Thursday, September 29, 2011

a minute to whine

Now I really am whining.

And feeling a bit sorry for myself.  And our other kids who ask a couple times a week when James will be joining us.  And how 'bout poor little James?!  Good gracious we want that child outa there!

Talked to one of our social workers yesterday.

It doesn't look good.

When their words start with, 'It's with disappointment that I tell you...', I brace myself.

It's not that we're never going to get James -- and I know of adoptions that have fallen completely apart, so I know this could be much more grim, but still.  The waiting's hard.

Our dossier's 'stuck in translation.'  This means that it hasn't even started to be reviewed.  (It was supposed to be done with the review process by now -- we should've received our preliminary approval by now).  This means the timeframe we were given is out the window.

When I asked why this happened, she said they don't know.  

Let's get straight to the point, right?


Best case scenario: January.

Worst case scenario: the Spring.

I can barely go there in my mind.  It just seems completely crazy and impossible to think that we could have to wait through the entire Winter?  Seriously?  Like, it could be warm again and there could be leaves back on the trees when we bring him home?

I could ramble and ramble on about my thoughts lately around this process, the teaching and refining that's happening in me through this experience, the test of patience for me that is so, so, so good for me...and so on.  Just suffice it to say that I wanted to travel to get our boy sooner rather than later.


With all my heart, I know that God's got His hand on every minuscule, minute, particle of this holy process.  And for that matter, on James.  And on us.  In all my whining, I really do trust Him.  In fact, almost immediately after I hung up with our social worker I thought to myself: Perhaps it would be best for us to travel in January or February and not smack dab in the middle of the holidays?  Sure, I wanted James to be with us for Christmas and I wanted to start 2012 with him as part of our family and in our home, but it's okay.  October, November and December is always a very busy and full season for us (and every other family we know!), so maybe traveling during the doldrums of January and February is really God's better plan for us?

Ya think? 

I also received this week, an encouraging reminder from a mom whose traveled this road before me.  She said, 'I'm sure your heart aches daily for him.  Oh, I remember well the waiting.  It is amazing how the time is used well to build bonds of love and longing, though.'

Oh, how I needed to hear that.  It is so true.

So, I needed to lay my eyes on his sweet little self.  So I went back and looked at some photos and found a few I don't think I've shared here yet.  Enjoy.

Oh, and a little birdie told me he's 'a rocket' in that little walker!  Scooting himself all over the orphanage.  So sweet!

Monday, September 26, 2011

i apologize...

I apologize that I never followed-up about the book giveaway.  I didn't forget.  I heard that the comments feature on the blog wasn't working.  Ugh.  This bloggy stuff that I have no idea about!  However, I think it may be working now?  Someone posted a comment this weekend, so I think it's back. If you would still like to have a chance to snatch up a copy of Katie Davis' book, please feel free to either shoot me an email at or post a comment.

Katie's story just might awaken a sleeping giant in all of us!

And if my not mentioning anything about James and our lack of news weren't enough of an indication...still no news.  Off to whine myself to sleep.  :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's been 71 days since our log-in-date.  We were told it'd be 'three or four months' between log-in and preliminary approval.


It literally is crickets over here.

With the back kitchen door open and the warm night air filling the room, all I hear is the tap-tap-tap of this keyboard and...crickets.

But it's also 'crickets' regarding our preliminary approval.

{big sigh}

JD just pointed out that it's been a week since I inquired with our agency.  And the man-who-never-wants-to-unnecessarily-press-anyone said, 'I think you should follow-up with Wide Horizons.'


In about ten seconds flat.

I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Or if I'm sitting here tomorrow night listening to...well, you get the picture.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

katie davis

Get ready to have your socks knocked off.

All I have to do is think about what I was doing when I was twenty-one.  Or how my heart-state is only a fraction of what hers is and I'm...thirty-eight.  

Look, I know God calls us all to different paths in life, but I've felt the need to neutralize the (very well-meaning) comments JD and I get about how amazing we are for adopting James (and most recently, starting to homeschool).

Here's the reality.  There are people doing God's work in a way that is wholly sacrificial.

Meet Katie Davis.

Yes, we heard very clearly (not audibly) from the Lord that we were to adopt, but did you catch it?  I said we.  I am not a single, young woman in a foreign land adopting fourteen children on my own.  I have an enormously supportive husband who made this decision with me.  We live in suburban America.  We have every conceivable need met -- and then some.  We are not surrounded by famine and drought.  We really have it pretty darn good.

This is not as complicated as it seems.  You may look at others around you (like I do!) and think I could never do that or be her or go there or...but you can.  We can.  It starts with baby steps.  JD and I didn't come to this place overnight.  There were many, many little nudges, soft whispers over the years.

