My Chinese son

I have 5 sons and 3 daughters.

When we started for Isabelle in 2004, we had 3 sons and 1 daughter. So it was a logical conclusion that we would be going to China for a girl.

I guess I never put much thought into it, a daughter it was to be from the start. Sophie, who came home next, captured my heart when I saw her precious face on a special needs list, so we never even spent any time debating the “boy or girl” issue. But then came Jude. When we initially thought about going back for our third child from China, in my heart I was thinking it would be a girl. Honestly, that was without much thought on my part. So when God started laying boys on my heart instead of girls, and I felt myself resisting, I had to ask myself, “Why am I so stuck on adopting a girl?”

And I didn’t like the answer.

This is not a subject that many discuss in the circles of adoption, and I assume it is because it is of a sensitive nature. But I think it’s worth the time and energy to get to the bottom of the discrepancy between boys and girls being adopted from China. At least in my own house. Initially it appears that of course, there are way more girls waiting in Chinese orphanages. And this may be the case. But I do not know now, nor do I think any of us will ever know, for sure. What I do know is how many boys there are on SN lists. By a huge margin, families are waiting to bring home little girls from China, whether through the SN program or the NSN program. And I am certainly not judging, I am one of those that was in line for a little girl. At the time we began our first adoption, it was for a NSN girl, ayap, thankyouverrrrymuch.

But things have a way of changing. And God has a way of whispering to your heart in a way that is undeniable, no matter how hard we might try to ignore it. And what He whispered when we were going back for our third child from China, I must admit, I really did not want to hear.

It didn’t happen all at once, but I began to find myself looking more at the faces of the little boys on the SN lists. Then I’d catch myself and my head would be filled with questions, concerns, that hadn’t haunted me when we’d been going for our girls. “I can see myself with Chinese daughters… but a Chinese son??” I know, it’s ugly. And I knew it, but that question and others still swirled in my head. “What would he look like?” and “Would he even like me?” were others that plagued me.

But I pressed forward, seeking His plan and it wasn’t long before those questions echoed less and less in my head. And my heart was feeling more and more like there was, indeed, a son waiting for me in China. What would he look like? What would it be like to be his mother? Would he and I be able to relate when he became an adult? I still had these thoughts, but the fear was replaced by genuine curiosity. Sort of like when you’re pregnant and spend countless afternoons wondering about the little person that you have yet to meet, but think about constantly.

When we received Jude’s referral, fireworks did not go off. Not even a little lone firecracker. How could we know this was our boy? We prayed and I told Chris it was up to him. I didn’t trust myself to make the right decision for the right reasons. Chris woke up the next morning and read from Hebrews 11. And he knew. Jude was the one for us. Fast forward to China in June 2007. Again, as thrilled as I was to finally hold the little bundle we’d been longing to see, Jude had some issues. His scalp was covered in a fungus. His feet were horribly twisted, his ankles were bruised. His head was completely flat across the back from having to lay in his crib all day. One of his eyes did something funky. And he couldn’t stand the sight of me. But he was still my son, whether I felt like he was or not.

Sometime between then and now I have fallen completely and utterly in love with that boy. My heart is so full of him. When he wakes up in the morning, I adore seeing the smile spread across his face when he sees me. And when he’s tired or scared, I delight in being the one in whom he find comfort. Truly. ‘Love’ doesn’t seem to encompass all the feelings I have for that boy. Our AFO-wearing, athlete’s foot-sportin’, Thomas-the-tank lovin’ boy. Not sure when it happened exactly, but all those feelings I had are ancient history now. And all those questions that I worried about and then wondered about have fallen away into nothingness. I couldn’t care what he looks like when he grows up. Or if he’ll like me when he’s a teenager. Of course, I care, but in the same way that I care about those things for each one of my children. I don’t actively think about it. All I think about is that I want them to be happy. Healthy. And I’ll do anything and everything in my power to ensure that.

My guess is that most of you are probably thinking that I sound like such a jerk for having those thoughts about my sweet boy, those concerns that were completely unfounded. So superficial! So trivial! I’d have probably thought the same thing if I had read this a few years ago. But if by reading this, just one person considers listening to that tiny voice in their heart that might be whispering ‘boy’ instead of ‘girl’ then a jerk I will be. I’m good with that.



