Forever Changed…Our Orphanage Visit

**First of all…brace yourself, grab a tissue and a cup of coffee….

When your day starts like this, it’s hard to imagine it getting any better.


Wesley is attaching to us all and making it through.  He finds such comfort in spending time with Elyana, and after today we think we understand why.

Every once in a while you are gifted a day that changes your life forever.  That rocks your soul to its deepest.  I just pray this stays with our family forever and the Holy Spirit keeps its memory embedded deep in our minds and hearts.

A few weeks before we traveled we followed another adoptive Moms journey (Kim Small) on facebook as she received her son, Sawyer who was from the same orphanage as Wesley.  I had been praying about going to Baoji but had no idea how to go, since when we got Elyana we heard they didn’t usually grant permission.  So I gave my desires to God….

Then, as we followed Kim’s journey she mentioned they went to Baoiji to visit.  I decided to message her and see how she was able to go.  She said to ask our family coordinator and she would request it for us. I just felt this strong Holy Spirit pull that we were supposed to go…that it would somehow change us all.  We contacted our family coordinator and were told that the officials would have to grant us approval.

A few days later we were given our answer…yes, we would go.

After all the tears on Gotcha Day,  John and I prayed hard for Wesley and about the trip back to see his foster Mother and Father.  We were told that once you commit to go it is taken as an extremely important and official visit by Baoji.  They are honored for us to be there, and if we were to cancel at the last minute it would show disrespect. I kept remembering the feeling that God had given me…that we were supposed to go.. so we prayed away all the fears and nervousness we were feeling for Wesley in the morning.  After a time of prayer and worship I felt the Holy Spirit blanket down over us and was given this scripture for our boys…..I didn’t remember ever reading this, but it was only a few verses down from the scriptures we were given on Gotcha Day in Isaiah 61.

“For your shame (Wesley and Hudson) ye shall have double; and for (Wesley and Hudson’s) confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their (home) land they (Wesley and Hudson) shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.”  

This was a reason to rejoice and feel at rest….and only minutes after receiving this we were headed to the orphanage in Baoji.  A 2 1/2 hour drive from our hotel.  Our family was the only one with a child from Baoji this time, so we were the only ones who made the trip with our guide Sherry.


The kids did wonderful on the trip.  Wesley got pretty tired and threw a few quiet fits over not being able to have my camera or other little things.  But I think he was hungry and antsy after riding for so long.  Elyana conked out and took a nice rest.  I was so glad.

The older kids also got the wonderful opportunity to stop and use an authentic “right in the heart of China” toilet. Lol.  I’ll spare the details Ryan gave me.

As we got closer to Baoji I just prayed and began to get so excited and emotional.


We would be seeing in person the gate of the orphanage where Elyana was abandoned when she was only 7 days old and the only home Wesley has ever known.

And then we were there.  John caught first glimpse and said “we are here!” Sherry, our guide, told Wesley that we were going to visit his friends and say goodbye to them, then he would come back with Mama and Baba.

They had just moved into this new orphanage building in September, so before this he would’ve been in the old orphanage building next door that is now open to the Chinese people who have children with special needs who need physical therapy.  Wesley lived in a simulated family within the orphanage. His foster Mother, Father, 2 brothers, and  sister lived in an apartment within the orphanage building.

The older builing where Elyana and Wesley both lived sits in front of the new building Wesely lived in for a little over 2 months.

After driving  through the security gate we stepped out of the van and spotted some of the children outside playing soccer.

The children all excitedly said “Chu Ai Jun!” They were so happy to see him back at the orphanage. The little boy posing in the black was one of his best friends and his foster brother.  After the children had their photo taken they all wanted to see it on my camera.

I already felt my heart breaking and could barely hold it together after the head of adoptions came out to greet us and and quickly took his hand pointing up to the window where his foster Mother and Father were waving to him.


As we walked he held up 4 to her and told her what floor they were on.  (Which she knew) But once on the elevator, he quickly touched the 4 and took ownership of the place.  He was back in the only home he ever knew.

The tears were all over the place as they spotted each other.  His foster Mother started to cry and so did I.  They REALLY, REALLY loved him, and we loved them immediately for all they had given of themselves for him.


