Hannah Samuels

{Hitting Repeat} I think I’m always looking for a baby.


Large baskets by the roadside, dusty corners… dark alleys. My eyes are always peering intently into those forsaken locations, wondering if today is the day that I’ll hear a kitten’s cry and it won’t be a kitten. It will be a baby.

I don’t want to find a baby, and yet I do. I’d like to stay in denial that babies actually don’t get abandoned. I’d rather believe that they ONLY suffer in institutions, thrive in families, survive in foster homes and blossom in foster families. This would be so much easier to believe… if only it was the truth.

It’s a stereotypical “awkward” question from children, “Where do babies come from?” They ask because they want to know. I don’t ask where the orphan in my arms or in that bed came from because I do not want to know. And yet… I do so very want to know.

She was abandoned in a field… he was at the foot of a bridge… the local village, a hospital, the orphanage gate…. At the foot of a mountain….

…by the railroad tracks. That’s the one that gets me the most. Who abandons their baby by the railroad tracks? The hospital – I get that! A poor woman has just given birth to what should be a healthy son but instead it’s a weak baby girl who’s struggling for breath, looking quite blue and has a heart defect according to the doctor that would cost the family more than they could ever afford.

The culture here allows for borrowing and lending. I recently heard about a family who, when they discovered that their child was quite sick, spent every fen they owned. Then, as they cared for their child in the hospital, relatives went amongst one another, borrowing money. In the end, the child died. As the parents recover and grieve the loss of their one child, these sacrificial, unconditional-loving parents must work their fingers to the bone to repay their relatives.

A sick baby is born to a poor family. This is their reality, their situation and, ultimately, their choice. High-quality care costs a literal fortune and you must pay up front.

How high is life valued? I think that I can see an important yet devastating chapter to each little orphan’s story just by hearing about where they were abandoned. The girl abandoned at the hospital was meant to live. The boy abandoned in the town square was meant to be found. The baby in the flower bed was to know that she’s always been cherished… and hopefully will be found by one who loves. The little boy abandoned at the foot of a mountain was meant to be forgotten. The little guy by the railroad tracks… he was gotten rid of.

I want to throw up just typing it. A vibrant, healthy, living child was never intended to be found, to be loved… to be wanted. Of course I could be reading into the story a little bit or a lot, but in reality… he’s not a “perfect” baby and those imperfections could have been seen as negating his value as a human being.

I don’t know why I look for the babies. I think that maybe it’s because I have to prove that this sort of loss and pain exists in the world. But why? Why must something so awful be confirmed? This I don’t know. Could it be that God’s heart is for the fatherless and His eyes are on the little ones at the orphanage gate and in the flower bed and that His passion is to bring children to himself? When I look into the eyes of the children here, I see Him. I see Jesus, because in many cases… His love and care is all that they have to live on.

How much realer and truer is this for the one who hasn’t been found yet? What about the baby who was just given up, who has spent her first night in the cold without arms to keep her warm and a voice to keep her comforted? She has nothing, and if she had anything at all, it’s quickly escaping to leave room for the cold hard facts of the cold hard world.

But she has Jesus. That’s what I want to see; that is what I see.

I’m not looking for babies, I’m looking for Jesus. I’m looking for His love and His provision; for His peace and for His grace. I know that He has His eye out for each tender cry and delicate life.

I hope that I never stumble upon a bundled up child left by the roadside, hidden in a basket or at the public gate, but I do hope that I see Jesus in the eyes of every empty heart.

________________________________________

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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Stuck

Sometimes Lily talks about wanting to go back to her “old place,” as she calls her orphanage – her home for 4 years. She was loved there. She was a sick little baby who against the odds grew to be a sick little girl, sick but spunky. Her referral described her as “stubborn and coquettish” and it was all too true. We’ve been learning a lot from this little firecracker.

It was one of those moments when discipline seems unfair and being the littlest and having to follow rules is simply no fun anymore… “I want go back my old place.” she said, chin quivering a little bit.

Wrapping her arms tightly around Lily, my mom told her about how sad we all would be if Lily left. She was in our family now, she was our special. Lily squinted her eyes, pursed up her lips and blushed the way only she can when she feels loved and wanted. “I stuck,” she said.

Since that day, the word “stuck” has earned itself a new meaning in our family. “I stuck with you,” Lily says as she snuggles close – knowing that she’s safe and wanted and that the love of a mama and daddy won’t ever run out. “I stuck” she’ll sullenly announce when the little responsibilities of being in a family get tiresome. “We all stuck…” she’ll figure, naming each of her big brothers and sisters – all of us part of a big stuck-together-family.

