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When we told the children we were going to be returning to China this summer for the adoption of their new sister our son Ezra (adopted from China in June 2015) asked if he could go back to his hometown to see his friends. We were a bit hesitant as he’s come so far in attachment and bonding, fearing that going back could hurt all the progress made. However, as he continued to ask and we continued to pray, we decided that if he needs this then we will do it. Knowing full well it could take us a few steps backwards, the memories would be for a lifetime. Little did we know this trip would be one of closure and healing for him.

When we adopted him last year we were scheduled to make the 3 hour drive to his orphanage and see what his life was like the past 9 years. However, when it came down to it the adoption transition was just too much and he was grieving the loss of his friends deeply. So we never made the trip. It was what was needed at the time but it also left a gaping hole in his heart to show us where he came from.

Today he proudly showed us his school, his bed, his bathing area, his craft room, and learning room. His precious friends surrounded him with hugs and smiles. Our hearts broke for the children who so desperately performed for us, vying for attention. Praying each of them find their forever families soon.

The orphanage staff prepared a delicious family style meal for all of us. The Director shared with us that our son’s personality has always been very withdrawn and quiet, but was always the first one to help the other children that had more severe physical needs. We’ve seen the compassionate heart but he is NOT a quiet boy! He is one of the loudest and funniest kids I know. Love that his personality is coming out now that he is secure!

We also went to visit his finding place where as an infant he was found with a note attached. It was a moment of full redemption… on the ashes of brokenness he now stands as a cherished son. God redeems!

Brooke - So awesome! I’m glad you got to do this! It will probably excel you more than you can know! God bless you all♥️ share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame


Oh how my heart can feel the spring that God has crafted in our souls. This past year has brought blessing upon blessing in our lives. So much beauty and rest and peace. I feel deep down in my bones that we have just scratched the surface. When our daughter is finally in our arms and tucked in her bed we know that our daily rhythms will change. Life will look a bit different and we will all shuffle around to find our place. But she has been placed in to our family for such a time as this. We can see God already bringing glory to Himself through her life. So much hope and joy and faithfulness.
Adoption has changed us. It has changed our children. They are learning what it means to give of themselves and sacrifice everything. Hearts that were turned inward are being turned outward. It’s not about more toys. It’s about giving more. My eyes well up with tears as I see how God is fashioning a deep reckoning in their souls for the marginalized. May their fervor be unstoppable. World changers they are.
Thank you Jesus for rocking our world. Challenging us to live beyond our white picket fence. Letting go of the American dream. Move our hearts to what moves Yours. share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame

{TAG the bag}


 Well, we are getting close!! This will be our biggest fundraiser before we travel to bring Esther home. We have had people ask how they can help us and we thought this would be a fun way to celebrate the community it takes to bring home our girl!

We are adopting through Great Wall China Adoption agency and the approximate cost of the adoption is $37,000.  Apparently the high cost is the one thing that holds most families back from pursuing adoption.  However, we are convinced that “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”  I Thes. 5:24  We know that many want to give generously and be a part of adoption in this way. While we have started a second job, made jewelry to make extra money, and have even sold items in our home – we are FAR from the needed $37,000 to bring our daughter home.

We are inviting you to be a part of Esther’s journey home. She has waited 10 years for her family. 10 years to be a daughter. 10 years to have a forever mother. Would you come along side and financially support what God is doing in her life?


So this is what the {TAG THE BAG} is all about…


Esther has a suitcase (a purple one, since she likes that color) and we will be taking that when we get her. On the way there we will stuff it full of donations for her foster home. On the way home it will be filled with her belongings and sweet memories from her birth country. We hope the bag will be filled with names like this one!

YOU can donate any amount to this fundraiser and we will TAG THE BAG with your name. We will take a Sharpie and literally WRITE on her suitcase your name. Donations can be through our YouCaring site, mailed directly to us, or for a tax deductible option you can give directly to our agency through PureCharity:ForSuchATime.

#bringestherhome share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame

Preparing a way

So life has happened and this blog has been sitting on the back burner. I’ve slapped my wrist and gave myself a talking to… it won’t happen again folks!

