Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, March 10, 2017

Catching Up: Shan Chen's Adoption Finalized, Guangzhou & Pictures from Shan Chen's Family Day

Psalm 100:5 "For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations."


After a late night of bonding, we all woke up late this morning (7:30 vs. 6am). Shan Chen and DJ played together until after 11pm. DJ finally fell asleep, but Shan Chen was all pumped up. He told me he wasn't tired. I think he was just very excited from a busy day of change. I finally layed down next to him and he finally settled down to sleep. 

Once we were dressed for the day, we headed downstairrs for a nice Chinese buffet breakfast. The hotels in China do breakfast right. They provide an assortment of delicious food. Following breakfast, we went upstairs to gather all the things we needed for the day (snacks for the ever hungry boys, water, gifts for the Civil Affairs official and the notary). We then went downstairs to meet our guide Emily, who is phenomenal! I have really loved and enjoyed all of our guides, but Emily is extra special because she knows the boys from being their chaperone when they came to the US this summer to be hosted. 

First we headed to the Civil Affairs office to finalize Shan Chen's adoption. To finalize an adoption, you have to first take a family photo. This part makes me wish Wayne were here with us, but I know that we can take a real family photo with everyone when we get home. Then we sit down and sign a ton of paperwork, they verify paperwork (like your passport, power of attorney,etc). 

Keeping themselves busy

We had just eaten breakfast and less then an hour later, this boy was eating again.

I'm bored Mama!!

Once we were done there, we headed to the notary office. At this appointment, I signed even more paperwork. The accordian file I brought with me full of papers is almost bursting at the seams! I cannot wait to be done lugging a heave backpack full of paperwork all over China! I never leave the hotel or anywhere without my paperwork!

After we left the notary's office, we headed for the Chengdu Research Base for panda breeding. The boys were both excited to see the pandas, and so were we! The panda preserve grounds were beautiful! We walked past acres of bamboo and also saw magnolia trees. The pandas lived up to their reputation. We were so blessed that many of the pandas were awake and active when we were there, even though it was the afternoon. When we got to the baby panda section, there was one particular panda that was very active and cute. We all had a blast watching the pandas. 

Shan Chen's leg was bothering him going up and down the stairs, so I decided to give him a lift. The first thing we are doing when we get home is ordering another sleeve for his leg. Somehow the one we gave him over the summer is gone. The sleeve allows him to be more active without his prosthetic limb falling off. It's hard to see him struggle to walk!

Red panda (hong se xiong mao)

From the panda preserve, we headed back to our hotel to relax a little before our evening plans. At five, we took a didi (Chinese version of Uber) to the outskirts of town. We were meeting my friends Lisa and Brandi, two amazing American women working in Chengdu at a school teaching English. There were the two ladies who met us yesterday at the orphanage to take pictures of Shan Chen's family day (post of pictures to come now that I have internet). These two ladies are another example of how awesome God is at interweaving lives at unexpected times and in extraordinary ways. I got to know Brandi through another host mom with Great Wall. We were talking one day about Chengdu and we were able to connect on Facebook. We have been chatting over the last few weeks leading up to our trip to China. What a blessing Brandi and Lisa were to us in Chengdu!! 

We met up with them and two of their co-workers (Michael and Doris) for Sichuan hot pot. What a unique and fun experience that meal was last night! We ordered the "less" spicy hot pot and it was still really spicy - like numb your mouth hot. It was wonderful to enjoy unique food and have sweet fellowship with other like-minded believers. Brandi has adopted three of her own children and has a passion for orphans. Another amazing "coincidence" was that Michael is from Shandong province, where DJ is from, and he actually lived in a village right near DJ's village! Michael is now on my wechat list in case DJ ever gets home sick, he can chat with him in Chinese and talk about Shandong!

Lisa & Brandi

There have been numerous times that I wish I spoke fluent Chinese. Last night was one of those times. Our ride back to the hotel included a very animated conversation between our driver and the boys. Once we got back to the hotel, it was shower time. Both boys love to bathe (or play in the bath is more like it). It was another late night, but I love seeing my boys bond. They have quickly slipped into their roles. DJ is a great older brother who looks after and cares for Shan Chen (and likes to boss him around a little saying "no"). Shan Chen is quick to share things with his brother and loves to be with him. 


We work up this morning and started packing again. Our flight to Guangzhou, where we will go to the US consulate for the boy's visa, leaves this afternoon. After spending some time packing, we headed downstairs for breakfast. The boys love wondering around exploring their food options. I think they will have a reality check when we get home and there is one or two options for breakfast, not a hundred. We took some extra food with us when we left since we will be driving to the airport during lunch - and DJ and Shan Chen are always hungry!

We left a little early for the airport to make a stop for pictures. I discovered yesterday where Shan Chen's finding place was located. The finding place is where they were found when they were abandoned. After asking Emily if we could take pictures at his finding spot, she arranged for us to go there today. On the way there, we realized that today was the 10 year anniversary of Shan Chen's finding day. Emily was excited and said that he was now experiencing a re-birth - a new family to love him forever. She thought this was a super special day. Shan Chen did great and was all smiles for the pictures. He knew where we were and what significance it held. He must have been told about it before because he was telling Emily about it. Once the pictures were taken, we loaded back into the van to head to the airport.

