot about that trip we ended up controlling.”

But Smith says the more pressing concern for families is bring their child home.

“I think the overarching concern above the concern of contracting the virus has been trying to bring their child home,” Smith said.

“Having made the commitment and decide that that’s what we were going to do back in August, of course he knew we were coming, he wanted to know when we were coming and there really just wasn’t a choice,” the Champions said.

“Despite all the challenges with COVID and everything, really, there’s still hope,” Smith said. “There’s hope for these kids. There’s hope for these adoptive families who want to go through this process.”

The family is now back home together in Kentucky.

“I think we will look back on this year for us and see it as one of the most important years of our lives in terms of our development as a family and our spiritual development and our faith journey,” the Champions said. “I’m excited to see where Luke ends up in this process. It’s clear he has a ton of potential.”

The Champions say if they could manage an international adoption from China in March and April of this year, more families can do the same.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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