His Story – Piper Blayke Roush

an-xi-jia-10-10-16-3img_6502img_6532Timothy and I have been married almost 18 years and have 3 biological children. Our adoption journey began with a single prayer that, once answered, changed our lives forever. This prayer simply asked God to break our hearts for what breaks His and to rise up in us a holy passion.
We adopted our youngest 2 sons from China in December 2013. We then returned to China in June 2016 to adopt our sweet daughter. At that point, we assumed our family was complete. Our house was full and happy with 6 children (ages 14, 11, 6, 5, 4, & 2 year old). We started investigating new ways we could be used in adoption/foster/orphan-care ministries. We volunteer on our church’s adoption/foster care ministry team, I started the process to be trained as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system, and I enjoy my role on the board of a small domestic adoption agency. Then, in December 2016 (while on our agency’s waiting child website), we saw the face of the child who will be our 7th. Piper is 3 months younger than our youngest daughter and has Down syndrome. This adoption has been our biggest faith journey by far. We could probably list 100 things that are scary about our “yes”. So many reasons we could have said no. But, if we are strong and courageous, He promises to never fail or abandon us. And none of our reasons to say no trumped Piper’s right to have a family who adores her and stands by her in this world. So, with mustard seed sized faith and trembling hands, we are headed back to China to adopt our precious baby with the extra chromosome and the special need of forever people who will introduce her to the one who never leaves us when He asks us to be brave. And we’ve stopped telling people we are “done” and/or that our family is “complete”. Piper has taught us that, because of a simple answered prayer, it’s not up to us to decide when He’s done breaking us and molding us and using us. We are indeed broken in the best possible way and He has indeed raised in us a holy passion to defend the defenseless and to walk with these children down the scary, lonely roads that they have been asked to walk.


Meet Finley Harper Roush

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Timothy, Carson, Parker, Emerson, Hayes, Baylor, and I are proud to announce…WE HAVE PRE-APPROVAL FOR OUR BABY GIRL!!!!!!! Just like we’ve come to expect over the past 3 years, she came to us in a completely different way than we had planned…and yet EXACTLY the way He planned all along. Here is our story…

On Sunday evening October 25th, I (Tanna) was scrolling through Facebook while waiting for Timothy and Parker to come home from their day trip out of town. A fellow adoptive mom (affiliated with our adoption agency) had posted a picture of the most beautiful baby ever on a Chinese Adoption Advocacy Facebook page. She is 16 months old and her main special need is one I was totally unfamiliar with (“deformity of all four limbs”). Her second need is a neurological condition that Baylor shares…which hasn’t slowed him down in ANY area. So I IMMEDIATELY…FRANTICALLY…sent our agency an email requesting to review her file. “Reviewing her file” means we get every bit of information they have on the child (instead of just the quick blurb listed on the agency’s website) and that we would be the ONLY family deciding whether or not to proceed with the adoption. If we declined, the file would be passed to the next family “in line”. To give you some background, children are usually matched with families based on the date their medical checklist was filed (which, if you read our earlier blog post, we filled out in June 2014 with girl/albinism-low vision/under 18 months checked). The only reason a child would end up on our agency’s website is if their special need/gender/age didn’t match any waiting families. This website was the way we found both of our boys in 2013. To give you a little MORE background, young girls with more “minor” needs tend to get adopted very quickly when seen on the website (and the only reason this sweet baby ended up there was because she has two special needs, which many families shy away from). By the time I spotted our girl’s picture and information she had been listed for all to see for 48 hours. Timothy came home, and I nonchalantly mentioned the file request, assuring him “there is no way this will be an option for us. We will be at least 50th in line by now”. I made my peace that, if this was a closed door, this baby is not our daughter. Late the next morning, we received a return email saying “here is the file…let me know what you think!”. Shock doesn’t even begin to describe the situation…both in MY heart and head, but also for my sweet husband…who was now at the “you did what? We have what? WHAT?!?” stage. (He very quickly fell totally in love with her and jumped on board the crazy train.)

