Born in Tianjin, Addy Maas was abandoned by her biological parents because she was born with spina bifida, a disability affecting the spinal cord. In May 1998, she was found by the police on the roadside of Wenjiafangzi in Beichen District. She was placed in a local child welfare institute and then adopted by Chinese parents, with whom she lived for six years. She was then sent to a Christian-run orphanage in Beijing, filled with fear because she knew no one there. But the next four years at Beijing Alena's Home changed her life completely as she experienced God's love through the people there.
Addy shared, "I was placed in foster care where there were a lot of kids and not enough caregivers to provide personal attention. My life changed when I was six years old; I moved to a small Christian orphanage in Beijing where people cared for and loved me. My nanny as well as the founder of the orphanage took good care of me. They made sure that I was safe and that I had plenty to eat and a warm place to stay. It was a blessing for me to be in a safe place and not just an ordinary orphanage. It was a place filled with the love of God. I know that I didn't understand it at the time because I was young, but I am glad that they showed me the love of Christ. God did not only show me a wonderful orphanage filled with amazing people, but He provided me with a wonderful Christian family in America."
In 2007, a group of American missionaries came to the orphanage on a short-term trip, including Addy's future foster parent, Gina Maas. While helping with the daily chores of cleaning, painting, and teaching at the orphanage, Gina played with Addy and made an immediate connection with her. Before they arrived in China, Gina and her husband Eric thought about adopting a baby girl from China. They even bought baby clothes in preparation.
A year later, their prayer was answered, and they were able to adopt Addy. Despite the excitement, Addy remembered how on September 16, 2008, she was shaking with fear at the thought of leaving her "family" at the orphanage behind and traveling half-way around the world to join a new family.
Knowing that God was with her though this transition, Addy found out that she fitted well into her new Christian family. Living with four incredible brothers and one amazing beautiful sister-in-law, she learned to understand more about what family really means.
"God not only showed me a wonderful orphanage filled with amazing people, but He also gave me a wonderful Christian family in America. When I was just a baby, God knew who my future family would be. When I was ten years old, He put me in the most loving and caring family. My parents showed me love through their faith in God and they wanted me to feel the same way. My family means the world to me. They taught me how to be brave, and they were there when I needed them most", she added.
Not content with simply enjoying the love of her family, Addy wanted to share this love with others. She explained, "That is why I have such a passion for going back to China. I want to show the kids in the orphanage the same love that God and my parents have shown me... My parents were the ones who encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a missionary. Even though it's going to be hard for them when I am half-way around the world, I know that both of my parents are very proud of me for doing this."
Despite her disability, which limits her participation in sports, physical activities, and does not permit her to drive a vehicle, she believes God has a wonderful plan for her.
In November of last year, she took a short-term mission trip to Beijing in cooperation with Global Partners in Hope, a non-profit organization. She returned to the Christian orphanage where she was cared for in Beijing and learned how to reach kids in China with Christ's love.
Addy said, "It was my first time working with kids who had different types of needs, but somehow God showed me how to take care of the kids and how much I loved and cared for them. What I learned while serving at Alena's is the different perspectives the kids have on life. They are so grateful for what they have and there is always a bright smile on their faces, even though they don't have family or a lot of things. I need to understand how grateful I need to be because I have so many great things in my life, and I want to be able to share them with the children in China."
In the future, Addy hopes to move back to Beijing and start her own orphanage or help abandoned children with disabilities find loving families, just as she has. "I would love to have a class that teaches you how to take care of kids who have different kinds of needs", she said. To prepare for this future service, she plans to pursue training to work with those who have special needs.