He doesn’t know


Today we meet Johnathan, our newest nephew whose first home was here in China. Today his forever-parents hold him for the first time. Today his six-year old brother finally gets “to pick up his baby.”

I have lots of big feelings about it.

He’s been loved for a long time. Even before his face was known (and COME ON, could there be a cuter melt-Auntie-Boo’s-heart-face!?). But he doesn’t know it.

His adoption has been in process for years, even before he was conceived. But he doesn’t know it.

We’ve been en route for several days. But he doesn’t know it.

He doesn’t know that there’s a space already reserved for him at the Thanksgiving table. Or that there’s a Christmas stocking already hung by the chimney with his name on it. He doesn’t know that he has a mom and a dad and a brother. And aunties and uncles. And a nana and a grandpa doc. He doesn’t know all that is waiting for him.

Wow, right? It’s beautiful and crazy and amazing and insane.

He also doesn’t know that the life he’s had – for better and for worse – is about to change. Forever. That he’s not just on a car ride for the day, but he has left the only place he’s known as home. That he will be leaving his culture in exchange for another. That those who will become family will first be strangers. That he might be scared, even though there’s nothing to fear.

We’ve been anticipating him. But he has no way of anticipating us.

There’s a beautiful parallel in this when you think about God calling us His adopted kids. He pursued us when we didn’t even know He was coming. He planned and prepped things we could never imagine for ourselves. I love this imagery and I think it’s a powerful part of the adoption process.

But I also find myself mindful of the grief to come. His grief. It’s inevitable. Every adoption story has it. There is inherent loss for every adopted child, no matter how great the love or family offered to him.

I don’t know his story until now. There’s much of it that we’ll never know. But he has one. And while I’m so excited to be a part of the rest of his story, to be his Auntie Boo, I can’t help but wonder whether he has other Aunties that even now are sad to say goodbye to him. I hope so. I hope that he’s been loved well his first fourteen months. I hope there’s something much to grieve.

Because there’s much to celebrate.  And he doesn’t know it – yet. It may, in fact, take quite awhile for him to know either the grief or the gain. And that’s ok – it’s why God’s placing him in a family, so he will have a safe place for both. Again, such a picture of the gospel.

So today, while it will be filled with photographs and paperwork and smiles and squeals and questions and (some) answers, and the beginning of a new family, first it’s a reflection of this ancient, timeless truth:

In this is love, not that we first loved Him, but that He first loved us. We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:10, 19


One more week, One less orphan


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.