The past six months have been FULL of transition for our family. We moved about 2 hours south, hubby is working two full time jobs and one of those is leading a church, attachment with our newest son who came to our family in June, homeschooling five children under the age of 9, starting the adoption process again, and to top it off, ending my photography career and beginning a new small business journey. So I’ve been a little preoccupied… so much to catch up on!

So we have TRIPLETS now. Our oldest biological son turns 10 tomorrow. Our oldest adopted son turned 10 three weeks ago. And our newest soon-to-be adopted daughter turned 10 two months ago. THREE TEN YEAR OLDS. In six years that will be THREE sixteen year olds. Oye.

We are celebrating that our adoption paperwork is on it’s way to China! That is only of God because we had a nightmare of a time with our homestudy agency who refused to update our homestudy until we had been home for 6 months with our son. Somehow God pulled some strings and it was completed a week earlier than expected and so our huge stack of papers is heading to China to begin translation. Prayers for a quick process! All this means we should be traveling the last week of May or first of June to adopt Esther! The kids are over the moon in love with her. They have all been taking weekly Mandarin classes in preparation of going to China. And can I tell you how impressed I am with their ability to pick up the language? It’s like it’s no big deal! I told them I would pay them extra money if they could be our guides and translators for the trip:)


Esther’s foster mother took some photos of when she received her birthday present from us. Look at her smile! She lights up my day! Cannot wait to celebrate her birthday together this year!

And then I think she may have given Daddy a heart attack with this photo…. look how grown up she looks! She already has him wrapped around her finger.

Our oldest daughter is preparing a beautiful room for them both to share. The sweetest thing is though that she refuses to sleep in her room until her sister is here. She sleeps on the couch every single night because the bedroom is not ready until Esther is home. share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame

in the news!!!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE sharing the adoption journey our family has been on through our son Duo and now towards our daughter Esther. Orphan hosting was a beautiful part of our story as we never would have met our son with out it. China Daily News wrote an article on orphan hosting and we were blessed to share how we went from hosting family to adopting family. So exciting that many more orphans will be united with families as orphan hosting gains interest. Enjoy the read!
China Daily News


“A summer stay with American families is ending for 30 Chinese orphans with special needs. All will return to China, but about two-thirds of them have found parents who want to adopt them, May Zhou reports in Houston.

In Garland, Texas, Jack, a 10-year-old Chinese orphan boy with medical issues, blew out his birthday candles on the last Saturday of July, surrounded by his American hosting family, the Johnsons, including their four sons, 16 to 22 years old.

Jack is one of 30 Chinese orphans with special needs who arrived in the United States in mid-July for a four- to five-week stay with families across the nation. Of the 30, 17 stayed with families in Texas. All the children will return to China at the end of their stay, but about two-thirds have found parents who want to adopt them. The remaining children are still looking for a home, but “it changes daily,” said Shannon Phillips, director of the orphan hosting program Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA).

The Austin, Texas-based agency has been running China hosting programs in the summer and winter for three years. Phillips said the program, designed for older Chinese children ages 5-12 with special needs, has improved their odds to find a permanent home in the US. In addition to hosting children from China, GWCA has similar programs for older children from the Philippines, Ukraine and Latvia, with or without special needs. Phillips encourages anyone who wants to find out more about these children to contact her at

“So far we have a success rate of 75-80 percent. With each program we learn more on how to excite people about hosting and how to find the right family for each child,” said Phillips.

Jack’s hosts are Jill and Thomas Johnson, an elementary school teacher and a software engineer, respectively. The program helped to prompt them into adopting.

“We have for a very long time wanted to adopt an orphan because we have a heart for them. Their parents for whatever reason were unable to take care of them. However, we have the opportunity and means to do so, and we want to help,” said Jill Johnson.

‘Your son’

In February, the Johnsons read about the GWCA program on its website. “When I saw Jack’s profile, I just knew this is the boy we could bring into our home,” she said. “He has such sparkling eyes. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about him that says to me: ‘This is your son’. Something in my heart tells me that it’s him.”

