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Miracle #3: Our Chinese Family in Ohio

2 July 2018

There are times when I am beyond overwhelmed at the size of the world and the scope of its story.

And then there are times when I am reminded that this rock is a speck of dust in the palm of its loving Creator, and its whole history is a blip in his eternity. (A pivotal blip, sure, but a blip nonetheless.)


adoption blog sky

Photo cred: Jonatan Pie



A couple weeks ago, I got an email from our agency:


I wanted to reach out and see if you and Timothy would be open to being connected with a family who adopted a child from the same foster home as Yuan Bang? They would love to connect with you, if so!


Of course we said, Yes! About a week later I got this email:


Hi Alexis! We are Luci’s parents! We met your son, Luci’s foster brother, in China while we visited the foster center and noticed their beautiful connection. I’m so thankful we found you! We have so much to talk about… where do you all live? We are just north of […] on a small farm. Attached a picture of our family and Luci 🙂 here is my cell: […]


You guys.

My heart stopped and I had to gasp for air for a minute.

This wasn’t just someone with a loose connection because the same foster family in Guiyang took care of our kids — they met him. (And she later told me that she was so taken by his sweet spirit that she tried to adopt him too, on the spot.) Their daughter called my son, “gege” (big brother) for … I don’t know how long, but she did. (I have it on video.)


A couple hours later, my phone started dinging. 

It was Luci’s mom. She gave me her work schedule and we started setting up a time we could get on the phone, and then she started dumping pictures and video of our kids from last July when they were there to pick up Luci.

So this is a Wednesday, of course, which means I’m in the office in Lake Geneva. And not just any Wednesday, it’s the first Wednesday since we hired two new people, so they are in the office — along with everyone in the Chicagoland area who occasionally commutes to the office for things like someone’s-first-Wednesday.

I’m in the center office space, listening and taking notes on a client meeting, and trying not to bawl my eyes out as picture after picture and video after video of my sweet, then-three-year-old boy pops up on my phone.




I asked how she found us—AWAA, obviously, but how did she know someone had this boy and to get in touch? She is still in touch with the foster family via WeChat, and they told her he had been adopted.

She’s sending pics and I’m barraging her with questions, and then she sends a picture of her daughter with one of the adults and asks if we met him.

Oooooooooh …


Oh gosh, no. We haven’t been yet! We just got our LOA last week, so we’re making plans to go get him in September/October!

OH MY WORD!!!! I thought he was home!!! Obviously WeChat translator isn’t working so well – haha – How exciting!!!

Not yet! I’m trying not to cry in the office looking at pictures and videos as you send them ‘cause I’m DYING to hold him and this is like GOLD for my heart right now. 😊

Oh my word I am crying now!!! Every little bit feels like a world when you’re waiting!



And then she dropped a bomb and I had to step outside for a minute ’cause I was totally crying in the office.


I will send WeChat info and you can be in touch with him until September! They have said “We hope his family wants to be family with us!” Because we talk all the time about how they are our family.


And she did. And I stared at the screenshot of a Chinese WeChat profile and I had to step outside for a minute to thank God and cry.

There are no words for how huge this is.

(But, you know, here are a few anyway …)


First, because we can be in touch until we get there. We will not walk in as total strangers. I’m almost crying just typing that.

We had a photo book printed and are getting ready to send it off in a care package with some toys and clothes and things, because we wanted him to see our faces. Because what could be more terrifying to a four-year-old than meeting a couple people you’ve never seen before and being told you belong to them now? Even if you’ve been hoping to get adopted your whole life. Even if you’ve seen your friends get adopted and disappear from daycare your whole life.

We wanted him to know our faces, but this is so much better than a photo book. We can send pictures regularly. We can send video. He can see our eyes and hear us laugh for months.

It was morning in Guiyang the first time I chatted with his foster family and then next morning (their evening) my lockscreen lit up with Chinese characters:



That smile probably means nothing. It was probably just an acknowledgement, but a little, desperate piece of my heart shouted, “HE SMILED AT ME!”

And I let it.


And details.

You get an adoption file with three pictures and two short paragraphs of personality notes, and you build an identity without meaning to. Because we love him, and all we know is three pictures, one playground video, and the boxes that got checked: outdoors, energetic, music, singing, cars.

But every new picture reveals something new—even if it doesn’t it does, because the same sideways grin in the 4th picture, and then the 5th, confirms that wasn’t just a moment, he really does smile like that.

And every short, poorly translated conversation, provides still more. That’s how we learned he likes to draw. He likes meat.

It’s not as big as him getting to see us, but it has been fuel for my soul like I can’t describe.


