Our family has been here before.
Welcome posters decorated, patriotic shirts neatly pressed, book bags packed for airports and holding areas with snacks and games and goodies. Ready for a run-leap-hug.
Ready to welcome someone special home.
Until we received a phone call.
In 2006, that phone call notified me that my sweet soldier, who had already been deployed for 12 months and missed the first eight months of his son’s life, would be extended in combat. Though I’d shaved my legs (with a weedwacker), hung the banners and even stopped calling a pan of brownies deployment dinner in order to welcome home my hero in what I thought was a week, that phone call notified me that he now wouldn’t be returning home … for four additional months.
We received another “extension” phone call late Thursday night.
DJ, the sweet superhero we have been packing and prepping for — the little boy our hearts are already so in love with — got very ill. He was hospitalized, and, in a state of dehydration, this sweet boy missed his flight from China to the United States.
Today, his friends arrive in red shirts to greet their host families at airports across the country.
Today, our sweet superhero sits in a hospital bed in China — feeling better, his staff reports, but not cleared yet to fly.
And how our hearts just break for him.
As a military and an adoptive family, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice flexibility — to practice reacting to the unexpected. After seven deployments and one international adoption, we know well that our calendars, plans and timelines are irrelevant. So we’ve learned, through many years of failures and frustrations, to put ourselves on GOD’S time.
But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take us 24 hours to reset our clocks.
When Great Wall called Thursday night and our sweet friend there told us as compassionately as possible that “it is now confirmed that DJ will not be coming on this flight — please do not drive to Chicago in the morning,” I went into military spouse auto-pilot to handle the situation logistically and obtain all the intel I could.
And then, after hanging up the phone, I completely broke down. Supersoldier, in his amazing, protective way, just held me for an hour while I wept and both of us grieved.
Not only was this precious boy missing the flight to the “international hosting camp” he had already been told he would be traveling to (he received our welcome letter with our family’s pictures earlier in the week); he was in the hospital. Alone. Without a loved one there to hold his hand. Without a mama there to hold his heart. Without anyone there to speak hope or life or love into a little heart so in need of encouragement in the face of such disappointment.
It is unfair and unreal that this sweet boy should have to go through this alone.
Yes, we as a military family have had lots of practice dealing with life’s “extensions” — BUT THIS SWEET BOY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO. This little boy has waited 10 YEARS for a family. He’s been on one decade-long extension to unite with a family who will call him their own. Who will run-leap-hug at Gotcha Days and shower love and affection that lasts beyond red-white-and-blue airport photos.
This little boy DESERVES a chance at a family. And after 10 years on the waiting child list with NO FAMILY TO CALL HIS OWN, we believe traveling here, where others can MEET this precious face and EXPERIENCE this golden heart, is his best chance. And, only three and a half years from his age out date, it may be his LAST chance.
We refuse to allow the world, the enemy or unfortunate circumstances to define this boy’s future. God has given him a HOPE and a FUTURE and an opportunity to be loved. We’re not willing to just stand idly by and let this precious superhero drift back into a waiting child photolisting, where he will be one of thousands of children just waiting for a family.
EVERY child deserves a family. DJ deserves a family. And we won’t stop until we help him find one.
We’re saying NO MORE. It’s time.
Great Wall is doing everything in their power to find another way to get DJ here. But the flight has left, the chaperones are all gone and DJ’s orphanage director has not approved him to fly. We are believing in a big God for both transportation solutions AND favor with United Airlines, DJ’s orphanage director and all the people we now need to convince that ANY amount of time he can spend in the love and care of a family is the best thing for DJ and the best thing for his chances at finding a family.
After a 24-hour reset, our eyes are not on our circumstances. They’re not on these big problems. Our eyes are on our BIG GOD. And after watching Him work miracle after miracle throughout Superhero 3’s adoption, we have faith that the same mountain-moving God who found a lost Travel Approval in Mexico and got us to China on a flight 48 hours later can also find a way for this superhero to be with a FAMILY – if only for a few weeks.
We’re not sure how it will happen. We’re not sure when it will happen. But we’re standing in faith that somehow, some way, this little boy will make it to our home, where we will consider it the privilege of our lives to LOVE on him, advocate for him and introduce him to the Father of the fatherless, who, no matter his circumstances, goes with him wherever he’s at.
We’re not throwing away those welcome posters, and we’re not unpacking our bags. We’re putting them on standby. And while we fight for this little boy’s chances of experiencing family for the first time in his life, we’ll continue advocating for him. We’ll begin advocating for his friends. And we will pray daily that our awesome God will just wrap his big arms around our little superhero and hold him tight.
Hang in there, DJ. You have an army of prayer warriors and one annoyingly feisty host family fighting on your behalf.