Monday, July 25, 2011

HAVEN: Tiny Steps Toward Progress

You know the popular Chinese proverb—“A journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”

Well, this Chinese girl in our family is taking one tiny step after the next.  There might be a time gap of many months or even years before we see another step, but when we do, wow, it does something inside of us.

When we first received Haven from her orphanage in China and her caretaker left her with us, she screamed for an hour straight.  She was absolutely terrified being left with some strange white people who didn’t speak Chinese. 

Cade, four at the time, comforts his new, anxious sister.

We noticed right away that she often soiled herself (she was eight when we got her), not having a clue how to deal with the urge to go to the bathroom.  We highly suspect she was left in a “toilet” chair all day, strapped to a wooden chair with a hole in its seat and a bucket underneath so the caretakers wouldn’t be bothered.

Haven had scars on her ankles and hips, showing where the ropes most likely made contact with her little body.  She also freaked out on the airplane when it came time to put her seatbelt on.

Then when we arrived home and she saw our two dogs, she scaled my body as fast as a cat in a dog pound, screaming with terror.  She probably had never seen an animal before.

Another things we noticed is that she didn’t have a mind to wipe her mouth or face if food or whatever got on it.  She never licked her lips, often leaving them very chapped and cracked.


God is SOOO good.

Haven has taken tiny steps of progress, BUT…progress nevertheless. 

Haven, right, finds comfort in China with her new sister who looks like her.

Now Cody, our lap dog that once sent her spiraling out of control at the sight of him, is now her best buddy.  The two are inseparable.  When I or my other kids couldn’t be bothered with him, Cody snuggles up to Haven, where he receives ample cuddles and strokes on his ears. 

"That's my buddy!"

She still doesn’t speak, but she smiles a lot, and is so content doing whatever we do as a family and going wherever we go.  My wife says she’s the perfect travel companion.  When the noise level reaches a high in the car, we know at least that Haven’s not responsible!

Catching the sunset at the beautiful Eastern Shores of Virginia.

She goes potty by herself when she needs to.  She dresses herself even, and can now brush her own teeth (maybe with a little help).

But what stirred me to write about her today is that just last night during dinner, I noticed something that most other people wouldn’t notice.  While eating a rice dish on a flat plate, I saw that her scooping action pushed some rice to the edge of the plate, on the verge of falling off.  Before, Haven’t would’ve happily let it go off.  Or unhappily.  She probably would’ve looked at me with furrowed brows as if to say, “Do something about this.  I can’t get to it if it falls off.”

But just as easily as she shoved the rice to the edge, she used her fork to shove it back toward the center.  That may seem like gaining one yard in football, but to me, that was a touchdown!

Our little Haven is aware and she learns.  Join our prayers as we ask the Lord give us more steps.  Even if those steps remain baby steps.

Haven, sweetheart, we love you and believe in the God who embraces your little heart.  You are and always will be our little flower!


  1. Planted in Family
    Watered with Love

  2. I have been captivated by Haven's beauty and her story from when I first met you guys. I truly believe God has something amazing in store for His Kingdom through Haven. I can't wait to see what it is!!! (Other than the miracles He's already shown through her life that is!)

  3. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! You all help encourage us as we work with the Lord in Haven's healing journey.

  4. She is such a precious child with a radiant smile. It makes me so sad to think of what she went through.

    Praying for sweet Haven and anxious to see the miracles unfold in her life.

  5. Thank you, Sophie. We GREATLY appreciate--and do not take for granted--the prayers of God's faithful. God bless you so much.

  6. TOUCHDOWN! Praising God for each step!

  7. Anthony - my "first love" in higher education was in psychology - in that era a largely misunderstood and unexplored field - and today - still largely misunderstood - but at least there has been 'progress'!

    One thing that is obvious to me looking at Haven's pictures (setting aside her beauty!) is that she is extremely intelligent - she is percieving things that many others likely miss!

    How long will it take for her to decide to speak? Only our Father knows that answer - but she is obviously communicating, and learning, and adapting, and understanding - and yeah - the rice thing may even be a game winning touchdown - it at least merits a HOORAH!

    My thinking is that when she needs to say something she will - in the meantime - she's healing....

    And that's because she has love and a family of her own!

    Great joy for you guys bro -

    aus and co.

  8. She is so beautiful in every way! I can sense such peace in her photographs. The rice? What an awesome reason to celebrate!! Yay God!!

  9. Thank you, guys, for yelling "Touchdown!" with me from the bleachers! Love ya.


    Rejoicing with you and Adeye.


  11. Hey Anthony,

    My wife and I live in China (we're American) and began our adoption journey 6 months ago when we started foster caring an HIV positive orphan here. We would love to adopt her and will start the process. My wife found your blog, and I'm glad she did. It's awesome to read your insights and to be encouraged. Thank you for the life you live and message you represent!

    with hope,

  12. Matt, welcome aboard! Thank you for your kind words. I am thrilled that you want to adopt your little angel. Since this is public, I ask all of my readers to please pray for Matt and his wife as they go through this joyous process! God bless you, Matt, and your beautiful (and soon-to-be larger) family!


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