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Jan 19, 2015

Hanna and Chazz were living in an orphanage in China. Both had special needs. Chazz had an ear problem, and Hanna had a congenital heart defect.

Growing up as orphans, they had no parents to provide for them or seek medical attention for their disabilities. No one to love them, believe in them, or nurture them toward a full life.

Their future looked bleak—until God’s love broke through.

God had a plan for Hanna and Chazz, as He does for every child. The plan unfolded in His time, according to His purpose. And it started with Jerry and Jennifer.

Loving parents to two boys, Jerry and Jennifer felt blessed to have their beautiful family. Their journey had not been easy—they had undergone fertility treatments that were intensive and fraught with worry.

Pursuing further treatment was not an option. Yet Jennifer couldn’t stop thinking about growing their family. She kept bringing up the idea of adoption with Jerry. But he felt their family was complete.

Then his back began to ache.

“It was the worst back pain I’ve ever had in my life,” he says. “It lasted several days and I couldn’t get rid of it. I assumed it was stress.”

Then came a realization. Jerry told Jennifer he thought he knew where the pain was coming from. He said it meant they were supposed to adopt.

“As soon as I told her that, the pain went away. It was pretty much immediate,” he says.

“We both jumped for joy!” Jennifer recalls. “We told our boys and immediately filled out the application with Bethany [Christian Services].”

Bethany’s heart is for vulnerable children—and in China, there are many. Most children in Chinese orphanages have special needs, either physical, developmental, or behavioral. Without a family, these children have little hope in life.

So it is wonderful that Jennifer and Jerry opened their hearts to Hanna and traveled to China to receive their new daughter, who had successfully undergone surgery for her heart condition.

While at the orphanage, they met her friend Chazz, but their focus was on bringing Hanna home. Adopting Chazz wasn’t even on their radar.

As Hanna settled into her new family, Jennifer often looked at the pictures the orphanage had given them. She and Jerry began to notice how often Chazz appeared with Hanna. They began looking into adopting him too.

Through Bethany, they obtained Chazz’s file and had a doctor review it. It appeared that he might have Goldenhar syndrome, a facial deformity that meant he might not have ear canals.

The news was disheartening. As teachers, Jerry and Jennifer were concerned about learning disabilities and whether he would be able to learn with his peers. With heavy hearts, they backed out.

“I to this day feel bad about that,” Jerry says. “I decided this was more than I could handle.”

A year passed. Jerry and Jennifer went on a Christian retreat to Colorado where they read Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, which spoke to them about adoption. They began to feel they should adopt again.

As they wondered about the next child God would bring into their family, the answer became clear: they were to go back to China for Chazz.

However, they found that they lacked the necessary funds and began praying and asking God to provide. Soon after, they heard that someone had dropped off a card for them at their church.

The card had a simple message—“Jerry, Jennifer, China?”—and it contained the cash they needed.

 “God definitely does answer prayer,” Jennifer says. “You just cry. You’re just humbled.”

With Hanna along, they returned to China to receive Chazz. It was an enjoyable time for everyone. “The trip was so fun. It’s wonderful to have that time getting to know your child, learning so much about them,” Jennifer says.

Back at home, God has been with them during their new son’s transition.

The family now has an accurate diagnosis for his ear problems, and they know that Chazz would never have received his much-needed hearing aids if he had remained in China. They know God loves him and intends for him to flourish.

Through it all, Jennifer appreciates how Bethany has been there for them.

“They were always gracious to answer my e-mails and give us a word of encouragement,” she says. “I know Bethany has resources available to us if we need them.”

As for Jerry, he says he has been surprised by adoption.

“You’re always concerned about the kids you already have. Are you going to be taking away from time you could be spending with them?” he says.

“I wish I’d known how much joy adding more kids was going to bring!”


Bill Blacquiere is the President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services. For more information on Bethany’s campaign to help international orphans with special needs find loving families, please visit 

Listen to Bill Blacquiere's Every Child audio podcast. Bill engages Christian artists and leading voices from ministries, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in discussing issues relevant to children and families. Learn more and hear about topics such as child welfare, family preservation, social justice, and sustainable, culturally appropriate social services in developing countriesRead more from Bill's Every Child blog on Christian Post.