#tbt to that time I DIDN’T FINISH THE STORY!

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Hong Kong

GAH! Remember that time I went to China and blogged about the power and the romance and the anticipation of it all and THEN TOTALLY BAILED ON FINISHING THE STORY!? Not that it’s finished, because really it’s still just beginning. But our nephew Johnathan is now home. There is one less orphan on this planet. He now knows about Aunties and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas and CHRISTMAS.

In fact, one of my favorite things about Christmas this year was watching our nieces and nephews play. On my husband’s side of the family, all of the kiddos are adopted. One from Russia, Johnathan from China, and our niece is “locally made”. There’s some kind of fascinating miracle taking place as God weaves this side of the family out of and through adoption.

Since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to make up for my long silence, and just add a few words of my own about welcoming international adoption. And welcoming a nephew home from China.

First things first. It’s amazing. He’s amazing.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy by any means, nor does it run perfectly. Adoption is filled with questions, some with answers, some not so much.

It was incredible to be there for all the firsts. His first game of catch with his new big brother. His first (but certainly not last) tantrum. His first Thanksgiving and Christmas. But above all, his first giggle. Not his first giggle in this life, but in this family. See, it was clear he had been well loved by his caretakers. Thanks be to God, He had much to grieve. But grief is never something you want someone to experience. Those first few days and nights were brutal as his heart (and lungs) cried out in confusion and terror. See, his mom and dad knew him, had prayed for him, longed for him, worked hard to get to him. But to him they were just strangers that had shown up one day and taken him away from the nanny he loved. We were in the hotel room next door, taking care of his older brother, and let’s just say that the thin walls ensured that no one got too much sleep those first few nights. This is just one more parallel I see in adoption of a child and our adoption as children of God. Just because it’s “done” in one moment, in the signature on a page, doesn’t mean that the new identity is understood, or even liked, right away. Still, being part of a family is always > than being part of an institution, so it’s worth the work. On both sides.

Since we were there as part of their support team, we got a front row seat for what international adoption looks like through the eyes of an auntie. It looks like …

… Eating a lot of hotel food. You do what’s easy. But you also splurge on things like ice cream fondue. Come on America, let’s get THIS going.

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… Building a lot of Legos. There’s a lot of paperwork to wait on.

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… Some exploring. Some tea-ing. We may or may not have been talked into some expensive teas. #wheninchina

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… Fake mustaches. Aka ways to make the hours pass.

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… Games of tag in front of ancient temples.

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… Reminding yourself over and over that ‘sad is not bad.’ I’m a big proponent of this truth. Sad says that something matters. Still, sad is not fun.

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… That priceless first giggle. Again, not his first ever. But first to our ears. A hard-earned, well-deserved giggle after days of tears and screams (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad). It took a few days to get a tentative smile, then a grin, and finally full out giggles as he took tiny steps into the heart of his family, and welcomed them into his own.

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… Finding new and creative forms of recreation. New Zealand introduced us to Zorbing. China introduced us to Zorbing on the water. VERY sad that it was for kids only! (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad … it just means I have to keep exploring until I DO find this for adults :))!

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… Finding yourself amongst so many other stories, all gathered in the city of Ghangzhou for the final leg of the trip to process US Embassy paperwork.

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… Being home for Christmas. And soon, EASTER.

Johnathan Christmas

Happy #tbt everyone.

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One more week, One less orphan

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There are one hundred and fifty three million orphans on this planet.

Next week there will be one less.

He’s our newest nephew. And we are boarding a plane this morning to join his new parents and brother for the final two weeks of their adoption adventure in China.

It’s not just that we’re suckers for an international trip. I mean, really, I haven’t turned down a stamp in my passport yet. But we’re also suckers for this adoption thing. It’s powerful. It’s love in action. It’s redemption. And we’ve been lucky enough to walk alongside multiple family and friends as love welcomes another child home. This time we get a front-row seat for all the firsts.

Now, here’s the part where I confess that I always thought if I was making an adoption-trek to China, it would be to bring home MY very own babe. In fact, years ago, I was the one googling china-based adoption agencies and medical definitions (nearly all of China’s approved adoptions are for “special needs” kiddos). My arms ached to hold a child, and my attention turned towards those who were aching to be held.

And then we didn’t qualify financially. Cue a hard left turn in my heart. Or more like a brick wall. Yes, China requires a certain financial threshold that we didn’t have. There wasn’t really an explanation of why China had planted in my heart as THE PLACE – but it was. And really, it’s not that drastic of a threshhold, but for two kids who had thwarted the idea of the “American Dream”, we fell short. I was devastated. Not only had my womb failed me, but now my bank account had as well.

Many twists and turns, including a failed domestic adoption, have shaped our road since then – most of them unexpected, none of them leading us to parenthood so far, but all of them a deep part of making us the couple who’s jumping on a plane to China today.

See, when I heard that there were 153 million orphans on this planet, I knew. I had no doubt. No doubt that we were to play a part in changing that number. I didn’t know how yet, but you don’t really need to know the final step to take the first one.

I’d also heard that it would only take 7% of the world’s Christians to END the orphan crisis. 153 million orphans is a lot, until you compare it to 2.2 billion Christians. Those numbers floored me. But another number jumped out and grabbed me: 93%. If adoption is close to God’s heart (and it is). If He’s commanded His people to take care of the world’s orphans (and He has). If ending the crisis would only take 7% of His people to respond (and it would). Then what about the other 93%? What might God be calling them to do? And it’s this … to just say yes. Just say yes to whatever part God is asking you to play, and trust Him to be big enough to tell you whether that’s part of the 7% or the 93%.

As much as God’s Word talks about adoption (hint: lots), it talks about community even more. It shouldn’t surprise us that something so close to his heart would be best displayed in community.

I don’t know what it is for you. Each day I’m learning what it is for me. When we first said yes, I thought it meant we’d adopt. And maybe we still will someday. But so far our yes has looked like a lot of different things … like mentoring and tutoring and camp-counseling and teaching and reading and advocating and babysitting and listening. And googling the heck out of new words adoptive friends are using. And listening and learning more about the heartbeat of God with every step. 

And today, it’s getting on a plane so that this world will have one less orphan.

What would it look like in YOUR life to work towards one less orphan? It may not be as far fetched as you think.

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