At first Wesley looked like he could cry, probably because his foster Mother and I were both in tears.  But he didn’t.  After saying hello he quickly came to grab my hand and took me to his room that he had shared with his foster brothers…and his little bed he slept in every night.  He was so proud to show me where he lived.  I can’t imagine ever missing this moment.

Above his bed hung a photo of him on his birthday.  It was a clean and beautiful place with three bedrooms: one for the parents, one for the boys, and one for the girls.  A living area and kitchen.

We asked all the questions we could think of and received an email address where we were asked to send new photos of him once he is home with us.  They told us when he was placed in their foster family he was very sickly and had fevers all the time.  He was small and malnourished.  His foster father told us that they took the children outside often and to the park to do exercises.  (This if very important to the Chinese people) He showed us how strong Wesley is now because of the exercises they did together.

I’m not sure how we can even explain how this makes all of us feel.  To know he was well cared for until he could have a permanent family.  One of the first things his foster mother told us was that a foster family is good but cannot be permanent. She said he needs a family and an opportunity to live a good life.  I hugged her multiple times, cying each time.  We took photos and they shared their fruit with us.


Wesley seemed very happy to get fruit and pass it out to everyone.  He peeled Elyana’s banana for her and gave her a bite before handing it over to her.

We understand now why he is so tender and sweet with Elyana.  He had a sister for over 4 years.  She had just been adopted only a month ago to a family in PA. Yes, we will be tracking them down.  John said he already found their blog.

This was the foster family’s photo that hung in the living room.  Two of the boys are left, still needing families. Please, please pray for them.   I know they must feel such a void and sadness after their foster sister and now Wesley are gone. What absolutely blew us away……

was that the little girl in Wesley’s foster family was also in Elyana’s 2nd birthday photo sitting right beside her!!!! We are blown away again.  So Elyana would’ve been around her, Wesley and all the children at some point.  Isn’t God amazing.  He doesn’t just write a boring story…He weaves it together with such care and purpose… because He truly loves us all. He desires every child to find a family.  For within a family it’s HIS love that should shine the brightest.  Please pray for his foster mother and father.


The second part of our visit was also VERY emotional.  This whole day truly rocked our world….

So, Elyana was scooped up and very quickly rushed off excitedly to see the nannies who had cared for her. I seriously had to speed walk to keep up. These ladies must exercise…they are full of energy!   The all flipped out and kept saying her name in Chinese, while remarking on how big and beautiful she is.  They looked at her legs and braces and thanked us for giving her a family….

I cried tears again as John and I thanked them for caring for her. (our guide interpreted for us)


We went to another room after the first to find the nanny who primarily cared for Elyana.  We have photos at home of Elyana when she was a baby with her.  This was again so emotional.  I hugged her also.  Thanked her for caring for her.  She was so happy to see her.

One of most heart wrenching parts of the day was right here in this room.  All the little children saw us and came rushing over.  A little girl in yellow came straight over to Elyana and quickly planted a kiss on her cheek.

The hardest part was when a little boy saw I had a tangerine in my hand that Wesley had given me in the foster home.  I really should not have had it out….but the children spotted it and went crazy grabbing for it.  I quickly peeled it, juice was everywhere, little hands everywhere.  Fruit is like candy to them…

My heart was breaking again.  All of ours were.  Jenna had such a hard time after we left…crying in the bus over this moment.


Each child was so precious.  We tried to touch their faces and look them in the eyes.  If anyone wonders why Jesus allowed the little children to come to him…’s why….



These children are beautiful, but broken and starving for attention.  If anyone wonders why we do what we do ….why China? Here’s why.  It’s not that one place in the world is more important than another….it’s that these children are found everywhere…in the U.S. and all around the world, and Jesus needs His hands and feet reaching out and walking into hard places.  These are children who need someone to say in His name..”Let the little children come unto me.”  God’s love has no boundaries and cannot be held or confined in any way, maybe this is why the last command Jesus gave was to “GO, into all the world.”  Go however, wherever we are personally called.  Into our home, neighborhood,  or into all the world.  And he uses any vessel, even ones once broken…to do His work.  Our family is certainly NOT perfect by any means, but thankfully He doesn’t require perfection in order to share His heart burden with us for “the least of these.”


