The China Sessions: 2 "CJ" -

** This story out of all the stories I could tell is the hardest. It's long. It aches. It shatters hearts.
But read and know how wonderful the boy in it is, and how deeply loved he is. **

Journal Entry from Day 1 at the Orphanage - Monday, March 14, 2016 {2 Weeks Ago}

We visited the orphanage this morning at 9am, quietly chatting on the extremely bumpy bus ride there.
From somewhere out in traffic, we heard the oddest and most unexpected song playing
"It's a Small World". Talk about surreal for this Florida girl! 

The new orphanage building is like the size of a University building. It's SO nice. 
Pink and White Flowering Magnolias were opening up their buds,
 and a soft breeze rattled the nearby bamboo, and we eagerly soaked it all in.

We had made it to China. We were so so ready for today!

We were seated in a conference room and served hot tea,
and the sweet director came in and sat down and had a chat with Martha and Gary (our translator).
We all sat quietly in the ginormous leather chairs, smiling sweetly and nodding in thanks,
and not understanding a single word of what was being said.
We all stood and shook her hand, and thanked her "Xiè xiè".
She was so kind and professional and gracious.
I liked her on the spot, because you could see kindness in her eyes. 

Then we divided up into groups and started down the hallways, passing rooms of babies with bottles,
 and then....there was suddenly a room that was mine (I have no idea how I knew it was mine, I just did), 
with 3 little 1 year olds peeking out the doorway. 

I looked back at Mary Lee and Haley and Emily and saw we were already in tears. We were HERE. 

I walked into that room and it was like *BAM*. It all hit me at once. 

The bumpy & long bus rides, the uncomfortable & super long flights, the smog & backaches. 

For this Gospel moment. Right here. This is IT. 

I immediately understood why people always wanted to return. Tears were streaming down my face. 

I wiped my cheeks and noticed a baby boy lying on his back on the mat, wearing a blue jumper. 
I sat down next to a baby close to him, and started playing, but I kept looking over at him studying me.
His eyes were always on me. He had locked eyes on me and never looked away. 

Soon I couldn't stand the pull, and moved right next to him.
His eyes stayed locked on mine, so I pulled my "beep the nose" nanny trick that has never failed me yet,
along with a few "Nǐ hǎo"s and rubbing his chest. A few moments later, he smiled at me for the first time and the tears fell. 
A couple more "beeps" later, and he was laughing. Oh, my heart. 

It was love, undeniable, unprompted, immovable LOVE. It wasn't MY love. It was Jesus' love. 
It is unexplainable and real, life changing, heart and soul-moving "Beloved" love. 
Oh divine joy that knows that Jesus is HERE! 

I picked him up, and held him against my heart, but he kept leaning back to "make sure of me". 
I whispered through tears "You have great worth in the Father's eyes".
I prayed he would be strong, fearless and know his worth.
I prayed someone would want this little boy who struggles to hold his head up and his legs aren't too strong,
but his smile makes the sun rise in the room. This boy who just turned One, who just had a birthday. 

"Tā jiào?" I asked the nurses and pointed at him - "Nan hai? Tā jiào?" Literally: "The Boy. He called?"

They answered. I tried it about 20x's and was pretty positive I got it wrong every single time. 
We were giving the children English names to be able to remember who was who,
so we tried "Steven" but it didn't work. "CJ", I said aloud. It was the closest thing to sounding like his name. 


I prayed so fervently to SEE the Father's heart for adoption when I visited China. 
When I walked through that door, suddenly everything changed.

It was more than I ever could have prayed for.
It's the oddest feeling to know a Mother's love when you are a single woman.
I've fiercely loved my whole life and never known anything like that moment when I held him for the first time.
I understood the Father's love. I understood a parent's fierce love. I understood INSTANT LOVE. 

Tears streaming down. Heart to heart. In my arms. My Boy. 

Mary Lee saw it, and it took this photo for me. 