“At one time we thought we would adopt a girl, but then we realized that we know boys well. It’d be great for him to have big brothers. The boys are getting along very well. They go swimming, play basketball and just have a blast,” she said.

For Jack’s birthday, Jill Johnson went online to search for what a birthday celebration should involve for a child from China. She ended up with a traditional American birthday party – cake, balloons, ice cream and gifts.

Even though Jack is not yet officially a member of the Johnson family, she has started to plan his future: “I want to keep his cultural heritage alive, it is part of who he is. We will get him in class to continue to learn Mandarin. Chinese is a world language that people need to learn anyway. We will figure out where he is heading, what his passion is, where he is going to excel most and encourage him in that.”

Besides trips to doctors for checkups, Jack’s summer stay has involved a great deal of swimming in a pool and trips to museums and parks. Jill Johnson also plans to take him to her school to see what an American school looks like. “We will also take him on the trip to the University of Alabama when my son goes back to college,” she said.

Michelle and Scott Morell, a part-time physical therapist and a leadership trainer in Allen, Texas, are seeking an American family to adopt Jay, a 13-year-old boy with a mild liver condition who is otherwise healthy.

The Morells have five adopted children, 7 to 14 years old – three from the US and two from China. They are also adopting another Chinese boy, a 3-year-old who has some colon malformation, and expect to bring him home from China in December.

“Last summer we thought that our family is done, but how can we help more? We found out about this hosting program, we figured we could help other kids to find a family. That would be something good that we have done in this world,” said Michelle Morell.

Jay is not the first Chinese orphan the Morells have hosted. Last summer they had 6-year-old Teddy, who has cerebral palsy.

“We had great experience hosting Teddy. He is smart, sweet and precious. I created a private advocacy page for him. I had a friend take professional photos of him and posted those. I talked to a lot of people. GWCA also helped to get his story out,” said Michelle Morell.

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Special adoption

Jennifer and Brad Fredrick in League City, Texas, vice-president at a credit union and an astronaut trainer for the International Space Station at the NASA Johnson Space Center, respectively, saw Teddy’s story a week before he was to return to China and fell in love with him.

“I have followed GWCA for a couple of years, but haven’t chosen any child. Then I was sent Teddy’s advocacy page and photos of him at the zoo, going shopping at grocery store, playing at a lake and interacting with Michelle’s children. I showed his photos to my husband, and said this is the right kid for us,” recalled Jennifer Fredrick.

The Fredricks, who have a 6-year-old biological son, moved quickly to begin the adoption process and got everything done in 8 1/2 months. “My son Connor wanted to have a brother really bad and was really excited, he went to China with us to bring Teddy home,” said Jennifer Fredrick.

Cerebral palsy has weakened Teddy’s left side, and he can’t walk correctly. “It will take a while to improve. He is now receiving physical therapy every week. We got him new braces for his leg and are looking into surgery to correct his condition,” she said.

Teddy has been a member of the family for a couple of months now. “He is exceptional, he didn’t have any transitional issues and took to my husband and me immediately. He gets along with my son Connor very well. Unlike most other adopted kids who usually grieve for the life they lost and go through a tough transitional period, Teddy just embraces the change and loves it. A trip to the grocery store is fun for him. I hated grocery shopping but he made me want to go,” Jennifer Frederick said.

According to her, Teddy was enrolled in Sunshine Kids Academy learning English three days a week at the orphanage and is very good at math and English. “He can communicate with us fairly easily. In the first month after his arrival he was learning four to five new words a day, three weeks later he was thinking in complete English sentences. He’s really smart and very intelligent,” she said.

“He is up for any challenge. He is taking swimming lessons, about to start karate lessons, and is excited to start second grade in late August. He lets nothing hold him back. People have commented on how he always has a smile on his face.”

The Fredricks said that if it were not for the hosting program, they would not have adopted Teddy.

“I knew adoption is something I want to do. I knew all about the process, and I have been reviewing it for years, and China has always been on top of our list.

“However, it is intimidating to take on a child you know nothing about. On his profile, there was one whole page regarding his medical condition.