The spot where Shan Chen was found 10 years ago.

Seeing Shan Chen's finding place was special, but it also stirred up a ton of emotions. I happened to see a mom feeding her small baby and I wondered what went through Shan Chen's parent's minds when they sat him in an area they knew he would be found and could receive help. They had cared for their sweet baby boy for three months. They left a note on him. I still have to have someone translate it for me all the way, but they explained that he needed help with his foot. I cannot imagine the anguish they experienced leaving behind this baby they loved in order for him to get the medical help he needed.

Visiting this spot not only stirred up emotions for me, but it must have stirred up emotions for Shan Chen as well. It is one thing to read about and take training on trauma and loss, it is another thing to experience it first hand. About five minutes after we got into the van, I looked back to talk to the boys and I saw that Shan Chen didn't look well. He looked distressed. When I asked him what was wrong via the guide, he told her that he was experiencing car sickness. This surprised me because he never once was car sick over the last two days or over the month he was with us this summer. Emily quickly surmised the situation and said that he was probably experiencing a lot of emotions that were making him sick, and he didn't want to admit it but say it was just car sickness. Shan Chen told me he felt nauseous and very dizzy. I looked it up and emotional distress can make people feel physically ill, including feeling nauseous and dizziness. It broke my heart to see my son hurting so deeply that he felt sick. I encouraged him to always feel free to express his feelings to us and I also told him how much we all love him. I told him that we would always be there for him and he can tell us anything and we will listen. It took him about 20 minutes to feel better. 

It breaks my heart to know that our boys will probably always have questions, experience hurt and pain from their past, and feel lost at times. This is one reason I have tried to hard to document everything I can about this trip through pictures, saving memorabilia like newspapers, taking pictures of foster family members, and even taking pictures of finding places. All of these pieces will help me answer future questions, to the best of my ability, to help them through their struggle. This is why I also feel so blessed to have important things like DJ's outfit when he was found, a copy of Shan Chen's finding letter, baby pictures of the boys, etc. 

We are now in Guangzhou, where we will finish the last of the paperwork for the US side. In the end, we will have the boy's visa so that we can travel to the United States. When the plane lands, they will be US citizens. We have really enjoyed being adventurous this trip. Our guide told us where McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, and Pizza Hut was located. I avoid those places in the states and I don't plan on eating Western food while in CHINA!! We ventured out tonight and found a Japanese restaurant that had amazing ramen. Shan Chen took charge and placed the order for us in Chinese. He ordered the noodle dishes and coke for me, DJ and Shan Chen. I had to fake liking the coke because I really don't like it. Shan Chen caught me making a face when I drank it. Oops! The boys LOVE their noodles and are so fun to watch. While we were waiting for the bill, the boys entertained themselves - Shan Chen found creative ways to use his wipe and DJ figured out if he put coke in his soup spoon, he could drink it backwards.

Please pray for our time in Guangzhou - that all of our paperwork is done in a timely manner. Please also pray for our sweet boy's hearts. They are so willing and ready to love us freely and completely. But, we also know that there is deep hurt from the past. I now that the only source that can truly bring them complete healing to their hearts is Jesus. I'm so thankful that both boys are receptive to praying and talking to Jesus. Please pray that God grabs a hold of their hearts and draws them unto Him. He is the only one that can truly bring them peace and healing.

Pictures from Shan Chen's Family Day (pictures taken by Lisa from Chengdu) - they are a little out of order, but it's the best I can do in China.

My friend Brandi

DJ got to see one of the chaperones from his summer hosting trip.

Me, Shan Chen's China mom, Shan Chen's doctor, and social worker.

Mom's who love Shan Chen

Shan Chen's bedroom (his bed is the one we are looking at)

Shan Chen's accomplishments - star student awards

Living room and dining room

Having our guide translate how much we appreciate all that this family has done for Shan Chen over the past six years.

Saying good-bye to China mom

Saying good-bye to China dad

Talking to this sweet woman as she cried over losing another foster child in just over a week. 

Foster Family photo

Very emotional moment - hugging the woman who has loved on my son. It was so hard to be excited when her heart was breaking.

One last good-bye

Leaving the home he has known for the last 10 years.


  1. dont count out all the western restaurants there - they often have different things that aren't in the states... like mcdonalds has a fried pineapple pie that was so good, pizza hut is like a nice restaurant (great pizza and bubble tea is on the menu) and KFC is a great place for cheap ice cream if you are needing a snack.... :)

  2. My eyes can't stop welling up. Our God is AWESOME!!!

  3. Hello sweet friend, it has been so amazing to see everything that has been going on with you in China, God is soooo good!!!! Shan Chen and DJ are so blessed to have you, Wayne and the girls as their family, and you are so blessed to have them as your sons and the girls as their brothers. I love you and can't wait to see you and the boys soon!!! Awesome to see the boys smiles in every picture, they look super excited, what an awesome miracle, STAY BLESSED!!!!!!!!

  4. So fun seeing you in Chengdu, and such joy on those sweet boys' faces!!!