July 17, 2014

From Chinese Orphan to WWU Graduate and Bride — in Only 10 Years

, Walla Walla

Of all the life paths taken
by each of Walla Walla University’s 2014 graduates, Meigan Goertz’s journey has
been one of the most incredible.

Meigan, 23, graduated with a
business degree in June and will get married in August to a man whom she met
during her time at WWU.

Only a decade ago, Meigan lived in a Chinese orphanage where 95 percent of the
children were babies stricken with paralysis, cleft palates, mental problems,
or other health issues that deemed them unadoptable. Meigan was one of four
older children, having arrived at age 10.

“I was so scared and cried most of the time when I first got there,” she

An aunt who had cared for
her since she was 6 months old had made the difficult decision to place Meigan
in the orphanage because she had no money to pay for the child’s education.
With her placement, Meigan also learned that her aunt was not her biological

Meigan credits the orphanage director, Yan Yan Ling, with providing her with
kindness and direction. The director treated her and the three other
older children, boys with disabilities, with special gestures.

“She would buy us clothes
with her own salary and let us spend holidays with her in her home,” Meigan

When she was 12, the director asked if she was open to an international
adoption, an option that Meigan had not considered. Up until then, her plan had
been simple. “I knew the only way to keep my life [moving forward] was to do
well in school. I didn’t want to stay in the orphanage after I was 18,” she

Meigan’s aunt, who had continued to visit the orphanage frequently, feared she
would never see her niece again if she were adopted. “We talked about how it
could be life-changing and then she understood how just because I might move
away didn’t mean I wouldn’t see her again,” Meigan said. “She was finally

Once the decision was made, time became critical. Chinese children cannot be
adopted internationally after the age of 14, so her window for adoption was
only two years.

Meigan said she didn’t think
too much about adoption because she knew it might never happen. “If it did
happen, I knew it would be God telling me to go,” she said. 

Two months before her 14th birthday, the orphanage director informed Meigan
that a U.S. family had decided to adopt her. Three months later, Richard and
Margaret Goertz, and their daughter, Hannah, flew from their home in Nampa,
Idaho, to meet their new daughter in a hotel lobby in China.

Meigan remembers feeling
awkward and scared, especially when her new parents tried to hug her.
"There's no hugging in China," she said.

After spending a few days getting to know her new family and saying farewell to
friends and family in China, Meigan left with the Goertz family. In Nampa, she
attended English-language school before graduating from Columbia High School in
2009 and enrolling at WWU.

"I am grateful for so
many things that had happened in my life. I am grateful for my adopted
parents," Meigan said. "I am grateful for my aunt who loves me as her
own daughter and taught me how to be a strong person just like her."

Meigan is currently completing a business internship at WWU's Express market
and also working on the WWU custodial staff. Her fiancé will
complete a culinary arts degree at Walla Walla Community College next year.
Eventually, Meigan would like to enter the world of international business.

"So far I love my new life. I completed college with a degree I really
like and soon will be married and getting another family," Meigan said.
"All the people I love and care about in my life are all coming to my
wedding. After the wedding, I hope I can find a job, and then I will call my
life perfect."