  1. *Overflowing* says:

    Stefanie, you are absolutely precious! One of the reasons I love your blog…stalk your blog (LOL) because you are completely transparent. You are honest…even when it’s hard to be honest. I completely respect you because of that and I have no doubt you have deeply touched many by your honesty (me inluded)!

    Your heart for the waiting children is beautiful…we share that passion! A passion that can be painful at times but God is so good. He will use this passion to continue to bring babies home to their forever families cause we can’t be everyone’s forever mama as much as we want to be! Just one more, right…LOL 😉

    {{HUGS}} ~stacy

  2. Lindsey's mom says:

    What a profound post!! You and your strength helped me along the way to Lindsey. I remember emailing you because LIndsey was crying in one of the photo’s you sent me from the orphanage. You were so kind in helping me to understand that she was just mad right then. Jude has grown oh so much!! He is gorgeous!!! You are a great adovocate and mom!!!

  3. Glen and Andrea says:

    What a FANTASTIC, beautiful post. You are the loveliest person, and precious to many I’m sure. Thank you for posting on this issue which often gets scooted around. Appently 85% of International (not just China) adoptive parents choose daughters instead of sons.

    The thought of a daughter and all it entails is endearing to my husband and myself but adopting our beautiful son (from Thailand) is the best thing we have ever done with our lives and we are blessed beyond measure.

    My heart breaks at the thought of all the boys left behind. I too wish that people would just consider adopting a son. I’m sure they’ll never regret it.

    Andrea (down in New Zealand).

  4. For us it is a matter of rooming. Our boys are teens and our girls are young and can share a room. Having said that…I have seen some boys on lists that I will admit have certainly tugged a my heart when I really wasn’t expecting it.


  5. hahaha jude’s got a little comb-over action going on. but he looks adorable as usual.
    love you guys!

  6. I have 4 daughters and 2 sons and I can readily attest that boys are definitely easier to raise than girls!!!!!!!

    I miss having little boys in the house. I miss having those Thomas the train die cast engines all over my kitchen floor. Lol–that son is now in college!


  7. Livin' out loud says:

    Hmmm very interesting. This is a post i could have written myself (except that we’re not there yet)..lately its been put in front of me that there is a son somewhere out there who is waiting for us….

  8. Beautiful post Stephanie!

  9. My story is similar to yours (beginning with 2 boys and 1 girl, we wanted a sister for our oldest daughter), now the two little ones will be sharing a room – so another girl made sense – but now we feel God leading us to our son in Africa. We are excited to see how God leads!
    I get strange looks as we are waiting for our
    Chinese daughter to come home, and we are already talking about our African son. But I can’t get him out of my head and heart!

    It also seems there are a lot of healthy older boys (3-5 yrs olds) on the SN list, just because we all have thought girls.

  10. Oh, Stefanie, have you been inside my head again? I could have definitely written this a year or so ago. We started out NSN girl, ayap, too. But, the Lord had other plans for us. Now, as the Mama to an amazing little boy from Guatemala and Mama in waiting to our son from China, I am so thankful I listened. And who knows? Maybe He will take us back to China for a little girl someday.
    Thank you for your transparency! It is so refreshing –

  11. Thank you for again opening your heart. We are closely approach the time when we will find our child. I do notice the lists of SN boys.

    I pray He continues to open our hearts and eyes. This is one of the biggest decisions we have every made. I look forward to him revealing His divine plan. Until then I pray every day that in no way will I manipulate His plan for us.

    You are such a blessing to the adoption community. Thank You!

  12. With 4 boys already here I have to admit that adopting any more has always been the farthest thing from my mind…LOL!

    Thank you for your honesty in order to bring more children home to their forever familes~

  13. a Tonggu Momma says:

    I’m linking to this on Sunday. Just so you know.

  14. I have adopted 3 times now. The first 2 times were female AYAP NSN. But I knew my third adoption would be different. My second adoption was from Vietnam while I waited ever so impatiently for my 4/07 LID to get closer. After I returned from Vietnam I felt God calling me to a SN adoption and a BOY.

    I resisted. I wanted girls but I made myself really examine my reasons. And what I found I didn’t really like. I was ashamed. But even more I was afraid. I was afraid that if I, my future son’s mother, could have these prejudices (let’s call a spade a spade) what would the rest of the world think of my son and how would they treat him? Most people think my daughters are cute, beautiful, etc and I presume that as they grow older the Caucasian boys’ parents will feel the same way should my daughters chose to date/marry a Caucasian boy. But how will Caucasian GIRL’S parents feel?

