For 14 weeks, we’ve been telling DJ’s story.
For seven weeks, we’ve been carrying around his life-sized 2D image (and dressing him up in Captain America costumes to serve as props for 10-year-old birthday parties).
For 14 days, we’ve been falling head over heels in love with the 3D version of this special boy, whose joy and curiosity and courage and resourcefulness and smarts and helpfulness and pure wonderfulness have just BLOWN US AWAY.
And on Friday night, we had the honor and privilege of making THIS [overly dramatic, fighting-back-tears-but-too-excited to cry] announcement:
Friends, this little boy, our precious summer superhero, HAS A FAMILY! Has a HOME! Has a HOPE! His childhood no longer ends when he turns 14 years old and he ages out of the Chinese adoption system; his story, then, will barely be beginning … inside the unconditional love and protective framework of a family who couldn’t be MORE PERFECT for this perfect little boy.
The Harder family has been following DJ’s story since Day 1. They fell in love the first time they saw his picture, and as they followed the blog and Facebook page and got to see the videos of his little personality, God made it clear to them — they weren’t just supposed to adopt the little boy THEY are currently hosting in their home during this orphan hosting session (did I mention yet that they are A-MAZING?!); they were supposed to be the forever family for OUR summer superhero, too.
But those aren’t the only two superheroes in their home.
Our superhero and the one they are currently hosting will join a family of SIX GIRLS (!!!, and can I please buy that father some Motrin and a brand new Keurig?!), all of whom caught DJ’s attention the night we Skyped. He was so infatuated by this family, who we introduced to him as our internet “friends,” that, after chatting with them for a bit, HE EVEN STARTED BLOWING THEM KISSES! KISSES!
Friends, he has NEVER blown US kisses! This at-first stiff little boy barely learned how to HUG LAST SUNDAY! And yet, as he smiled and played and teased the friends he saw across the computer screen, HE BLEW THEM KISSES.
And it took everything I had not to blow the secret that THIS FAMILY he clearly adored interacting with wanted him to be THEIRS. FOREVER.
We wanted to give this family the opportunity to share this huge news with THEIR family and friends on Thursday before we shared the news with OURS through the blog Facebook page on Friday.
And since that time, I haven’t been able to stop smiling. And crying. And laughing hysterically. And crying some more, standing in total awe and amazement at the goodness and faithfulness of our all-providing God and the beautiful ones who say "YES!" when He calls. (I’m pretty sure this precious host boy, who isn’t allowed to know about this development until all the paperwork is official a few months down the road, is quite certain that all American women are both emotional basket cases and certifiably insane. Tonight, he told me he “little bit” missed home. I don’t understand why. I mean, my waterworks, dancing-prancing hugs and complete meltdowns at songs that mentioned orphans didn’t scream “home-like peace”?)
Because God didn’t just answer my prayer for the perfect family for DJ; he did more than I could EVER ASK OR IMAGINE by giving DJ a family who LOVES children, LOVES the Lord and conveniently lives within a day’s driving distance (hello, stalker auntie, coming your way five seconds after this family gives me the green light to visit after DJ comes home from China). This family isn’t just giving our boy a home — they’re giving him now SEVEN siblings, a passion for life, the individualized attention of a seasoned homeschool mama and a deep love of the Father of the fatherless, who DJ will get to know and worship and learn about at the table of their home.
My heart is beyond full.
On Saturday, fewer than 24 hours after we announced our big news, we celebrated our superhero’s birthday. His actual birthday isn’t for four more months, but while he was in our home, we wanted to honor him in a way that he likely hadn’t ever been honored before. As an individual with a name and a face and an identity and a calling. Whose name is not “Abandoned” or “Invaluable” or “Unwanted” or "One of Many," whose label is not “orphan.” But whose description is “beautiful.” “Wonderful.” “Precious.”
Whose identity is “CHILD OF GOD.”
This party was originally also going to serve as an open house for those interested in meeting our superhero. But when Great Wall China Adoption changed DJ’s status on the advocacy page of their website to “I found a forever family!” we got the honor of using this occasion purely for celebration.
And in the light of LOVE, this superhero just flourished.
He snickered and giggled as he participated in sack races and running races and pin-the-star-on-the-shield games.
He ate up the attention as a crew of 30 kids and 20 adults sang “Happy Birthday” in both English and Chinese (well, two of us managed to butcher it, anyway).
And for two hours, he just beamed — BEAMED — as he sat in the spotlight as an individual. As one to be celebrated, honored, VALUED. Not once did he panic at the overwhelming number of fellow superheroes showing up to share his goody bags. Not once did he melt down when he didn’t win a race or didn’t earn the prize.
He smiled. He laughed. He was just so care-free and full of life.
Celebration looked stunning on his eyes.
And as I tucked this sweet boy into his bunk bed that night, the frosting bits finally removed from his cheek and the scent of sweat finally gone from his hair (thank you, 90-plus-degree weather at the park), I prayed over him. I hugged him. And quietly, I thanked God for the most beautiful birthday gift of all: THE GIFT OF A FOREVER FAMILY.
This precious boy will still have to return to his orphanage in China in two weeks. He’ll still have to wait, like all children available for adoption, for his new parents to complete all the standard adoption paperwork.
But in about six to eight months (this family is hoping by Christmas, since their homestudy is already finalized and their dossier is in its final stages now!), our sweet boy will be in the arms of our new sweet friends. And he’ll never have to leave those loving arms again.
THAT’S a reason to celebrate.