Changes for Advocacy Trips to China -

This morning I received news that a precious boy I'd been praying for had died yesterday, 
so loved, so brave, so fresh from China. I cried into my pillow in agony for his family. 

I'm not sure why everything feels related from one China baby to the next, but knowing they were
recently in the country you love just does it to you. The Chinese adoption community is tight.

I've walked around in a daze since Sunday and hearing about Everett.

 I've also been unable to shake the memories of China and a deep ache for CJ.
Last night I just messaged one of my friends, bawling. We talked about CJ for most of a half hour
and it was such a blessing. Most nights and mornings I've spent crying and longing and
giving him over and over and over again to Jesus and praying Mama prayers over him.

It wasn't until last night that I thought of the fact that something might be wrong with CJ. 
I instantly started panicking, so I shut that thought down super fast, and just prayed for him. 

That was last night. This morning I heard about Everett. It's been a heavy 24 hours. 

So when I read this article tonight, my heart stopped beating. It was bad news. 

The first time I read it, I had to audibly start pushing air past my lips to make sure I was breathing (because I wasn't).
The second time I read it, I started panicking, and messaged Martha immediately hoping I was wrong.
The third time I was breathless with shock. The fourth time it was read aloud (with many stops for explanations)
to my parents over dinner. 

It doesn't get easier to read. I kept hoping I was wrong.
When Martha messaged me back heartbroken, I knew I wasn't. 

Here is the article and explanation from Kelly at The Sparrow Fund. 

I encourage you to read it before you dive into this, but if you read it a few times and struggle
with why that matters, I'll try to break it down into why based on the points Kelly made. 

1. An End to All Advocacy Trips: No way back to China. 

I just stare at that sentence and burst into tears over and over and over again. No pathway to CJ. 

Ever since January when we realized China was cracking down on foreign NGO's and limiting trips,
we've been praying our hearts out that they would continue them. This announcement declares
all advocacy trips are terminated immediately and indefinitely. 

Our team walked out of our orphanage and boarded a plane and confidently said "March 2018, we'll be back."
No questions asked. Nothing could stop us. We'd say it to each other to encourage each other
in our sadness over missing "our" kids. "March 2018! We're going!" Before this, the ache and longing
were there, but we knew we could go back one day. Now we're cut off completely. 

This is heartbreaking news for our team and all the teams and multiple agencies teams who believe
that advocating for orphans and meeting them and telling their stories bring them hope, bring God glory,
and bring families together. It is hope-shattering to realize we don't have access
in this precious way to our kids who we so dearly want to advocate for and find families for. 

We believe so deeply that advocating for orphans and hosting makes a deep difference; 
so many of my China babies' parents told me that my stories/photographs/videos/heart talk with them
 led them through prayer to KNOW that that child was their son or daughter, and that's just one trip

There are hundreds of stories just like those. This, obviously, is the hardest part for me, and for my team. 

2. Partnerships between agencies and orphanages will be broken. 

From Kelly"What we know is that the 1:1 partnerships between agencies and orphanages 
that has been established for years will end at the end of this year." 

These partnerships took years and years to cultivate and are incredibly important, not to mention personal.
We seek not only to find orphans a home, but to minister and encourage the wonderful staff that take
 care of these children, and is, wow, such a special part of every trip. I cry just thinking about it.
Meeting with the orphanage workers is a great gift and this breaks that relationship. 

Not to mention that connection is what makes the inter-country partnership work so well,
working tirelessly together for the good of the kids in their care to be transferred into our care. 

3. We are uncertain how agencies will receive files for waiting families after this fall. 

Because I don't work for an adoption agency, I can't speak to this more deeply, just know that it's
happening and it's really concerning. What's even more concerning is that only the children who have
 been assessed and have their files filed onto the list by December 31, 2017 will actually BE on the list.
So this means it's a ginormous rush to get every child with a file onto the list so they're...on the list.

This also means as stated that "agencies are requested to look for children within
required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn".
That's exactly as worrying as it sounds.

Obviously agencies will still receive files, since adoptions still remain open
(which is SUCH good news). 

I'll leave it there on this point: there's just so much we don't know yet,
 and it's just....really overwhelming right now.  

4. Agencies may be allowed to "work in welfare and charity related activities"

This would be really really really good. We are all hoping this is the case. It's really not clear yet. 
It would be really good in the way we'd still be able to serve and bless kids by loving on them, yet very difficult
in another way because we wouldn't have access to their files/creating a file/advocating for them to be adopted.
We won't be allowed to do assessments for files. 

That's huge. 