    In the end, I had to trust God and realize that perhaps my son Ryan will need to help break those stereotypes. (Even though I have asked myself how fair that is to HIM to have to break those?) At age 2 he’s a precocious child who charms everyone he meets. I can only see his charm working for him as he gets older and teaching the rest of the world he’s just a good kid with a beautiful heart, no matter what his eyes look like or what color his hair and skin are.

    As strange (or not) as it sounds my heart is heavier for him and I am more protective of him. Hopefully I will also be more proactive.

  15. Your heart for boys and sn adoptions is what led me to pursue our precious boy. Thanks so much for opening your heart on a delicate subject.

    What gifts do you suggest for our boy when he grows up that we need to buy when in China?? Hopefully in Jan ’09!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. You are not a jerk at all…remember the struggle we had changing our paperwork to either gender b/c our dream of a sister/daughter was so strong. Now I can’t imagine not having my baby boy…just with I’d get my approval so I could go get him!!

    I had/have the same fears you have about a son. My really silly one is what will his height be? The average Vietnamese man is 5’5″….yeah, not what I was hoping for a son living here….

    I guess with China my other concern would be explaining the “why” to him…I think b/c the emphasis on sons is so strong in China that the girls eventually will settle on that as the reason but with boys??? You are such a wonderful mommy!!!

    I do hope some will open their hearts and homes to these sweet boys.

  17. Stefanie, You are a gifted writer! Yes, my heart is being tugged by the boys too. We definitely wanted a little girl as we just had two boys. Now, we have a girl and I just don’t think we could specify the next time but who knows. I do know our boys are praying for another brother, and I KNOW God hears their prayers! Thanks for posting what a lot of us think about but don’t have the courage to say.

  18. "and one of his eyes did something funky…" LOL!

    I, of coure, do not think you're a "jerk" for sharing that information and I have a feeling you're not in the minority amongst parents who have adopted. (Or even those who haven't. I had a friend who thought her newborn son was the ugliest thing she'd ever laid eyes on & continued to think that well into his toddler years.)

    I, in fact, think you're pretty awsome for sharing that and maybe helping someone who in that place now with their child and maybe not handling it as well as you did. It is incredible that you're able to be so honest and maybe you'll show that person that they will come through this and love their baby to pieces on the other side!

  19. Anna 'B'anana says:

    Oh my. You really hit the nail on the head with this one. THough I do think we are done…I have found my heart pondering over and over and over again – “what if I am supposed to bring home another little boy to love??” What if I closed off my heart thinking that four boys and two little girls was enough?? Each time I DO think about adopting again…it is only a little boy. Strange.

    I love you for posting this. I love you for your honesty and your beauty (let’s face it…inside and OUT!!)

  20. Lisa Cairney says:

    Well done, girl. And you are so not a jerk. As you can see from all these lovely comments from lovely people who love you and are inspired by your honesty. I’m lovin’ that little Jude too. Can’t wait to get to see him FINALLY….might have to bring some Thomas stickers to bribe that boy with. Love you.

  21. Wuxi Mommy says:

    Thank you so much, Stefanie, for sharing this story! I think it was written so well, and it really touched my heart. We’re soon leaving for China to adopt our SN daughter, Maia, and also grappled with many of the same issues you shared today. We talked many, many times about adopting a son from China, and even considered the referal of an adorable little guy just before Maia. My heart has soooo changed in this area, and we now truly feel that someday, after our precious daughter is home, we’ll return to China for a son!

  22. Miss Ashley says:

    I was struck by the sincerity of your post and wanted to stop and thank you for your honesty. Your words were simply beautiful, I hope Jude (and Shepard) will be able to appreciate them some day.

  23. Boys are just cool… that is all there is to it. I love my girls…don’t get me wrong.
    I have had parents say,”aren’t boys harder”..Uh…NO! Just a little more exciting.

    Love you,


  24. Oh, I can agree with Sherri that boys are easier to raise than girls! Whew!

    I can also completely relate to your reaction when you saw your son’s face. I too, had reservations with my daughter. A very wise friend told me, “Don’t you think you’re being a bit hard on yourself to believe you should have overwhelming love for someone you’ve never met?” Duh!