“If it had not been for Michelle’s hosting and introducing, we would not have adopted Teddy. Speaking to her to find out about his personality really did it for us,” said Jennifer Fredrick.

Encouraged by the success of advocating adoption for Teddy, Michelle Morell changed Teddy’s advocacy page to “Meet Teddy’s Friend” for Jay.

“Jay knows little English, only a few words. He had a transitional time, but is doing pretty good now,” said Michelle Morell. According to her, Jay is a very responsible child. She said he was put in charge of watching over a blind girl and her luggage on the same hosting program during the trip, and he did an admirable job and is good with younger children.

On the advocacy page, Michelle Morell updates Jay’s interests and activities. “Today he put together several different circuits and one was quite impressive. He had taken apart a remote control car (with permission) and made a circuit that used the car to power a flashlight bulb. I love science and love the ingenuity of his creation. And his faced just BEAMED when I told him how proud I was of him and how smart he is; maybe he will be an engineer,” read a posting on July 30.

With five adopted children and a sixth on the way, Morell admits that just doing hosting is a big change. However, “there are not many chances you can truly change a person’s life. In that regard, it is a rewarding experience,” she said.

Sometimes hosting can change a family’s mind about not adopting. Kyle Raney, a pastor, and his wife Cassandra, a fulltime mother, live in Portland, Oregon. They hosted Duo, now 9, last summer.

The Raneys didn’t have money for adoption, but decided to host to help a child. However, “within the first two days, when we watched him playing with our kids in the yard, we felt such peace in our heart and realized that he is supposed to be our son. We could not let him go, we could not imagine our family without him,” said Cassandra Raney, whose five biological children with her husband were 2 to 7 years old at the time. They immediately started the adoption process.

When the hosting was over, the Raneys sent Duo back to China with a photo album recording his time in the US. During the adoption process, they did video chat with Duo, sent him care packages of candies and toys a few times. “I was told he looked at the album almost every day at the orphanage, and he was telling everyone that his family in America was coming to get him,” said Cassandra Raney.

The hosting helped them to get support to financially pay to adopt Duo: “We introduced Duo to our families and friends. They all fell in love with him and within seven months the adoption was all paid for by friends and families,” she said.

Duo returned in June. He has some heart issues and dwarfism. “He is doing a lot of testing and will probably need surgery soon. It’s a little scary, and we don’t know what the future will hold. We just know that he’s our child, and we will do whatever we can to fight for him,” said Cassandra Raney.

The Raneys said they would never have adopted an older child if it were not for the hosting program. “It gave us the opportunity to realize that it’s wonderful to adopt an older kid, it takes away the fear, and it puts a name to the face,” said Cassandra Raney, adding that the experience with Duo has led them to seek the adoption of a 10-year-old Chinese girl, who has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus and is not part of the hosting program.

The Raneys hope that another Chinese child will also be good for Duo, who has had some bumps adjusting to his new environment. “We will take Duo with us to bring this girl home when the process is completed. We will also use this opportunity to visit his old friends at the orphanage,” said Cassandra Raney.

Jeannie Kvanig-Robertson, a school teacher hosting an 11-year-old girl with a mild liver condition in Burton, Texas, also doesn’t have the money to adopt, so instead she chose hosting. However, she has fallen in love with the girl she calls Shaynie.

“I watched a video and hers was the first I saw. I thought she’s just precious and chose her. I have always had a heart for kids who don’t have a family,” said Kvanig-Robertson, a single mother with two adult children and a teenager daughter.

Besides doctor checkups, she has taken Shaynie to meet her friends, to a swimming pool and to horseback riding. She said she wants to adopt Shaynie but can’t afford the associated adoption fee. “I wish the fee was more affordable,” said Kvanig-Robertson, who indicated that she will seek a home for Shaynie if she can’t find a way to adopt her.”

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for such a time as this.

