Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Crazy, New Adventure

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Adoption is such a beautiful picture of the gospel. I came across this amazing article written by John Piper. It is worth your time (about five minutes) to read the beautiful similarities between adoption and the gospel. Here is one excerpt from his article that spoke to me - it was a letter to his wife about adopting at the age of 50:

"I realize more than ever that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” This decision is not merely a tabulation of pros and cons. I would be deceiving myself to think that. Yet I am persuaded that this decision to adopt honors God more than not adopting. To my perspective, it seems to be the path that will “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.”... And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it...What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God’s hands, not ours."

This particular passage spoke deeply to me because God does direct our steps. Wayne and I started pursuing foster care back in 2009. We thought that maybe we should serve God through foster care and possibly grow our family that way. After praying about it, Wayne felt led to have another child. About a year later, Micaela was born. Soon after that, Joella joined our family. A few months later,  after much prayer, we once again sat in a social worker's office and talked about foster care and possible domestic adoption through foster care. We were told that we had too large of a family (limit of 6 kids in the home). We had asked God for clear leading, He slammed that door shut. 

We still had a deep passion and love for orphans, both domestically and international. We loved seeing friends adopt and I always enjoyed reading about someone's journey to get their child. We found other ways to stay involved, since God seemed to have shut that door for us. Then Wayne got cancer last year and I decided that any dream or hope of adoption was dashed. As I surrendered my hopes and dreams to God, I was at peace. God continued to draw me closer through the trials of the year. My faith grew and I can honestly say that I am not worried about the future. I know who holds the stars in His hands and who has numbered my days, and Wayne's days. 

In February of this year, Wayne woke me up and told me that he had been up praying and that he felt God leading us to adopt two boys from China. We had recently read that China had a lot of boys in need of homes. Since it was 5 in the morning, I thought he was crazy and asked him to repeat himself. We started praying about adoption. A week later, God opened the door for us to host Piano Man. We knew going into hosting that if God opened the door, we would step forward and pursue adopting him. 

During the hosting paperwork, we also came across another sweet boy named DJ, who is 10 and has a special hand. His laughter and smile in the video caught our attention. We couldn't host him because he was supposed to be hosted during Summer #1 (during our mission trip to Canada). So, we figured that door was shut. Before we left on our trip, I chatted with DJ's host mom, who is an amazing, godly woman. While we were in California, I found out that DJ ended up sick in the hospital and missed his plane to the United States. Thankfully, Great Wall worked hard and was able to bring him over during hosting Summer #2. We have been chatting with the family and have been following their blog about DJ. We even got to Skype with the family the other night! DJ and Piano Man enjoyed talking to each other.

I have shared all of this to give some background on the news that I am going to share. When our dream of adoption seemed to have been dead and we surrendered it to God, God decided it was time for that dream to be fulfilled. When the dream, which doesn't make human sense, God says it makes sense. When we feel ill-equipped, God reminds us that He will equip those He calls. When we were faced with this leap of faith...we decided to say YES!!! There is no better place then to be in God's will, trusting and depending fully on Him!

Our family is thrilled to announce that we are in the process of pursuing Piano Man & DJ in adoption!! We are all so excited to see what God has in store. We are still taking a step at a time and trusting God to lead us. So far, God keeps opening the doors and we are stepping forward to answer His call!!

         DJ - age 10

                 Piano Man - age 9       

To give you an understanding of where we are in the process, here is where we are at:

* Our home study is completed and done
* Our immigration application is in TX and we hope to get our fingerprint appointment soon.
* Our dossier (a huge pile of paperwork we have to put together for China) is almost done.
* Our LOI (Letter of Intent to adopt) is being sent to our agency who is then sending it on to China for approval. We sent a special pre-application to China to make sure that we would meet their requirements because of Wayne's health history. Thankfully, we were approved. We had to get a letter from Wayne's doctor regarding his current health status.
* Next steps: get fingerprinted and wait for our i800a approval (immigration), get that approval certified & authenticated, mail our dossier to China, wait for them to approve it, and then move on to more paperwork. 

Please be praying for us as we take all of these steps. 
1. Pray that we allow God's timing to prevail (especially me, since I like to plan). My dream would be to travel to China in December to get Piano Man before he turns 10. I would love him to spend his 10th birthday with his family! 
2. Please also pray for the financial undertaking. We are trusting God to move some mighty mountains. I know that He is faithful to finish the work that He has begun. Just as He miraculously allowed the widows flour and oil to last, we know that He will provide everything we need to get through this journey. God is faithful!! 
3. Please pray that God protects DJ & Piano Man's hearts as they go back to China in a few weeks. Also pray for us as it is going to be hard to say good-bye and have part of our hearts in China.
4. If anyone feels lead by God to give toward the adoption costs, we have set up an adoption fund through Pure Charity.

