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Cheerios and a Chinese Flag

February 5, 2017


“As it has become clear that this is God’s will, and not yours or mine, I have peace.  While I think it defies logic, I have peace.  While it scares me, I have peace.  While I worry about providing for everyone, I have peace.  While I envision you loving and caring for another child in the way that only you can, I have complete, adoring, heart-stirring peace.  So, let’s begin this journey together to provide a child a forever family, while changing our family forever.”   ~ Bryan  (2/1/2017) ~


Mornings in our household on school days can be pretty chaotic.

Getting breakfast ready, clothing set out, coats on, teeth brushed, bags packed, hair fixed, faces wiped, and minds motivated for the school day ahead is no easy task when you have five elementary and preschool-aged children.

Last Wednesday morning was no different.  We scrambled to get ready.  Then, we loaded into the van.  We listened to music on the way to school.  We said a quick prayer.  We shared hugs.  We shared kisses.  And off they went, one by one, racing through the chilly winter air to enter into the warmth of their school building.

Except for Haven.

He is only four, and not yet old enough for elementary school.

We headed back home, just the two of us, in a silent van that had – just moments earlier – been filled with busy chatter.

Occasionally, Bryan is able to be on school mornings.  But, not usually.  He is usually gone by the time we get up to start our day.

On this particular day, he had left the house just minutes after I had awoken.  So, I at least got to speak to him before helping the kids get ready.  After kissing him goodbye, I assumed he was heading straight to work, as he usually does.

But, when Haven and I walked through our garage door into our kitchen after dropping the kids off, I quickly realized that Bryan hadn’t headed into work.  While I was gone, he had sneaked back into our home and left something on our kitchen counter that immediately took my breath away.

A Chinese flag.

Created with Cheerios.

Ever since Sidney was a toddler, Bryan has been known to occasionally create drawings/messages for the kids using Cheerios.  He does his work secretly, while all of us are asleep, before he leaves for work.  He leaves his creations on our kitchen counter so that they will be easily found by the kids once they awaken.

The kids love them.

But, the drawing he had created on this particular morning wasn’t meant for the kids.  It was meant for me.  And it’s message was loud and clear.  As soon as I saw that Chinese flag, I knew exactly who had created it.  And I knew exactly what he was saying to me.

I was going to be a mom!  Again.

I was going to have a son!  Again.

And that son was going to come to us from China!  Again.

For months, Bryan and I had been tossing around the idea of adding a sixth child to our family.  For months, we had been praying about it.  For months, we had been considering the option of evening up the score in our family, so to speak.

Evening up the score by bringing our tribe to a total of three daughters and three sons.

Evening up the score by bringing our tribe to a total of three children who had come to us through the miracle of birth, and three children who had come to us through the miracle of adoption.

As I said in my previous blog post, it sounded like a beautiful balance to us.

But, six children?  Come on.

Crazy.  Right?


Or, maybe not.

Anytime I found myself questioning God about how crazy of a decision this would be for us, His answer was always the same.

“What’s crazier?  Adding a 6th child to your family?  Or, realizing that you have the ability to change a life forever, and then choosing not to do anything about it?  What’s crazier?”

Well, when you put it that way, God…


So, we prayed.  Bryan fasted.  We considered.  We weighed the pros and cons.  We calculated finances.  We went through the same routine we had gone through twice before.  Once before we brought Gracie home.  And once before we brought Haven home.

Not wanting to move before God had told us to, we just continued to remain still, and listen.

Last month, while in Cancun together, we sat on the beach in the stillness of the morning, and had a meaningful, all-encompassing discussion about adoption.  As the more-impulsive spouse, I told Bryan that morning that I thought I was ready.  I thought I had received our answer.  As the less-impulsive, more level-headed spouse, he told me that he might be, too.  But, he wasn’t sure yet.

So, we left it at that.

Then, last Wednesday morning rolled around.

I saw that life-changing arrangement of Cheerios on my kitchen counter.  And I knew he was no longer unsure.

He was sure.

And I was elated.

In addition to the Cheerios, Bryan also left me a letter that he had written.  On the backside of the letter, he had drawn an image from the cover of one of my favorite adoption-themed books, “Motherbridge of Love”.

The letter made me bawl my eyes out, just as the many letters he has written me in the past have done.