As we walked the journey to bring home our son from China this past year we began to feel that God had another child waiting for us. In February we started praying whether we should adopt two children at once or if we should do a recurrent adoption after we bring Duo home. We felt very clearly that God had a second child waiting for us in China but that we were to focus our heart on bringing our son home first. The adoption of our son was a beautiful and miraculous journey. However, we couldn’t shake the feeling that another child was in China waiting for us. When we arrived home from China we decided that we would pray through children on the waiting child list and see what God would do. We kept our hearts open to older and younger children, boys and girls, and all special needs. Within a couple weeks we began to feel drawn to older girls on the waiting list, continuing to pray and wait, we decided that we would name our future daughter Esther. Two days later we saw a photo of a nine year old girl on an waiting child advocacy site. The name her foster family had given her… Esther. We felt like the whole world stopped when we saw her photo. We looked over her file and immediately knew she was our daughter. After much prayer we decided to move forward with her adoption, however, her adoption file suddenly went missing and there was nothing we could do. Our agency could not find her file nor could dozens of other agencies we spoke with. That meant either another family started the process to adopt her or she was no longer adoptable for some reason. A week went by and we prayed like crazy, feeling firm conviction that she was meant to be our daughter. Adoption advocates and families prayed and networked to help us find her file. One morning we received a phone call from another adoption agency saying that her adoption file was just listed back on the ‘shared list’ and that she was adoptable! After crying tears of joy and praising God for His faithfulness we immediately had our adoption agency lock her file for us and started the paperwork to adopt her.


We are reusing our dossier paperwork which means this adoption can be completed quicker. She very much wants to be adopted and have many siblings. Her foster mother told her “Esther, Jesus has finally brought your family to you!” Glory to God. She has been waiting a very long time for a family, too long. We are moving quickly to bring her home and cannot wait for this precious soul to become our daughter.

We so appreciate all your support and encouragement as we step out in faith to bring this child from orphan to daughter. She is valued and created for such a time as this. God has mighty plans for her life and we are excited to be her biggest fans.

Esther has asked for a photo album of our family because she wants to learn every one’s names and she wants to see photos of her new room. She said that Evy is going to be her best friend and they can do arts & crafts together. Sweet Esther is so ready to come home. She turns 10 years old this fall and has waited her entire life for a family. She is very excited to come to America and finally get the medical treatment she so desperately needs. She has hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and severe vision impairment due to the fluid on her brain. She so much wants to be able to see and begin to read but cannot until she gets the medical treatment that is available here in the United States. 

We are beginning the fundraising process to bring Esther home and would be honored if you would be a part of her story. We are working so hard to provide for the adoption but will need much help in the expenses and in prayer. We ask for prayer regarding spiritual warfare because it has been heavy this past two months and we know that satan is fighting this adoption. Please pray for Esther’s sweet heart as she waits… a day can feel like a year to a child. Please pray for our fundraising as we begin the journey of watching God provide for His calling. Pray for our children as we are adjusting to the new normal of life with a new family member, a new church, and a new city – all of which are AMAZING – but there is always adjustment. If you want to be a part of Esther’s journey home you may give here:
If you want to give with a tax-deductible gift please message me and I’ll give you the link. Thank you all for being our prayer warriors!!! share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame

the power of good

Truly there are no words. I sit and cry tears of gratefulness and thanksgiving as I reflect on all the graciousness poured over us this past year. A year ago today Duo was boarding a plane in Beijing, China to come visit America for a summer hosting program. He was so brave yet the fear of the unknown was visible in his sweet eight year old eyes.

I can’t imagine what it would be like as a young child to leave everything you’ve ever known, ride in a car for the first time, fly in an airplane for the first time, live with a family you don’t know, eat foods that are not familiar, use a toilet that looks very different that yours, and be in a world where you don’t understand a world anyone is saying. Yet he came. That is bravery.