Maybe God is calling you to answer the call to adopt. If so, here are some amazing kids being hosted right now in the United States through Great Wall.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Advocacy: Summer Hosting 2016

Psalm 68:5 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling."

Psalm 82:3 "Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed."

I had to privilege to attend a prayer meeting on Sunday afternoon at a local church (not my home church). I came home inspired to continue helping promote and help those with voices that can't speak for themselves. God, in His very nature, loves orphans. He is their defender and their Father. He calls on His children to uphold that cause! We are called to look after orphans and widows. I know that my friend Karyn's posts encourage us to take a huge leap of faith this summer. I'm praying that this post will inspire someone on the other side to toss fear aside, and answer the call to be actively involved in the work that God has called us. Below are some of the host children that are being advocated for this summer. Their host families are loving on these children, giving them once in a lifetime experiences, and they are giving these kids a voice. 

A Family for Leo:

This is 12 year old Leo just before he left to return to his orphanage in China (returning was part of the agreement through the hosting experience). We called him Leo, he was Mr. Cautious. He is 12 years old and has PKU. He was hosted in Wisconsin. He is full of joy, love, and adventure. He was very flexible while he was here and willing to do anything with us. He was generous with affection for all and loved to play at the playground. Swinging being his favorite activity. He LOVES music and had just "discovered" this song so he only has a few of the words down. Hearing music ALWAYS put a the brightest smiles on his face. He desperately needs a family to share his love of music with, is that you? If not, can you SHARE this post with EVERYONE (please make it public, so others can share too!) so we can connect him with his family. Feel free to contact us or Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032 if you have questions. You can also find our more about Leo in our blog at https://familyforleo.wordpress.com/ 

A Family for Micah:

I've created this page to share about the child we are hosting this summer from China. Micah is a 13 year old boy who was born with a cleft lip and palate and has grown up in an orphanage in west-central China for his whole life.

A Family for WB:

This is WB and he is 9.  His birthday is in November.  He loves to play outside and take pictures! He loves the water, although he would definitely need lessons. He likes to splash in the water! He is a good eater and good sleeper! He is very active and busy, probably some of it is just having so much to look at and play with! He seems to have adjusted very well.  He is still learning to share with his host siblings, but everything is new. He has a slight club foot but it doesn't seem to bother him too much, he runs on the back of his feet and I'm not sure if it is because of the club foot? Eye dr said didn't need glasses which was great! 

A Family for Ming:

Over the past 5 days we have had the immense pleasure and honor of getting to know the most EXTRAORDINARY young man. 13 year old Ming has just blown us away with his pleasant personality, his helpful spirit, his determination, his courage, his intelligence and his obvious hopefulness in finding his forever family. You all know the saying that a journey begins with a single step. We hope you will view all the pictures in this album as we add them and read about the steps that this brave young man is taking to find his FOREVER family. Time is running out for Ming - he ages out of the international adoption program very soon.
PLEASE share this post far and wide, and if you, or anyone you know, is interested in adopting Ming please contact : Shannon Phillips
Great Wall China Adoption
Tel: 512.323.9595 ext. 3101

A Family for Jett:

Meet Jett. Jett is a 7 year old orphan from China. He is being hosted here in the USA in an effort to help find his forever family. Despite mild cerebral palsy, Jett climbs, runs, plays and keeps up with his 11 year old host brother. He is incredibly smart and confident in his abilities. For adoption inquiries, please contact Meredith at meredith@gwca.org.

A Family for Leila:

AGES OUT December 2016!!

Leila has been cared for by the same foster family her entire life but they are not able to adopt her.

Leila is a beautiful and smart 13 year old child with no known medical needs. She will be with a Host-to-Advocate for a visit to the states from mid-July through mid-August. A family already in process or one prepared to race to her over the next several months is needed before this child turns 14 years old and no longer has the chance to find her family.

Agency staff met Leila in preparation for her upcoming host visit and she shared her love of writing with them. She had written a story that was published to the internet and hopes to be a writer when she grows up. Families who would like to learn more about her, may have a chance to meet with her during her visit.