    She bonded to my husband first, but knowing that that could happen, I was not devastated. If I had high hopes and expectations on how SHE should react to getting parents, I would have been very upset. However, reading The Story Of You and other sites with people’s journeys really helped.

    Thank you for being transparent. It will help others on their journey to their children. It is truly a gift to give others that transparency.

  25. Family4Liv says:

    That personal story will have remarkable effects. It has such sweetness and is deepley profound. Thanks for your honesty…

    Cathy Z.

  26. Patricia/NYC says:

    Stefanie…YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

    GREAT, honest, loving post!!!

  27. Stefanie, yeah it’s hard to figure out why but most families do want girls. Some want a girl because they already have boys. Maybe it’s because, in most cases, the wife is the one who feels those hormonal tugs first…and maybe it’s because she understands girls better…(?)
    One thing I know for sure, is that little boys are so much fun!! We now have 4 boys and two girls. It is true..boys are easier. I do love my girls and we share a special bond….but our big boys and little boys…I love ’em!! Nothing more fun than watching a 2 year old and a 3 year old boy jump off of our bed, landing solid on the ground. :)

  28. I love your honesty. THANK YOU for posting this. I am waiting for a SN referral, and we are open to either gender, so we know we will probably be referred a boy. We are so excited!!! However, when we tell people that we are bringing home a little boy from China, their excited faces quickly diffuse and they don’t know what to say. These same people, when we were adopting our daughter (also from China) were incredibly excited and supported. I also find this within the adoption community. People almost seem dissappointed when they here we are bring home a baby boy. I don’t get it, so thanks again for posting this. I hope it causes others to re-examine their frame of mind.

    Mom to Emersyn (WuXi, Jiangsu)
    Waiting for Jack…

  29. I commented earlier but just wanted to add:

    I’ve always thought Jude was adorable! His referral photo is just squeezable. Just sayin’…

  30. Table for Six says:

    Stef, it is amazing how God works through all of us. I don’t consider anything you said, ” jerky”.. maybe b/c I was the same way .. maybe forother reasons .. like you have a good heart..
    I could have written the exact words about Daniel, okayyyy not the exact words b/c you ARE better than I in that dept.. :O) but I too actually fought Bob when we said God was whispering “boy”. I actually fought him for months… then I can remember the day I was pacing and crying and submitted to God and seeked apologies from both Him and my husband.. for my stubbornness. I am and will be forever grateful for my husband listening to the Holy One – i have a precious son and in TWO WEEKS will have another precious son from China!
    beautiful post and I too pray it opens the heart of others for the sons of China..
    jill s

  31. Stephanie, this post is wonderful, and I’m putting a link from my site, because I think it is so important! I think perhaps just as much as the same feeling can be said about SN kiddos!

  32. Wonderful post…thanks for sharing.

  33. Thanks for being REAL.
    I so identify.
    May the Lord move in our hearts as we submit to HIS will and leave our own thoughts and dreams at His feet. His dreams are so much better than the ones we have conjured up.
    Blessed Mom to a little boy from China

  34. Stephanie,
    What a beautiful post – and so on target. God has been showing me that we, too have a son in China – and answering that call has been very, very hard. I'm still waiting on my husband to be on the same page (not that he's unwilling, but he would prefer to have a few more "ducks in a row" logistically and financially) – and the thought of adding a 6th child is overwhelming to both of us at times. But if I've learned nothing else from Gracie's adoption, is that God will work out the timing & it will be perfect.
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart –

  35. Flamingo Mama says:

    I think a lot of people will be “hit” with your words. We are in process of our 1st adoption. We did not set out with a special needs adoption, but God had other plans. We were set on a girl. We have 3 bio kiddos…2 boys and a girl, so another girl seemed “perfect” and that IS who God directed us too. However, once we entered the world of adoption and saw how many more little boys needed homes than girls, my hubby and i started to have heart stirrings. so as long as we don’t die of stress from this adoption, we plan to adopt a little boy…probably SN. i guess that will be it, but who knows?

  36. No one thinks any less of you because of your feelings. Know that. You listened to God and submitted to your husband’s lead! I respect you so much for that. God knew how much you would love your son. Just as he loves His.
    Thank you for sharing. You have such a beautiful family. God bless you.

