Nate and Noah's Reunion

 Written and photos by: Allie Chandler

Written and photos by: Allie Chandler

“Nate, he’s coming!”

“Noah, clap your hands so he can hear you!”

“Noah!! How’s your day, Noah?”

A week ago I got a message from Tiffany Harris, the adoptive mama to Nate, whose adoption we documented last summer in Beijing. Nate was adopted from Bethel China, less than a year before his 14th birthday. When children in Chinese orphanages turn 14, they age out, and due to Nate being blind, this meant he would spend the rest of his life in an institution.

When we met up with the Harris’s last year in the airport, their emotions spanned across being between excited, expectant, joyful, nervous and so, so happy. Adam and Tiffany were about to meet their son, and Hannah, Brooklyn and Jack, were days away from meeting their brother.

When Nick, Whitney and I arrived in Beijing, we were able to spend some time with Nate and his foster brothers at Bethel China before he left to meet his forever family. One of the boys living in Nate’s foster home was Noah. Noah and Nate were best friends, and although not biologically related, they were brothers.

The boys’ excitement for Nate to meet his family was beautiful and oh-so-heartbreaking. They knew that despite the joy of Nate getting a family, this meant Nate would be leaving their home soon. Nate knew it too. When I was in the car with Nate to first meet the Harris’s face-to-face, Nate asked his friend and Bethel employee, Anna, “How come I get a family, and the other boys don’t?”

The reality of the orphan crisis was not lost on this 13-year-old boy. His heart was torn, He was heartbroken for his best friends, for his brothers, yet he could not contain his excitement to meet his forever family. You can watch Nate’s full adoption story here.

Remember Nate’s foster brother, Noah? While we were in China, sweet Noah shared with us his desire for a family. His hilarious personality and gift for storytelling blew us away, and after meeting him, we couldn’t imagine him without a family.

Well, we are so thankful to say that Noah finally has a family, and you can watch his journey here. Noah and his parents, Christine and Anthony now live in Texas! Make sure to grab some tissues, as it’s a beautiful tear-jerker.

Going back to Tiffany’s message, she reached out to fill me in that Nate and Noah had both applied to Austin’s school of the blind’s summer camp and were placed in the same session together! The two families will be coming into Austin this weekend to drop the boys off for the week-long summer camp. And keep in mind, this would be the boy's’ first time being with each other since they were in China last summer, over a year ago!

I arrived at the restaurant to meet the Harris’s, and I was overwhelmed with how much everyone was brimming with joy. Hannah, Brooklyn, and Jack were excited to share with me the milestones that Nate has made in the last year and funny sayings he had picked up. They also got him to show me some of his dance moves!

For Nate’s 14th birthday, his parents excitedly told him that Noah was going to be at summer camp with him! As we waited in the parking lot for Noah to arrive, everyone was excitedly anticipating the sweet reunion.

Noah’s family drove up in their red van and out walked Noah and Noah’s parents! As Noah made his way across the parking lot holding a birthday present for Nate, the boys got more jittery and excited with every step they took towards each other. Although they couldn’t see each other, they heard one another’s voices. Nate began walking towards the direction where Noah’s voice was coming from, both giddy with smiles!

“Nate, he’s coming!”

“Noah, clap your hands so he can hear you!”

“Noah!! How’s your day, Noah?”

The boys reached each other and Nate exclaimed, “Give me a hug!! Squeeeeeeezeee!!!”

The boys hugged and laughed and oh my goodness, it was the most precious thing. Noah began sharing with us immediately about his family and his siblings that weren’t able to be there. You could just tell, he was so, so proud to have a family.

As we sat down for lunch, the boys sat next to each other and started talking with one another in English. When the time came, the boys prayed for our food, and Noah gave Nate his birthday gift. Noah sang him “Happy Birthday”, first in Mandarin, and then in English.

Watching the Harris’s and Noah’s parent’s, Christine and Anthony, spend time together and simply laugh together was really beautiful. Both families have walked through similar, yet very different seasons over the past year, and could relate to one another that would be impossible with anyone else. Their hearts and stories were forever changed by bringing these two boys into their homes.

“I am so thankful God placed Noah in the Gohlke’s Family right here in Texas, just a few hours away. We have connected and shared joys and challenges. It brings a comfort knowing you’re not alone and connecting with someone who “gets it”. -@tiffanydharris

Community is important. Having people to walk through the hard times with is absolutely necessary. For the Harris’s and Christine and Anthony their lives will forever be united because of the bond between Nate and Noah. If you’re thinking about adopting, or know people who are in the process of adopting, find community! Be a listening ear! Walk through the hard times together, because when it’s finalized and the kids have forever families, the friends who were there in the waiting and heartache will bring you unexplainable joy.

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