Hello, Family and Friends!
Last week my cell phone screen cracked, and my coffee got cold before I could drink it– first world problems, I know. If you’re like me, your parents used to tell you about all the poor children in China when you would complain about toys you didn’t have or food you didn’t like. Now that I am older, I have no problem eating all of my food, but the children in China are still in need, and as a mother of two healthy kids, I am still thinking about those kids in China.
My family wants to be one of the thousands of families who have adopted waiting Children from China. There is a growing percentage of special needs children waiting to find homes. Every child should have the chance to grow up in a healthy and happy environment that allows them to hold on to innocence as long as possible–no matter where or how they were born, how healthy they are, or what they look like.
My husband and I recently met an inspiring man who runs an organization with seven locations around the world that is dedicated to providing surgery, foster care, and adoption to waiting children. They show unconditional love to these children, and we want to be a part of that beauty. We want to share this life that we have been given with a child who was born into a very different environment. With your help we are hoping to raise the approximately $30,000 necessary to fund this adoption.
You are a part of our community. Whether you are family, friend, or neighbor, you will impact our future child’s life. We are so happy to have you in our lives, and we would love for you to be involved in this process with us.
Shannon, Seth, Ryon, and Samuel Herndon (and Gertrude, the dog)
P.S. If you would like to donate all or part of a particular fee, please let us know that you would like to designate a gift to that specific area. Thank you again for being a part of our journey! Fees range anywhere from:
$500 Home Study Application Fee
$2000 Home Study Fee
$250 Parent Training Fee
$400 Post-Adoption Fee
$1500 Home Study Update Fee
$250 Adoption Agency Application Fee
$5000 Adoption Agency Fee
$200 Home Study Review Fee
$2000 Hague Program Fee
$550 Notarization and
$300 Chinese Authentication Fee
$3000 China Program Fee
$1450 CCCWA Registration and BLAS
$3000 Translation and Dossier
$5833 Orphanage Donation
$1724 Photo ID, Provincial Civil
Registration, and Notary
$725 Civil Affairs Fee
$400 Post-Adoption Liability Fee
$300 Validation Liability Fee
$85/each parent Biometrics
$ Unknown Travel Fees
$360 Post-Placement Report
A team of volunteers completed a unique fundraiser to help cover the cost of our adoption! On August 6, 2022, we spent the day fixing up a widow's home. We're raising sponsorship for this service project. Please donate to help bring a child home to a forever family. Both Hands-- One for the Widow. One for the Orphan.
China's covid policies are still in effect in many Chinese cities, including Beijing, so we are still not allowed to enter the country. To complete the adoption process, we need to be in China for 2 weeks to complete the paperwork at all the embassy, government, and emigration buildings. All of our other paperwork is up-to-date, and once we are allowed to complete the paperwork in Beijing, we will have legally adopted him-- he will officially be a Herndon before we leave China. It is hard to know that only one closed border is keeping us from our son, but we have learned that waiting on God's timing is the best thing we can do. He will make things good in time.
I can think of few contexts where these verses are more relatable. (Romans 8:23-28) "...we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I found an old journal entry a couple of days ago from 2017, and I hope it is as much of a blessing to others as it was to me:
Today, Samuel and Seth and I were talking about the sun and moon and stars, and Samuel noticed we couldn't see the stars "right now".
I said that we can't see the stars in the day time; we have to wait until night when it is dark enough to see them. The sky was very thick with clouds today though, so I told him he'd have to ask God nicely to push the clouds away so we could see the stars tonight.
Very clearly he said, "God, can you move the clouds?" It was such a cute and honest prayer that I told him to be patient, and we'd check the clouds again when we got out of the car.
When we got home about an hour later, we remembered the conversation. Seth and I reminded Samuel that God had heard his prayer about the clouds when we were in the car, and that he should run outside to see the stars God wanted to show him. We ran out, totally in faith because we hadn't seen the sky ourselves yet, and looked up at the sky in expectation. The sky right above our house was cloudless, and we could see several stars on the darkness. But for 360 degrees around us, there was nothing but white, thick, cloud-covered sky. The north even looked like it was piled thicker as if God's hand had literally pushed them aside like bubbles in the bathtub.