A Family for Shu:

Shu is an sweet inquisitive 8 year old boy. He is being hosted this summer with hopes to find him a forever family. His host mom says that he is super helpful around the house, loves to ask deep questions, and has been a ton of fun to have around. Shu has some eye issues. He is completely blind in one eye, but just received glasses while in the states that help him see out of his other eye. Piano Man says that he is a nice boy.

Some families are still undecided whether they will be able to pursue adoption or will be advocating for their host child. You can visit this website for additional children: http://adoptablewaitingchild.com


Maybe God is calling you to take a leap of faith and adopt one of these kids, or maybe God is calling you to help support a family who is taking this step of faith. There are so many options out there for Christians to partake in the work that God has called His children to do (Safe Families, Foster Care, respite care for foster families, meals/encouragement for foster families, walking along side a family pursuing domestic adoption, and encouraging and assisting someone pursuing foreign adoption).  The options really are limitless. If you are interested in finding out more information about any of the children listed above, please contact:

Shannon Phillips
Great Wall China Adoption
Tel: 512.323.9595 ext. 3101


Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Piano Man: Day 3 & 4

Luke 15:3-10 "So He told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Piano Man allowed our family to experience this parable at a whole new level. We purchased him a nerf gun and he had 11 nerf bullets. Some time during the day, we lost 2 bullets. After dinner, he counted them and realized that 2 were missing. He looked all over the house and found the one. For the next hour, he wouldn't do anything but look around for the missing bullet. I finally convinced him that it was time for bed, but you could tell that he was very distraught. I prayed that God would allow him to find the missing bullet since he was so upset about it. 

First thing Friday morning, he went back to searching. I couldn't distract him at all...he was on a mission to find the missing bullet. He told me through Google translate, that he was very sad and kept saying in a sad tone, "Mama, number 11." When he finally found the missing bullet, his eyes lit up and he had a smile from ear to ear. We then sat down to eat breakfast and I read the above verses to the girls and explained how Piano Man's response must have been a lot like the shepherd who found his lost sheep and the woman who lost her coin. I was able to find a Chinese Bible on the internet and I played the same verses for Piano Man. His eyes lit up and he said, "Me!!" It was so touching to see that he got the connection. 

After seeing his reaction to finding a bullet, it reminds me just how precious each soul is to God when a sinner is saved. It was a beautiful illustration and a very special moment in our house. Note to self: buy extra bullets to have on hand if #11 disappears again.


Thursday we visited a local park that we have been wanting to visit. It was a big hit with all of the kids. Because it was so warm out, we didn't stay as long as we normally would. Afterward, we went for Chick'Fil'A ice cream cones. Piano Man seemed to know what ice cream was and really enjoyed having it. Piano Man then went to Pearle Vision for an eye appointment. Thankfully they had his sense strength in, so we went to Costco while they made his glasses. We then pent the rest of the day hanging out around the house and watched Boonie Bears (a Chinese cartoon). Piano Man loved watching the show. One thing that I have noticed, and have enjoyed, is the pure joy expressed in his eyes, smile, laugh, and face over every new experience (swinging, swimming, etc). It makes me want to be a kid all over again.

Piano Man knows how to make my heart stop at times. He's not afraid to do or try anything (which is wonderful). Don't ever tell me that people with special limbs aren't as capable as anyone else! Piano Man rocks his special leg.

He thought it would be fun to "drink" his ice cream.

We caught a caterpillar and he took it home with us.

At Pearle Vision for our eye appointment.

Shopping at Costco!!

New glasses (in blue, his favorite color)

Piano Man enjoying watching Boonie Bears.


Friday we went blueberry picking in Indiana. We tried to get out early because we were under a heat warning. We didn't stay long, but Piano Man and the heat didn't mix well together. We went home drank a lot of fluids, ate lunch, and then went to our neighbor's pool (which was a huge hit). We ended the night with our Friday Family night...pizza, ice cream, and a movie. It was fun making memories and I loved it when Piano Man decided to grab his blanket and join the cuddle fest on the couch.

Cooling off in the pool!! Piano Man did great in the pool and giggled almost the entire time.

Piano Man enjoying "American" food...pizza and root beer.

Look at all these crazy kids!!

Monday afternoon we have a doctor appointment. Please pray that the doctor is able to answer to health questions about Piano Man. We also have an appointment with a prosthetic doctor to check out his special leg. Please pray that they are able to help Piano Man out while he is still here.