She was sitting on her bed, ready to turn off the lights and go to sleep when she started remembering. “You meet my friend?” she asked. “At my old place?” Oh, yes, we did meet her old roommates when we visited her orphanage at the time of her adoption. There were three bunk beds, so six girls to a room. She had been the littlest, and three of the girls still in her room had been her friends. They remembered her, even though it had been over a year since she had slept on her bottom bunk. They called her name and she introduce her family. Her family.

“On my friends,” she continued, “she not stuck. I think… probably… she want be stuck.”

“Can we pray for her?”

This was the first time that we heard Lily express and acknowledge the fact that the friends from her “old place” are still orphans, waiting for a mommy and daddy of their own. They’re waiting to be stuck.

“Claire stuck. Levi stuck. Joshua stuck. Yanyin stuck.” Lily goes down the list of her friends. “Ohh… (she remembers other close friends who have yet to be matched with families)… they stuck? We pray for them.”

Let’s join Lily in hoping and praying that one day, every child knows what it is to be wanted, chosen and stuck.

________________________

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

The 11th Day of 12 {New Day Foster Home}

I’ll never forget the day that one of our staff called the office. He was out visiting orphanages and monitoring our Formula Project with another colleague, and had just arrived at a newer orphanage we had only recently begun working with. He called because there was a baby who needed help.

This is always how the story begins. There’s a baby who needs our help. And sometimes, sometimes we can’t say “yes” because we don’t have a bed available. Often we have to slowly set down the phone, saying a desperate prayer for the little one that may not make it. The decisions that directors, have to make every sing day can be gut-wrenching and painful. The need is too great, and we are only a small community of Chinese and foreigners working together to save them one at a time.

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In each of the hearts of the staff at New Day Foster Home, there is a deep burden for the orphan. We’ve seen their faces, cradled them in our arms and cried tears of sadness and tears of joy as they’ve been through and overcome trial after trial.

We are doing something very special, and something very big. Here’s the goal: Raise $12,000 in 12 days for New Day’s Acute Care Fund. The Acute Care fund is what’s used when Lydia needs to be admitted into the hospital with pneumonia, for when Ella’s in PICU in respiratory distress and for while Alea was waiting for months in the hospital for a liver transplant. This fund is so critical for an optimum-functioning NDFH, and it’s getting a little bit too low.

Each day, starting on the 31st and ending on the 10th, we have been featuring a child who has benefited from the Acute Care Fund, or will benefit at some point, or just has a pretty amazing story that we want to share with you. We will have giveaways, sponsored by some very special supporters to NDFH, and we will tell the stories of children who’s lives were changed by New Day. We’ve gotten to hear from the adoptive mama of Cora, a little one who’s miracle made us gasp.

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… and later we’re going to hear from the mama of Levi, who was adopted recently and brightened our lives with his fighter’s spirit.

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We’ve had a lot of fun over the last 11 days of our efforts. At the end of the day tomorrow, we hope to announce that we raised even more money than we had thought, money that will help save a lot of lives.

CNYFBCover
Want to join in at the last minute here? Head on over to the NDFH blog and see the glory of miracles for yourself!

________________________________________

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

I think I’m always looking for a baby


Large baskets by the roadside, dusty corners… dark alleys. My eyes are always peering intently into those forsaken locations, wondering if today is the day that I’ll hear a kitten’s cry and it won’t be a kitten. It will be a baby.

I don’t want to find a baby, and yet I do. I’d like to stay in denial that babies actually don’t get abandoned. I’d rather believe that they ONLY suffer in institutions, thrive in families, survive in foster homes and blossom in foster families. This would be so much easier to believe… if only it was the truth.

It’s a stereotypical “awkward” question from children, “Where do babies come from?” They ask because they want to know. I don’t ask where the orphan in my arms or in that bed came from because I do not want to know. And yet… I do so very want to know.

She was abandoned in a field… he was at the foot of a bridge… the local village, a hospital, the orphanage gate…. At the foot of a mountain….

…by the railroad tracks. That’s the one that gets me the most. Who abandons their baby by the railroad tracks? The hospital – I get that! A poor woman has just given birth to what should be a healthy son but instead it’s a weak baby girl who’s struggling for breath, looking quite blue and has a heart defect according to the doctor that would cost the family more than they could ever afford.

The culture here allows for borrowing and lending. I recently heard about a family who, when they discovered that their child was quite sick, spent every fen they owned. Then, as they cared for their child in the hospital, relatives went amongst one another, borrowing money. In the end, the child died. As the parents recover and grieve the loss of their one child, these sacrificial, unconditional-loving parents must work their fingers to the bone to repay their relatives.