  37. I have 3 daughters, and to be honest, I have never seriously considered a boy. When we talk about adopting again,everyone always assumes that it would be a boy we would go for. For me-not so much. I love my nephews and there is definatley something to be said about that mother/son relationship, but I just have never really given a boy serious consideration. Maybe someday……

  38. This may sound COMPLETELY naive, and if it offends – I am truly sorry. The more I read these fabulous links from Tonggu Mama’s blog, the more I realize…being a mama is still being a mama, no matter how the children joined your family. I gave birth to my daughter two years ago…with a Chinese husband. I’m preparing to give birth to my first son in about a month. When I found out it was a boy…I had some of the same thoughts as you. I knew my husband wanted a boy, and that’s about it. I think the major difference, at first, will be the fact that you CHOSE a boy…and I was GIVEN a boy. By the time they’re teenagers, both your son AND mine will probably think their mothers are dweebs that don’t understand them…and I expect nothing less from my daughter, as well. I applaud you taking this road – for opening up your heart to these children that need you.

    God bless!

  39. Stefanie,
    I found my way here from Tongu. I just had to say that I had the opposite problem when choosing China. I always pictured myself as a Mom with 3 boys. Never in my life did I think I would be the mother to a girl. When I choose China I requested a boy or girl 1 to 3. Until my referral came I really thought God was going to find a boy for me and I’d be the one single Mom to receive a healthy boy. At one point I almost left the China program to adopt a boy from India. However I decided to stay with China and in my life I can not imagine raising any child besides my Amelia. It just goes to show that leaving ourselves open to the unexpected can bring wonderful surprises!

  40. The Byrd's Nest says:

    Oh this is a very beautiful and heartfelt post. I am totally drawn to little Asian boys and if God allowed us to adopt again, this would be my choice.

    I adopted a little girl from South Korea and we too had a tough relationship. It took both of us two years to fall in love with each other but oh how I wouldn’t trade any of the even “bad” moments to witness the transformation in her now.

    The part of your story that touched me the most was your husband who turned to his bible for the answer. What a blessing he must be to you and your family.

  41. Amie@HeartSmiles says:

    You are adorable. Truly. I LOVE how you share your heart, unabashedly. That is why so many love you. That is one of the MANY reasons I love and adore you.

    Thank you for putting this out there. Thank you for sharing this in the hopes that just one person even will consider one of the many precious boys waiting!

    I just love You!

    Mom to 2 little girls and one little man from China!

  42. Wife of the Pres. says:

    Came over looking for another older post and stumbled on this one. You NEED to put this on the NHBO blog. It would be a great one to add to the mix. I was thinking of doing something similar but you said it so well here.

    And I am totally copying the comment I MADE MYSELF back on 11/20/08 for a post I'll be doing on my blog in the near future. AMAZING to have evidence of how God was working in my heart as He was paving the way for us to find Joel and is still paving it for us to bring that boy HOME!

    And I REALLY need some reminders of God's faithfulness right now!!!

  43. Thank you so much for your vulnerability in writing this post. God has been tugging at my heart lately on this subject. I had my heart set on adopting a girl because, well, that’s what you do in China right?? The last few months I could feel a weird push-pull in my heart and mind, knowing that I needed to be open to adopting a boy. This post was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe I am the one (I’m definitely one of the ones!) that you wrote this post for! We just went in and changed our gender preference to “No Preference” with our agency. It took some major soul-searching and deep conversation with God as he exposed some of the ugly in my heart. I had very similar (strange) concerns about adopting a boy.

    Well, now we’ve made the decision to be open and I feel so free! Let’s see who God brings to our family! I’m really excited! I just wrote a post about it on my blog and I hope that it inspires someone the way you inspired me:

    • NiHaoYall says:

      Wow, amazing that the Lord would use our story in your story! So excited to hear how He has been changing your heart – please keep me posted :)

  44. Hi Guys,

    I’m from the netherlands and we are in the process of adopting from China. Over here we don’t have a choice wether you get a boy or a girl, you coule say just like in a ” natural situation’ . The agency matches you with a child that fits your profile ( age, special needs you think you can handle). You can only go for SN because for nsn you would be waiting more than 8 years. The agencies simply don’t offer thisOption anymore. The chance we wil be having a boy is about 85 % because there are simply far more boys on the sn- list. You don’t get to see a picture before you have accepted the referral ( not sure if that is the right english word) of your child. It’s very interesting to read your blog and see how different procedures are around the world. But at the end of the road we all hope to make a difference in the lives of our children, love your blog and your picture! All the best from the Netherlands! Nynke Visser

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