Tim Bennett is a valuable member of my husband’s “tribe” and I could not be more grateful for the ways this tender warrior speaks life to my husband and fights for our family as a whole. His presence on the Wellspring board also makes me feel covered and protected. I am delighted to share this beautiful glimpse into his family with you.
– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator
I Have 5 Children… I Used to Have 4
… until my oldest daughter and I went on a 2 week mission trip to China and worked in an orphanage. That trip planted the seed that led to a return to China in January of 2010 where my wife and I, along with our 2 daughters would go to meet our youngest daughter Yang Yi for the first time and bring her home.
As we made our way to China, we were all nervous and excited… and we couldn’t help but wonder constantly, what must be going through her mind? What was she thinking that morning? She had to know that something was different. She had a new coat that she didn’t just pull off the “pile.” She had new shoes. She had a new backpack that was filled with things that she couldn’t open until she met her family. But, did she really understand what was about to happen?
That morning she was leaving the only place she had ever lived.
That morning, at the age of 6 years and 8 months, she was leaving the only place she had ever lived, and the only people she had ever known; to go to a place she had never been, to meet people she had never seen… who didn’t look like her, who weren’t the same color, who didn’t speak the same language.
We were gathered in a small room in the government building where we would meet her, and we saw her come in just outside the door. We recognized her from the internet picture as they ushered her into an adjoining room and drew a curtain over the entrance. Then, they came and told us that they were getting ready to call her out. So we walked out in front of the curtain and they called, “YANG YI!” and opened the curtain.
I can’t adequately describe the look on her face! It was contorted with every conceivable emotion… excitement and fear, joy and sadness, curiosity and extreme caution! She stood, frozen in place, as my wife approached her slowly and got down on her knees. I heard the translator say something that must have been, “This is your mama.” And, Yang Yi slowly, deliberately and bravely moved forward and embraced my wife. I moved toward her and got down on my knees as well. As she recognized her sisters from pictures we had sent, she couldn’t contain the excitement, and began shouting and pointing at all of us… And she began to experience a family.
After we came home, we dealt with the separation anxiety as my wife would leave the house and she would panic, not knowing what was happening! But, over time, she began to settle in with us and starting picking up a few words of English. All of our children’s names begin with the letter ‘C’ (Casey, Carson, Chelsey and Carli)… so Yang Yi had to have a ‘C’ name… So we named her Caelyn. She loved being called Caelyn and she loved being a Bennett!
God Let Me See His Glory and Adoption Love Story for All of Us
In the ensuing weeks I would come home from work and sit in my chair, and she would come sit in my lap and just look at me. She would say, “You Daddy!” I would say, “Yes, I’m Daddy.” And she would ask, “Daddy love Caelyn?” I would smile and say, “Yes, Daddy loves Caelyn!” She would then ask, “Mommy love Caelyn?” I would smile and say, “Yes, Mommy loves Caelyn.” She would go down the list of each family member asking the same question and receiving the same answer. When we finished she would smile the biggest smile, jump down and start playing. But, in just an hour’s time, she would get back in my lap again and repeat the same exact sequence of questions!
In her first few weeks with us, she did this 4 or 5 times a day. I found out later that she was doing the same thing with my wife. I would put her to bed and say prayers, and she would look at me with a smile and say, “Daddy love Caelyn?” There were times when I wanted to say, YES! DADDY LOVES CAELYN! MOMMY LOVES CAELYN! CASEY LOVES CAELYN! ALL GOD’S CHILDREN LOVE CAELYN! 🙂 But, I knew a deep transition was taking place… and you could see it in her eyes… She was grappling with the concepts of Love, Family, and Father for the first time in her life!
One of the things they gave her when she left the orphanage was a small photo album that had pictures of her and her friends in various activities and settings at the orphanage. In those first few weeks, we spent many hours looking through the photo album with her, as she would try to describe to us about her friends and where she had lived.
Sometime later, my parents came to visit her for the first time from North Carolina. Caelyn had never seen them in person, but she ran to them with open arms. She knew they were “family.” My mom was thoughtful enough to bring a photo album with pictures of our extended family to show her. As they were sitting on the couch, Caelyn would point to a picture and say, “Bennett?” My mom would say, “Yes, that’s a Bennett!” And Caelyn’s eyes would get big. After a few minutes, Caelyn jumped down and ran to get her photo album from China. I thought she was going to also share pictures with my mom… this was going to be neat! But what she did next rocked my world.
Caelyn pointed to a picture in my mom’s photo album and said, “Bennett?” And, when my mom said, “Yes, that’s a Bennett!” Caelyn peeled back the protective covering in my mom’s album and took out the picture. Then, she opened her photo album, took out a picture and put it aside. Then, she put the picture from my mom’s photo album in her album! By the time they had finished, Caelyn had emptied out half the pictures from my mom’s photo album, and pictures from the orphanage in China were strewn all over the couch. As I began to process the significance of what I had just witnessed, I realized that it was one of the most amazing things I had seen in my life!
As she was opening herself up to the depths of love and family, she began to surrender her whole self… and bask in her new identity… and the new pictures began to replace the older ones. I’ve never seen a more perfect picture of surrender.
Some of you reading this have never fully grasped the love of the Father to those depths… and you have never surrendered EVERYTHING completely to Him… and you’re still hanging on to the old pictures.
One Step Further:
- If you could grasp the love of your Abba Father at a deeper level, how might that change the way you view yourself and others?
- When you ask the question, “Does God love (insert your name here)?” What do you hear?
- What old pictures might God want to replace?