We immediately got to work…messaging adoptive mama’s living with children with this condition, reaching out to pediatricians, general practitioners, and an orthopedic surgeon/geneticist at the Shriner’s hospital in Greenville. Our main concern was that she would need a lot of surgical care, which we had previously decided that we couldn’t take on considering the extent of Hayes’ needs. But that face…she’s so stinkin’ cute!! Thank goodness we got VERY encouraging news from every doctor who reviewed her information. Her condition is called Ectrodactyly, which is a genetic condition referred to as “split-hand/split-foot malformation” (also called Lobster Claw Deformity…but I’m not loving that term). The condition can sometimes be isolated to the hands and feet, but may also present other symptoms (vision abnormalities, hearing loss, ectodermal dysplasia, kidney abnormalities, or developmental delays – though she does not seem to display any of these findings). The GREAT news is that the orthopedic surgeon said that most children do very well without treatment/surgery. So with that, we decided that this baby girl (and her extra special hands and feet) was ours. We sent a Letter of Intent on October 28th and received pre-approval from China on November 4th.

Ya’ll…doesn’t He write the very best stories?!? Finley currently lives in Baylor’s orphanage…in the very room he spent his first 12 months. We stood in that room…swallowing the lumps in our throats…gazing at the babies still waiting, praying that a Mommy and Daddy would come for each one. Finley’s China Mom was 3 months pregnant with her when we stood on the streets of their home province. We could have even brushed shoulders with her as we walked down the crowded streets. Sweet girl was born 13 days after we filled out our Medical Checklist. I know God was smiling, knowing that our perfect child was about to be born. This precious baby, living half a world away, is now a beloved daughter and will be fought for and prayed for and longed for until we can pull her into our arms…probably around 10 months from now. Still so much to do, so many papers to file, so much money to raise, but we know that this story is in the hands of the one who always writes the very best ones.


Fundraising – Ugh!

Warning – incredibly raw and honest post to follow.

You may wonder why our family has chosen to adopt another child so soon after adopting our boys. We are returning to China to adopt our precious daughter because once you’ve seen the things we’ve seen and know the things we know, you can’t pretend like you haven’t. Children don’t belong in orphanages, and Timothy and I have a passion to see these children in loving families. We have but one life, and we are adamant that we make that one life count. The 153 million orphans in this world are OUR responsibility. The orphan crisis is real, and it affects real children…children like mine and children like yours.

HOWEVER – fundraising is one of my least favorite words in the English language. In fact, it could have very well kept us from adoption all together. I know no one likes asking other people for help (especially financial help), but I totally despise it. I was the kid who couldn’t even ask people to buy Girl Scout cookies (WHO DOESN’T LOVE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES?!?).
I say that to say this…God has used every humble request for adoption-related help to take me leaps and bounds outside pf my comfort zone. He has asked us to TRUST that He will provide financially to get our little girl home without showing us HOW that will happen. He has asked us to walk down this path without showing us further than one step ahead. He has taken us to a place of total surrender (which can sometimes feel like helplessness when we forget who wrote the story). At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if we feel comfortable asking our friends and family to help us get our baby home…asking (begging…pleading…) is what we need to do. We are fighting for our sweet girl and advocating for her and acting as her parents long before we get to hold her in our arms. So you will hear us talk a lot about money over the next year or so because money is what stands between us and a little girl who really needs us. And Mommies and Daddies fight with everything they have to move anything that stands between them and their babies. This adoption will truly take a village, and we are so proud to have some pretty amazing people as a part of ours. If you are led to give, no amount is too small. We will get to $27,000 one dollar at a time, and EVERY penny counts. Thank you in advance for helping get our baby home!

“I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

We have chosen Pure Charity to give our friends and family a place to give tax deductible donations.


Our Journey Back to China – And Princess Makes 6!