"Now that I have held you in my arms, I will never be the same." My CJ. 
Gospel Moment. Instant Love. Holy Ground.

I left for our lunch break praying that my little boy would have a family soon. That he would be adopted.
I cried & prayed his name was on the list of the 4 out of 12 that were available for adoption.

I could end this post here........but it wouldn't be the whole story. 
You could search for him at AWAA, but you wouldn't find him. 
You could tell me to adopt him, and I'd tell you that if I were 30 and married,
 I'd move heaven and earth and become an ambassador to make that happen if it could....


CJ isn't on the Adoptive List. Not just "Not Yet". Not Ever. He will never be on the Adoptive List. 

I stood in that room with him in my arms and heard the names read off the list of those on the list. He wasn't on it.
As I turned away in tears, I heard more of his heartbreaking story as the nanny told Gary "the truth"

CJ was kidnapped and the police found him and are trying to find his parents. 

I held CJ tighter as the sobs threatened to overwhelm me.
 Sweet Mary Lee looked at me and knew my heart was shattering and asked if I was okay. 
I nodded but wondered if I ever would be. 

He's the lost baby duckling. 

When I kissed him goodbye, I said "Wō aì ní, CJ" and cupped his face with my hands 
and he smiled fully into my eyes, unaware I was weeping over his story. 

I left with Mary Lee & Mary Jo, and as we entered the conference room,
 I told Mary Lee that I knew Friday would be hard but not the first day. 
I expected love to build, not be hit with it all at once. 

I didn't expect to find a lost duckling. 

I lingered as the group left. I was trying to control the tears and get it together. 
Mary Lee (who was my rock the whole week), pulled me into a tight hug and we left. 
I ached just leaving him. 

As we rode back to the hotel in the bus, I prayed "I don't care what's wrong with him - I WANT HIM." 
and then I realized that is love. Unexplainable love. This is my Father's love for me. 
He wants us, no matter what's wrong with us. He sees us as we are. 
He loves us, has loved us for forever, before we ever knew. 

Mary Jo looked at me with her Mama eyes, and asked if I was okay, I simply responded "Praying."
Our team was already like family, and we were all feeling the same thing. 
It was so comforting to be all in this together and have the unified goal of loving these people as much as we could. 
We saw past imperfections and pulled each other in and we hugged and cried and prayed together. 

And so Mary Jo pulled me in and I lost it in her arms. 

CJ, taken away, scared and alone. CJ, separated from his parents. 
CJ, who won't be adopted and probably not reunited.  

Gary explained more - CJ can't be adopted by a foreigner because he was kidnapped. 
He will grow up in the orphanage until 14 and then placed in a foster home. 

CJ, not mine. CJ never mine. CJ - Jesus'. 

It's a grievous shift and I was blindsided by a harsh reality I hadn't prepared for. 

Not orphaned - lost. Missing. 

The emotions are heavy and real. I grieve like a Mother over him. 
I want justice against the kidnappers. I want the evil of kidnapping not to exist in this world. 
I want him reunited with his parents. I want his smile to stay.

I want him to know he is strong and courageous (the C of his name: Courage). 
I want him to be safe. Found. Known.

"Courage, dear heart....." 

Jesus, I might have overdone it when I prayed "Break my heart for what breaks yours"
 because I'm shattered. 

And HERE is where the love of the all-knowing and Sovereign Father comes in. 
We can do nothing apart from Him. He SEES. He KNOWS.
My Father writes good and beautiful life stories. This is not the end of CJ's.
He cares for and keeps safe His children. 

He was in my arms for 5 days. He's been in the Father's arms for longer. 

Please pray that God would shine a special light on this orphanage and lead CJ's parents to it. 
Pray for reunification. Pray if not reunification, then the allowance of China to bring him a Chinese family. 

Pray for My CJ. My sweet sweet Nán häi. 

With love,
- Jean Marie -


  1. Hi Jean Marie!
    My name is Katherine Cole, one of Bethany Cole's sisters. I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for little CJ, and for Cora.


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