Responding to God's gentle nudge, starts small.  Do that community service you've always thought about doing.  Find a church if you've been thinking about finding one for years.  Reach out to that single mom or widow or neighbor who you know needs a hand or a friend.  Go back to church if you've left.  It's so hard to make the time sometimes.  I know.  I'm just like you.

But if we're going to live a life that is truly full and truly rich with purpose, we have to at least start by responding to those little whispers.

I can't wait to read Katie's book.  It just leapt to the top of my reading list.

Wanna read it too?  I'll give one away.  Post a comment and I'll draw a name on Friday.

Friday, September 16, 2011

good news?

Could we have good news on the horizon?

I emailed our social worker yesterday and asked if there was any way to check on how our dossier's doing.  Just wondering if there's any movement or any idea when we might hear about our preliminary approval.

This was her reply:

Hi Heather,

Thanks for checking-in. We are actually in the process of trying to get
a status update on your case in terms of dossier and Preliminary
Approval Letter.  It can be very difficult to get case status updates
from China so I don't want to get your hopes up, but we are trying our
best to advocate. Of course, as soon as I hear anything further I will
let  you know. Take care.

Might it be that we'll get our preliminary approval sooner rather than later?  That's been my prayer!  If you're the praying kind, we'll take 'em!  

Wishing a crisp, wonderful weekend to you all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

emmanuel kelly

I probably don't need to explain why this gentleman's story moves us greatly.

Such hope!  Such courage!  Such a bright future!

Monday, September 12, 2011

talk about abundance!

I can't believe after months and months and months of literally nothing in the way of knowing how our sweet baby James is doing, in less than a week we've been showered with updates and photos!

So here's more of the abundance we've received.  Just got these photos today.

Look at the precious expression of gratitude to his little buddy who shared the ball with him!

Big Boy had his first day of school!  

And we got his measurements, to boot!

Weight: 20.9 pounds -- he's measuring closer to an 18-month-old at the 3rd percentile.  Looks like 12 mos. or 18 mos. clothes for this little guy!

Height: 75 cm -- not on the chart.

Head Circumference:  47 cm -- on the chart!  10th percentile.

Feet measurements: (L) 12 cm; (R) 10 cm.

It appears pretty obvious, that our little James isn't walking *yet*!   There were rumblings several months ago about his right leg being shorter than his left, but it wasn't definite.  More recent photos make it appear there's definitely something going on with his right leg -- and clearly, his right foot.  

The crazy-awesome thing is...we could care less!  We're feeling so grateful that God's creating a love in our hearts for this little boy that is beyond what we ever imagined possible.  Crazy how we can love someone so much that we haven't even met!  

Only God.

I haven't forgotten about an update on the children who still need sponsorships to attend the Believe in Me school at James' orphanage.  I have all their info and hope to do another post really soon about them.  Thank you to those of you who've expressed a desire to help!

Friday, September 9, 2011

believe in me

This has been an exciting week.

Not only have I been able to look upon our boy in a fresh light, but I learned about an amazing thing happening in James' orphanage and several others around China.

It's called Believe in Me schools.

And James (aka 'Sheng') will be attending!  Our little guy is going to attend what would be like our preschools in America.  Little cutie-patootie.

Read this about Believe in Me:

LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES’  “In Orphanage” Schools in China
Many people do not realize that children born with special needs in China often cannot attend public school.  Orphaned children are especially vulnerable, as they do not have a mother or father to be their strong advocate. In 2004, after visiting many orphanages where children born with medical needs spent the majority of their days in a single room, we began asking why these older children were not in school.  We were told again and again that they could not be admitted to public school, due to having conditions such as heart conditions or missing limbs or Hepatitis B.   It was then that we asked the question, “If these children cannot go to school, why can’t we bring school to them?”
In May of 2004, LWB opened its first in-orphanage school, which we called “Believe in Me.”  The transformation in the orphanage was so profound that we realized how essential these schools could be to the children.  Children who had once spent the majority of their day staring at the wall were now engaged in the joy of learning.  Their days were now filled with books, music, and art – and we began to see a change in the orphanage as a whole.  Orphanage staff members were so encouraged by the children’s progress that they then agreed to file adoption paperwork on many children whom they felt could never find a family.  Over the last 7 years, hundreds of children from our school program have now found permanent homes.
Our “Believe in Me” schools are based off the Montessori model, and the teachers we employ received special Montessori training in Beijing.   Each day begins with a morning meeting welcoming the children to their school. Fun and meaningful activities fill their day, engaging both mind and body.   Our dedicated teaching staff  are committed to the development of these children as they wait for their own families, as well as helping them acquire skill sets to live in society as they reach adulthood.  Field trips are scheduled to allow the children to leave the walls of the orphanage, to participate in activities that teach the important skill sets of money management, cooking, cooperation, and teamwork.  
Many children from our Believe in Me schools have “graduated” to the Chinese public school system after proving that they can excel in a school environment.  
We currently have schools at the following locations:
  • Changde, Hunan
  • Changzhi, Shanxi 
  • Huainan, Anhui
  • Jingzhou, Hubei
  • Jinjiang, Fujian
  • Shantou, Guangdong
We have been approached by many other orphanages who have visited our schools and wish to have similar programs inside their institutions.  We believe this is a highly replicable model which could serve orphaned children throughout China.
The initial start up costs for a Believe in Me school average $10,000 for classroom renovation, materials, and teacher training.  Ongoing costs average $15,000 per year per school – a small investment overall for such amazing and profound results.