Before Timothy and I traveled to China to adopt our boys (in December 2013), we knew that we would go back one day and adopt again. There was no doubt in our minds that we had a daughter waiting for us on the other side of the world. So, about 6 months after returning home as a family of 7, we began discussing what our next adoption would look like. We knew we would be open to girl, under 18 months (at match), and that her special need would need to be more of a “therapy need” than a “surgery need”. We also wanted a need that would be labeled “special focus” so that we could wait for match before starting paperwork if needed. As I mentioned before, a “special focus” label is given to kids who are harder to place because of a severe special need, have multiple special needs, or because they are older/have been waiting longer. LONG story short, we settled on the special need of albinism/low vision. A family who we traveled to China with adopted a little boy with albinism and returned to China a few months later to adopt another (teenage) boy with albinism and I was also able to speak with many moms in my Facebook community who have children with this need. As a side note, people with this condition are often shunned or feared in other countries because they may be considered cursed or possessed (because of lack of pigment, eye color, and nystagmus – in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements). These children are typically very misunderstood at best, horribly mistreated at worst. Timothy and I considered this to be a perfect match for our family. So, on June 9th 2014, we filled out a new Medical Conditions Checklist…letting our agency know that we are returning and “holding our place in line”. Here are the answers to some of the questions we get asked frequently…

1.) How long until match? – When we filed our MCC, our agency estimated 12 months until match. I have kept in constant contact with our Match Department and the wait is now estimated at 24 months (which would be June 2016). Estimated wait times are a really hard thing to figure…the agency has no idea what files they will be given each month (it’s not like picking apples off a tree). And many of the people in line in front of us have MANY needs checked on their list and will be match with children we would not be open to, taking them off the list but not matching them with a child who could be ours. I have total confidence in our agency and trust them completely (even though we may end up waiting longer through them than through other agencies). Why so long? – Families typically wait longer for girls with manageable/moderate special needs. There is a saying in the Chinese adoption world, “boys wait for families, families wait for girls”. You may remember our ENTIRE process for the boys was 12 months long…that is because being a boy with a special need is a special need all its own. China is known as the place to go and adopt girls (because of it’s international adoption program in the 90’s)…most people have no idea that so many boys are even available.

2.) How long to travel after match? – 4/5 months (as long as dossier is already logged into China’s system)…which would mean we would travel about a year from now if we are matched next June.

3.) Why do you say “has albinism” instead “is an albino”? – This is a great question, because most people I talk to have heard the term albino but never albinism. I have spent a lot of time studying this need over the past 16 months (reading books, pouring over the NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) website and Facebook group, etc.). Most people say “our child has albinism” instead of “our child is an albino” because albinism states what a child HAS instead of labeling what a child IS. Just like I would never say “Hayes IS bladder exstrophy” or that my nephew “IS a downs kid” (and if you do say things like that, please, for the love, don’t), our new daughter will be many things…her diagnosis just being one small part of her as a person. So, if you slip up and call her an “albino”, I will lovingly redirect you to the affirming terminology…just as I do when someone asks if H & B are “real” brothers. Nothing to do with the question…everything to do with what all of my kids hear me answer.

4.) Could she be blind? – Albinism never makes a child totally blind, but many people with albinism ARE legally blind. It almost always causes vision impairment to some degree. This will add an extra element to her care in China (visually impaired kids in institutions are at risk for extra developmental delays because one of their senses are compromised). Can she spend time in the sun? – We will be taking extra care at applying constant sunscreen and buying protective clothing, but these kids can play outside (even at the beach!) with the proper precautions.

5.) How much will this adoption cost and how will you pay for it? – We have many new friends who weren’t in our lives when we went through this process with the boys, so I am getting to share some of this info for the first time with some of you. We get a small discount for being a returning family to our agency, but the total will be around $30,000. This includes agency fees, US immigration fees, orphanage fees, and travel. And no, we do not have $30,000 sitting in our bank account…but God knew that when He called us to this adoption. Our family sacrifices and saves, but we also will depend on the help of our friends and family (more about that in the next post) and grants.

