Friday, March 7, 2014

Day 3 - Haven's Gotcha Day

"They cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm...

And He guided them to their desired Haven."

The day began early, with Gotcha scheduled for 10am.  

It was Lilly's 6th Birthday, and also the day that she would meet her Big Sister, 
who turned 6 last August.  

They arrived early at the Hefei Civil Affairs office in order to complete paperwork with Jane.  

Lilly was beyond excited and busied herself with setting up Haven's backpack and treats on the table, while Becky set up a camera in the corner of the room to record Haven's entrance.  

And they waited.  

There was traffic, and she would be late.  

Lilly used this time to call me, and she told me that the first thing she would say to Haven when she met her was "Where you go, I will go.  Where you stay, I will stay", which is from the book of Ruth and hangs over her and Haven's waiting beds here at home. 

She also told me she that would tell Haven all about her Mama 
"to make sure she remembers about you."

This is not the Gotcha Day 
I had been imagining in my head. 

While I talked to Paul, my heart just broke.  It was too much. 

This was not the way that I had planned this day to go.  

But His plans are Better.

Haven entered the room and recognized Lilly right away.  

Lilly had gifts ready and waiting, and handed her a necklace that matched her own - with 3 letters on the back...


This little girl, who had just been removed from the orphanage and caregivers she had known for 6 years and handed over to literal strangers in a sterile office building, opened her heart and her arms to Lilly.

And she hasn't let go since. 

The translator pointed to Paul and asked Haven, "Who is this?" 

"Baba!" she said.


Oh, my beautiful daughter.  I have lived this day.  I was also rescued by a Father who appeared as a Savior in my distress.

By Him, we cry, "Abba, Father."

Kisses and toys were exchanged, and the orphanage gifted us
 with beautiful clothes they had made for her future.

Then it was time to go.

The exchange was about to take place.

Haven would need to say goodbye to her caregiver and take her father's hand.  

And she did. 

She walked confidently from the room with her new Daddy. 

When they got to the elevator, she began to dance.

And sing.  



She was going Home.  

They left the building flanked by several officials on either side of the door, 
and Haven walked between them proudly while holding her little sister's hand...  

Until her father scooped her up  
to carry her into Forever.  

And so it began.  

As they walked the street to the van, people stared.  

People STOPPED and stared.  

But Haven just smiled.  

After being carefully lifted into the van by her new Daddy, she climbed into the back row with her sister with an expectant look on her face.

The first stop was the hotel, 
where she would meet her Mama.  

The guide graciously came back to the hotel room 
to help translate our conversation.  

As soon as I answered the call, I found myself speechless.
 I could hear Haven shouting one word over and over before the screen even cued up...  

"Mama!  MAMA!

And I couldn't say a thing back.  I was too stunned.  

She's perfect.  She's breathtaking.  

All I could think about was how I should have studied harder during my Mandarin lessons.  So I said the only thing I can think of...

"Ni Hao!"

"Ni Hao," she said back.   

"Wo shi ni de Mama.  Mama ai ni!"  

(I am your Mama.  Mama loves you!)

"Wo ai ni," she responded.

(I love you). 

And she hasn't stopped saying it since.

I asked the guide for help.  I wanted to be clear:  

"Please tell her that Mama is going to love her and take care of her for the rest of her life.  Always and Forever."  

The guide translated my pledge and there was a brief pause while Haven examined a toy in her hand.  She said a few words in response quietly to the guide, not looking up, and the guide translated them to me:  

"She said, 'I know.'"

My jaw tightened as I tried to hold back my tears, because after the guide spoke, Haven lifted her eyes up at me and gave me a look.  

And I knew, too.  

I always have.  

With those two words, 
she became my daughter

I cannot imagine the amount of pain this child has seen in 6 years.  After all the broken promises, she is willing to accept ours at face value?  

How carefully our Father has protected this child's heart, 
only to break mine all over again.

Haven suddenly disappeared from the screen, 
and began shuffling through her bag of treats.  

She emerged with a bottle of nail polish, 
and let everyone know that she would be painting her Daddy's nails now.  

Afterwards, she giggled as she demonstrated to her father how to wave his hands in the air to dry them.  

