Wednesday, December 10, 2014

8 Years Ago

12/12 is an easy date for me to remember. On 12/12/06 we we were taking care of 4 siblings when their sibling #5 entered the world. That was a significant time for our family. And for me, in particular.

A few months earlier we had started the practice of setting aside the Sabbath to spend extended time with God, and He was stirring our hearts both about adoption and about Gansu province (the place God had put on Charly's heart before we got married). By December, all of our family felt ready to start the adoption process. Except me. I felt like adoption was probably part of God's plan for us in the future, but I didn't feel ready for it then. My fears about adoption clearly trumped those stirrings from God. 

But while those four precious siblings were staying with us, God used 8-year old Joseph to soften my heart-full-of-fear. Joseph picked out Max Lucado's The Crippled Lamb, and we sat down on the couch to read together. The crippled lamb was named Joshua. He felt different from the other lambs because he had no parents. And he could not run and jump like the other lambs, because of his crippled leg. When the rest of the sheep were moving on to the next valley, the shepherd told Joshua to stay behind because it was too far for him and he was too slow. Joshua felt very sad and lonely. But because he stayed behind in the stable, he was there to welcome baby Jesus into the world and to help keep him warm on the night of His birth. So the words that Joshua's best friend, Abigail the cow, had always told him proved to be true: “God has a special place for those who feel left out.”

We finished the story, and Joseph pointedly asked me, “When are you going to adopt?

I'm not sure how I answered him, but I could not get his question out of my head or my heart for the following days and weeks. To be questioned so directly by a boy who was adopted kind of rattled me. And not just by any adopted boy. Joseph was, and still is (at age 16), one of my favorite people in the world. God has used him and his whole family (now with 12 children) in significant ways in my life. They each hold a special place in my heart.

After planting the question-that-I-could-not-get-rid-of through Joseph, God then used the story of David and Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9 to take my focus off my many adoption fears. And to enable me to see adoption as a privilege. That we could be a family to a child without a family. That he/she could eat at our table every day, just like the king's sons. And I had peace to say yes to adoption.

In January when our homeschooling group went ice sledding at the TV Tower, Joseph was one of the first people I wanted to tell about our family decision. He was absolutely thrilled and immediately started praying for our future child.

We had our home study with our social worker that March, and completed our adoption dossier in June of 2007. The estimated wait then was one year, which we thought sounded like a long time. Little did we know the actual wait we had in store! 

In April of 2008 we changed our request from a healthy baby girl to two siblings (of any age or gender) from Gansu province. The entire process of Chinese adoptions had slowed down and the wait time had extended to almost 2 years. In the summer of 2009 our dossier had finally reached the “front of the line” and we could have adopted a single child then.

But we said we wanted to keep waiting for the specific request that God had placed on our hearts. Their initial response was a firm “one or none.” But then the director miraculously agreed to keep us in the system and gave us permission to adopt two siblings from Gansu, if they became available.

In the summer of 2013 we had renewed our application as many times as we could. When we were out of time to wait on Gansu siblings, My Husband My Hero asked our Gansu adoption contact if we could have special permission to adopt two unrelated children. And she told us about David and Daniel, who were “like brothers” and had grown up together since they were babies in the Lanzhou orphanage. One with club feet and one with spina bifida. 14 months ago they were able to join our family, and we just celebrated their 9th and 10th birthdays.

8 years ago, Daniel was 1 and David was 2 years old. We don't know all the reasons why they couldn't have joined us sooner. But God does. Those long years of waiting, for them and for us, must fit into His bigger plan somehow.

Daniel's middle name is Joseph. Partly from Joseph of the Old Testament, who continued to trust God through many strikes against him, and who experienced God's victory over the unfavorable circumstances of his life. 

And partly from our friend Joseph who played such an important role in our adoption journey and who lives out a big faith in our big God whose heart beats for the adoption of His children.


  1. Wow! So amazing :) I didn't know Joseph had such a big part in your adoption story. And those pictures bring back so many memories.... I really hope you can visit next summer.

    1. Yes, Esther. Your family has had a huge impact on us, and Joseph esp. in our adoption journey. David and Daniel really want to meet you family so we will definitely find a way to get to Canada. :)

    2. I'm so glad I read this today! Yes, Esther, and Jodie, our first born is "Josanna" or Josie, the female form of Joseph:) Just know your family has always inspired us:) When Joseph first met Dave (before we were even engaged!) he told him he wanted us to get married and for us to have lots of children so they can be Christian soldiers. Hahaha!! It's so good to hear this story Jodie and to watch your adoption unfold. We are currently in Shanghai and are advocating and raising support for babies with the baobei foundation, as well as pastoring an expat church here. The baobei advocating is new... Anyhow, adoption has always been on our hearts probably since knowing the Vanderlaauns.... you guys have made a huge impact on us too! :)
      Blessings to both families! I can sign you into my blog too if you want.

    3. Hey! So good to hear from you. Yes! Please sign me into your blog. I would love that.

    4. Katie, Thanks for sharing your story too. It's great to hear from you. Would love to be signed into your blog! Blessings to your family and on the work you are doing.

  2. I miss that family, too. Hi, Esther! Tell your mom I love her to the depths of my heart!

    1. Hi! I will tell my mom that, and we miss you so much! It is really nice to hear from you.



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