6.) While you wait for match, what’s next? – On Wednesday, October 14th, we will meet with our agency, pay our 1st agency fee ($3,500) and get our dossier guide. This guide will help us gather the 13 dossier documents and instruct us on the notarizing, sealing, and authenticating process (which sounds so simple but…OH MY GOSH, ALL THE PAPERS!). Dossier prep will consume much of the next 4/5 months and will give China a detailed picture of who our family is.

7.) ARE…YA’LL…DONE?!?!? – Haha, some people with big families get highly offended by this question, but it’s one that always makes me smile. Truthfully, this adoption makes me feel done (and I actually never felt that way with our first 5 children). We will have 6 incredible kids…3 girls and 3 boys. I can’t even believe that God has chosen to bless our family with so much love and so many babies. But the one thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that Timothy and I will never make the mistake of limiting what God can do with and through our family. We never in a million years dreamed that we would be going to China twice and doubling our biological kids with children who’s greatest need is love and “forever people”. So I don’t think we will adopt any more children after this…but I didn’t think we’d adopt these 3, so what do I know? God writes the very best stories and we would never want to get in the way of His BEST with our GOOD ENOUGH.

We are so excited to begin this journey back to China and we can’t wait to see how God shows Himself to us during this crazy process…and how He will use some of you to accomplish His good and perfect will!

Our New Normal

Our first year home got harder before it got better. I could tell so many stories of brokenness manifested, both through our boys and through their imperfect parents and siblings. I lived in a very dark place those first six months, a place that felt very much like the heaviness that hit me in that airport in South Korea. The minute we landed, my “airplane screamer” decided he wanted nothing to do with me and wouldn’t even walk past me in the room for 3 months. He refused to let me pick him up for 6 months and only tolerated my touch (with clear disdain) for a full year. Again, I questioned how this would ever work out in the end. I couldn’t see God working and I had ZERO trust that our story would have a happy ending. So I stayed silent. Because I couldn’t imagine anyone wanted to hear a story that had so much mess and so many loose ends. The adoption blogs I read consisted of unicorns and butterflies and were full of happily ever after. I just couldn’t see those stories being mine. I carried a lot of guilt for the things I didn’t feel that I was doing “right” (both as an adoptive mom and a mom who jumped from 3 to 5 kids overnight). Guilt for all the ways I didn’t feel “enough”. Guilt for all the feelings that I knew were perpetuating my feelings of hopelessness. The adoptive community loves to quote Joel 2:25 where the Lord promises Israel “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten”. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the locusts were continuing to plague one of my boys, even during his first year under my care. But I will say, we serve a God who loves to restore and heal. He has caused new growth on dead branches. Looking back on our China trip, I barely recognize the faces of my children. They have come so very far over the past two years. We all have so far to go, but I KNOW we have a God who is always at work in the life of my family. Because He is passionate about us. And we won’t settle for anything less than His best in the lives of our 5 kids. Nothing that our boys have experienced will be wasted…we pray they use every bit of it for His glory.

So, that’s the story of our road to China. It’s messy and beautiful and broken and restored. People say that we have done something amazing and that the world is a better place because of people like us. But, at the heart of our story, Hayes Landon and Baylor Anderson are our heroes. They are the true fighters and they are stronger than Timothy and I will ever be. They have had so much loss, yet they were brave enough to trust our family and make themselves vulnerable to our love. These boys amaze me everyday and I am so very proud to be their Mom. And we are SO very thankful that God called us to this crazy journey!





The last battle was had to fight was a big one…a van ride back to the Guangzhou airport, a flight back to Seoul, a FIVE HOUR LAYOVER, and a 13.5 hour flight home. We knew this would be tricky, but there was no other way. The boys actually did pretty well at the Korean airport…that place is like a mall equipped with multiple playgrounds. And we had our friend Jason and his son to keep us company.

