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Adoption and the Heart of the Father

12 March 2018

It astounds me how each new season of life reveals new facets and depths of God’s character and heart. It’s not always easy to put into words, but if you’ve experienced that beginning of a new chapter, you know what I mean.

New Seasons, New Revelations

You spend years in church and in worship and in the word, and you think you’re starting to understand … and then you get married. And you knew that Jesus is a bridegroom and the Church is his bride, but then you start living a reflection of one of those roles and lightbulbs start turning on.



This is what it means to love someone—not just to feel warm feelings, but really love/serve. This is what it means to be committed to someone even on the days he/she drives you crazy. This is a new level of dying to self.

And then some more time goes by and you think you’re starting to understand … and then you become a parent. And you knew that God is a father and that spiritual re-birth is difficult, but then you starting living a reflection of that reality and more lightbulbs start turning on.

This is what it means to love someone—not just to feel warm feelings and commit to someone, but to really know—without hesitation—that you would die for someone (and, at first, for someone you don’t even really know yet). This is why trust is important, and this is how justice and love really do coexist. This is what it feels like to love someone more than you ever thought possible and know you can only really hope and pray that he/she comes to love you back. This is a new level of dying to self.

It amazes me even more than those experiences are never identical, and yet each one is an accurate reflection of the heart of God. A husband’s experience of marriage is very different, in some ways, from his wife’s. A father’s experience of birth is very different from a mother’s, and each has a different experience as a parent.

Each one comes to understand nuances that he/she could probably never put into words.

And so many people have experiences that others never will: the death of a child, the premature death of a spouse, a remarriage, step-children or step-parents … but in all of it we can draw closer to our God who has voluntarily experienced all of these things for us.

God is an Adoptive Parent Too

So of course I knew that adoption would be another chapter that God would use to teach me new things about him. If you had asked me, six months ago, if I expected to learn something about the heart of God through this process I would have said that yes, of course I do.



But—just like I thought I knew a thing or two about being the bride of Christ before I become a bride, or the love of a Father before I had a child—I had no idea what I was in for.

I found this quote several months ago and I saved the poorly designed jpg it was chained to, because we were early in the adoption process and I very casually thought something like, “Yes. That is true. And good.”

My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.” — Derex Loux

At first it was simply one more encouraging thought. “If God did this to adopt me, how much more can I fill out paperwork?” Now, when I come back to it, it is still very encouraging, but (at the risk of sounding blasphemous, because, of course, I know that nothing I do for my Chinese son could ever come close to measuring up to a fraction of what Christ did for me), it’s also starting to feel empathetic.

In the same way that a parent gets a small, exclusive glimpse into the heart of the Father, the adoption process is definitely opening a small, exclusive glimpse into the heart of the Redeemer.

And I’m not yet sure how to put it into words, so if you’re still reading this, I’m sorry if it ends on an anti-climatic note for now.

  • I can tell you that I find it more outrageous than ever that a God who exists outside of time would willingly constrain his heart to a life and a redemptive process that takes time.
  • I can tell you that I sing along with lyrics like, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, Coming after me …” with a new sense of awe, and occasionally a bit of embarrassment that he would do anything like this for my pathetic heart.
  • I can tell you that I am beginning to understand, maybe, what was so scandalous and weird about the idea of God grafting the Gentiles into his family.

But the rest of it still leaves me speechless. And I know we still have so, so far to go.

Status and Updates

The latest on the actual process:

  • Paperwork — Currently waiting on approval from Immigration Services. Probably a week or two. Then we take that paperwork for one more round of certification and authentication, and then everything goes to China.
  • Grants — Lots of applications turned in and lots more to go. So far one decision was made, but not in our favor. The others are still in their review processes.
  • Fundraisers — Our MudLOVE campaign (which has been AWESOME) wraps up this week! We met our campaign goal, but it would be cool if we hit 150% before it’s over! 50% of the money goes to our adoption (or 100% of donations through the campaign page), and it will all go straight to our agency to help pay for the next round of fees when we send paperwork to China in the next few weeks.
    Our PayPal page is still open as well. 100% of donations there will help us pay off fees and costs that we’ve had to put on our credit card.
  • Prayer requests — Favor with grant organizations and government offices, miraculous provision, peace and safety over our son, honesty and compassion in his caretakers, comfort and peace for his biological parents.


Photo credits
Patrick Tomasso
Annelies Geneyn


Panic and Paperwork

5 March 2018

Friday evening I got an email and I almost threw in the towel.



I thought the paperwork was almost over.

We have gathered, created and recreated, notarized and re-notarized I don’t know how many pieces of paper. They are represented in four tabs on a spreadsheet, and they are making my 13-slot accordion folder difficult to close.

I have filled out online forms, made online payments, drove to government offices first thing on Monday morning (with a 5 year old), been sent away from government offices, returned to government offices, arranged for all the right people to assemble at the right government office to be insulted by the government employees who work there. I have shamelessly imposed on a lot of kind friends and bosses and administrative assistants to get paperwork created, signed, and notarized.

Our coordinator at AWAA, and our consultant at CAC, have fielded dozens of emails with links and attachments to review and revise and and approve all the paperwork.

It’s been six months of paperwork, and I thought it was almost over.

Not that the whole process is almost over, of course. There’s paperwork waiting to be submitted yet, and there the waaaiiiting for a referral.

But the stacks of paperwork have just been waiting for their turn to be mailed.  Read more…

Happy New Year! (A Few Pics and an Update)

16 February 2018

We cancelled the party, but we celebrated at home.



We made dancing dragon puppets and hung lanterns in the windows and piled mandarin oranges in the center of the table.



And we ate dumplings, but they did not survive long enough out of the pot to be photographed, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’m gorging myself on almond cookies and green tea as I type, but you won’t get a picture of that either.

A feeble first Chinese New Year’s Eve, maybe, but a start nonetheless. Fingers crossed our di-di will be with us for the next one, and then we’ll really celebrate.

We talked about him as we colored our dragon heads, which I probably should have planned but which caught me totally off-guard and unprepared. Because we went from, “Why dragons?,” to different ways Chinese people celebrate their new year, to, “Do you think brother got a dragon? Did he get to see fireworks? Why not?”

I don’t find it difficult to tell him. I’m just honest with him and he gets it. What’s difficult is being forced to think about—not just acknowledge, but really consider—toddlers in low-income orphanages. And not even just the general population of children in orphanages, but mine.

There is one small boy in a Chinese orphanage somewhere who belongs with me. And this will probably seem excessive—and I hesitate to even admit it—but I almost feel slighted, or hurt, that my son is currently being required to survive there. Maybe that sounds just a little extra, like I’m really digging for a victim card to play, but it’s true. My son doesn’t belong there; he belongs with me.

I know that I don’t know him. He has not been referred or chosen for us, so I don’t know his face. He is in no way, in the natural, ours … but I know he’s there, and I know God is working his will to bring us together, so he is ours. And being made to consider how he might be living makes me want to start kicking down doors to bring him home.

But I can’t.

So we pray for him, and we continue to trust God, and we push paperwork as fast as we can.

And we make paper lanterns to hang in the windows because, somehow, it seems to bring us closer.



Paper Pregnancy Updates

We got our completed home study in the mail a couple weeks ago and I fired off the immigration paperwork to the USCIS the next morning. By Express Mail. That envelope included yet another fat check and at first I felt silly writing a number that big on a Green Lantern check, but after a second consideration decided it was either apropos or ironic to send a superhero check to the Department of Homeland Security and I was equally delighted at either interpretation.  Read more…