What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Bao and Shen

Every year, during this week in August, we have so much to be thankful for. All three of our youngest girls have adoption related anniversaries in August-- two "gotcha" days, a "yes, we want to adopt her" day, and a birthday!

While thinking of our girls and their adoption stories, I am reminded of one of my favorite adoption stories ever. This is the story of Bao and Shen. They are the sons of friends we met through our agency's adoption email list. Todd, a pastor, and Henriann live with their family in Texas. Henriann and I became email buddies as we chased paper, sought approvals, and waited out SARS, some days wondering if we would ever even get to meet the precious children we knew were waiting for us.

By God's grace, we did eventually make it through that horrible SARS wait and travel to China in the same group to get our children, Holly and Bao. Bao is without a doubt the smartest little boy I think I've ever met. And from what you will read, he is also an extremely determined little boy. I will let Henriann tell their story herself. I have her permission to post this letter she sent her family and friends a couple years ago. My hope is that their story will bless your heart as it has mine.

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Prov.18:24 Oh, what a story I have to tell of God's faithfulness! I have been waiting and waiting to share this news with all of you. I hope it encourages you wherever you are on your adoption journey! In August 2003 our family brought home a beautiful little five year old boy named Bao from Shenzhen, China. (We have two bio daughters, Melanie (12) and Cina (10)). Bao is a precious child and he has truly blessed our

family. As soon as he could speak English, he began talking about his best friend in China, Shen Bao Long. We had seen this child in Shenzhen and even taken his picture to have for Bao. Bao began to ask if we could bring Shen Bao Long to our house. Bao has a trundle bed and he was always pointing out that Shen Bao Long could sleep in the extra bed. He saved clothes, toys and candy for him. Every time he talked about him, I had an ache in my heart. Bao missed his best friend so much!

In November, some dear friends received a baby referral from Shenzhen. I was thrilled! We translated a letter from Bao to Shen Bao Long and sent him a gift. Our friends actually met SBL, and took a video of him opening Bao's gift. I cannot tell you how many times Bao watched that video. We all fell in love with that sweet boy on our TV screen.

In December, I began looking for the family who must be adopting him. In August, the SWI [orphanage] had told us he was "paper-ready" and I assumed someone must have snatched him up. I thought it would be wonderful to get the boys together again. I emailed different lists looking for him, but no luck. In January, I emailed my adoption agency and told her our story. She offered to talk to their contact in China, who was leaving for Beijing shortly. Within days, we heard from her. The CCAA [China Center for Adoption Affairs] had just received Shen Bao Long's file!

I don't know exactly how it all happened, but I love the mental picture of our adoption agency’s representative standing in the CCAA, surrounded by thousands of Chinese children's files and holding up Shen Bao Long's file and saying "I have got to have this one"! I believe God used her in such a powerful way. Everyone in the "China adoption community" says it's impossible to pre-identify a child. Let me tell you - "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE" (Mark 9:23).

The CCAA was still "processing" his file, so although Shen Bao Long's name appeared on Christian World Adoption's latest Special Needs listing, the file wasn't ready. Also, the question of who was going to adopt him was biggest in my mind. Of course I wanted him, but my husband was very sure that there was no way we could do it - financially we were drained from Bao's adoption and surgery.

I considered my sister as a possibility, but it wasn’t the right time for her. Then some very dear friends expressed an interest. They watched the video, looked at his pictures, and read all my books on older child adoption. This went on for about six weeks. They were so interested that at one point I think I emailed our adoption agency and told her I was almost certain that they would adopt him. I was excited about the possibility of the two boys being the same town, but sad that we weren't taking him. Still his paperwork sat in the CCAA.

I could go on and on about various things that happened, but I'll try to keep this short. At the end of March, I was pretty low. Our friends had decided not to adopt Shen Bao Long. I was sure God wanted us to have him, but had no idea how we could do it. Todd was still unsure and there is nothing worse than not being on the same page as your husband. My travel mates from Bao’s adoption were a constant source of encouragement. They prayed for our family to make the right decision and sent me so many encouraging emails. One Friday night, I prayed very hard for confirmation that this was indeed the path God wanted us to take.

The next day, Todd went to get the mail. There was a letter and an EXTREMELY generous check from my dad. This was amazing for several reasons. My dad didn't even know we were considering adoption, he hardly ever gives us money except for at Christmas, plus he mailed it after the mail pick-up time on Friday night! I sat at the table and bawled! Todd was choked up and said "Will you stop praying so hard!" but agreed that this was the sign he had been waiting for!

I emailed our adoption agency on Monday with the news that we were going to adopt SBL as soon as the CCAA released his paperwork! She emailed me on Tuesday that guess what - on Monday, in China, the CCAA released his paperwork! Glory! So, we start this wonderful process again and hope to bring Shen Bao Long home to his brother by Christmas. We will call him Shen, which means "Spiritual Thinker."

Bao was so excited when we told him! He wanted to go buy the bunk beds that day! He said, "Mom, did you know Shen Bao Long is my best friend?" Yes, Bao, we know! And my sweet, wonderful daughters are so excited about their new brother! Thank you, Lord!

I think back of standing over Shen Bao Long's bed (he was napping) last August and taking his picture. How God must have secretly smiled that I was taking a picture of my son and didn't know it! It so reminds of the verse in Ephesians 3:20 - "To Him who is able to do exceedingly more than WE ASK OR THINK". I could have never imagined that we would be doubly blessed!!

We can't wait to bring him home! Thanks for letting me share my story! Glory to God!

Love to all,

Henriann, Todd, Melanie, Cina, Bao, and now Shen waiting in Shenzhen

Best friends, now brothers, at home in Texas

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