For her seventh grade “Go Make a Difference” project, adoptee Emily Pickett chose an issue close to her heart: advocating for children with special needs.


I would like to share my adoption story with you in hopes that you too will consider adoption of a child with special needs. My name is Emily Min and I am 13 years old. In China, I was named Min Hai Ni by my orphanage nannies. My journey started at my finding place in Qinzhou City, Guangxi, China in a garden near a busy hospital. I was adopted through Holt when I was 3-and-a-half years old.

I remember the day I was finally able to meet my parents. I walked into a large room, with three families eager to adopt their children with various special needs. I called out “Mama!” and hugged my parents. I received a backpack full of toys!  When we made the long journey home, the elevator at the Des Moines airport opened and I met my loving family and friends.

At 6 months of age, I was diagnosed with “weak legs.”  What we later discovered is that I had polio (short for poliomyelitis). Poliomyelitis is a viral disease that can cause temporary or permanent paralysis. I permanently paralyzed my right quadriceps femoris. When I was younger, I was able to walk without support. However, when I entered 4th grade, the weakness in my right leg could not support my weight. Now I use braces and a wheelchair for extra assistance.


My disability has had some limitations on my ability to walk, but I do not let it define who I am. My weak leg doesn’t keep me from finding ways to remain active. I am a member of my middle school’s award-winning show choir, which participates in competitions around the Des Moines metro area. I have a passion for singing and my wheelchair assists me with dancing. I also play the violin in orchestra. I like to go horseback riding and ride roller coasters! One of my biggest accomplishments was climbing to the top of a tower that had 169 steps. I don’t let anyone tell me I can’t do something!

People questioned my parents WHY they wanted to adopt a child with special needs. My response is that ALL children deserve a loving home and an opportunity to fulfill their dreams. My dream is that I will someday be able to walk again, but until then I’m not going to let my disability define who I am.

Emily Pickett  • Pella, Iowa

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