A sick baby is born to a poor family. This is their reality, their situation and, ultimately, their choice. High-quality care costs a literal fortune and you must pay up front.

How high is life valued? I think that I can see an important yet devastating chapter to each little orphan’s story just by hearing about where they were abandoned. The girl abandoned at the hospital was meant to live. The boy abandoned in the town square was meant to be found. The baby in the flower bed was to know that she’s always been cherished… and hopefully will be found by one who loves. The little boy abandoned at the foot of a mountain was meant to be forgotten. The little guy by the railroad tracks… he was gotten rid of.

I want to throw up just typing it. A vibrant, healthy, living child was never intended to be found, to be loved… to be wanted. Of course I could be reading into the story a little bit or a lot, but in reality… he’s not a “perfect” baby and those imperfections could have been seen as negating his value as a human being.

I don’t know why I look for the babies. I think that maybe it’s because I have to prove that this sort of loss and pain exists in the world. But why? Why must something so awful be confirmed? This I don’t know. Could it be that God’s heart is for the fatherless and His eyes are on the little ones at the orphanage gate and in the flower bed and that His passion is to bring children to himself? When I look into the eyes of the children here, I see Him. I see Jesus, because in many cases… His love and care is all that they have to live on.

How much realer and truer is this for the one who hasn’t been found yet? What about the baby who was just given up, who has spent her first night in the cold without arms to keep her warm and a voice to keep her comforted? She has nothing, and if she had anything at all, it’s quickly escaping to leave room for the cold hard facts of the cold hard world.

But she has Jesus. That’s what I want to see; that is what I see.

I’m not looking for babies, I’m looking for Jesus. I’m looking for His love and His provision; for His peace and for His grace. I know that He has His eye out for each tender cry and delicate life.

I hope that I never stumble upon a bundled up child left by the roadside, hidden in a basket or at the public gate, but I do hope that I see Jesus in the eyes of every empty heart.

________________________________________

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Moses

1520 BC

I see her, a tall Hebrew woman, struggling to stand. Nestled inside her body is the weight of a child, ready to arrive. Her mind is troubled. Restless nights after sleepless nights are confirmed in the dark circles underneath her eyes. The husband seems distressed too, his hands shaking. Working as a slave, forming bricks, he begs God. Tears fill their eyes, as husband and wife, apart yet together in their anxious worry, entreat the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…

…for a daughter.

The pain is still fresh and pulsing through her body. A life, pink and screaming, placed into her arms overwhelms her heart. She turns her head from the apprehensive face of the midwife. I will love my child for one, simple and pure moment, before you tell me.

She closes her eyes, pulling the new life close, refusing to let anyone stay. Soon, only the proud parents are left. Their eyes meet. Their tears mingle as they gaze upon their son. We will keep him for as long as we can. The father lays a soft kiss on his son’s head, his wife’s hand grips his tight. Fear fills their eyes as soldiers walk down the road.

The next three months are hard. Torturous. Hiding a child is hard. Loving a son who doesn’t exist is almost impossible. Eventually they must talk. It can’t go on like this.

I thought that our God would save him. I believed that he could remain ours. Why did He give us a son to love, just to tear him away from us? Just to rip my heart apart?

Trembling, she bathes him one last time. Nourishes him from herself, savoring the closeness. Then, tenderly placing him in the center of the large basket, she can’t hold back the tears. Mama, why are you crying? A gentle voice calls up to her; her daughter, a blessing.

She almost turns back many times on the walk to the river. Baby sleeps soundly. Mother’s heart continues to crumble.

But there is truth in what her husband said. And there is truth in the choice that her family has finally convinced her of.

Home was no place for their son.

And so, trusting in the Hand that created the gentle waves, she lets it go. She lets him go. A basket drifts down the river; a baby drifts off to sleep. Her eyes burn as they follow the basket’s every rise and every fall.

It was his only chance.

Does this sound familiar? The pain… the choice… the heartbreak…? Then it was boys; today, girls. It’s not just one country’s laws or a society’s ancient culture. It’s a world of sin – painful sin- that costs family’s their children and children their lives.

How much longer until the cry of the orphan will be no more?

But wait.

Wait just one minute. The story above is obviously (if you know your Exodus) about Moses, the baby boy who was “rescued from the waters.” And Moses grew. He was adopted by the Pharaoh and became great. He was called by his God and he became a messenger. Moses was abandoned, adopted, rejected and restored. Miracles were preformed in his life and through his life. Lives were saved.

Beauty from ashes.

