Part 5: ONE OF H1S RESURRECTION STORIES
ONE OF H1S RESURRECTION STORIES
One of H1S is a 10-week series telling the Sage Harvest story of how two became ten ... and a jerky store.
At just two months home from our first trip to China, we were solidly in the weeds.
In fact, we were buried deep in the dirt somewhere underneath the overgrowth of crazy that had begun to consume our home.
Precious, people-pleasing Deacon, at age 9, was working through some unfair challenges that were a result of spending too much of his life in an institution.
Salem, our once-cranky baby who was JUST starting to bloom as a sweet and smiley toddler, and Canon Bomb, the spirited boy who made a bang (both figuratively and literally) every time he entered a room, were pestering, trouble-making, walking-petri-dish 2-year-olds, learning how to play nicely with one another in our tiny California home.
And D.C. Williams, the handsome prince of our fairytale, was across the country or the world saving it, one deployment, military course and TDY at a time.
Even knee deep in crazy, neither of us could let go of our experience in that civil affairs office in China. Watching child after devastated child being pulled from behind a curtain and handed off to family after waiting family was more traumatic for D.C. than war. We both returned so rattled and so raw, and for the first time, it really hit us.
Although adoption is such a beautiful picture of our adoption as children of God, there is no beauty without first brokenness.
EVERY adoption comes from a place of profound loss — the kind of loss that only God Himself can redeem and restore.
We might have been in the weeds in our home, but our weeds were still so relatively comfortable that they really resembled flowers compared to the weeds of the children in that holding room in China — children whose weeds included the hands of fathers they would never hold and the faces of mothers they would never know.
We couldn’t un-see that brokenness. We couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist. And we couldn’t pretend that a cushy and comfortable life ignoring that brokenness across the ocean could be our priority when we knew the God who made all things new.
So we began exploring roles and opportunities in orphan care that would allow us to do more to serve these children who had experienced such loss.
That’s when I joined an online chat group of other adoptive mamas and advocates.
This particular group of advocates was sharing the story of a 6-year-old boy who had cerebral palsy, a traumatic brain injury and had been in a coma.
I commented on the photo, “He’s beautiful!”
“Do you want to see his file?” they asked, eagerly.
We were two months home from China. We resembled what D.C. endearingly referred to as a “raging dumpster fire,” one that he could only see through pictures because he was starting a military course in North Carolina on the complete opposite coast.
“No, thank you,” I told them firmly. “We are newly home from China and pretty deep in the weeds right now.”
They, of course, sent me his file anyway.
Because he had been under the care of an Australian NGO for a period of time, this particular child had a fairly extensive paper trail. As I read page after page of his life story, my heart just shattered for him.
Before the age of 4, this tiny boy his nannies called “gangster” was abandoned, went to an orphanage and moved in with a foster family. But when he fell off a motorcycle and fell into a coma, the foster family wouldn’t take him back because of his increased needs, and he returned to the orphanage.
He nearly died twice.
His brain injuries, multiple major medical diagnoses and developmental delays, along with his non-infant status, made him a favorite of advocates … but a child of no one.
There was a Chinese citizen who worked at this boy’s orphanage, and as an underground Christian, she had teamed up with two American mamas, and together, they made it their personal mission to shed light on his story. Though the world had given up on this boy who now had a literal hole in his brain, these women refused to discard his value.
They got him paperwork ready.
They made sure he was on the radar.
And they prayed their hearts out that someone would see the gem they saw in this medically needy child — a child who THEY knew was One of H1S.
Because of their efforts, I found myself standing in the foyer of our California home a few weekends later, kissing my man who had flown home from North Carolina for a short weekend and holding in my heart the file of this boy.
I told D.C. his story. I told him how much I didn’t know. And, fully expecting him to find me crazy, I told him that I couldn’t unknow what I knew.
If this child with such severe needs continued to live in a group orphanage, if he did not find a family who could provide more personal care for him, he likely wouldn’t survive.
Without even flinching, that warrior of a man looked in my eyes and said, “If he needs a dad, I would love to be his father.”
And that’s how we became parents of four.
We were able to use a dossier copy from Canon’s adoption (something China no longer allows), and we began pursuing the boy we named Zeph, short for Jozeph.
With Zeph, we were dipping our toes into new waters.
Advocates and file writers had no idea of his capabilities, and we had no idea what life would look like from day to day. Until this point in life, we were raising children who were not cognitively impaired. We had educational and professional dreams for our other children — future goals that parents often set and don’t even realize when they birth and raise a child. But we weren’t even certain of the capabilities of this child, so what would our goals even be?
After much discussion, we decided we would have three goals for this boy we would soon call “son”:
1. To love God.
2. To love others.
3. To work up to his full potential.
And God began showing us that those shouldn’t just be our goals for THIS child; they should be our goals for ALL of our children.
Before even changing his last name to Capps, Zeph began stripping away those layers of worldly Western life we had prioritized without even realizing it. He moved our priorities from earthly ones to eternal ones, from performance-based goals to Christ-based callings.
Without even entering the doors of our home, his addition to our family began changing our perspective and started teaching us to view success not through the eyes of the world but through the eyes of God.
But not everyone was on board.
Rightly so, people close to us voiced concerns — like I absolutely would have done had I watched a woman single parenting a 9-year-old and two 2-year-olds and attempting to bring home a medically fragile fourth.