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I wish I could say that the flight home went better than expected too, but that was not the case. One of our boys started screaming as we were lining up to board. Not crying…screaming. A scream that brought evil stares from every passenger standing in the very long line around us. We boarded and he screamed. He would stop and doze off for a minute, and then wake up screaming. I held him for the entire 13.5 hour long flight home (because he still wouldn’t let Timothy hold him outside of the safety of our hotel rooms). I held him while I used the restroom (tricky and guess what made him scream louder…flushing airplane toilets!). Every time he would start back up again, the Korean flight attendants would rush over, get inches from our faces, and ask what they could do to make him stop. Usually they brought him tiny golf pencils to “color with”…the kind with the super sharp tips that he would stab into my arms over and over again. The kind lady across the aisle asked MANY times if she could try to hold him, to which I responded “no thank you”. The bonding books said I needed to keep him close so that he knew I wasn’t going anywhere. And, fortunately for him, on that airplane, on that day, there wasn’t anywhere for me to go.
Four hours before we landed, something in me broke. I was so close to my home, yet so far from my normal. My three kiddos were so close I could almost taste it, yet I still wasn’t convinced that what we had done in China wasn’t going to forever ruin our family. This child I held in my arms, a child who was so scared and living in a constant state of fight or flight (and he was choosing to FIGHT with everything he had in his tiny little body), still felt very much like a stranger to me. And I am certain I felt very much like a stranger to him. So, four hours from the Atlanta airport, I started to cry right along with my tiny boy. It started as silent tears, and continued into sobs that shook my entire body and threatened to rip me apart. For hours I cried, sometimes alongside my boy, sometimes as he napped. I cried until every part of me felt empty.
As the plane got ready for its decent, our beautiful Korean flight attendant in her broken English apologized to the families around us for “these people and their children”. The sweet lady across the aisle smiled and tried to catch my eye, but I had no energy to smile back. What had I done? How was this every going to be ok?
We FINALLY landed, had a long delay getting off the plane, a forever line for immigration (which they actually pulled us out of eventually…you know, because of the screaming baby and his sobbing Mommy). And FINALLY, after 17 LONG days, we had our family back together again. We were home. Mama still felt broken, but we were home.

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Travel Group Pictures

We absolutely LOVED the people who we got to go on this journey with. Some of these couples will be our friends for life.

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These are the famous couch pictures. This tradition started when adoptive families all used to stay at the Swan Hotel on Shamian Island. Guides would prop all of the cooing little (girl) babies in a row on a red couch and snap a picture as a forever memento. The Swan Hotel is currently being renovated, but I’m going out on a limb and saying we pretty much nailed our forever memento. Haha!

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Guangzhou – Physicals, Visas, and CONSULATE APPOINTMENTS!

Our last (and favorite) leg of our journey was a flight south to the city of Guangzhou where the American Consulate is located. All adoptive families leave China from Guangzhou because this is the place that our children are given their visas to travel to America, physicals and green lights to travel, and the site of our beloved Consulate Appointment. We also visited a really cool zoo, walked through beautiful parks, shopped on Shamian Island (a MUST for adoptive families), ate amazing Mexican food (twice), braved Chinese taxis (without our guides), toured a temple, ate at McDonalds for lunch every.single.day, enjoyed a beautiful hotel…which included a STARBUCKS!!!!, and got to know our boys better.

Our hotel, playgrounds, and our STARBUCKS!
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Zoo Fun!
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Shamian Island and Garden Walks

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Physicals and Tuberculosis test for Hayes (since he is over 2 years old)

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CONSULATE APPOINTMENTS!!! (No cameras were allowed in the consulate building, but the boys looked SOOOO cute!)