I never imagined that school-age children don't attend school!?  Because they're not 'whole enough'?  
Lord, have mercy.  
I don't know if you caught it, but it says that children are being adopted by orphanage staff because they've seen the children's potential simply because they're attending school and learning!  (Oh, the things we take for granted here in America!).  Prior to attending school, these children were perceived as being unable to learn and therefore unable to thrive in society.  
What a travesty.
Get this?  At James' orphanage, there are five new children to enroll in the Believe in Me school, but need sponsorship.  You won't believe how much it costs.
Just twenty bucks.
Yep, we get to sponsor our James.  JD and I talked about sponsoring all of them, but I felt like the Lord was nudging me to blog about this to build awareness, but also so that JD and I don't hoard the blessing of sponsoring these kids. 
Anyone else wanna get in on this awesome chance to bless a little cutie?
Here's what I received back in an email when I said we want to provide sponsorship for James and other children as well:
I would love to talk to you about sponsorship.  We do have five new students we just enrolled this fall, and they all need sponsors.  There are three boys and two girls.  The boys ages are 1 1/2, 5 and 2.  The girls are 5 and 8.  I can send you a little introduction on any of them that includes some photos.  They really are cuties.  Please let me know your thoughts!
I have a strong hunch that if more than five folks want to sponsor children to attend Believe in Me schools that Love Without Boundaries will be glad to spread the love around to other orphanages!
If you want to advocate for a child and sponsor him/her to attend school, please shoot me an email at  
Let's blow the top off this thing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the overcomer

When we sent off our referral saying that we accept being matched with James, I thought, 'Ooh!  I bet we can now get updated info on him!'  So, about a week ago, I asked our agency for an update.  They said they'd try, but information isn't readily available so they would have to specifically inquire on James' status.  And any news could take a couple of weeks.  humph.

Several days ago, it occurred to me that perhaps I could contact those missionaries who met James so long ago and have loved him, prayed for him and so longed for him to have a family.  You remember the ones: different teams travel over there and love on the orphans.  They would be the most likely ones to have been in contact with James in the recent past.  They weren't allowed to share any info with us until after our referral was complete. I figured surely since our referral's in, I figured maybe, just maybe they'd be able to help us out.

But life has been, well, life and I haven't remembered to reach out to them.

And then.

Out of the blue.


I get an email from one of the missionaries!

Come on!

You have got to be kidding me!

I haven't heard from them or contacted them in months because it was made very clear to us that until we were further along in the process, they really couldn't share anything about James with us.  sigh.

So we've waited.

And then today, we got the hugest gift!

We saw him.

And he took our breath away.

Would you LOOK at that sweet face!?

He is happy.


Major prayers were answered today.  I cannot even tell you.

We heard things like, 'He grabs things with his hand.'

Until that moment, in that email, we didn't know for sure if he would ever be able to use that little hand God so blessed him with.

The floodgates opened.

(Our poor kids.  They just stared at me while my shoulders heaved and I didn't make a sound.  Of course, I explained that they were happy tears, but to see your momma cry is not a comforting thing for children).

The photo below was given to us months ago and is with me almost everywhere I go.  In a sense, it has haunted me.  Is it just me or do these photos almost look like two different boys?!  The blank look in his eyes.  The seemingly emptiness.

Yeh, well, look at THESE!  Taken just in the last couple of days!

And look at the big boy holding something in his hand!

And Mr. Tough Stuff is pulling up on his knees.  Granted, Mr. Tough Stuff needs a new shirt, but still.  His uncles will be sure to get him in some camos before he knows what hit him!  :)

And read this description of him (aka Gabe) from the missionaries:
We are so excited that little Gabe will soon be enrolled in our school inside the Jinjiang orphanage. Many of us have known him since he was a tiny baby, and even though he has a more significant upper limb difference, he doesn't let anything stop him! We know he will thrive in the classroom as he is just so smart.

Y'all.  My fervent prayer for James has been that he'll be an overcomer  because, well, frankly, he's got some challenges before him.  But if he has the spirit of a fighter and 'doesn't let anything stop him' then he will live a full life.

And isn't that what all parents want for their kids?  


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