The cry of the orphan is an awful sound, but it does not mourn forever because there is a great Comforter. Adoption, restoration, redemption and hope overcome the pain and sorrow of this world.

River, Oh river
Flow gently for me
Such precious cargo you bear
Do you know somewhere
He can live free?
River, deliver him there

________________________________________

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

The Mother

From March 18, 2012…

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There is a woman out there somewhere who is still grieving.

She is grieving because one year ago she gave birth to a tiny, beautiful little girl. A little girl she didn’t keep.

Did this woman give her daughter a name?

Did she trace the delicate, fair skin of her daughter’s face, and does she still dream of her daughter’s round cheeks and button nose?

How many days did it take to sleep through the night without waking up to feed her little one, the one who wasn’t there anymore?

Does she know that her daughter was loved? That her daughter found a home and arms and comfort?

And does she know that her daughter is in heaven?

I ache for Paige’s birthmother. I’m sure that she thinks of her little child today and every day, wondering if her baby got the help that she desperately needed. This woman must have been desperate. I think she knew that Paige needed more than a poor worker’s salary could provide. So she gave her up. She abandoned Paige to the life of an orphan because life as an orphan was better than death. And Paige’s mama loved Paige so much, that she was willing to break her own heart to give Paige a chance at life.

Because, you see, Paige had a very complex and serious heart disease.

Giving Paige up, leaving her alone, tore something sacred out of this mother’s heart. But she loved her baby and she knew that she was not able to provide adequately for her. She hoped that someone else might.

Did we provide adequately?

We were waiting until she was stronger before putting her body through the risky surgery that she would need. She was never too cold. She was never too hot. She got to go outside to breathe fresh air. She was given the chance to learn new things, like rolling over. Paige had just learned to roll over, and as I watched her balancing her chest, I dared to hope that the heart inside was being supernaturally healed.

Paige was prayed for. Paige was sung to. Paige was doted upon.

But the question that wracks my heart is, “why didn’t God allow for Paige to spend those 6 months in her mother’s arms, if she was just to die anyways.”

Because just as my heart is right now breaking, remembering Paige, the mama’s heart is surely cracking too.

I know that she remembers.

I hope that somewhere, deep inside her heart, she knows and has peace about her little pixie. I hope that she feels rest and comfort in her soul, knowing that Paige is in the one and only place where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more desperate abandonments and no more orphans.

Especially today, on what would have been her first birthday.

In honor – in celebration – of Paige’s life, I am raising money to provide another little angel with the heart surgery she so desperately needs. Go to www.forliuyiandpaige.blogspot.com to find out how you can get involved.

________________________________________

chinese adoption

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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Congrats to Cydil Waggoner who won the giveaway for the book A Cord of Three Strands!

Following a God-agenda

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I sit in the playroom with a baby in my lap and wonder if anyone will ever adopt some of these children. I know what their special needs are. Words that are probably foreign to many are now part of my regular vocabulary… but that doesn’t make them any less scary for the potential mamas and babas. Seeing these words – these diagnoses – on a child’s file can’t do anything but make the kids seem more needy… more hopeless.

But do you know what I’ve been learning? I’ve been learning that it’s not the people who have adoption agendas that bring these sweet babies home. It’s not families who have necessarily decided to adopt from a specific country at a specific time for a specific reason… no, it’s not that at all.

It’s families who have a God-agenda driving them. They’re the ones who bring home kids who might not make it. Kids who may have many surgeries ahead of them. Little girls and boys who may just never learn how to behave.

And that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier for these families. Just because they’re not happily jumping into this ‘pool’ and instead are being bounced off of the diving board by an all-powerful God doesn’t mean that this adoption is going to be easy or safe. Parenting, loving… it’s going to be rather scary, I think.

I’ve seen some of the needs here. I’ve met little girls whom I know will have lots of trouble attaching and behaving, if they ever figure it out. Children who probably won’t grow up normally; little ones that might not make it through the unexpectedly expensive and draining surgery, if they make it up to the surgery at all.

The word palliative is scary. So what happens when that’s the word that the doctor gives after looking at your child’s medical file? Or maybe you see the word “delayed” pop up much too frequently on her file, and you wonder what it really means.

There’s a lot that goes on in an orphan’s life between the special needs listed on their adoption paperwork and their real physical, emotional, and psychological condition. Sometimes gains are made when they get home, sometimes they slowly regress. So often the sweet almond-eyed Asian beauty you bring home is nothing like who you expected him or her to be.

But I think that maybe I’ve figured it out. Maybe I now know why families bring these unexpected blessings and unanticipated struggles into their lives.

Because they don’t have a choice.

