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On Cheering for Your Son from the Other Side of the World

There is a little boy sitting in an orphanage in China, and he is our son.

Two weeks ago we did not know he existed. Now we think about him and pray for him as often as we breathe. We talk about him, wonder what he’s doing, look at pictures more than you’d think possible. Our two-year old Sully scrolls through them and says, “Awww…cute! Jeremiah!”

And yet we cannot go pick him up for 2-3 months because of the endless paperwork adoption is. That feels very soon and insufferably far away at the same time.


We were able to send a list of 10 questions to his orphanage to ask for updates about him. Things like: What comforts him? How does he sleep? What is he eating? What is his personality like?

We were told not to expect much from the update, that sometimes they never even come back, that if it did sometimes the information is less than clear due to passing through many miles and cultures.

Today, the update came back, along with some new pictures of him.

We asked “What upsets him?” Answer: When his nanny leaves him. (Tears)

We asked “Is he beginning to say or understand any words?” Answer: He understands some words, such as come here or let me hold you. (Tears)

We asked “What message would you like him to take from you to remember about his time in the orphanage?” Answer: He is a sweet, smart baby boy. We all adore him. We hope he has a good future. (Tears)

Because of his developmental delays, we asked if he was making progress towards sitting up, standing, or crawling. The answer was that he can sit up now(!), and is working on crawling–but can’t stand up yet.

Then they sent this picture:

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This picture absolutely wrecked us. It’s hard to put into words the feeling that this little human you didn’t know existed two weeks ago now feels like your flesh and blood (though you are months away from meeting him), and on every development chart he should have been sitting up long ago but “OH MY GOSH YOU’RE SITTING UP ON YOUR OWN!!! Good job buddy!”

Then it’s like: Who is this wonderful, smiley nanny sitting in front of you? How did she come about working at this orphanage, and why? Does she have the faintest idea how appreciated she is? How long will it take you to smile at us like you smile at her?

We had never thought that much about the orphanage workers before now, and it brings us unspeakable joy to know that there is someone who is cheering for Jeremiah as he’s learning to sit up–someone he loves enough to cry when they leave.

Watery-eyed, gut-wrenching joy. The look in her eyes in these pictures helps sleep at night.

Then: the other kids. I zoomed in on each of their tiny bodies, on each face I could see in all of the pictures they sent. Doing this makes something burrow down deep inside my soul and refuse to leave.

What will happen to these kids? Do they have families waiting to pick them up? What are their special needs? How long do they just lay there like that? What about the poor little guy underneath the nanny’s face craning for attention–is someone coming for him? Does the smiley nanny take care of all of them? I hope so…but if she has to take care of all of them, how many hours does Jeremiah lay on the floor by himself?

We were not aware of the fact that one picture could bring about so much joy, yet so much sadness and tension and desperation and who knows what else. As I was thinking about this picture and ALL THE EMOTIONS it brings up, my mind kept hearing a vaguely memorized verse: “we ourselves…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons” (Romans 8:23).

I don’t know of two better words to describe how all of this feels than to groan inwardly.


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Here are ways you can be praying for us and Jeremiah:

  • For peace: We are immensely excited…AND simultaneously this is all happening very fast in a season where we already feel overwhelmed with jobs, me writing a book, having a 3 month old, etc. We feel utterly confident that this is God’s perfect timing (we’ve actually told people that it didn’t feel like a decision when we were presented with Jeremiah’s file–it was like “Yeah of course, this is our son”). But this happening months before we expected it to is stretching our capacity (and we’re sure our capacity will continue to be sttrreeeettcchheedd in the coming months when we get him home).
  • For provision: We have already started making some ground on this, but still have a LONG  way to go. We need to raise a little over $16,000 between now and the time we travel (2-3 months from now). This feels very pressing and also very difficult in light of normal hectic life and the mountains of paperwork and training we have to do in the next 2 months. We have created a YouCaring page to keep up with the progress of all of our different fundraisers, so if you’d like to help out with this click here.
  • For the trip: For things to go smoothly (court dates, visas, safety, etc.) Also, we will be there for 2 weeks and are currently planning on leaving Sully and Isla with family. Being away from them (and them not seeing us) for 2 weeks will be quite difficult. (But likely less difficult than dragging them across the globe, flipping their days and nights, and generally causing them to lose their minds.)
  • For Jeremiah’s health & development: Jeremiah was very, very sick for most of his early life. He weighed 6 pounds at 2 months when he was abandoned beside a subway station. He was hospitalized for several weeks to be cured from an infection he’d had since birth. He seems to be doing much better now, and we are praying for it to stay that way (and that any long-term damage the infection may have caused would be minimal). He looks big to us in the pictures, but he’s actually in the 3rd percentile for height and weight for his age and has significant developmental delays. We are praying that as the nannies work with him he will make some progress in crawling or potentially standing by the time we pick him up.

This is all a lot to process and it brings about all the feels, so thanks for your support and prayers and general awesomeness. We feel like we couldn’t have a better community to bring our new son into, and we are beyond grateful for our friends and family. His adoption into our family is only made possible by the wonderful village that surrounds us–people that have already given and will give, people that have already prayed and will pray, people that have already supported and will support–and that is something we will never forget or take lightly.

About the Author

Brandon Clements