It was an emotional goodbye and as we were walking out another nanny spotted Elyana.  Our guide Sherry said she was not expecting this: for Elyana to be so popular.  lol.  We just laughed and rejoice in our hearts that God has seen fit to gift Elyana and Wesley to us…our Baoji babes.


So much happened here today it was hard to process it all.  We just kept looking at each other like…did God really bless us again? We felt we were gifted a day that changed us all. A day of closure for our children and a day of God opening the doors of our hearts to see the raw needs of the children still waiting.



Before leaving we walked to the old orphanage where Elyana and Wesley both lived.  Wesley would’ve lived most of his life here, and the same with Elyana.

Our last stop would be another heart wrenching one…it was the place Elyana was found….outside the gate of the orphanage.


But somehow the picture below says it all for Wesley and Elyana…that God’s promises…His Word has been fulfilled and has come to life in their hearts.  They were chosen and redeemed.


How can one day change so many things in a person’s heart.  How can one Mighty God, so perfect, love those who are so weak and imperfect?  We serve a God who gives, pours in, and heals the broken places of all our lives.  I cannot imagine living one day without His love in my heart.


And God is still in the works of healing each of us…Wesley would not let me put him down to take a picture by himself.  He is still hurting and needs so much healing.  But as we left God flooded my heart with the knowing…that today something changed for him.  Wesley said goodbye, and we said goodbye with him.


As we left in the van Ryan begins telling me what was in his heart.  That he can’t imagine us not coming today.  That what happened today was amazing to him.  Jenna cried, Ryan talked…then wrote this on his window.. EPIC Family Bro.


I’ve been praying little mom prayers for a while…things all of us moms pray, things like…please help my children to get along better, to truly love one another in the day in and day out, for us to have the right perspective, for open eyes and hearts, and for joy to flood our home. Somehow I feel that as we step out and seek out the lost, hurting and abandoned….those prayers are answered. We find our answers when we step out into the uncomfortable together.  This is why I don’t ever want to forget today.  I don’t want to accept the American mindset of self, constant distractions,  or materialism.  There is not true fulfillment or joy there for me or my family.  So, please pray we continue to be obedient even when the days are long and we are fighting through the hard stuff.  And I’ll pray for you, that as you are fighting you’ll remember that one day you’ll see what God has woven together and witness his promises coming to life. He is a faithful God. “Faithful is He who has called us (all), and faithful is He that will perform it.” 


6 thoughts on “Forever Changed…Our Orphanage Visit

  1. Oh man! This gives me chills…what a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness to us all! What a true treasure to meet Wesley’s foster family. I wish I had known you were going..I would’ve had you look out for my Annie…I am sure you were in her room! Thank you for sharing all the details of this hard day..for those of us that are waiting! It is such a gift to see how well loved our children are at Baoji! Blessings and prayers for you all! Love you!

    1. Hi Bridgett!!! My head was spinning in a hundred directions getting ready to go and while there I didn’t even realize she was in there until I was looking at photos that night. I think I caught the edge of her in a photo. I am going to look through my photo’s again and John’s. I would’ve loved to just touch her little face for you and tell her that her Mama and Baba were coming soon!!!! I just want to cry now thinking I missed her!!

  2. My heart just broke looking at Eylana and Wesley together . For a brief moment I felt their pain of the earlier parts of their little lives. I cried buckets !!! I am so thankful for The Holy Spirit that has lead and guided you and John through this journey ! Thank you for your obedience!! Because of that all of our lives will forever be changed . We will have these beautiful children apart of our lives !! I just love you so much !!!

    1. Aunt Chris thank you for supporting and loving us throughout Elyana’s, now Wesley and Hudson’s journey. You have loved and cared for us always. I can’t imagine ever going through without you. I’m so grateful for your prayers and for being willing to feel this with us!!

    1. It was one of our favorites too….he is so sweet with her. It melts my heart! We love you Tracy, and have been thinking of you the whole time while here.

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