Someone put them on a God-roller coaster, and there’s no way to get off until the ride is over. A picture on an advocacy site pulled a heartstring that caused a lump in the throat that led to sleepless nights, and the rest was history! Suddenly that long, long list of heart defects and grim “doctor’s opinions” didn’t matter at all. The established fact that this child might not even live until Travel Approval was a nonissue. Daddies are crying, and Mama Bears go into full-swing paper chase mode.

And there’s nothing that they can do about it.

God’s given them a mission. Scared out of their wits, these families go forward. They’ve never met these children before, yet something inside of them has gone into overdrive, and they know that they have to do whatever physically possible for their children.

There’s a huge risk to being willing. Who knows where God will meet you, plop you into one of His amazingly scary roller coaster rides and off you’ll go. Screaming to get off because it’s scary is 100% normal, from my experience. Deep down, the ride is exhilarating because you know that it’s all-God. He’s not safe (but don’t worry, you won’t fall off of the roller coaster), but He’s good, and He has the whole situation under complete control. Even your frazzled brain and confused heart.

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chinese adoption

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Her Nanny’s Love

The nanny strokes the head lying in the crook of her arm. “You’re so cute,” she croons. Then to me, “he’s just unbelievably adorable.” I smile, and glance at the little one in her arms. He grins up at me, kicks his little feet… it doesn’t take long and I am smitten as well.

“Is he your favorite?” I ask. I learned early that when a child has been chosen as a favorite, a life is changed. Even in a place like this, where each little one is cared for equally, held for the same percentage of the day, and hears the same voices, the babies know that they are chosen.

I think that there must be something special, hidden deep inside each child’s heart, which responds to love. It’s like radar… their little hearts send out signals, searching for echoes of love from our own hearts. And when the beams collide, magic happens. The child changes, grows, flourishes. He doesn’t have to wait for a family; a nanny can help make that change.

“Of course,” she says. “But she’s my favorite too. They both are.” She’s referring to the sweet one in my arms… so sick, but so loved. This baby is my favorite, there’s no doubt about that. Just ask the nannies, they all know. I think that I chose her because she was hard; hard to care for, hard to love. Somehow, I thought that she needed extra love that I could give. She needed to be a favorite.

“They’re both my favorites,” she continues, “but she… she’s hard. Loving her makes my heart hurt.”

The look in her eyes speaks volumes, and empathy fills my soul. I know just what she means. Loving this precious one aches; it digs deep and pierces the tender parts of my heart. That’s what loving dangerously is all about, though, and I just can’t escape. I can’t escape from her… from loving her.

But it’s true, it makes my heart hurt. And it makes her nanny’s heart hurt too.

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chinese adoption

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

I Remember

I remember the joy that I felt when I first learned that I would have a little sister.

I remember the excited jitters as we met the social worker for the first time. “How do you feel about having a little sister?” she asked. It wasn’t a hard question to answer.

I remember the long drives into the city to get papers signed and processed. The time we spent in the dull waiting rooms felt like hours, but they always felt so productive and important.

I remember going to the meeting where they gave my parents her picture. Everybody cried.

I remember gazing up at her referral picture, tacked up on our refrigerator. It was a sacred piece of paper – the only picture we had of her. I didn’t like to touch it too much, for fear that it would be damaged.

I remember the family discussions around the dinner table. What would her name be? It took us too long to decide, but when we knew, we knew.

I remember packing to go to China. I felt so special that I, as the oldest, got to go. I couldn’t wait to fly, tour, and meet my sister for the first time.

I remember the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City… and being the pale foreigner girl in everyone’s picture.
And then I remember that day, the afternoon we sat in our hotel room, trying and failing to occupy our minds. There was a murmur, and then elation pulsed throughout all of the rooms occupied by our travel group. They were here.

I remember trying to capture the moment on the video camera. I remember helping my mom reach for a tissue as she held a little child in her arms.

I remember seeing that child’s face for the first time and wanting to cry as well. I remember how she didn’t make a sound, how little her strength was and how empty her eyes were. I’ll never forget the day she cried for the first time, and the next where she smiled, and the next when she vocalized happily to a stuffed penguin.

I didn’t realize then just how significant those moments were. I didn’t understand how heartbreaking it was that, until the morning in a Guangzhou hotel, she had never babbled. But now I think that I see it all, or at least much more of it. It breaks my heart, and persuades me to love my little sister with everything that I have.

And not 2  years after that first, beautiful meeting with my very own little sister, I got to meet another. It hasn’t always been easy to be nice to them, because sometimes they’re not perfect, but they’ve always been easy to love.

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chinese adoption

Hannah Samuels

When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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