He had a family ... and then he lost them.
He was left in China.
For the second time in his life. 😥
This precious boy who just turned 9 stole my heart in the summer of 2016.
He was being hosted by another family in our hosting program, and we just *loved* watching from afar as this precious and tender-hearted boy just THRIVED inside the love and security of family. (Look at these sweet snuggles with his big host brother!)
Little Leo, as his host family called him, was one of those sweethearts ... the one whose pictures cuddled up in his host mama's lap just let you know how much he just LOVED to be LOVED. He emanated JOY, and you couldn't watch one of his videos without yourself smiling from ear to ear.
This little man with the soft spirit and the contagious smile had a forever family coming for him.
In fact, they physically DID come for him in May of 2017.
But at the last moment, Leo’s adoption fell through.
Although we can’t imagine the turmoil and heartbreak that Leo’s family experienced when they returned on a plane with a suitcase full of clothes for a little boy they’d never get the privilege of parenting, we CAN imagine what Little Leo has experienced.
An entire lifetime of rejection.
This perfect little boy who has once again unfairly lost something so precious deserves to know the truth.
That he's MORE than enough.
That he's beautifully and wonderfully made.
That he is ADORED by a God who loves him madly.
And that someday, we believe he'll be adored by a family whose greatest gift will be a Little Leo nestled in their arms.
Orphan Warriors, I do not exaggerate when I tell you that this boy is a GEM. He is BRIGHT! He is KIND! He is joy-filled and love-full and showed and received affection throughout his entire 30 days with his host family. You can't watch one of his videos without melting.
Try. I dare you to not fall in love!
Although Little Leo had a CT scan performed in China, the scan did not provide much information. He is reportedly slightly developmentally delayed, and after reviewing his file, the doctor from Great Wall's medical referral service determined that his need could either be hydrocephalus, agenesis of corpus callousum or periventricular leukomalacia. Because all of these needs range widely in regards to possible severity, many families are hesitant to move forward.
But friends, those are just words.
Those are just labels.
Those are just diagnoses.
And when you fall in love with the FACE and the HEART of a boy like Little Leo, they become something you just figure out ... the same way you figure out when you birth a child with any of those conditions.
His diagnoses don't change his SOUL.
This little guy may have an unknown medical background ... but he has a KNOWN heart.
And today, Orphan Warriors, we're shouting it from the rooftops.
From Leo's host mama following his month in their home:
"Meeting Leo has been a highlight in my life and as we approach the weekend, I am feeling a very heavy heart. I will truly miss him — especially his smile, his giggles and at times his big belly laugh. And of course, I am going to miss the hugs and kisses he gives so frequently.
Throughout our four weeks together, Leo has continued to progress in so many ways from his physical development — muscle strength especially, to his capacity to learn new things. He has increased his English vocabulary and has picked up on so many nuances of living with an American family.
We just returned home from a long 4th of July weekend at the beach. There, he played in the sand for hours, shoveling holes and burying anything he could find. He quickly made friends with a group of women and enjoyed burying their feet over and over again. He thought it was a hilarious activity. He wasn’t afraid of the ocean — but he did run from the waves as they crashed ashore.
Sitting poolside, Leo enjoyed the 4th of July clam bake — he ate everything from lobster and steak to a few ears of corn, carrots and celery with hummus. While he does enjoy eating, he took a few breaks to splash in the pool and throw the balls in the yard with other kids. One of the only times I’ve seen him truly upset during our month together was when he needed to leave the pool party to run an errand with me. Despite our language differences, he had no problem expressing his dissent!
My husband and I have been surprised by so many wonderful things about Leo. Besides those we’ve mentioned in previous posts, his adaptability and trust of everyone he’s met has been incredible. He has been able to adjust to every situation he’s been in (doctor’s appointment’s, family reunions, long car drives, sleep times and parties) and has easily developed trusting relationships with adults and children alike. I am so impressed by how brave this boy is.
There are many memorable moments that only I’ve experienced with Leo and many I’ve shared with others. One great memory for Mike and me will be a late night drive home from a family gathering, he sang (or rather hummed) ‘Jingle Bells’ for 45 minutes. We turned the radio off and just listened as he enjoyed Christmas in July. And so did we.
This is just a boy who needs a home."
Little Leo is listed with Great Wall China Adoption through December. To review his medical files or learn more about this precious boy, email Diedra at Diedra@gwca.org.
Maybe running TO this boy with the sweet spirit is not possible for you in this season.
Maybe your family is not in a place to adopt.
Maybe you’re just not eligible.
But even if you can’t run TO this precious boy who has waited far too long to be called “son,” you can RACE FOR the family who would run to him!
My now dear friend Rebecca Harder and family adopted OUR host child from the summer 2016 session.
Although we’ve never met in person, Rebecca and I have become extremely close over the last two years as we’ve talked and texted about the child who was once our host child who is now her son. We’ve laughed through the hilarities of parenting boys. We’ve cried over the hardness that this life sometimes brings.
And we’ve grieved together over the host child from that same summer two years ago who STILL doesn’t have a family to call his own.
But grieving doesn’t bring Little Leo home.
That’s why we are meeting in person for the very first time next month.
On October 20, Rebecca and I are running a half marathon for the host child who, two years later, STILL has no forever family to call his own.
Our goal is to raise $100 per person for every mile we run. That's 13.1 miles times 100 times 2 for a grand total of $2620. THERE IS NO DONATION TOO BIG OR TOO SMALL TO HELP US REACH THIS GOAL! If we reach our goal, we'll dress as Superwoman and Wonderwoman all 13.1 miles of our October race. And when we cross the finish line, we'll offer not just hope but REAL HELP to the family we are praying and believing will say YES to one of the most beautiful and deserving superheroes we know.
The one still waiting for his family to hand him his cape and teach him how to fly.
100 percent of the proceeds from this race fundraiser will go to a scholarship for Little Leo.
We are praying that God would use this one little race to encourage one precious family to enter another — the race to China to bring this precious superhero HOME.
THANK YOU for helping us race for the one no family is running toward. <3 Make your tax deductible donation HERE.
Because it takes a village to change the orphan story.