I’ll never forget the day we got Chu Ai Jun’s referral information. John and I had been praying over this little boy on the waiting children list and asked to review his file. This was the photo we saw on the waiting children site.
We knew nothing about him other than his age and a very vague special need description. As the email came through from our family coordinator with his story….I remember sliding from a standing position down a wall to sit on the floor in a hallway as tears streamed down my cheeks.
(these are the youngest photos we have of Wesley Ai Jun) Jenna says she doesn’t like these at all. He definitely looks like he needs a Mom to pick him up and kiss his cheeks.
With blurry vision we read about his abandonment at only 5 months old at the crossing of two villages in the city of Baoji. Our hearts about jumped out of our skin when we realized he was living at the orphanage in Baoji in the province of Shaanxi. The same place Elyana lived for 2 years. We knew this was no accident, only one of many confirmations given that this little boy was ours.
As we took steps forward to adopt this little guy we had so many questions. Why did such a sweet little boy get overlooked for 5 years. Why was he still waiting along with so many other beautiful boys?
One of the wonderful things about adopting a child from Baoji, is knowing the kind of excellent care the children receive at their orphanage while waiting for a forever family, and being privileged to have contact with a very special lady named Kelly Raudenbush. She is an adoptive mom and orphan advocate…and so much more…
She started the Sparrow Fund
http://sparrow-fund.org/ in 2011, to help adoptive families, advocate for orphans, and has an excellent relationship with the orphanage in Baoji.
I was so excited to receive a call from her in those early days of learning about him. She quickly filled me in on all the information she knew: that he was in a kindergarten class, was quiet, extremely short, and that they had taken some beautiful photos of him on their last mission trip there.
We were blown away that we could receive such amazing pieces of our little boys life. With Elyana we got so few pictures and it made the wait so very difficult. But here we were being showered with information, pictures, and even videos.
A few days before speaking with Kelly, I remembered a video I had watched months before that she had made of the beautiful faces she met while on her mission trip in Baoji. That evening I decided to search for the video on her blog to see if I could find our little guy…..but what I found and what our adoption agency and Kelly confirmed during our phone call a few days later, was so hard to swallow. That a family came for him when he was just 3 yrs old, and brought him back. We ached for him, mourning for all he had lost and the rejection he had faced in just 5 short years. Almost immediately though we began to thank God that He had saved this special little guy for us. We know God has a divine plan, and would turn all Satan had intended for evil, into good for Wesley Ai Jun.
This was the video we watched that evening. It’s beautiful and gives a glimpse into the stories of the faces she met on her trip. Many of the children in the video have thankfully been matched with families, while so many are left waiting.
The more we learned about him, the more love swelled in our hearts.
A few weeks later these beautiful photos were sent from the orphanage….
We began to wonder why there were so many photos of him out and about, when we thought most orphans had very limited experiences outside the walls of orphanage. After receiving the wonderful photo below we finally asked our adoption agency and found out he is in a simulated family within the orphanage. He comes back to the apartment with a few other children in the orphanage. It gives them an idea of how to function within a family.
The photo was taken only a few days after we asked to review his file. We were amazed to see what a little feast and celebration he was given on his birthday. At this point we weren’t able to send anything to him on his birthday, so we were grateful to see he was treated so well on his birthday.
I just love his little cheeks blowing out his candles….
A few months later Kelly let us know that another mission team would be visiting Baoji. This time a team including medical professionals would be flying across the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the children there….inlcuding our Wesley. He was personally assessed and we received excllent developmental information, videos of him hopping on one leg, more beautiful photos of him…and a drawing he was asked to make..
Thank you to those who spend their vacation days traveling around the world to bless and minister. We want you to know how much it means to be all the way around the world and see you caring for our children…. Please keep serving…you ARE making a diference in so many ways.
I have looked at this photo (below) countless times…just drinking in every detail of his little face, wondering what it will be like to see him face to face. I just want to kiss his little cheeks and tell him I’m his Mom….and that he has a Dad that adores him too.
He is such a beautiful little boy. We treasure each and every photo and are so thankful for everyone caring for him while we wait. These are some of the most recent photos we received.
After receiving our RA we were emailed these wonderful photos of him, more encouraging developmental information, and his sizes. He is still so small. We put all the kids measurements on our wall and he is about and inch and a half above Elyana. I just know they will be good buddies.
Size clothing 4T (Toddler Large)
Weight: 28.7 lbs
Shoe size: feet are 6 ” long
Chest sz: 21.7”
We loved this little smile. He has changed so much over the past few months.
