Bringing Joy to Their Parents

March 24, 2015 – Nicole Walsh and Rupert Ho have adopted two children with thalassemia from China. CAF talks with Nicole below about their experience as adoptive parents.

CAF: When did you adopt your children?

Sarah and Aaron

Sarah and Aaron

Nicole: We adopted our son, Aaron, when he was 3 years old, and living in an orphanage in Southern China. He is now a typical 8 year old, in second grade, who loves reading, math, Legos, arts and crafts, and having fun. Due to our positive experience adopting Aaron, and our desire to add another child, specifically with beta thalassemia major, to our family, we adopted our daughter, Sarah, 5 days after her second birthday, from the same orphanage as Aaron. She is now 3 1/2. She is an energetic and happy little girl who loves princesses.

Can you tell me a little about what the adoption process was like for you?

It was a wonderful experience adopting both our children (first in 2010, and then in 2013). One of the difficult aspects was being half a world away, was worrying about the quality of their medical care as orphans in China. There is an ongoing blood shortage in China. Most orphans have very limited or no access to chelation. We were eager to get them to our home and begin regular transfusions and chelation.

Were in touch with CAF Patient Services Manager Eileen Scott during the process?

Eileen was helpful to me before and during the adoption process, and absolutely since we have been home. It’s been 5 years since we adopted Aaron, and whenever we have concerns or questions, I reach out to Eileen. When we chose to adopt Aaron and were waiting, I made contact with Eileen. At the time we were adopting Aaron, I only knew of a few people who had adopted children with beta thalassemia major, and most of them had done so fairly recently. Hearing Eileen’s own story of having a daughter with beta thalassemia major – a daughter who was an adult, had a full-time job, managed her own medical condition – gave me a glimpse of what the reality could be. It gave me some sense of comfort and confidence talking to a parent who had truly experienced what I would soon experience.

What would you say to someone who is considering adopting a child with thalassemia from another country?

Most of all, I want people to know that our experience having adopted two children with thalassemia from China, is that our children are typical children. In fact, we have a biological son, Donovan, who is just 2 months older than Aaron, and does not have thalassemia. We see no difference in their stamina or activity level. No one would ever guess (unless we told them) that any of our children have this medical condition. All three of our children are full of energy, participate in all activities in school and sports, and enjoy life to the fullest – and bring us so much joy as parents.

Many prospective adoptive parents are told that no one should ever adopt a child with the idea that they are ‘saving’ the child. (In adoption there is so much loss – of country, culture, etc.) But in the case of beta thalassemia major, at the current time, there is no doubt that medically the child is being saved, by being given the chance at current medical care in the United States. By this I mean access to transfusions from a safe blood supply, access to chelation, being monitored with regular bloodwork and annual testing. They are getting a chance at a “regular” life, in a family.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

If anyone wants more information about parenting a child with thalassemia, about adopting from China, about adopting a child with thalassemia, please do not hesitate to contact me ( . I am always happy to share my own experience and answer any questions.

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