This is the best part. This is why I had to step out of the office that first day. Because my baby doesn’t have to lose the first four years of his life.

Because when you adopt a toddler from the other side of the world, one who was abandoned as an infant with no note (as most of them are, at least in China), you all have to just pick up where you pick up. A four-year-old might have faint, fleeting memories of his time in an orphanage or a foster family as he grows, but that’s it.

They tell you to include a disposable camera if you’re sending a care package, so the foster family or orphanage workers can take pictures. That way, you at least have 24 grainy memories for him to hold onto. But that’s not an origin story.

Most will never have a connection to where they came from. They will not have answers to their one million questions. They will not have anyone who can hold them close at night and tell them stories about their first steps. They won’t run through a house adorned with their baby photos.

But my boy will have at least some of that.

He will be able to see and talk to the people who cared for him for his first four years—who loved him like a son. He will get answers to at least some of his questions. He will see his baby pictures next to his brother’s baby pictures, because I asked the foster family if they had any and they already sent two via WeChat.


chinese baby adoption


He will still have questions that will never be answered and stories that we cannot tell. He will still have some very, very hard things to wrestle through.

But he will not be disconnected. He will not have to start as a four-year-old, and I am so, so thankful for that.


We’ve already talked about when and how to get together with our new family on Ohio. They know people in Chicago. The half-way point between us is only a few hours’ drive.

I asked what she meant in that initial email about the connection she noticed between our kids. She described her daughter’s favoritism toward him, and his calm patience toward her. But the pictures said even more. In a dozen photos from last July, they are always right next to each other—and often holding hands.

I can’t wait to have him home for a little bit … and then bring him face-to-face with his little sister again. Here.

I’m so thankful for our new Ohio family. Their openness to staying connected with her daughter’s foster family in China opened this huge, amazing door for us. It’s given us an amazing, unbelievable advantage in this process and it’s secured my son’s first few chapters forever.


We got our I800 approval from Homeland Security last week, which means they’ll send that approval to China this week. Here’s what we’re looking at next:

  1. We get a notification that our case was sent to China and we complete online an application that we started by mail. (IDK. Like I said, I don’t ask questions anymore.)
  2. About two weeks later, we get another approval as paperwork moves through China.
  3. After another (roughly) three weeks, China sends a Travel Approval to our agency.
  4. Then we discuss travel arrangements, book flights, and apply for visas. We would head to China anywhere from 1-1/2 to four weeks after we get travel approval from China.

So max = 10 weeks. That’s early September. Exactly one year after we started this crazy journey.

Fast track = early/mid-August.

I feel like I should say that I’m freaking out a little bit, and part of me is trying to, but it’s kind of like hearing a shout from far, far away. There’s something going on there, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on here.

We haven’t seen miracle after amazing miracle over the last 10 months for God to abandon us in the 11th hour. If I know him at all, I expect the best is yet to come. He likes to show up at the last minute, so I’m staring down this list of approvals we need to get and money we need to raise with a maniacal kind of excitement.

I don’t know how he’s going to pull this off, but I know he’s going to. And it’s going to be awesome.

We’ve been saying since the beginning that we’re leaving room for God to do a miracle, and he has not let us down.

Prayer requests:

  • Paperwork — Please pray nothing gets held up. No reason it should, but we’ve been bathing it in prayer until now and it’s working.
  • Finances — We need to cover a travel package for some in-country expenses (hotels, travel, etc.), visas, flights, an orphanage donation, and some additional in-country expenses like doctor visits.
  • Grants — We have 10 outstanding still, many of which are scheduled to wrap up and be awarded right about now, since June/Q2 just ended. We’re running out of time for these to help, so some good news in the next week or two would be a huge help.
  • Jude — Despite the amazing advantages we have in being in contact for the next two or three months, it’s still going to be so hard on him. Please continue to pray that God would prepare his heart for this transition.
  • Foster family — They love him. They told me. “He’s like a little angel. We’re all very reluctant to part with him.” Pray comfort over their hearts as well. I couldn’t imagine giving up a sweet boy I had raised for four years …

Thanks, fam! I know that so many of your amazing, faithful prayers have gotten us to the awesome place we are right now and we love you so much for it!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Bianca permalink
    2 July 2018 7:54 AM

    Your heart and love through this whole process… It’s the sweetest thing I know Lex. You and Timothy have been so blessed with God’s open heart to love children. It’s wonderful to capture the glimpses as you welcome him home… even if he’s still thousands of miles away.
    God bless you guys!

