I really don’t even know where to begin. As I said to someone earlier today, I am ‘joyfully overwhelmed’! It has been on my heart to post a new blog soon. It has been so long since I had updated anyone on the situation. When I wrote in August about Theo being taken to the state run orphanage, I was amazed at the outpouring of prayers and support. I was overflowing with gratitude at the generous offer that was made by a friend to fund my adoption. I was ridden with the burden of how to respond to that. Some of you who are close to me know that I prayed ferverently and sought council, even going as far as to calling the adoption agency to find out if it was possible for me to begin the paperwork to bring ‘my little boy’ home. I prayed before I picked up the phone that day that God would reveal His peace to me with the answer the adoption agency gave me. Due to my age, they informed me that I couldn’t even start my paperwork until April. I felt a sense of relief in knowing that I had 8 months (from that time) to seek more clarity. A week later I received a call while I was at school informing me that Theo had been brought back to Maria’s from the State Run Orphanage. There were no answers as to why this had happened but I was told not to make it public on any form of social media. So while I rejoiced and thanked each of you in my heart for your prayers, I was not allowed to let you know that he was back in the arms of the nannies who love him so. In September, I began planning a trip to China for my Spring Break. I will be traveling with a team of ten and spending a week at Maria’s House. I was anxious to arrive there at that time because I felt that I would receive some answers about what God’s role for me in this was before I could potentially begin the adoption process in April. I had a great peace about the word “WAIT”.
The past 3 years of my life have been an emotional roller coaster as I have loved, prayed for, grieved for and longed to be with this child. I have often times been confused and shed countless tears with friends and family as I tried to understand why God would place this little boy in my life and not let me be with him. I began to understand that perhaps I was to love him like a mother while he was waiting for his mother. I put pictures all over my office, my home, on my cell phone, screen saver, where ever I could to insure that he wasn’t just a number, but a child who is dearly loved and has a name, and to serve as a constant reminder to pray for his forever family.
I was sitting in my office today on my planning period and received a text from my friend at the ShowHope office asking me if she could give some one my number. I said sure, assuming it was someone who wanted to hear about my various experiences at Maria’s House or even about Theo. She told me to answer my phone when an unknown number called. Moments later, I answer a call and on the other end of the line I hear ‘Hello, is this Joanna? My name is Amanda. I am Theo’s mother’. I immediately began to choke up and shake. There is a fine line between a feeling over of overwhelming joy and unexpected shock. Countless hours have been spent praying for this moment, yet I was not prepared for it at all.
It was difficult for me to comprehend these words. I have spoken with numerous families who were interested in Theo but for various reasons had been unable to follow through with the adoption process. She must have known that I was immediately wondering about the finality of his placement with them, b/c she soon told me that they had been officially matched and he was their son. Amanda and her husband are Americans who are teachers in China at a private school where Theo will attend preschool next year. They had met him at Maria’s House last year. Amanda and her husband have 6 biological children and Theo will make their fifth adoption from China. They have felt a specific calling from God to love the least. They had fallen in love with him when they met him but kept feeling like adopting this special needs child would be ‘impossible’. Their children had also fallen in love with him and one of their girls became particularly burdened about who would be his family. As Amanda tried to explain the difficulties and obstacles that would present themselves and used the word ‘impossible’, her daughter responded that “Mommy, you tell us not to use words like ‘hate’ and ‘boring’ in our house. I think Jesus wouldn’t want us to use the word ‘impossible’ b/c all things are possible through him”. Hearing those words from her daughter, Amanda and her husband opened their hearts to this POSSIBILITY. Several weeks passed and they felt God’s peace to pursue Theo as their son. They began the paperwork on July 1st and it is now in its final stages. Amanda continued to explain what the last few months had looked like for them as they have traveled on this road to Theo. Only God could have had a hand in this. While I was calling all prayer warriors and agonizing about him being taken back to the state orphanage for this short time, it was only so that his paperwork could have been prepared for adoption. His mother knew where he was and God had never left his side.
What a blessing and a miracle this bittersweet news is! Theo has a mother and a father and brothers and sisters who will be his forever family. I cannot help but humanly have a selfish part of me that is a little sad that he will still be on the other side of the world. However, his mother shared with me today that when they come to visit their family in the states, I am welcome to visit him. I will replace referring to myself as his ‘mama’ to his ‘aunt jo’. I can’t imagine what it will be like to enter the doors of Maria’s House in a few short weeks and not be greeted by that sweet hug and unforgettable smile. I know that I have fulfilled God’s purpose in His plan for me and Theo. Please know that his new family recognizes the faithfulness of all who have followed his story and prayed for him. You have all played an integral part in bringing him home.
Theo’s name will now be Ezra. After hanging up with Amanda today, I looked up the meaning of the word ‘Ezra’ from the Bible. It translates to “God has helped”. I cannot think of a more fitting name for him. God has indeed helped. God has blessed. Blessed not only this beautiful orphan boy in China, but eternally changed and blessed my life. I pray that this story has blessed yours as well and that the power of prayer will be constantly realized. That the calling for all of us to care for the orphan will be answered. That being willing to open your heart to an impossibility can allow God to flood your life with unimaginable blessings.
I don’t know where my story goes from here. For the past three years I have poured my soul into making sure Theo was headed to his forever family. It has given me a purpose in the giant scheme of the orphan crisis and for the undeniable calling that God has given me to care for the fatherless and motherless. I will now begin to pray that when I return to China in a few weeks, God will place another precious one in my path to advocate for. Theo has represented so many and given a name to what so many people did not understand. As I go to bed tonight, I can sleep with a peace that I have not had since I met him in July 2009. A peace that Theo is no longer and orphan and that Ezra has a family waiting with open arms.