Just a few weeks ago, on October 9th, Kelly led another mission team of 14 individuals to China. This time she and the team would be leaving their families for 2 weeks to minister at Baoji by leading a first time ayi (nanny) training, also doing an English class for the first time… and serving the children and orphanage workers in MANY other ways. She told us she would try to get photos for the families with children waiting, so we should be getting those soon, but we wanted to share her journey there in Baoji, so that if you are interested on seeing the inside workings of a mission team and orphanage you are able. Day 2 Connections – My Overthinking
Reading her blog has helped us better understand the world Wesley is submersed in and all he has known since 5 months old. Some of the private videos she has shared have been amazing. Not all orphanages are like this, but with individuals like Kelly orphanages all over the world could be impacted…and children’s lives changed.
One questions we had was what would they do with the old orphanage where Elyana lived and Wesley has spend most of his life so far. Well her blog explained that also..Day 4 Where Orphan Care Must Begin – My Overthinking
What a handsome little man.
Wesley is standing (above) in the new orphanage with a place for the children to play. It is a huge facility with many apartments for simulated foster families like his. We are blown away by how amazing this orphanage is, and the amount of care they give. These photos below were taken by a team member on the mission trip.
The orphanage director also seems like a very special man with a heart for ALL the children there. We were emailed a video from Kelly of Wesley at the beginning stages of his adoption back in April… It showed him interacting with Wesley and the other children in such a kind and caring way.
A book was compiled of all the children who have been adopted and are in the process of being adopted fro BAoji. It was presented on their most recent mission trip and her blog post made me cry as she retold how the director covered up each child’s name in the book and guessed which child it was. Out of an 100 page photo book (50 families contributing, he got them ALL right. Talk about being involved in these kids lives. He truly wants each one to find a forever family who can give them individual love and help them find the healing they so desperately needing.
These are the pages of Elyana and Wesley we submitted for the book….
And here is the post that made me cry…of the director receiving the book… Day 4 Every Child Is Our Child – My Overthinking
Wesley should’ve received our care package late last week. We were sent these photos below from the woman in China who runs a business, helping adoptive families send care packages to their waiting children. She is so thoughtful in picking out items and has all the needed connections with the orphanages. She did a wonderful job with both boys packages. We also sent a basket a fruit for him and his foster family and he will hopefully be able to share the suckers with some of the other children there in his class.
We sent an outfit for him, that hopefully fits his tiny little self…some toys, a silk photo album, translated letter and a jump drive that the orphanage can load photos of him on. We hope somehow his little heart begins to grasp that he has a family and that God will comfort his heart as he prepares to leave all he has ever known. It seems he would have some strong attachments to his foster family, so please pray for him during the transitions ahead. We pray against fear, while knowing we will allow him to mourn all he is leaving and has lost so far.
We sent these photos, along with a few others, so that he can begin to become familiar with the faces of his family. And hopefully at our first meeting it will be a little less scary for him. We believe even now God is preparing his heart for us, and ours for his.
This was the letter Wesley would have received.
Dear Chu Ai Jun,
We want you to know that even though you haven’t met us yet, we already love you very much. We have pictures of you and have been getting ready for you to come home. We will be your family forever and take good care of you.
You will have 2 brothers, 2 sisters, and a Mom and Dad.
Your big brother Ryan is 13 years old and will like playing games with you. Your older sister Jenna is 11 years old and is so happy she will have you as her little brother. You will have another older brother who will also be adopted from China. He is from Guizhou and is 8 years old. His name is Jian Qing Jin. Your little sister will be 4 years old soon. She was born in China and was adopted from Baoji, the same place as you. Her name is Elyana Yixuan.
It is very hard to wait until we will finally get to meet you. The orphanage where you live sent us pictures of you and videos of you playing. We love seeing your smile.
We are so excited to meet you and have so much love in our hearts for you already.
Love Your Forever Family,
Mom, Dad, Ryan, Jenna, Qing Jin, and Elyana Sparks
*Thank you for enduring my long and detailed blog post! It’s a way for me to slow down, process our journey and all God has done while saving the pieces of their stories for them to read later. We appreciate you following our journey, praying, and supported us, and will never forget each of you and His love you’ve showered upon our family.
Adoption Process UPDATES:
We expect to receive new photos of Wesley with his care package and from Kelly and the mission team within the next few days. We will be sure and share these with you, along with our next travel information we receive.
We were told our Article 5 will be picked up Nov 3rd. Once the Article 5 has been issued at the Consulate and submitted to the CCCWA, it takes about one to four weeks for the CCCWA to issue our Travel Approval (TA). Once the TA arrives at our adoption agency office, it is thier first priority to call our family and discuss potential travel dates!! We were told this week to start packing! It can take anywhere from one and a half to four weeks for families to travel once they receive the TA.
Our earliest projected dates are Thanksgiving week, and our latest should be early to mid Dec.