Joy and J.J., the two host superheroes who stayed in our home and in our town for 30 days this winter, just wrecked us.
Utterly, completely, totally wrecked us.
In the most beautiful, precious, perfect possible way, these two superheroes, one with a sparkly extra chromosome and one with cerebral palsy and mobility issues, among others, shattered our hearts, opened our eyes and SHOWED us something we thought we already knew.
That special needs are really super needs in disguise.
That the things that make these children look scary on paper are actually the superpowers that save days and hearts and LIVES in the real world.
That these kids — they are actually the secret treasures of the world. The gems. The best kept secrets of every orphanage in China.
And now that they are back in China, they have left this gaping hole in our lives — a hole that has brought us to tears and brought us to our knees.
I’ve been aching to bring home another of these special superheroes for the last two years. But because of Super-Spouse’s very busy work schedule (and the fact that he’s only been home eight months out of 24), we decided that our family could best serve in this season on the sidelines. Hosting superheroes. Advocating for them. Telling their stories.
Until we met Joy. Until we met J.J. Until China, on January 1, ended their practice of issuing waivers for families who didn’t meet ALL of their very strict eligibility requirements to adopt from their country. Even for those families running to the most special of all the superheroes.
For the last several weeks, our hearts have just BROKEN as we have watched 23 FAMILIES inquire about Joy ... and, because of the new no-waiver policy for families applying to adopt children in China, saw all but a handful be ineligible to apply because of their failure to meet one or more of China's strict requirements.
Because of Super-Spouse's stable job, our family is blessed to meet all the eligibility requirements to adopt from China.
And, in a move only God could orchestrate, this month, God changed Super-Spouse’s position at work, placed him in a position that will require much less travel and sold the house for which we have been covering the mortgage payment in Washington after our renters moved out this fall.
During the same 30 days Joy and J.J. were wrecking our hearts and rearranging our lives, God removed every reason we have chosen to remain on the sidelines of this battle for special needs orphans as we’ve advocated for these superheroes we love so much.
A few weeks ago, as we were driving home from the beach we had introduced to Joy for six entire minutes before she crumpled up in a ball and refused to move (how I miss those cold day protests!), we began discussing our 2017 finances. I was going over our plan to use part of our savings to purchase a used vehicle this year to replace my vehicle (which had endured two baby homecomings, four cross-country moves and nearly 210,000 miles of love … and was not giving us hope that it would make it to 300,000 miles).
With Joy’s laughter filling the backseat of our needs-some-repairs SUV, Super-Spouse just looked at me, grabbed my hand and asked a question I will never forget.
“Michelle, are we really going to use that money for a minivan when we could use it for an adoption? It seems ridiculous to invest in a vehicle when we could instead invest in a CHILD.”
I picked my gaping jaw off the SUV floor and tried to calm the heart that was nearly leaping out of my chest as I stared at this amazing man God gave me to partner with in this life calling.
“We need to start now.”
And so we did.
Although our hearts were head over heels in love with Joy and J.J. and we wanted more than anything to make these two beautiful superheroes who had turned our worlds upside down ours, we couldn't adopt either, because our homestudy restricts us to only adopting children inside our birth order. Joy and J.J. were both older than our youngest superhero, which made them ineligible for our family.
We prayed for weeks about redoing our homestudy and begging for an exception, but at the end of the day, Super-Spouse felt strongly about our very trusted social worker’s recommendations about maintaining birth order for our specific family.
So we put Joy and J.J. in God’s hands.
And friends, in all His goodness, God placed J.J. in the family of a dear friend (I cannot WAIT to share with you this story!) and Joy just down the street, where we pray we can play Ayi and Shu Shu to this girl we love for LIFE. <3
We couldn’t make Joy or J.J. ours, but in His GRACE, God found a way to keep them in our lives anyway.
I can’t even.
When we signed up to host and help advocate for the boy hosted by a dear friend in our town, we thought WE were offering THEM an opportunity at a gift — the gift of a forever family.
But it turns out, God intended for them to be some of our greatest gifts.
And now that we KNOW their secrets, now that we KNOW their superpowers, we can’t go back to living a life where we pretend like these amazing kiddos didn’t exist.
After falling in LOVE with this these angels and spending a month in their presence, we feel like we can no longer just sit back and expect others to step out to offer homes for the treasure troves of Joys and J.J.s in the world.
Especially when so few families are now actually eligible to do so.
In 2017, we feel God calling us off of the sidelines and into the FRONT LINES to be the ones who don't just COMMUNICATE about the war but RUN TO THE BATTLEFIELD. Who run to the front lines. Who fight for the 600,000 mostly special needs superheroes who now fill the orphanages of China.
And to GO and FIGHT this time for "the one."
Joy's story is just the BEGINNING of OURS. And we are so honored and humbled that God would trust US with HIS redemption story of one of His most precious, beautiful superheroes.