Last Wednesday, countless adoptive families around the world were still dreaming about and preparing for their future children.
They were completing homestudy visits.
Applying for background checks.
Praying for their Chinese-born superheroes.
And in a split second last Thursday, everything changed.
I spent what I thought was any other summer day at the lake with my superheroes and my friends, and by the time I dried off and picked up my phone that afternoon, my iPhone screen was overflowing with notifications.
Missed calls. A never-ending log of unopened texts. Facebook messages.
Contacts from devastated families.
Totally unaware of what had thrown countless families we know and love into total chaos, I went to our agency’s website … and found this.
A notice that on Thursday morning, the CCCWA in China had sent an announcement to all international adoption agencies that work inside China notifying them of new eligibility rules for adopting families.
The biggest changes:
1. Prospective adoptive families can now have no more than five children already in the home. (There was previously no cap on the number of children allowed in each family.)
2. The youngest child in each home must be at least 3 years of age.
3. Families can no longer adopt two unrelated children simultaneously.
4. Families can no longer use dossier copies to return for another child.
5. Families must be home one year before adopting another child.
And with one email, countless Chinese superheroes lost the forever families pursuing them.
A child who showed up on one military family’s Facebook feed … and changed their hearts and lives forever.
A child who this military family dropped EVERYTHING to commit to run to.
A child who, because the family pursuing him had more than five children in their home and hadn’t yet acquired pre-approval, lost the opportunity to be adopted last Thursday.
No family can now run to Kaleb. No family can now add him as a second on their dossier to bring him home.
Although he had a family pursuing him last Wednesday, because this family had too many children in their family already, on Thursday, Kaleb once again became an orphan.
Children like two of the children hosted with one of our host children last year.
Although one incredible family who opened their arms to not just ONE but TWO children who desperately needed forever families has been running to them since this winter, on July 6, they may have lost one of them.
According to the new eligibility policy, two unrelated children cannot be adopted simultaneously. Although these two children are incredibly close and have been raised as siblings their entire lives, they are not biologically related.
The precious family who loves them both already had pre-approval in hand for one, which China says will grandfather them into this policy for her. All families with pre-approvals have been deemed “safe” from these changes.
But the other child's file took longer to prepare and arrive from China.
They submitted the Letter of Intent for that child the morning the new policy went into effect … and received news this week that, because they didn’t have pre-approval yet for the second child, they will no longer be able to adopt them both.
The family is appealing and fighting and praying their hearts out … but as of now, this duo who has grown up together and was hosted together and protects each other and madly LOVES each other — after losing everything else in their lives — may lose each other, too.
Children who, if they weren’t already home, would have lost the families who now love them more than words.
Families who now hold these superheroes in their arms and can’t picture their lives without them.
Families like my dear friend Monica’s family, who now has seven children after Monica and her husband returned home from China on June 29 with their precious new bundle of joy … the DAY BEFORE the new policy, which is dated June 30, was created.
Families like our first host child’s family. (The Harders already had six girls when they brought D.J. and another host child home in one trip this March. Even though their home is big and their love is bigger, if this policy went into effect before the Harders applied for D.J. and Shan Chen, these two amazing boys would still be waiting for forever families in China. Read Rebecca’s blog post about this devastating announcement HERE.)
Families like our soulmate Orphan Warrior family — the owners of the Sage Harvest jerky store and some of our favorite people in the whole wide world — people who love children and Jesus and orphans more than anyone I know … and who, because they have six children already inside of their home, will no longer be able to run to the most needy, most forgotten, most neglected in China.
Outside the adoption community, large families may seem like an anomaly. But inside the adoption community, large families are the bedrock. They are the cornerstones. They are the families who have discovered the beauty and the blessings of these superheroes the world just calls “special” and return again and again to get the honor of playing a small part in God’s redemption story.
Because they are the ones who’ve learned the truth.
That children are a BLESSING.
That these superheroes are a JOY.
That “special needs” are just superpowers in disguise.
And that EVERY child deserves the chance at FAMILY. Even an imperfect one.
And with one email, they have been removed from the China adoption picture.
Some of the fiercest warriors in our entire operation.
For a week, I was paralyzed. I was shocked. I was furious. I was grieving.