I'm not sure anyone realizes until they have an adopted child with a back history written by a non-orphanage personnel.
The personnel are amazing, don't get me wrong. But to have a file written with personal notes and
moments and encouragements and general info that was created 10 months ago, and then again
5 months ago is HUGE to a waiting family that wants to know everything about their child. 

Instead it drastically feels like we are reverting back to 1991: you get one picture, you get a
medical description, and you get everyone together on the shared list. That's it. 

It's hard to read this document and see how it is for the best of the child, yet we know there are many
special and wonderful people in China who want the very best for the children and respect the job
they are doing. 

In conclusion, as Kelly wrote, agencies have already submitted questions to the CCCWA
and are seeking to figure out how to work with the CCCWA in their new regulations. 

Martha said right now it's a waiting game. Waiting and praying that China changes its mind. 

But I don't want to leave it there. I want to speak to all our hearts in this, as we are heartbroken. 
To my China team, who I respect and love and miss so dearly and for you all to know how to pray.

A. Our God is Sovereign & Powerful over Policies 

When I think about not seeing CJ in the next few years, I want to scream in pain.
I'm honestly holding back the really ugly cry right now, and trying to avoid panic attacks.
I've never in my life wished so much I was Chinese and lived in China so I could volunteer there.
It's the worst news right now. We are cut off from seeing our kids and
 telling them how much we love them and it hurts so deeply

Remember what I kept saying in China? Our God, the One Who goes before us.
Remember when we stepped into the lobby and felt at home and at peace?
Remember how we said Jesus was already there? 

Loves, He hasn't left. He hasn't left His children alone. He can be where we cannot. 

Policies can't keep the Father of the Fatherless at bay. He is in their midst. 
The Holy Spirit hears our "groanings too deep for words" and knows just what our kids need. 
They need us, but not as much as they need Jesus. We crossed oceans to know them, Jesus already does. 

We can trust that God is sovereign over really bad policies and will bring them to an end,
maybe not sooner as we would like, but one day. Until then, seek to remember that He is with them every day. 

B. We can trust God with this.

We can trust that the Father of the Fatherless will NOT leave us without access to the orphans He
calls us to love. This isn't talking about policies or boundaries or new rules. We know we are called

We don't know where next. We don't know what orphanage. We don't know how. We don't know when.

But the God of all the ages won't give His children a calling and then keep us from loving and serving
and going in His name to fulfill that calling. He will not leave us without a way to visit orphans
in their trouble when it's HIS WORK. 

We have to trust the same God who called us to go may ask us to wait for awhile,
and it's for a good reason, and we know that because He has GOOD for us. 

He has good for all His children and hasn't lost any of them yet. 

Policies change. Countries change. Administrations and CCCWA change. God doesn't change.

C. There is a better Advocate than we could ever be. 

We know God is the One Who puts the lonely in families. We know God calls orphans to families.
We know God puts orphans in families hearts. We know He builds connections out of thin air. 

We've seen it. We've rejoiced over it. We've praised God over it. Now let us rest in it in our sorrow and absence. 

There is an Advocator Who stands before the throne and advocates for US every single day. 
He is the One Who called us to love orphans. Even if we cannot love tangibly, we can love with prayers.
Prayers MATTER. They "avail much", more than we could ever know. 

I believe that the same Jesus Who is here and holds me in the night when I cry over missing CJ
is the same Jesus Who is there in the morning when CJ wakes up in his bed in the orphanage. 

We have an Advocate Who cannot fail, and Whose plans cannot be ruined. 

Policies will not keep families apart when the King of Kings has promised to fight for His children,
 and will not leave them as orphans, He will come for them. They are not alone, and neither are we. 

They are SEEN. Known. Deeply loved by Jesus more than we could ever say,
 and we know it to be true....because it's all we ever wanted them to know

Friends, PLEASE pray with us that China will retract these policies and allow advocating teams in. 
Pray that the restrictions will be reconsidered and remanded. Pray that we would be allowed in to serve and bless.
Pray that God would bring us all peace and comfort as we grieve not returning so soon. 

Pray above all for our orphans, our beloved, precious orphans. Pray they would know Jesus. 
Pray for tender hearts as they wait, pray for the very best care, pray for Jesus to hold them in their waiting. 

Pray for Everett's family as they grieve and miss their sweet boy, just 4 months home. 

Thank you for reading this very long message. We trust a God Who IS Hope. 
We will not stop singing the anthem of all that He can and will do. Father to the Fatherless. 

- JM - 

** I want to be sure to remind you all that I'm blogging personally and do not speak
for AWAA or for any other adoption agency. This is merely me processing.**