More about Joel

February 26th, 2017

Question from a faithful blog reader:

The situation is probably more complex than I know, but can you help me understand (knowing you may be limited)? Why can’t Joel’s foster family keep him? Wouldn’t that be good for him to stay with people who already know and love him and speak the language he knows?

Answer from Joel’s foster mom in China:

When a child turns fourteen years old in China, he or she is no longer able to be adopted. At all. Since Joel cannot care for himself, he will be a ward of the government and likely go into a government institution. We have ASKED if we can continue to foster him after the age of fourteen years [his fourteenth birthday is early in January 2018], and his director has not yet given us permission or wanting to even talk about it.

The problem with long term care for him here without him being adopted is he cannot travel for medical care or help. This is the problem we had with [another foster son]; we couldn’t get him a visa out of the country to get him medical care. Joel’s seizures need attention and help that he cannot get here. He also needs a school that can help him. He has never gotten the help here that he has needed. We give him love and what we can, but it’s nowhere near what he needs.

Also, we are required to go stateside every couple of years, and there is NO place for him to stay when we do this. If and when we moved to the States or to another country, he would again be stranded here in an government institution.

This is between you and me, [description of how Joel was treated at the orphanage]. There is another boy, five years old, here at this orphanage with the same autism and seizures as Joel, and they just sent him to a crazy hospital where he is now locked up 24/7. We had been trying for years to foster him as well, fearing that this would be his fate. A few months ago they sent him away, and we haven’t even been able to visit him since.

Joel understands English and Chinese. He is smart; the way he looks at books, I think he can read both [languages] as well. It appears he can read a clock. He is STILL not toilet trained, although the last two days he used a toilet which is HUGE progress.

My mom visited and met him in the month of December, and she said this yesterday about him,

‘The thing that made me fall in love with Joel was watching him interact with the three babies you have in the home. When they were on his favorite rug, he would tiptoe around the rug and go look out the window, or sit on his favorite couch and wait until they moved, and was always very gentle and loving towards them, never even accidentally hurting or tripping over them.’

He squeals and moans–both happy and frustrated–but is non-verbal.
He does a couple basic signs, one for ‘all done’ and another for ‘eat.”
He feeds himself.
He is left handed.
He sleeps in a regular bed and LOVES to have his own bed after years of a portacrib. He sleeps on his back with his hands behind his head and the blankets pulled over his face—very cute.
He loves texture and rubbing heads and giving kisses.
He loves to stim by flipping books. His one naughty thing he does is steal a book that isn’t one of his to flip. He has favorites but usually always exercises self control with those forbidden favorites. He loves to eat and will sometimes steal unattended food or drinks as well (coffee is a favorite! he is not allowed).

He can put his own shoes on and off and wash his hands with prompting. He will pull up his pants when they start to fall down if we tell him to.
He hates changes.
He can open doors but usually doesn’t, which is very nice, because I don’t worry about him going outside or even out of his bedroom if the door is latched.”





His name is Joel

February 16th, 2017



Meet Joel!!

Joel turned 13 last month, so he has less than a year to be adopted.  He is non-verbal, autistic and has epilepsy.

Joel has been with a wonderful, loving foster family in China for years, so there is a lot of information available about him.  This family worked hard to get the orphanage to put together a file for him and are ecstatic that it has finally happened!

So here’s my challenge to you!  Please print out this photo of Joel!  Hang it on your refrigerator or somewhere else that you’ll see his handsome, smiling face every day and be reminded to pray that God would send him a loving family.  We’ll be praying right along with you.

And share this post with the hope and prayer that his daddy and mommy will see him and know he’s meant to be their son.  His life is worth it!  

Thank you, friends!



Alive and well

February 7th, 2017

[NOTE:  This blog post was tweaked from an email I sent to an online friend tonight.  Not hard to plunk in a few photos without stopping to edit first.  Thank you for responding to the need to pray for Tsvetomira! God has had mercy and spared her to her family! There are three more big needs I want very much to tell you about soon, Lord willing, one a new and vital ministry to special needs adoptive mom caregivers, the second a boy whom Josie knew in China–finally able to be adopted less than a year before he ages out, and the third the revitalization of the Pleven Project.]


To the kind online friends and readers who have checked in on us over the past months, thank you! Yes, we are alive and very well, indeed.  Joe and I agree that our family goal for the foreseeable future should be stability.  Somehow in spite of an formidable schedule, we are in a period of the most stability we have enjoyed as a family since before Verity was born and I began blogging seven years ago.

I have left many people hanging during this time, but when I take time on the computer, it always seems several other important things suffer, often including sleep.  It’s undeniable that our overall family well-being has benefited from my dropping the regular blogging.

I can always tell when life has switched to super-hyper-overdrive, because I don’t have time for my beloved reading, and that’s where we’ve been since Josie’s surgery the first week of November, three months ago.  We are finding our footing in a new season with the help of God.  We lost our Amish cleaning girl last fall.  Since the end of December, I have had to be gone from the house most of two days a week, and sometimes more, for therapy for Josie and Verity. Then beginning a few weeks afterward, Laura started her college class three afternoons a week and is now working part time during tax season.  In the midst of everything else, my skin began to react more and more to chemicals in our environment, so we have needed to make some major changes, which as you know can seem overwhelming when added to an already jam-packed calendar.

God has been faithful to answer my cry to Him for help and provide JUST the help we need. A young woman from church had been complaining to her mom about being bored and wondering whether there was some family who would let her come and help them. !!! She wants to work with children someday and really desires the experience. She cleans floors and bathrooms one partial day each week (we are paying her what we used to pay the Amish cleaning girl) and comes to help in general two other partial days, mostly spending productive one on one time with Verity.  She’s now being trained to do Verity’s neurodevelopmental program with her those two days. What a fabulous help she is—quick to catch on, looks for ways to be helpful and stays right on top of things! Maybe in the past, I would have been reluctant to accept the help, but no more!

During this same time period, another thrifty adoptive mom of a supersized homeschooling family introduced me to Norwex, and that ended up being part of our solution to simplifying and going more natural.

And the other major help He sent was in the form of (our version of) the Mom Bucks system for the five middle kids.

On the spiritual front, after one failed attempt, I was recently able to spend seven whole uninterrupted hours of purposeful time in God’s presence in the Quiet Place of a local couple who offers it as a place of respite for those in ministry. God used the time and quiet to speak clearly to me. I was in desperate need of this and am so grateful.

So–coming through a time that could have been impossibly overwhelming, but instead we are all thriving and have a definite sense of peace, happiness, wellbeing, and yes, stability. Not to mention all the fun we get out of life! Joseph summed it up well recently when he was sitting at our kitchen table working on a computer and paused, looked up, and stated, “There’s a nice atmosphere here.”


Katie undergoing step one of The Treatment for Aquaphor Ointment in Hair!



Stephen and Nathaniel accompanying Joe and me to his final Samaritan board meeting.



Ben wearing John Michael’s backup pair of glasses!


Verity enjoying a new favorite activity.

Katie missing some school due to sickness.



Josie realizing how comfy it can be to be able to bend one’s knees!



Verity acing her school workbook.



Twins enjoying a birthday outing.



Nathaniel doing his baby job of being utterly lovable.



Josie after making us very proud of how she handled getting a filling in a chipped tooth!  It wasn’t easy for her, but according to the staff, she did better than many adults!  We were already so proud of her for once again making the honor roll, which she’s done every marking period since coming into our family!  Go, Josie!!