The first thing we noticed about Superhero 4 was his golden, charming smile.
Sweet and tender, small and sheepish, but so stinkin’ adorable with those kissable cheeks that it immediately stole our hearts.
As Super-Spouse and I were reviewing the listing of waiting children at our agency, Super-Spouse’s computer mouse just kept wandering back to this sweet angel.
We were both immediately smitten.
With those kind and gentle black-brown eyes.
With his personality description and sweet spirit.
With the three lines in this handsome boy’s profile that we knew the world would see as strikes against him.
Inability to walk independently.
Boy. (Boys in the adoption world are always harder to place than girls. Contrary to popular Western belief, some NGOs estimate that 80 percent of the children in China’s orphanages are now boys with special needs.)
Superpower. Superpower. Superhero. (Also known as “Michelle’s someday-I-really-will-sit-down life.”)
After reviewing the list of waiting children in the database, we felt a bit overwhelmed, so we just asked our agency to send us the files of the kiddos from their list who were under the age of Superman and who had either Down syndrome or mobility issues and would be among the hardest to place.
After falling in love with superheroes like Joy and J.J. in person, superheroes who looked scary on paper but were firecracker blessings in 3D life, we didn’t feel like we could really “decide.” ALL of these superheroes were amazing. EVERY ONE OF THEM deserved homes. So we compiled a list of superheroes who fit those descriptions, prayed God would lead and emailed it along.
And wouldn’t you know that when we received our first two files for review from our international matching specialist, this superhero’s, who we had only read a brief summary about but felt immediately connected to, was attached to the email.
The boy with the C already embroidered on his shirt.
The boy who somehow looked to us already like a “Cuthrell” (minus the pant rips, sauce stains and bruises from too many early morning wrestling matches).
After almost a week with this angel’s file, God made it clear — THIS little man, by God’s grace, was the one we would get the honor and privilege of treasuring in our home.
So two weeks ago, we submitted our Letter of Intent for the little boy who had already captured our entire team’s hearts, and for 12 days, I obsessively checked my email, waiting for the moment that China would recognize THIS sweet superhero as OURS.
And friends, on Monday afternoon, as I sat in the waiting room of Superman’s occupational therapy appointment, I finally received the great news … the news that WE ARE OFFICIALLY PRE-APPROVED TO ADOPT this sweet boy we’ve all been talking about and dreaming about and praying over for the last two weeks!!!
Superhero 4 is no longer just another face on a waiting child registry.
He’s no longer one of 600,000 children waiting for a mama and baba to call his own.
He’s no longer a statistic waiting to happen.
HE IS NOW OUR SON!
And we couldn’t think of a more appropriate name for him than D.J. :)
One, because every Cuthrell boy has an initial name. (One of our life goals is to bring these underrated nicknames back into style … and to stop stumbling over them while trying to get the right kid to come unload the dishwasher as we rapid fire letters of the alphabet at the top of our lungs.)
And two, because seven months ago, as we were fresh off our last round of surgeries and casts for Superman, D.J., our first ever host child, was the one who reinvigorated our passion for these special superheroes-in-waiting.
He’s the one who got us back in the game.
He’s the one who lit our hearts back on fire.
And he’s the one who first entered our home, showed us how to love and REMINDED us of the truth we’d known for three precious year with Superman — that “special needs” are really “super needs” in disguise. And that THESE special superheroes — they DESERVE someone to stand up for them.
To fight for them.
To be a VOICE for them.
To give them HOMES.
Big D.J. reminded us that there were still 600,000 superheroes waiting for someone to hand them their cape.
And HIS hosting experience led to Joy’s … which led to our beautifully wrecked and completely rearranged hearts … which led to our son.
Big D.J. was God’s initiator. :)
The D in D.J. stands for one of Super-Spouse’s military heroes — a man who led one of Super-Spouse’s former units in battle and was killed in action in World War II serving his country. This man was a warrior, a fighter, a problem solver and one who didn’t give up, no matter the odds, no matter the challenges.
We are praying that same persevering, warrior spirit for D.J. as he learns to walk, fights to be mobile and figures out how to use his superpowers in a new and possibly overwhelming world.
The second D in D.J.’s name (technically, his initials will be D.D.J.C.— but “didi”/D.D. means “little brother” in Chinese and has kind of stuck as a nickname around here) is after my aunt and uncle, who have been some of the most loving, influential and generous people in my life. They may have never been able to have biological children, but they always treated me like one. They “adopted” me, blessed me, celebrated with me and PRAYED for me for the last three decades of my life. We pray their namesake will share the same kind of love, faithfulness and love for the Lord that they’ve shared with ME my whole life long.
And the J in D.J.’s name is the Hebrew word for “praise.” Because WE PRAISE GOD for this precious little boy, and we pray that THIS little superhero will live a life of praise to the God who SEES him, KNOWS him, LOVES him.
We won’t know for several months exactly when we’ll be traveling to China to bring D.J. home, but in the meantime, we are PRAYING for him. We are PREPARING for him. And we are PRAISING GOD for the beautiful PRIVILEGE of loving him up close in our home.
After living this adoption life for several years now, we know too well the TRUTH about adoption — that it’s no salvation story.
There is ONE Savior, and we are not Him.
It’s a redemption story.
God’s redemption story.
And every redemption story comes FIRST from a place of brokenness.
So as we pray for our new son, we pray also for his biological mama — God’s FIRST choice for this angel — and that we can provide the kind of life for D.J. that we know in her decision to leave him in a garden in a place where he could be found, likely because of his “super needs” — that she would have wanted.
His entire life long, we’ll make sure he knows about GOD’S amazing love, and we’ll make sure with all his heart that he knows about HERS.
Because SHE is the one who makes OUR story POSSIBLE.