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The U.S. Consulate General issues all immigrant visas to adopted orphans from China’s mainland. This appointment solidified the boys American Citizenship paperwork (they then became citizens the minute their feet hit American soil…whatever airport that may have occurred in, even if it was only for a layover). We were rushed past the hundreds of people waiting in line outside the building and into a room reserved for adoptive families and their Chinese babies. That may have been the most eerie feeling of our trip. As our travel group and our babies huddled in a mass, moving through the building, I could feel hundreds of eyes burning into me. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through these people’s minds as they watched “their” children, in the arms of new American parents, disappear behind the closing door. Were they confused and questioning our motives? Did they wonder why privileged Americans would choose these children who had been left in bathrooms and parks and public toilets? Were they angered and prideful that we dared to take these Chinese children away from their mother land and their culture? Were they scared for these children or maybe even envious of them? Was there a mother somewhere in that mass of faces who was searching for her child wrapped in our arms?

Bullet Trains and Orphanage Visits

On Christmas Day, 2013, our new little family boarded a bullet train and sped towards Luoshan (Hayes’ birthplace, a very rural town a couple of hours outside the busy city of Zhengzhou) at 180 miles per hour. Hayes needed paperwork processed so that he could get his passport to leave Henan and head to Guangzhou (the home of the American consulate…every American adoptive family’s way “out” of China).

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We got to meet the director of the orphanage where Hayes would have spent his first years if not for New Hope (and I mistakenly called him the “van driver”, which elicited nervous giggles from the two nannies accompanying us. Lucky for us, Mr. Van Driver/Orphanage Director spoke no English. And, in my defense, he WAS driving the van!). Even though Hayes spent little to no time in this area, it still felt very much like we were picking up pieces of his puzzle. Somewhere near this space lived Hayes’ China mom and dad. People who I will forever believe did the best they could do for their precious baby who was born with a shocking and very scary condition. Staring out the window of the bullet train on our way back to our hotel, I prayed for this family. I prayed they knew their son would be taken care of and loved. And I prayed that they would somehow know that they are loved as well.

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Visiting Baylor’s orphanage was very different than visiting New Hope in Beijing. For one thing, Baylor was in our arms during this visit. Though he had only lived at Zhengzhou Social Welfare Institute for the first 12 months of his life (he lived with a foster family who we did not meet from 12-19 months), I kept searching his face for signs he remembered this environment or was bothered by our visit. He remained as stoic as ever.

This orphanage housed 800 children and our tour was very sterile and rehearsed. Though the building and grounds were beautiful and well maintained, I felt the heaviness that this was a very government run organization the minute we entered the gates. In fact, we saw very few of the hundreds of children who called this their home. The power was out in the building, so it was extremely cold and dark. I couldn’t shake the feeling that some kids will live in this place until they age out at 14, at which time they will be on their own. The room Baylor spent his time in is run by our agency (called the Lily Care Center…named after our founder) and it seemed very well run and cozy. Again I will say, we were on a puzzle piece finding mission and Baylor’s orphanage definitely helped fill in some gaps in his puzzle for us.

As a side note, our ride home in a taxi traumatized us all…even our sweet friend, James. We were all very thankful for a somewhat patient taxi driver who didn’t kick us out on the side of the interstate! I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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Zhengzhou, Henan – Family Day!

I could tell you lots of boring details about our time in our boys’ provence. I could talk your ear off about a rocky flight (during which I SWEAR someone was smoking!), squatty potties in the airport bathrooms, precious CCAI guides who walked us through mounds of paperwork, MOUNDS OF PAPERWORK, smog that went on for miles (near blizzard conditions), bikes and scooters that outnumbered cars, a mounted hair dryer in the hotel bathroom that looked as if it were invented in 1920. I could tell you of ALL THE CIGARETTE SMOKE, and scary taxi rides, and 180 mph bullet trains, and REALLY authentic Chinese food. I could tell you of a Christmas spent with so many decorations, yet so little Jesus. I could even break your heart with tales of looking in every beautiful Chinese woman’s eyes and wondering if she had left a child under a tree in a park…even wondering if she had left OUR child under a tree in a park. Wondering if the multitude of people around me understood what these crazy Americans were here to do…that we were there to adopt the least of these in Chinese society…children who were left alone because of a scary diagnosis or, worse yet, because they happened to be girls.