  2. Natalie Fish permalink
    2 July 2018 8:06 AM

    Awww so happy for your family. Your sweet boys are sure lucky to have such an awesome family. I love reading about your journey. He is such a cutie, it’s awesome that you will be able to see his sister too!

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 10:47 AM

      I hope we can be awesome enough! ❤ Super excited about our new family in Ohio too!

  3. Wanda Ferguson permalink
    2 July 2018 9:10 AM

    This is so exciting for you! Your story is beautiful and I know that little one is so blessed to be coming home to you, Tim and Niah.

  4. 2 July 2018 9:23 AM

    I am so tempted to say something along the lines of disbelief at how fast and successful this has all been, but if I’m honest, there’s not one bit of disbelief in my mind. Not at all.

    You guys have so much support, not only from your family and friends (who love and respect you now than you probably know), but you also have a God whose plans for your family will lead to His glorification. You’ve depended on a God who knows the end of all things, and who is faithful beyond comprehension.

    I’m truly overjoyed at the reality of you guys taking this little boy who needs a family who raise him to be kind and generous, but also discerning and bold. It’s exciting to think of how the rest of your lives will be a testament of God’s faith and love towards us.

    Blessings to all of you. I can’t wait to meet him!

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 10:50 AM

      Amen, woman! We never doubted our God or our friends and family (at least not out-loud, LOL), but our faith is through the roof now and we are SO thankful for all the awesome people who are taking this journey with us! ❤

  5. 2 July 2018 9:49 AM

    He’s as lucky to have you as you are to have him.

  6. Rebecca Barr permalink
    2 July 2018 9:58 AM

    I love the updates! We are so excited for your family. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 10:51 AM

      Thanks so much for tracking with us! I can’t tell you how awesome it is just to know people are rooting for us. 🙂

  7. Gloria permalink
    2 July 2018 10:14 AM

    I am just so excited for you guys! I LOVE seeing how our awesome God is working in all of this for you. Can’t wait to see how the next few months unfold. I’m praying for you, as always.

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 10:52 AM

      Thank you! I have no doubt that it’s been so awesome because there are so many awesome people praying! ❤

  8. Tammy Wheatley permalink
    2 July 2018 11:22 AM

    Totally had to read this in multiple phases as I was bawling! So excited for you all!! Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow!!! ❤

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 11:50 AM

      Awww, thanks. 🙂 I well up every time I scan over it again. And AMEN! ❤

  9. 2 July 2018 11:26 AM

    I have a pretty good streak now for tearing up in every blog post/update. I’m just so excited for your family.

  10. Becky Towers permalink
    2 July 2018 11:37 AM

    Oh my gushness! What a beautiful story and happy almost-ending (of the adoption process, that is). Lex, I can tell that you’ve got the love of about 7 moms inside you for this little boy and knowing how you’ve mothered and unconditionally loved N, there will still be plenty for the newbie. God’s blessings upon you and your family, and Godspeed during the rest of the journey.

    • Lex permalink*
      2 July 2018 11:52 AM

      Thank you! N keeps telling me that when “brother” gets here, I can pass some of the kisses I give him over to “brother,” and keep telling him there’s zero chance. He’s getting the same number of kisses and Jude will get an equal measure. 😉 But it’s adorable that he’s trying to pawn off gross mom kisses onto his little brother. Thanks for all your prayers and support! ❤

  11. Amy N. permalink
    2 July 2018 12:04 PM

    This was just meant to be.

  12. Angela permalink
    2 July 2018 12:52 PM

    We are so thrilled to tears as we read this update!! Thank you for sharing the beautiful ways God is moving ! Praying a few grants come in this week and bring the support you need !! Meant to be because God places the lonely in families … God loves Jude!

  13. Sherry permalink
    2 July 2018 1:28 PM

    Love the pictures and am excited for you all. Keeping fingers crossed that everything moves along smoothly and swiftly. Love to all

  14. Jennifer permalink
    2 July 2018 7:54 PM

    I made the mistake of trying to read parts of this out loud to Chad, but kept choking back tears, like a blubbering idiot, LOL. I’m amazed my God’s faithfulness and goodness, but like you, I also have come to expect it! He is THAT good! Of course He orchestrated all of this for y’all! Because He loves you, and He can.

  15. Loretta permalink
    3 July 2018 8:04 AM

    I love how God works things out so perfectly when your life is totally submitted to His will! This little guy “Happy” will fit in perfectly with your family. You are blessed and so is this little guy. God’s hand was on his life from the beginning. HE has wonderful things planned for him. And y’all get a front row seat. God just never stops giving. ❤️

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