My Didi, Simon.

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He’s 3 today.

My little brother; the one I first saw in an orphanage in the middle of China. The one with the white faux-hawk. The one who I saw start opening his eyes at 5 months. The one that I held and fed for 2 months before he had a mommy & daddy. The one I had to leave. The little boy that kept me longing for China and that I later passed into the arms of our parents. The one that I got to spend 7 months with before I was brought back to China. The one that grew my love for orphans by simply existing

The little boy that I miss more & more everyday

He is 3, now. 

2.5 years since I first saw him and his life has changed drastically & he has changed many. 

In 3 short years, he went from a life with his birth parents, to a night outside the orphanagegates, to several months in CCAI’s Lily Rooms, to life with a very loving foster mom, to his life now with his forever family; a mom, dad, and 4 siblings who are smitten with him. 

This boy is so smart. [& we don’t have the same genes, so I’m not even obligated to say that.] He learned to spell his name soon after he turned 2. He knows almost all of his letters; their sounds; and can point them out to you. He can count. Colors are old news to him. His memory; oh, Simon’s memory. He remembers anything you tell him! And he is FUNNY. Just yesterday he told me, “I am fat and crunchy because I eat carrots.” Who knows where that came from? 

I can’t believe time has moved this fast, but I love that I have been able to watch him grow into the boy he is today. The boy that so many people love & adore. 

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(the summer I first met him)

Simon, 
You are so special to me. I long for the day that I will hug and kiss you every day just because I can. You are the most handsome little boy that I have ever laid eyes on. Brother, I thought I loved you when I first met you, but you have shown me just how much love can grow. I promise you that, despite anything you do, every minute I get to spend with you makes me love you even more. You have me wrapped around your little finger and I’m not even ashamed because that’s what big sisters are for!

I thank God for you everyday, Simon. I get almost giddy thinking about watching you grow into a man; a man that seeks after the Father’s heart. I know He has big plans for you, and I can’t wait to stand beside you as those plans unfold. 

It won’t be too much longer until we can walk hand in hand! Wait for me. 

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(the first day with him after I got back to China) 

I love you to China & back, Simon. 

Your JieJie, 
Katie

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Stories

A few weeks ago, 2 boys at the orphanage shared their stories of abandonment with me. My heart was so heavy. 

One of the boys is an 18 year old who has epilepsy and the other is an 9 year old boy who has some severe vision issues. They are precious boys with really sweet hearts and a longing to be a son, a brother, a cousin, a part of a family. 

The thing that stuck with me was so how clearly they both remembered the details of that day despite the fact that they were a mere 3 and 4 years old. It had made an impression; an impression that would stick with them for the rest of their lifetime and has formed much of their self image. 

The 18 year old boy told his story with such indifference. I have tried and tried to understand that mentality, but I even find such a story difficult to articulate as I type. 

He told me that when he was 4, his parents left him. He said, “I got sick, and so now I am an orphan.” I asked if he had any siblings that were here at the orphanage, and he looked at me puzzled. He replied, “I have a big sister, but she’s not an orphan. Just me.” He kept a smile painted on his face as he retold the details that he could still remember.  

……what? 

I had no idea how to respond, what to do with my facial expression, what to say. All words seemed to have fled my mind. All I could do was look at him and proclaim to him that I think he is special; that I think he is handsome; that there are people that love him, that I am one of them and that Jesus loves him most of all. 

The 9 year old boy was the first kid to call me by my name when I first moved here. I remember the feeling when he saw me come in the gate and he shouted, “Katie! Big sister, Katie!” I love him. 

He was abandoned when he was 3. As he told me his story, I realized he also had siblings, but yet, he knew, He was the orphan. He slowly, without eye contact, began to recount every detail he remembered of the house that was once his home. He told me that there was an upstairs and downstairs, and that he remembered where the kitchen was. He remembered his NaiNai (grandma) and YeYe (grandpa) lived with them. He told me of his parents. 

His smile was absent, but he continued to share. I eventually asked him if he still loved his parents despite everything and he gave me a quick, “Yes. Of course.” 

My mind was blown and my heart was completely broken. Against every effort not to, my stomach was in knots and I felt tears on my cheeks. Thankfully, he was still staring at the ground.

He still had a love for the very people that birthed him and abandoned him because of something so very far from his control. Whether that love is out of obligation, naivety, or it is genuine, it is there. He has felt all his life what it feels like to deeply love people who will never show their love in return. 

Sometimes, I try so hard to understand and internalize what they are feeling so that I will never forget, but I’ve come to realize that there is no way. I will never know what they feel, and although I am eternally grateful for that, I know that I want to take that shame, pain, and the scars they have left behind from them. Oh, how I wish I could! 

I want them to know Jesus and I want them to know freedom. I want them to know love.


I don’t share these stories for pity or for you to shed a tear and move on. I share them in hopes that you will realize that these people we call “orphans” are real people with real pain who need real love. They are not just faces under a magnet on your fridge. They need us. They need love. Most of all, they need to hear of the Savior and Redeemer.