I could tell you so many stories of hope and loss that we saw play out in the smog covered city of Zhengzhou, Henan. But today, I will just tell you one. I will tell you the story of how two Chinese orphans became sons and brothers…sought after princes who we crossed mountains and oceans to claim.

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The day we met our boys (December 23, 2013), I was filled with more fear than excitement. Nothing about that day was how I’d envisioned. I awoke in our quiet hotel room mid panic attack after the most fitful night’s sleep I had ever had. Over and over again throughout the night I had woken up, gasping for air, repeating my Korean Airport mantra…”if you go through with this, everything will be ruined”. My Facebook post that morning read “We will meet our boys within the next couple of hours. Every second of the last 12 months has led up to this moment. I will admit to more fear than I’d expected. But nothing surprises the One who called us here. And He will finish His good work, whether or not we feel worthy of the task. And like the rain that falls into the sea, in a moment what has been is lost in what will be.” But, in reality, it took a complete act of God to get me dressed and packed for this day that we had anticipated for so very long.

*Let me take a second here (especially for my boys who could one day read these words) to explain the very real spiritual warfare that was taking place during our time in China and during the months after. For starters, Satan hates adoption. Especially Christian adoption. He would have been thrilled for our boys to stay in orphanages…unloved and unwanted. He HATES the thought of redemption and healing and reformation. In hindsight, I know that he was cringing at the thought of the sanctification our family would go through during this process. He knew that if he could speak to my greatest weakness…fear…that he just may win. I am so thankful for a loving and understanding husband and for a faithful Father who was never far from my fearful heart, whispering “just do the next right thing”.*

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When our bus pulled up to the smokey Civil Affairs office in in city of Zhengzhou, and our guide excitedly told me that my first baby was already inside…I froze in place. 12 months had led up to this moment, yet I wanted to start running away and never stop. What if I wasn’t enough for this child? What if he didn’t like me? What if he needed more than I had to give. What if today would completely ruin the delicate balance of our home life with the three children waiting for us in Georgia? Yet somehow, my feet managed to lead me into that big room. A room that held my new son.

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Hayes cried for what seemed like hours. He had experienced such trauma…when we arrived in Beijing, he was sent to his “original” orphanage…a place he had known for the first 3-7 days of his life…with new people and VERY new surroundings. He had experienced such loss in his short life. And we were very prepared for him to be distrusting, scared, and overall traumatized. He let me hold him, but would reach out to every pretty Chinese woman who passed by. He clutched some sort of stick of processed corn and an old sippy cup like his life depended on it. Since he was the first baby in our big group, he drew a lot of attention. And I felt an intense pressure to do this “right” (whatever that meant). The truth was, I think there was as much fear in my eyes as there was his.

In all the excitement of our first new son, I almost missed the entrance of sweet Baylor. As a matter of fact, because he had gotten so much new hair since our last update, I vaguely remember asking our guide if she was “sure that’s our baby” more times than was probably acceptable. She nodded eagerly over and over, pushing our sweet baby towards me. Because Timothy was taking pictures for another family, I embraced our 5th child in my one open arm…with the still screaming Hayes nestled in the other.

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Baylor was so solemn and…sad. He looked as if he had seen more than his 19 months warranted. We were told that the scratches all over his face were from “pulling the wood” on top of himself at the home of his foster family and that the giant bumps were eczema (which they said was confirmed by a doctor that week). He was dirty from head to toe with layers and layers of filthy clothes and split pants with no diaper (which we quickly remedied…this American Mama doesn’t do split pants if I don’t have to!). He stoically took in his surroundings…not crying much but also not seeming to be totally present. He cut his eyes a few times at me in a way that sent shivers down my spine. All of the unknowns of his diagnosis came flooding at me during those early moments with my youngest baby. My heart breaks for my precious boy that day…what he must have been thinking and feeling. The intense fear he must have been experiencing to make him shut down in that way. SOOOOOOO not the silly Baylor Anderson Roush we know now!

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So that was it…we had our boys! We were a forever family! Now the real journey was about to begin…

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