A Place of Love and Healing

At Peace House, Holt’s medical foster home in China, Zoe Thomas finds the nurturing care she needs to recover from cleft lip surgery before traveling home to the U.S. with her adoptive family. 

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Two-year-old Zoe sits on a bench her father made for her. Zoe received her first cleft lip surgery while in care at the Peace House in China, and more surgeries once home.

On November 11, 2014, Dan and I received news from our adoption social worker that a beautiful 7-month-old girl from Liangjiang, China needed a forever family.  Our social worker also shared that the baby had a cleft lip and palate and would stay at Peace House while recovering from cleft lip surgery.  We were thrilled to receive this fantastic news! Dan and I anxiously started to prepare our home for the arrival of our precious baby girl, Zoe Kaihua Thomas.

Peace House is a place where children with medical needs receive nurture and loving care while waiting for their adoptive families to bring them home. As we continued our adoption paperwork, our daughter traveled from Liangjiang orphanage to Peace House in Beijing.  When Zoe arrived at Peace House, Dan and I were told that Zoe was underweight and had to wait for her cleft lip surgery.  Each month, we received updates of our daughter’s medical records along with pictures and videos.  We received reports that she was growing in height and weight, eating well and looking happy and healthy!

A few months later we received an email that Zoe would undergo cleft lip surgery in January of 2015.  Just a few days after Zoe’s surgery, we received pictures and a good surgeon’s report. We were impressed by how well Zoe looked just a few days after surgery.  Now, Zoe was able to eat better and started to gain more weight at a faster pace.

Dan and I were thankful to receive all of our daughter’s progress reports.  We played these videos and looked at her pictures every day and night.  We also sent small care packages to Zoe, including a family photo album that the caregivers shared with her.  We were falling more in love and feeling more connected to Zoe as we continued receiving information about her.  Dan and I just couldn’t wait to meet our beautiful daughter and thank these wonderful people for taking good care of her!

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A Peace House caregiver holds 10-month-old Zoe, two months before her family traveled to China to bring her home.

When Zoe’s “gotcha day” finally arrived on April 18, 2015, we pulled up to a high-rise condominium in Beijing.  As we entered Peace House, we were instantly overjoyed as we saw our new daughter in the arms of a Peace House caregiver.  We walked into a large, bright and cheery playroom filled with children receiving hugs and kisses from their caregivers.  There were learning toys, baby gear and a colorful matted floor.  As the caregiver placed Zoe Kaihua in our arms, we cried joyful tears. Finally, after months of prayer, we had our daughter.

The people at Peace House gave us a tour of the place.  It was the size of a spacious, two-bedroom condominium in which they care for 8 -10 children at a time.  In one of the two bedrooms, they showed us the crib where Zoe slept every night.  The caregivers slept in another bedroom, beside a full bathroom, kitchen and the large playroom area, which looked like a typical daycare in the U.S. We could truly see the love and joy that filled all these rooms.

Dan and I had such a great time learning more about our daughter from the caregivers.  They shared her daily feeding schedule, play time and sleep time.  Since just her cleft lip — but not yet her cleft palate — had been repaired, they demonstrated how to feed Zoe using a special bottle.  They even gave us a large jar of formula and rice cereal to take back to the hotel.  By showing us Zoe’s consistent routine — a routine she had grown used to — the Peace House staff really helped smooth our attachment with Zoe.

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Janelle and Dan Thomas with Peace House caregivers on Zoe’s “Gotcha Day” in China.

While at Peace House, we also received a visit from a local Chinese family.  They shared that they and many other Chinese families had raised money to pay for Zoe’s cleft lip surgery. Dan and I were surprised to hear this wonderful news. The family gave us a beautiful picture scrapbook of all the families that donated and shared their well wishes with us — showing that God was not only taking care of our daughter, but also our financial needs.

We are forever grateful for all the loving care that Peace House has given to our daughter.  Today, Zoe is a happy and healthy 2-year-old.  She attached very well to us — better than we ever expected — and calls us Mommy and Daddy.  Zoe had her first cleft palate and ear tubes surgery in September. She will need one more bone graft surgery on her maxilla bone and will need extensive orthodontic treatment in the near future.

Dan and I want to thank Peace House for all the hugs and kisses they gave Zoe.  For changing all her stinky diapers, feeding her and teaching her motor skills for six months of her young life, Peace House gave Zoe the biggest investment a child could ever have… LOVE!  I Cor. 13:4-8.

Janelle Thomas • Exton, PA

Learn more about Holt’s China program!

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