There was just one problem with this logic.
It didn’t account for God.
My mind knew this was crazy.
The noise level in my house told my ears it would be insane.
But I had such a strong sense of peace about pursuing this boy who had such a simple need.
He needed a family.
We were humbled to be a home.
This child was a precious, priceless, deserving One of H1S. And that was all we needed to know.
In July 2012, less than a year and a half after we had landed in China the first time, my sweet mama selflessly packed up her zero-desire-to-travel-internationally feelings and and her 200 favorite pairs of shoes and returned to China with me. As usual, my mom somehow got wrapped up in our crazy schemes, but she just served and loved us without an ounce of judgment … in cute outfits with color-coordinating shoes, of course.
Back on the homefront, D.C. and I had coordinated for him to take the reigns with the other three kids for the two weeks that I would be gone. Because of his training schedule, he would arrive in California a few hours after we left for China, so we left a car at the Los Angeles airport for D.C. to use once he flew in so he could drive the five hours to be with the kids.
My sweet sisters stood in the gap until he arrived.
D.C. said that he had participated in missions with multiple aircraft and hundreds of men that were less complicated than getting our family prepared for this trip. Nonetheless, our ducks were in a row-ish, and I was ready to meet our newest son.
On July 2nd, Mimi and I met Zeph for the first time. I couldn’t help but think how tiny our little man looked as he hobbled into the civil affairs office in Shaanxi Province.
He was donning stonewashed jean shorts with characters, a busy polka dot shirt and Angry Birds shoes, and all of his clothes just hung off this now 7-year-old boy in a 3-year-old’s body. He could barely walk without falling, and I noticed the bruises that appeared permanent on both his knees.
I stooped to his level to offer a hug and a smile, and I stared into the eyes of a boy our God loved so much that He flagged down the attention of a war-weary mama in California, just to remind this little man how much he was cherished and desired.
I could tell he was anxious, because from the moment we met, he chatted incessantly, spewing off Mandarin phrases to anyone who would listen.
After bouncing around between orphanages and foster homes and hospitals and back, this child who had been described as “sweet-natured” and “precious” by nannies at the orphanage was in total free fall … and that sweet inner nature was soon masked by defiant, outwardly naughty behavior.
Thankfully, this wasn’t our first rodeo, so as our new 7-year-old boy peed in the fine art museum and attempted to smoke breadsticks, my mom and I just laughed.
We laughed when he thought he could sneak alcohol.
We laughed when he pushed every elevator button and jammed our hotel key card into Mom’s hard drive.
We laughed when the little chavenist expressed his disappointment that an “Amerigo Mama” showed up to bring him home instead of an “Amerigo Baba,” using words and adjectives that our guide was unwilling to repeat to us in English.
We laughed when we found out the English translation of the rumor he had been spreading to any Chinese speaker who would listen:
“Amerigo Mama have a big butt and a flat chest.”
At least I didn’t have to wonder about any non-verbal associations with his TBI.
Although China was challenging, I knew from experience that the child we received in country was never the same child we raised once home.
This boy had been removed and rejected time and time again, and after nearly losing his life twice, I knew he was just coping with one more person who might not value it. His behavior was just begging the question, “Will you love me?
Will you accept me? Will you embrace me? Unconditionally? No matter what? Forever?”
The second he understood we indeed would, everything changed.
We flew home from China, spent one day together in California as a family of six and then bid farewell to our soldier, who immediately deployed for a six-month tour.
That one day with his new daddy was enough for Zeph to realize that here, he would be madly, deeply loved.
With this assurance, very quickly this boy who had been so difficult in China, running away from us and swearing in Mandarin, transformed before our eyes into the most tender-hearted, justice-upholding, tiny little servant we had ever met. This heart we had read about on paper emerged, and before us was this gleaming treasure of light and love, one who today spends hours learning to read so that he can someday accomplish his lifelong dream of becoming a priest.
Though with his TBI we knew he might be the most challenging to equip and provide resources for, Zeph, it turned out, was one of the easiest and most effortless children to LOVE.
He is the servant in his school. He is the peacemaker in our home. He is the one in the backdrop of every scene, hugging babies, meeting needs, playing with those who find themselves on the fringes of play or life.
He is the most careful, thoughtful, respectful and kind kiddo, and his passion to someday become a priest drives him to overcome the obstacles his wounded brain sometimes provides.
For Zeph, those obstacles are simply God opportunities in disguise.
We call Zeph’s story a resurrection story.
Because he was very literally brought back to life twice after traumatic injuries that should have left him dead.
And because in this child who is a literal walking miracle, God has resurrected so much more: the ability to speak, the ability to read, the ability to LOVE and SERVE better than anyone else we know with a fully intact brain.
What’s more, God used Zeph to resurrect US.
He used Zeph to put to death our old ways — our old priorities, plans and pictures of success.
And through Zeph, He brought to life in our family H1S ways — where success is measured only by our love and zeal for our God and our love and care for all of H1S.
In a story only our God could write, Zeph gifted us the priceless opportunity of H1S real resurrection life.
Did you miss the beginning of the Sage Harvest Story? Not to worry, it's not too late to catch up! Follow the links below for the first four parts of the ten part series.