I am so excited by this "child faith." He asked nicely, then he waited patiently, and looked expectantly. He never doubted that God could hear him or wanted to interact with him. I have been praying for Samuel to love prayer, and through that love for prayer that God would be real to him.
GAHHHHH. I don’t know where to start. I’m sorry I haven’t updated for almost a year, but it’s really hard to keep saying the same thing over and over. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result. Am I insane? Maybe.
You know what though? Things aren’t “the same.”
Since 2020, the world has seen a pandemic, and I think life has changed for everyone. Samuel had to end preschool and begin kindergarten online, and Ryon had to start her freshman year online. Even church was online, and because we are in charge of the sound and worship ministries, we were one of four families working to keep our church on the internet. It was a big undertaking, and we were at the church almost 5 days a week.
Finally, we decided to take advantage of the pandemic situation we were in, and we used online school as an opportunity to travel in ways we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. We spent a week at a beach house where Ryon was able to surf between classes, and Samuel played in the sand after his kindergarten workbooks were done. Samuel and I were even able to take a trip to Virginia to see my sister and her kids while Samuel learned remotely from his laptop.
The following year, 2021, we got creative and took up new hobbies. We used our zoo passes religiously, started a paper airplane competition in the backyard, flew kites at the park, tried axe throwing at a local venue, went to Sea World, watched fireworks in the park, got a library card, and built a Lego tower taller than any we had ever built before. Seth took up golfing, if only in the backyard. Ryon started cheerleading when her 10th grade year began, and she found that she loves it. We played in Opa and Oma’s pool with all of the Jonker family. Samuel started taekwondo and is now a camo belt. In October, our family won the Trunk or Treat contest at our church as we dressed our truck up as the Hundred Acre Wood putting ground, and we dressed as characters from Winnie the Pooh. We all took a staycation to Las Vegas in November to play in a big pool and get away from our routine for a bit. For Christmas, we went to Arizona for two days to see Grandma and Grandpa and the rest of Seth’s side of the family.
We are living every day with the mindset that we could be a family of five. All of our activities are exactly as they would be if we had another little boy with us. We would, of course, modify everything according to his needs, but we remember him in everything that we do. We spend every November 25th with cupcakes and candles so that we can tell him that we celebrated him and his birthday even before he was here. We have sheets on his bed and clothes in the closet for him whenever he gets here. We are still prepared, hopeful, and prayerful.
I was really encouraged lately reading something by Elizabeth Elliot, a woman who showed great faith after her husband was murdered, and she found herself a single mother living in the middle of a jungle. That’s hard. Her encouragement is this:
“Do the next thing. Don’t sit down and think of all the things you have to do. That will kill you. It’s overwhelming. It’s daunting if you think of all the things that are involved in a task. Just pick up the next thing.”
And that is what we are doing.
Here’s the shortest version:
We are still waiting for the borders of China to open (yes, we are communicating with agencies, advocacies, and embassies--oh my!).
We are almost done renewing our home study-- again.
All other paperwork is complete and up to date--until it needs to be renewed again.
We are selling coffee as a fundraiser, and we are doing another fundraiser to fix a local widow’s home.
I like this quote that may or may not have been from Martin Luther, “If I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” It makes me consider the importance of “the next thing” that I do. Am I living every moment in a way that I won’t regret? Am I using the time that I am waiting for “good,” or am I paralyzed with fear and questions? Going to the zoo or fixing a widow’s home or making a yummy dinner or filling out paperwork or golfing or swimming or planting a tree can be the best thing we can or should do. If we are in a relationship with God, and if we are in conversation with Him, He is with us in what we are doing. Do the next thing. Don’t just wait for things to develop the way you think they should. Don’t pout when they don’t. Do the next good thing you can think of. Love your neighbor. Love God. Live in the joy He wants to give you. Life is beautiful, even the strange and unknown parts, when you follow Him.
If you are interested, here are the links to our Both Hands fundraiser to fix a widow’s home. It’s one of the best things we have ever done. This is the video we made from last time; you might be in it! https://youtu.be/Ah7EEz7jMbo
If you want to join us, call me! This is the letter for our upcoming Both Hands fundraiser in June 2022. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1suMCFegZBijqvLSdfTgFnGfYlaotjLo3/view?usp=sharing
Here’s the coffee fund raiser.