Our world changed on the afternoon of July 2nd, 2014. What we hoped would be a fun summer experience where our family would be able to love and advocate for an orphan we quickly realized God had bigger plans. We knew Duo was meant for our family and we were meant for him. We had HUGE hurdles to pass in order to adopt from China but God moved those mountains and China granted permission for us to adopt him. Last summer I remember telling God, “OK if you truly are in this and will this child to be a part of our family we need you to provide EVERY SINGLE PENNY for this adoption.” I felt God asking me to trust Him and be vulnerable with our need. That this was not about us but it was about what God wanted to do to show His mighty power. So many of our friends and family were invested in Duo’s story and quickly jumped to the front lines and immediately began pouring out their resources and prayers. We worked extra jobs, saved every penny, fundraised like crazy, received three grants, all mounting to EVERY SINGLE PENNY being provided. This story is more than just bringing an orphan home. It’s about the power of community. The beauty of the Christian faith coming together to fight against injustice. It’s about walking arm in arm to show the world that GOOD has won.

Through prayers, encouragement, finances, meals, or babysitting our kids – you all have been our support. Thank you for all you have done for Duo, for us, for our children. What a powerful legacy you have given to a nine year old boy who had hundreds, if not thousands, of people fighting for him.

Words can’t express our gratitude. Forever grateful. We are throwing these treasures right back to the rightful King who gave them to us in the first place. We will love Duo well and point him to Jesus in all things. I know God has BIG plans for his life and I am excited to see how He uses Duo for His good.

Thank you from all of us. share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame

6547 miles to home

What an incredible week we have had in the city of Guangzhou, however, we are ready to get home! Suitcases are packed. Ready for to take a train to Hong Kong and then hop a flight to the good ole’ USofA  – 6547 miles to home!!! Spent the last morning in Guangzhou sleeping in, eating a late breakfast, sneaking some bread from the breakfast buffet to feed the koi fish in the pond, then enjoying a lunch with another adopting family.

A total of six families from our adoption agency traveled together and we so cherish each of them! Incredible that six more children now have families and are sons and daughters. Gives you chills to hear how God moved in mighty ways over the last year to unite these families with their children. We are grateful for how they all took care of Duo and I as well. Our guide, Kelly, was also a precious gift as she took great care of us.
We boarded a train from Guangzhou to get to Hong Kong. My incredibly silly son passed the time by making faces for the camera!
After arriving very late in the evening at our hotel, Regal Airport Hotel, we ate dinner and went to sleep. The next morning we woke up early and boarded the flight to home. We happened to be flying on the same flight as our friends that just adopted a precious 2 year old girl and sat next to them. Made for a fun 12 hour flight! Duo slept a good half of the flight (thank goodness!) and watched movies the rest of the time. He was as happy as can be… lots of food, drinks, and cartoons!
We landed in Seattle – Duo is the newest citizen of the USA!!! That smile tells you how he feels about it!
We had a three hour layover in Seattle as we waited for our flight home to Portland. We walked around, ate more food, and watched all the airplanes on the runway. He was so exhausted from the time difference he slept the entire flight to Portland. We were the very last people off the flight because he wouldn’t wake up! Groggy and dazed Duo arrived home in Portland and I captured his first photo on the famous airport carpet!
The most incredibly talented and kind hearted friend, Colette Hoekstra of Coco Photography, documented Duo’s homecoming. Through the adoption journey Colette provided photo sessions for families and donated all the profits to the adoption. We are forever grateful for her generosity! And we are so blessed by the amazing friends who welcomed Duo’s arrival home! Though he was exhausted he felt very loved, as did we. Thank you to everyone!

It feels like he never left. Like he has been here, a part of our family, forever. He jumped right in his bed, smiling and happy, feeling perfectly at home. We expected to rest in the week after getting home but we’ve done anything but rest. Duo has been ready for every adventure around the corner. He picked out a new bicycle, went to church (even chose to go with his siblings to the kids church), spent a day at the local aquarium, and has been having a blast playing with his brothers/sisters. We’ve been working on phonics so he can start reading. I was shocked when he spelled out mom, dad, Duo, Evy, Noah, Jude, Piper, love, and fun. He knows all the ABC’s and can count in english. He communicates his needs in English very well. This morning he said “I want noodles and two egss please.” He is learning hundreds of new words each day. So proud of him!

Sheri - This is the most touching blog post I have ever seen. Duo is incredibly lucky to have been united with your family. I wish you all the best. share.on.facebook tweet.this 101,109,97,105,108,46,109,101em.liame