So You Think You Can Dance Winner Touched By Adoption


"So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD) is absolutely one of my favorite TV shows, both because I love dance and because of the touching human interest stories. This year there was a particularly interesting storyline, as America’s Favorite Male Dancer is also an international adoptee.

I was thrilled with the outcome of the season finale this week. This was the first year in the history of the show that two winners, one female and one male, were crowned as “America’s favorite dancers.” The female winner is Eliana Gerard who is a 21-year old ballet dancer from Florida and the male winner is 23-year old Chehon Wespi-Tschopp. Chehon is an absolutely incredible ballet dancer, who developed so dramatically in other dance styles towards the end of the show.

Chehon was adopted internationally as an outgoing adoption. “Outgoing adoption” often refers to children born in the United States and adopted by a family living in another country. Outgoing adoptions are relatively rare; in 2011 there were a total of 73 cases of outgoing adoptions as reported by the US State Department. Chehon was born in Chicago, Illinois and adopted by his Swiss parents who raised him in Sydney, Australia and Zurich, Switzerland. As a child, he started studying classical ballet at 13 years old, and at 14 had an invitation to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. Chehon did accept that invitation and traveled to London with the support of his family. Since graduation, he became a professional dancer, performing for two seasons with the Los Angeles Ballet before performing on the SYTYCD stage.

As a classically trained ballerina he focused primarily on precision and technique, which caused some difficulties for him during the competition, because this show requires dancers learn and perform many styles of dance. In one particular episode a few weeks ago, Chehon, made an almost over-night transformation. Prior to this point, while a brilliant ballerina, he had struggled with the emotions and abandon that some of the other dance forms required. Then suddenly he broke down the wall that was distancing him from the audience. What caused the transformation that led to his crowning of America’s Favorite Dancer? Well, all signs point to Mom. Chehon’s adoptive mom, Edith, had flown in from Switzerland to see him dance for the first time on the SYTYCD stage that evening. Seeing his Mom cheering him on was what he needed to push through and go on the win the show.

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.