I had just pulled into the parking lot of our favorite local Chinese restaurant this weekend when I received the text.
We were celebrating the three-year anniversary of Superman’s “Gotcha Day” — the day that, after a year of dreaming, hoping, waiting, praying, we finally got to fly to China and hold that sweet boy who captured our hearts when we viewed his profile on Christmas Eve the year before.
Each year, we celebrate Gotcha Day — which we just call “Team Cuthrell Day” — with a Chinese dinner out and a small gift for the little firecracker we didn’t know three years ago and now could not picture our life without.
But as I pulled up my phone, with the laughter of sweet Superman echoing from the backseat of my car, my throat tightened, and the tears of joy I always cry when we celebrate this special occasion in our family each year turned to eye-burning tears of grief.
It was Leia. And it was about Luna.
Luna was the now-2-year-old little girl who had captured the heart of one of my sweetest and dearest friends — a friend who loves orphans so passionately that, after adopting four children with various medical needs of her own (to make a total of SIX superheroes in her beautiful family), she and her husband started a jerky store they could use to fund adoptions and life-saving surgeries for superheroes still waiting for forever families.
Luna desperately needed heart surgery, and after two years without it, she was running out of time. What had started as a heart defect at birth had begun causing systemic issues for this sweet angel, and by age 2, she could now not even sit up.
Her time was running out.
Luna’s nickname in the adoption community was “Luna the Lion-hearted,” because time and time again, this tiny overcomer who should have died on several occasions, fought and LIVED. And my sweet friend with the heart of gold couldn’t stand the thought of this angel dying because she couldn’t get the life-saving surgery she just couldn’t get in China.
I linked Leia up with my Jenny, a creative coach and graphic designer who had designed the most beautiful Bold as a Lion t-shirt that I wear constantly to remember that I can have COMFORT or I can have COURAGE, but I can’t have BOTH.
Audacious love requires BOLDNESS. And life’s too short to live any other way.
Jenny had donated her t-shirt design to Leia and Sage Harvest, who was ordering these lion t-shirts to sell in store to prayerfully fund Luna the Lion-hearted’s entire adoption — so that no family could have a reason keeping them from bringing this precious and medically fragile girl home.
Leia and I were discussing advertising plans, and I had begun drafting a blog for my dear friend in my head. Both of us were praying like crazy for this little girl who had been such a FIGHTER as we waited for the t-shirts we were hoping could fund the adoption that could save this girl’s life.
Until I read Leia’s text.
“Luna is with Jesus.”
At 2 years old, this girl with a serious heart condition who needed life-saving surgery that was not available to her as an orphan in China— she died.
I immediately called Leia, and, now sitting in the middle of a public restaurant beside the little boy whose family arrived three years before and across from the little girl who was still waiting for hers, I sobbed.
Sweet Luna, she’ll never have a Gotcha Day.
She died without knowing the sweet embrace of a family who had been praying for months to make one little girl theirs. Without experiencing the Eskimo kisses of doting mamas or the protection of Papa Bear arms.
Without the knowledge of unconditional love.
And as I pulled close the sweet boy I’ve had the privilege to call mine for three years and I lifted my eyes to the beauty before me — the beauty who, too, is on a timeline — she ages out of the Chinese adoption system at 14, at which point she loses her opportunity at a family forever — it was just too much.
My heart couldn’t take it anymore.
It sounds all fun and adventurous to host an orphan in your home for a month. It sounds like a “nice” thing to do — to give a sweet superhero a vacation from their orphanage-bound life.
But friends, what’s at stake is SO MUCH MORE than a month of fun.
IT’S A LIFE.
These sweet superheroes — they are ALL on a timeline. Whether that timeline is dictated by their medical needs — many which could easily be easily provided for here in the United States but won’t be offered to orphans in China — or by their age — at 14, they ALL become orphans for life — they are RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
And as we sit and enjoy the comforts of perfectly-sized families, the conveniences of homes and cars larger than we need and easy access to affordable healthcare, orphans are waiting.
Family-desiring souls are starving.
Little Lunas are dying.
There is NO TIME TO WASTE. There is no time to SIT. There is no time to just ignore the orphan crisis as we live in relative luxury and pretend that we don’t see or know about the problem.
Children are DYING as we eat. As we play. As we ignore. As we continue living as if offering our finances, our prayers, our advocacy, our homes or our LIVES to sweet superheroes is too much of an inconvenience. Is too much of a sacrifice.
Without a voice, without a home, without eyes and hearts OPEN to their plight — these children die.
Without a family by age 14, part of Joy’s heart will die, too.
Luna may never get a Gotcha Day, but in her honor — on the day that our superhero celebrates his and the same day that Luna the Lion-hearted lost her chance to ever have one — we will FIGHT for this sweet girl God has entrusted to us.
We will PRAY.
We will ADVOCATE.
We will shout her story from the rooftops and post her pictures until kingdom come.
In Luna’s honor, we will dedicate every ounce of our being to ensuring that THIS sweet angel’s story ends DIFFERENTLY.
We will fight like Luna the Lion-hearted.
And we won’t give up until Joy’s story ends in Gotcha Day.