Airman grows family through international adoption

  • Published
  • By Justin Oakes
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Last year, more than 2,000 Chinese children found a new home in the United States through adoption. It's a process that requires dedication, multiple layers of vetting and steadfast commitment - especially if considering a boy or girl from China's Waiting Child program.

For one Hanscom Airman, his wife and three teenage boys, this is exactly how they chose to grow their family.

"Adoption is something we've thought about for years, and we were intrigued by the international angle of it," said Col. Todd Krueger, a Hanscom senior materiel leader and the family's patriarch. "And our hearts were set on going the Waiting Child route from the beginning."

Waiting children are orphans who are considered hard to place due to a variety of physical and emotional conditions that range in severity. Some reasons include age, development issues and medical conditions such as cleft palates, heart disease and malformed limbs.

For a healthy child, families like the Kruegers can expect the adoption process to take upward of seven years. However, if potential adopters are willing and able to care for a Waiting Child, the route is much shorter, but based on the level of extra care they are capable of providing.

Keeping this in mind, Donna Krueger, wife of Colonel Krueger said, "we have the health care to help address medical conditions, and we have the means and ability to care for someone with special needs."

So in March of 2013, the Kruegers began the journey of adopting a Waiting Child from China, with the hopes of adding to their five-member family.

They knew they wanted a girl, but surprisingly enough and contrary to popular belief, boys are much easier to match than females from China.

One of the first steps involved finding a local adoption agency while stationed at Kirtland AFB, N.M. Then came compiling copious amounts of documents and information to build a dossier, which is essentially the application that is sent to China.

"Looking back, I'd stress a little less about rushing and getting things done," Donna said. "You can't rush the process; it will all eventually happen."

A key component of the dossier included a homestudy that would help determine the Krueger's suitability for adoption.

During the homestudy, inspectors interviewed family members, inquired about backgrounds and inspected the house for safety; each U.S. state as well as China has their own set of requirements that must be met.

However, the Kruegers experienced a setback in the adoption process due to a permanent change of station move; the Airman received orders to the other side of the country and would soon be taking up residence in Massachusetts.

This meant finding another adoption agency and completing yet another home study before the dossier could be submitted overseas for review.

The dossier was eventually submitted to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption, the entity responsible for all adoptions for the country.

The Kruegers eagerly awaited a response, and more so, a referral - the document that would identify a potential Waiting Child.

"We didn't know when we were going to get the referral," Donna said. "There's a little bit of stress there."

After clearing many hurdles and jumping through hoops, the family finally received the one letter they had been waiting for.

In September 2014, the referral came with the information and photos of a little girl, who today goes by the name of Susan, the newest addition and sixth member of the Krueger family.

"We were beyond excited, and once matched, we were only given one week to decide and issue a response," the colonel said.

Susan, now 2, was born a month after the Kruegers began the adoption process.

For families or individuals interested in adopting from China, travel to the country is required and takes approximately two weeks.

Only one person has to travel; however for the Kruegers, they chose to continue the journey together.

They arrived in Beijing, spent a few days exploring the area, and then traveled to Susan's home city of Zhengzhou in the Henan province, where they completed the adoption and spent several more days getting to know their Waiting Child.

The Kruegers were one of seven adopting families traveling together and finally reached the last point on their international journey at Guangzhou.

"Anyone immigrating to the states goes through Guangzhou," Donna said.

When asked what the most memorable part of this experience has been, the colonel recalled, "on the first day, when I saw Susan kiss my wife when we got back to the hotel...that was it for me, in that moment."

Upon returning home to Hanscom AFB, the Kruegers were in for another surprise.

Come to find out, there were many families on base who have adopted -- some international, some domestic and some foster parents.

"The base community has been fantastic," Donna said. "There are so many people here who have encouraged and supported us. God put us where we needed to be to bring her home. Susan came at the right time at the right place."

For those considering adopting a child from China, there are many conditions that must be met. For example, the minimum age of adopters is 30, certain education levels are required and financial stability and medical history plays a factor.

However, "don't let the money or the paperwork stop you from adopting - you can do it," Colonel Krueger said. "If it's in your heart to do it, go for it. Just remember, many people have gone before you and paved the way. Find those types of support and use them as inspiration."