It's hard to say what makes a person connect with another by just seeing a photograph, but for Carly Duvall that was enough.
She and her husband, Jon Duvall, and three children are in the process of adopting a 7-year-old boy from China who has special needs. Duvall said she had always planned to adopt, but she and her husband had three children right after they were married, and so for the past few years she has been busy raising and home schooling their brood. The kids are a little bit older now: Noah Duvall, is 8; Avery Duvall, 7; and Micah Duvall, 5.
Duvall said she was on the Internet in August when she saw a picture of a little boy, a Chinese orphan who needs a home.
“I fell in love,” Duvall said.
She woke up her husband at 1 a.m. to tell him. He was surprised, but realized his wife was serious. Things went quickly after that. Duvall contacted an adoption agency, CCAI, out of Colorado that specializes in Chinese adoptions. You hear about girls being for adoption in China, Duvall said, but there are also many boys who have special needs and also need a home.
She discovered that the little boy she fell in love with has Down syndrome and further discussion found he's had cataracts since birth. A conversation with Riley Hospital for Children let the family know that he could be blind.
“I knew he had Down syndrome and that he wouldn't be able to understand the language, but I thought I would be able to use pictures to communicate,” Duvall said.
Yet she remains optimistic about the challenges they will face once they get him home. Duvall and her husband have done a lot of talking and praying about the adoption. They realize while their birth children will grow up and someday move out, Asher may not. It is a lifetime commitment. Her husband works at commissions team leader at Ash Brokerage. She is a stay-at-home mom. The family lives on the north side of Fort Wayne in a modest, solidly middle-class neighborhood, but they don't have a lot of spare money.
The cost for the adoption is $30,000. So far they have raised about half the money through garage sales and fundraisers. They received a $7,000 grant from Reece's Rainbow, an adoption grant foundation for orphans with Down syndrome and other special needs. The family has also raised just over $7,000 on their own.
Duvall said they have had numerous fundraisers as well. They have a small circle of friends, family and their church who have been helping, but Duvall said they could only ask for so much.
Now they are applying for three different grants to help: Show Hope Foundation for $10,000, and from the JSC Foundation and Love Has Come for lesser amounts.
They have a blog set up at http://bringinghomeasher.blogspot.com, where people can donate or "buy" pieces of a puzzle map of China for $25. The donor's name is placed on the back of a piece as the family works to complete the puzzle and raise the total they need. Donations are made through Paypal. They also have a site that is tax deductible through Reece's Rainbow: http://reecesrainbow.org/?s=Duvall, but those funds will not be available to them until they travel. If all goes as scheduled they should be traveling to China in October.