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Hao Bao Bao

Hao Bao Bao

Roasting Coffee to Bring a ‘Precious Child’ Home
  • Miriam Parrish

Brittany (Good ’08) Mann was only six years old when she made up her mind to adopt. The Iron Curtain had just fallen, and she visited a Russian orphanage with her parents, who were new missionaries. Meeting the orphans touched Brittany, even as a little girl. She remembers begging her parents, “Let’s bring these kids home!”

Years later, while Brittany was studying elementary education at Moody Bible Institute, she started dating Darren Mann ’07, who had come to Moody the year before Brittany for a Bible degree. At Moody he would acquire the training to become a Bible teacher himself—and he would develop an unexpected skill from his Culbertson 7 floormates.

When his friend, Joel Miller ’07, purchased a small coffee roaster, they learned to roast their own brews in the Culby 7 storage closet. “I have no idea if we broke the rule book or not,” Darren says with a laugh. “We just did it in the closet because we didn’t want any smoke alarms going off.”

Darren and Brittany married in May 2008, the day after Brittany’s graduation. In 2011 they moved to Wuhan, China, and taught at an international school for two years. They taught for three more years in Hong Kong, where they had their daughter, Eden.

They had discussed adoption from the beginning of their relationship. “I always thought we’d adopt from Russia,” Brittany says, but after learning Mandarin and building a life in Wuhan, they saw the same need in their host country. China’s orphanages aren’t full of healthy baby girls, they learned. “It’s mostly children with special needs,” says Brittany. “And older children—and also boys, a lot of boys.”

The Manns had relocated to Florida in 2016 while waiting to meet China’s adoption criteria—including having $80,000 in assets, which for them meant purchasing a house. Then China changed its rules and they had to wait another four months for Eden to turn two-and-a-half. Finally, in November 2017, they began the first round of paperwork.

“My big fear was that we’d get into the adoption, maybe even be matched with a child, and then not be able to pay for it,” Brittany says. For two teachers—Darren teaches Bible at a Christian school near Orlando, and Brittany teaches Chinese students online—raising $30,000 for an international adoption was a challenge. Through the generosity of grant agencies and private supporters—and much prayer—the Manns saw God provide.

When they received their future son’s file, it specified that he had developmental delays and anemia. “We knew he could stand and babble, and that was all,” says Brittany. By November 2018, when they adopted Titus at a government office in China, he was walking and talking.

At home in Florida, they struggled to find food that Titus would accept. “We’ve eaten more bacon in the past year and a half than just about anything,” Brittany says. It paid off: Titus gained weight and grew three inches.

Today Titus is healthy and well-adjusted to his new surroundings. His parents want to honor his Chinese heritage by incorporating Chinese culture into their home. This includes speaking a mix of Mandarin and English, which Titus initially rejected. “We’re trying to keep it up,” Brittany explains. “But also reading his signals and not trying to force something on him that he doesn’t want.”

Two days after adopting Titus, the Manns visited his orphanage. The children were well-fed and the nannies were kind, but Titus’s room alone housed 20 orphans, some with particularly severe needs. The same realization that had changed Brittany’s life as a child struck her again: “These kids need homes.”

The Manns were prepared to undertake a second adoption, but they had concerns—like raising an additional $30,000. All the challenges in bringing Titus home had paid off, but with the prospect of a second adoption, Darren thought, “We already have this really amazing boy. Do I want to mess that up?”

They chose to trust God. “There’s not a reason to say no to adoption,” Brittany says. “We would love as many children as possible to have families.”

Darren resumed roasting coffee beans when they moved to Florida. “Anybody can start a coffee roasting business,” Darren explains. “For a business to be successful, there has to be a purpose behind it.” And what better purpose than supporting adoption?

With an upgrade to a two-pound commercial roaster, a logo designed by a friend, and a name—Hao Bao Bao Coffee (Mandarin for “precious child”)—they were ready to go. There was a learning curve, but Darren’s experience assisting his parents with a small business helped.

Meanwhile, the adoption agency matched the Mann family with little Asher, of Xi’an, China. “We finished our home study by the end of October and were fully funded by January 2020,” Brittany says.

The Manns have a Facebook page and a business website, haobaobaocoffee.com, but until the coronavirus pandemic, they sold most of their coffee at local farmers’ markets. More than promoting their business, going to the markets has served to get their story out, like connecting them with a photographer who donated enough to cover their travel expenses to China.

Finances were not the only hurdle. They ran into additional snags when completing the paperwork for Titus, and then Asher. Friends around the world prayed that the Manns would receive the stamp they needed. Two days later a woman from the embassy called and told Brittany the paperwork had gone through. “Only the power of prayer made this happen,” Brittany realizes. “It should never have been approved.”

The Manns would have flown to China in July, but COVID-19 put international adoptions and travel on hold. With Titus they knew five months in advance when they would be traveling. “Now, not to have any timeline at all . . . it’s a little rough,” says Brittany.

The orphanage has kept the Manns updated on Asher, so they are content to wait. And they have not forgotten the children of Titus’s former orphanage. “We can adopt Asher and change his life,” says Brittany, “but in the end there are thousands of kids—millions of kids—that need families. We know they have so much potential, just like Titus. He’s grown so much, developed and changed, and he’s so happy.”

Darren and Brittany want to encourage others who are considering adoption: Anyone can adopt, they say. “We had so much fear going into it, but it is possible. You just have to trust God and take each step at a time.”

“Yes, we have challenges,” Brittany says. “Just like we have challenges with our daughter. He’s not perfect. She’s not perfect. We’re not perfect parents. But he is such a blessing. We’re so grateful that God brought him into our life, and thankful that we didn’t miss it.”

About the Author

  • Miriam Parrish

Miriam Parrish is an editorial assistant for Moody’s Marketing Communications team and will graduate from Moody in 2021.