Suddenly, someone knocked at the door, and I was reminded of the double significance of this day as a bellman wheeled in a birthday cake for my first-born daughter.  

Lilly is 6 today.  

Haven turned 6 a few days after we received the approval to adopt her last year, and one of the first things we did was have a cake delivered to her orphanage for her Birthday.   

How many times in the past year had Lilly prayed to be in China with her sister when she turned 6?  

I had told her not to count on it.

But Someone was listening.

Thank you, Jesus.

I reluctantly signed off Facetime so that they could run up to the store for supplies and take Haven and Lilly to a nearby play area, where they climbed and giggled for several hours. 

They came home to change clothes and left again for dinner,
 because Daddy was told that his girl likes to eat spicy Chinese food.  

At the noodle shop, Haven fed herself and picked the greens out of her noodle bowl.  

This child is like any other in that she has preferences, but she is unique in the fact that despite speaking an entirely different language than her new family, she makes her preferences clearly known in an adorable way (more on this later).  

After dinner, Haven and Lilly strolled on the sidewalk 
while holding hands. 

Becky later told me that she remembered thinking as she watched them that this day could not have gone any more perfect.  

And I agree.  

I can see that Haven needed her father to be the one to physically come and get her, and that there is a bigger plan - a better plan - for why he is the one who will carry her home.  

Praise God for the love of a Father, 
who gave up everything to claim us as His Own.  

Without His demonstration, we would not know how to do this.  Only by His Grace are we saved, and by His Mercy we are rescued.  

Without His Name branded on our own hearts 
and His strong wall of protection hemming us in...

...we would have missed this:


And this:


"I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.  
Your walls are ever before me."
Isaiah 49 

You're next, kid!

Aaron's Gotcha Day is this Monday!!!

Day 4 - Adoption Day & Amusement Park!


  1. Crying wonderful happy, joy-filled tears. Thank you Jesus for Your perfect plan.

  2. What a joyous story and it just keeps coming….can imagine…Missy's heart….is about to burst with joy. Love, Pat W.

  3. ah, reading this brings back memories of our own 'gotcha' day with Georgia... only it was me and my mom there and her daddy at home with big brother Thomas. Ours did not go nearly as smoothly, but for all that it was perfect for us.

    Best wishes to your lovely family. (I'm one of Amy Kilpatrick Perry's friends)

  4. Tears of joy. Praying for patience for you as you wait, Mama.

  5. Tears of joy. Praying for you as you wait, Mama.

  6. LOVE seeing those sweet faces :) Praying for YOU and your family. Love to all.

  7. in tears, my friend ... so happy for y'all -- and live your perspective. What a special bond these two will have with their earthly father, and what a beautiful picture of the love of their heavenly Father that y'all will bee teaching then about!

  8. Such a beautiful Gotcha day!

  9. What a beautiful Gotcha day! Sitting here with tears of joy...God had Bless you. Your new daughter is just beautiful, very stunning little girl. Congrats!! And God Bless

  10. Cried through the entire post -- happy tears. Happy day!!! Safe travels home.

  11. Congratulations!! I just found your blog through another website and realized we live in the same area, we are in process to adopt a little boy from China. Praying for your family!

  12. Congratulations!! I found your blog through another website and realized we live in the same area. We are in the process of adopting a little boy from China. Praying for your family!

  13. Any updates? Everything go well with Aaron?

  14. Any update? Things go well with Aaron?

  15. I just hope that everything is going well...

  16. What an awesome testimony! Adoption is God's plan, that is for sure. We are adopting a girl from China and looking to travel in the next two months. We eagerly await our daughter's Gotcha Day. Thank you for sharing your family with us!

  17. What an awesome testimony! Adoption is God's plan, that much is certain. We are adopting our daughter from China and are looking to travel in the next two months. We eagerly await our daughter's Gotcha Day. Thank you for sharing your family with ours! We check your blog often and look forward to Aaron's Gotcha Day!!

  18. I am the mom of "li'l Karissa," now serving with your friend of the same name. I'm also an adoptive mom. Your story gave me chills. So much blessing enfolded here. Thank you for sharing and MANY blessings to these children He has chosen so specifically for you.


Thank you for your words and support.