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Lily Nie

Inductee Name

Lily Nie

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Date of Birth


Year Inducted



Activism & Advocacy


Chinese Children Adoption International



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Lily Nie was born in China. She earned a law degree there and became a business attorney. In 1987, she came to the US. She earned a BA in Management of Human Resources from Colorado Christian University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

In 1992, the China’s new adoption law allowed foreigners to adopt Chinese children.  Seeing the chance to change the fate of China’s abandoned children, Lily and her husband founded Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI).  To date, CCAI, the largest China–focused adoption agency in the world, has found loving homes for over 13,000 abandoned Chinese children.

In 1995, Lily realized that no matter how hard she worked thousands of orphans would still be left behind in orphanages. Thus, she created the Children’s Charity Fund and raised millions of dollars to feed and care for those children left behind.  The charity opened eleven Lily Orphan Care Centers, and established a nationwide training program for China’s orphanage caretakers.

In 1996, Lily recognized the need for adopted Chinese children growing up in America to keep their culture connection.  She opened the Joyous Chinese Cultural Center, which has become a national model for cultural education.

Lily’s life-changing efforts to serve abandoned Chinese children have inspired many. In 1997 she received the Silkwings Award from the Asian/Pacific Women’s Network, while also being honored in 2003 with a U.S. congressional Angels in Adoption Award.  In 2006, she and husband Joshua received the Colorado Parents of the Year Award.  In 2008, she was inducted into the Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame, and named as a Women Who Have Changed the Heart of the City by Denver Rescue Mission in 2010. She also received Community Service Award from University of Phoenix in 2012 and the Be More Award from Rocky Mountain PBS in 2013.

In 1992, the law in China changed to allow foreigners to adopt Chinese children. This was the sign that Lily Nie needed to change the fate of China’s abandoned children, most of them girls. She and her husband founded Chinese Children Adoption International. In 1994, they rescued 20 babies from China’s grim orphanages and brought them into Colorado homes. That mission was so successful that in 1995 Nie made nine trips to China and saved 140 babies. To date, Chinese Children Adoption International, the largest China-only adoption agency in the world, has found American homes for more than 8,000 abandoned Chinese children, the vast majority of whom are girls.

Lily Nie created the Chinese Children Charity Fund to raise money to feed and care for the children in Chinese orphanages. The charity opened three model orphanages in China called Lily Orphan Care Centers and established a training program for orphanage care workers. When Chinese policy changed to make foster care possible, the charity pioneered a foster care program to train families and place hundreds of children out of orphanages and into loving foster homes in China.

In 1996, Nie opened the Joyous Chinese Cultural School in Littleton to teach adopted children their native language and culture. The school has become a national model for cultural education. She helped to create the Red Thread Counseling Center, the first in the U.S. to provide emotional support to adopted children and their families. Nie’s ChinaRoots program sponsors heritage tours to China for adoptive families and children. Lily Nie’s groundbreaking work in adoption in Colorado paved the way for a national movement that has brought more than 70,000 adopted Chinese children to new lives in the United States.

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