The majority of the words from that letter are for my eyes only.  But, I wanted to share the last paragraph of his letter on here today.  That last paragraph can be found above.  It served as the introduction to this post.  It gives a glimpse into his heart.  A father’s heart.  A husband’s heart.  A provider’s heart.  A hero’s heart.

As I told him via text, after discovering his letter, he is a hero.

It is no easy feat to provide and care for a family of our size on one income.  But, doggone it, he does it.  And he does it well.  Because of his hard work across the years, he has made this possible.  Because of his wise/sound career and financial decisions, he has brought us to the place where we can try to make another miracle happen for a little boy who desperately needs it.

Bryan’s love for our family is an active love.

He has said to me, on more than one occasion, that one of his worst fears for our children is that they will grow up to be lazy.  In everything that they do, he wants them to give everything they’ve got.  Do everything 100%, or don’t do it at all.  Put forth the maximum amount of effort.  If you do, you’ll yield the maximum results.

And that’s what he has done across the years.  He has worked his butt off over the past decade to make it possible for me to step down from the career I once loved and into the career of full-time motherhood.  A career I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  He is a loyal protector and a loving provider.  He is my hero.  He is the hero of our five children.  And, soon, he will be the hero of our sixth.

As I have basked in the glory of the news that arrived on my kitchen counter last week, I have been thinking a lot about Cheerios and the role that that simple little cereal has played in the life of our family across the years.

It was the cereal that Sidney, Jackson, and Morganne learned to grasp between their chunky, infant fingers, before any other.  It was the cereal that those three adorable babies had placed, time and again, into the circles of our beloved, now-worn, Cheerios board book.

It was the cereal that Grace chose to pour all over our hotel sheets in China, just days after we met.  Why did I let her do such a thing?  Because up until that moment, she had been still, silent, and stoic.  So, when she decided to start scooping, dumping, and snacking on the big bag of Cheerios I had brought from America for her, I let her do as she pleased.  Watching her play with them, while making a huge mess on my bed, was such a relief.  It was the first relieving sign that there was a child with a wonderful personality within her, just aching to get past the traumatic transition that had just taken place.  It was the first relieving sign that there was a beautiful soul underneath the solemn/grieving shell that I had seen up until that moment.  That pile of Cheerios on my bed in Wuhan, China, served as the first tangible sign that everything was going to be okay.  Grace was going to be okay.  And so was I.

It was the cereal that I safely tucked into a Ziploc bag as I walked into the Guiyang Civil Affairs Office to meet Haven for the first time.  Just minutes after he was placed in my arms, I offered him the bag, and he began stuffing Cheerios into his mouth immediately.  That bag of Cheerios broke through the language barrier that existed between us.  That simple extension of those fun little edible circles was one of the first messages that I sent to him.  And it said, “Don’t worry.  I will meet your needs.  I will care for you.  You will never hunger again.”  Though he had probably been handed many different foods from many different hands during those two years that he spent in the orphanage, those Cheerios were the first that came from his mommy.  His forever mommy.

It was the cereal that not only sent a much-needed message to Haven on that day.  It was also the one that sent a much-anticipated message to me last week.   A message that came in the form of a simple Chinese flag.  A message very similar to the one that I sent to Haven on his Gotcha Day.  But, this time the message was to me.  It said, “Don’t worry.  I am ready to meet the needs of another son.  I will care for him, alongside you.  And he will never hunger again.”

Though we have several months to wait before we can journey to China to bring home our newest son, I have already found myself thinking about what I want to be sure to pack for the trip.

One of those things is a small Ziploc bag full of Cheerios.  The same Cheerios that once formed a Chinese flag on my kitchen counter.  The same Cheerios that I forbade our children to eat, after they had discovered them, and heard us relay the exciting news to them.  The same Cheerios that I took the time to carefully scooped into a pile and place into a small bag.  The same Cheerios that currently sit, safely sealed, on a shelf in our future son’s closet.  The same Cheerios that will be placed into my suitcase, months from now, and make the long journey to China with me.  The same Cheerios that will be extended from my hands to the hands of our new son.

The same Cheerios that were once used to spell out a life-altering announcement to me will someday be used to spell out a life-altering announcement to a precious boy in China.

An announcement proclaiming that there is now one less orphan in this world.

He is gone.

And a beloved son has taken his place.



One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2017 1:48 am


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