Here’s the Elizabeth Elliot thing if you want to read it. https://storage.snappages.site/CS8HTG/assets/files/Children-Do-the-Next-Thing-by-Elisabeth--14.pdf
It has been 7 months since my last update, and Asher’s 4th birthday was last Wednesday. I have been avoiding writing this one because it makes me sad to know we missed another birthday. We have been connected to him since he was only eleven months old. Every year, on his birthday, the four of us sit around a cupcake or a donut with candles stabbed into the top and sing “Happy Birthday” to Asher. We haven’t had a picture of him in about a year, and we have had no updates from the orphanage (outgoing information is heavily monitored by the communist party), but we will celebrate his life. We have been asked a few times by friends and family if we could “get another one” instead of pushing through ridiculous amounts of time and fees and paperwork.
I asked God today what He wants me to tell you. He said, “Tell them that I’m faithful.” God doesn’t give up on us. Even when it takes years of tedium, progress is hard to see, and things don’t go “right,” God is faithful. He doesn’t leave. His love endures forever. Psalm 136 sings a timeline of events where God proves Himself faithful to Israel and to every living thing. In the popular 1 Corinthians 13 passage, love endures; it is faithful; nothing is anything at all without love. God doesn’t give up when things are difficult or take a long time. He doesn’t find someone else when you do things that require Him to be patient. He is faithful. He finishes what He starts. Difficulty does not imply the absence of God; He endures in the difficulty.
We won’t ask for a different child or an easier situation because Asher is worth it. Time and resources are not wasted if they are spent enduring in love. I imagine faithfulness is always worth it to the one on the receiving end. Whatever you are enduring, God is with you. No matter how difficult or painful your situation is, and no matter how wrong or stubborn you are, God will not be the one who gives up. He’ll endure. He is faithful. He’s waiting for you and with you. Asher doesn’t even know that we love him, that we are fighting for him, and that all of you are praying for him. He probably doesn’t even know that God is planning things for him. God is better, wiser, and more loving than I am, and if I can endure and love this kiddo I don’t know, how much more does God love you? What is He planning that you don’t even know yet? Who is fighting for you that you cannot even see? Endure. God is faithful.
First off, thank you for being on this adventure with us. We love and appreciate each one of you specifically for your prayers and support and encouragement. We hope you are all doing well and staying healthy.
Second (off? on?), China has not been very forthcoming with information (surprise!), so we can’t get new photos or videos of our kiddo right now, but we’ve been told (for whatever that’s worth) that he is good and healthy. Paperwork will continue to flow, but it will be more like a trickle since most government offices around the world are understaffed. Visas for children being adopted to the US are still being granted and processed, so that’s a huuuuuge blessing.
Third, I know it has been frustrating to see us wade through paperwork for 3 years. In a nutshell, our agency in Colorado has been suspended (they are not allowed to submit any more paperwork) due to an accreditation deficiency (*insert morbid sense of relief at confirmation that they were messing up for reals, and the hiccups weren’t my fault), and we are now transferring agencies. We will be with an excellent agency in San Diego that has proved to be professional and efficient both with our home study and with the adoptions of a couple of our friends.
We have been frustrated but not discouraged, and we will not give up on bringing our kiddo home. A friend of mine whose son was struggling with severe health issues reminded me recently that “God is writing his story.” All the pain and time passed is not wasted. Each of us has painful experiences that have shaped us into something. We have memories and scars that feed empathetic responses we could not have otherwise. God is giving our kiddo unique experiences that he will be able to use in the future to better love other people. Because of this trouble, he will have a unique voice. We chose the name, Asher, for him because it means, “happy, blessed.” He will be. We will do everything in our power to make sure he knows that his story is special because God wrote it. It’s not going to be the way I would have pictured or with things I would have written into the timeline, but it will be so good. Ginny Owens says in one of my favorite songs,
“The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear, and I don’t know the reason why You brought me here, but just because You love me the way that You do, I’m gonna walk through the valley if You want me to. ‘Cause I’m not who I was when I took my first step, and I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet. So if all of these trials bring me closer to You, then I will go through the fire if You want me to. It may not be the way I would have chosen, when You lead through a world that’s not my home, but You never said it would be easy. You only said I’d never go alone… I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through, and I will go through the valley, if You want me to.”