I could barely post THIS the night it all happened to explain the changes that had overnight transformed pursued children into orphans once again.
And although I sat down multiple mornings to process and write about this announcement and decision, it was just too much. The grief for these families we love was overwhelming. And the picture of hundreds of these superheroes who had families on Wednesday and lost them on Thursday was just too much for my heart to bear.
But today, Orphan Warriors, we can’t just wallow in grief. We can’t just sit around complaining about our circumstances.
We are not victims, we are VICTORS. And if we can’t change our circumstances, WE HAVE TO CHANGE OUR ATTITUDES ABOUT THEM.
There’s work to do.
There are children to advocate for.
There are 600,000 superheroes still waiting in orphanages in China, hoping and praying that someone will see and NOTICE their value.
We can’t afford to be still.
We can’t afford to be paralyzed.
We can’t afford to do NOTHING.
Rather than asking each other through our tears and heartache WHY, we need to start asking God, “What now?”
For the families still eligible to adopt these amazing angels from China, that might mean it’s time to warrior up.
Our heavy hitters are now off the field.
Some of our most courageous and persistent warriors are now sidelined.
And we are now calling on YOU — a new generation of Orphan Warriors who are willing to don your armor and join the battle for these deserving lives.
Not because it’s not scary.
But because we’re willing to do it AFRAID.
For the God who went to battle for US.
For the families who can no longer go.
And for the 600,000 children who DESERVE to experience unconditional love.
Yesterday, I posted this call to my Facebook page.
Orphan Warriors, we’re calling on you.
Don't put off until tomorrow what God has called you to do TODAY.
It's been a devastating week inside the China adoption community.
Families adopting host children whose files had not yet arrived became ineligible to adopt the children they've now been dreaming about, praying for and preparing for for months on end. (Families with official pre-approval have thankfully been grandfathered in and will not be affected by the new eligibility rules — which include no children in the home under 3, no more than five children in the home and no simultaneous adoptions of two unrelated children — released last week.)
Families who had completed homestudies and prepared dossiers to send to China — who had made it about halfway through the grueling and tedious paperwork process — overnight became ineligible to adopt the children they were praying for.
And countless children — we won't officially know how many for weeks or months — exchanged their status as "pursued" and "run after" and "future daughter" and "future son" ... and returned to the status many have assumed all their lives.
The devastation that this decision has left in its wake is far greater than anything I've seen in my five years involved with the China adoption community. I myself haven't even been able to blog about it yet, because every time I process this announcement, the grief for the children and families it affects is just too much to put to paper.
But what's surprised me even more than this shocking change in policy, which removed thousands of the strongest Orphan Warriors I know from the China adoption scene, is the number of stories I'm now hearing from those who DIDN'T yet start the adoption process ... and now CAN'T.
Families who had planned to serve these precious superheroes "someday" ... when life settled down. When there was more money in the bank account. When there weren't vacations already on the calendar.
These families — many who had never made this desire of their hearts publicly known — grieved in ways I didn't expect last week. Because many of them told me that God CALLED them ... and they said, "Wait."
They said, "In a minute."
They said, "Yes, God, we'll go ... but when the timing is more convenient."
Only there is NEVER a convenient time for a child to remain an orphan.
And now, in their delay, many of these families who were eligible last Wednesday and became ineligible last Thursday, will never get the honor and privilege of parenting one of God's sweetest treasures.
Because they paused.
Because they waited.
Because they said, "Yes, but ..." and put stipulations on the "when" of the calling God had placed on their hearts.
And if there is anything I think they would say to those of us now considering adoption, it would be NOT TO WAIT.
When God calls, you go. Because He sees what we cannot; He knows what none of us ever saw coming.
That the time was short. That the need was great. And that unless we allowed the love of Christ to compel us NOW, thousands of children would lose the opportunity at loving families who just happen to have children under the age of three in the home. Or more than five children.
Orphan Warriors, God doesn't make mistakes. If He has placed a calling on your heart to ADOPT one of these precious and deserving children, don't sit around. Don't wait for a better time.
RUN. SPEED. GO.
Because you never know when "tomorrow" will be too late.
#donyourarmor #warriorup #changetheorphanstory #dosomething