At first, it was all about us.
Adoption became a conversation in our home in 2011 not because of the 132 million vulnerable children and orphans around the world in need of forever families, but because of the two people living in Kentucky at the time who wanted to grow their family.
Who wanted more superheroes.
Who loved life with two boys and couldn’t wait for life with three.
As we began talking about and considering and praying about adoption as a means to grow our family (because we had decided long ago that if we wanted more than two superheroes, we wanted to adopt them), we pictured the adorable faces of beautiful, healthy children — children who needed families, but honestly, who didn’t need much else.
Sure, God, we thought, we’ll be part of this whole orphan crisis solution. As long as we’re holding healthy children we get to bring home at young ages who won’t experience Reattachment Disorder and who play, think and act like our other children.
Here we are, Lord. Send us. Just don’t send us any of those children who will have medical needs, emotional needs or take forever to bring home. Because really, God, we’re doing YOU a favor here. I mean, we’re being YOUR hands and feet! The least you could do is hook us up.
And then one Facebook post from a dear friend changed our entire perspective.
“Jesus didn't consider the issue of your extreme special needs, your history, your medical records, and He TOTALLY didn't whine about the cost. He gave it ALL to adopt you. If God equipped Christ for the ENORMOUS cost of your adoption, how much more will He enable you to follow in His path to pursue adoption? THIS IS THE HEART OF GOD! HE WILL PROVIDE ALL OF YOUR NEEDS ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL YOU CAN IMAGINE.”
God didn’t consider the special needs asterisk on my personal file before He made me His child. He didn’t consider the work. He didn’t consider the cost. Instead, He sacrificed HIS PERFECT son to adopt an overly-scheduled, Typa A control freak who frequently micromanages the Savior she claims to call Lord.
Almost any other special need would have been easier to manage than my list.
But even in the face of all MY special needs, God chose me. He accepted me. He adopted ME. And here, HIS precious children around the world who had “needs” like all of us do but that many of us fear were looking for someone to do the same. Orphans and abandoned children around the world needed a parent to love them with the heart, eyes and mind of God Himself, using the exact same example that He already provided, drawing on the strength He always promised to give.
And the thought struck us — who better to adopt than the adopted?
A year later, our family fell in love with the profile of a little boy God made clear was our son. A little boy who wasn’t a newborn and wasn’t free of medical needs and who would need surgeries and long-term medical appointments in order to thrive. But a little boy who was perfect in God’s eyes and in our eyes. And in December of 2013, our entire team traveled to China to bring him home.
As we doted on and played with and fell head over heels in love with this firecracker God had allowed to become part of our family, we felt so full. God had held our hands and led us through deep waters and hard journeys to a little boy we would have never imagined adopting when we started our family … and who, after five minutes together, we already couldn’t picture our lives without.
But as we CARRIED HIM and LOVED ON HIM and TREASURED HIM and ENJOYED HIM, life was still so much about US. About OUR family’s expansion. About OUR family’s new child. About OUR new son and what joy he brought to OUR little now five-man team.
It wasn’t until our very last day in China — the day after we had toured Superman’s orphanage and stared in the faces of 600 precious children sleeping two to a bed — that God unveiled our eyes.
As I packed our bags and kissed our new son, a son who should have resolved every yearning piece of my confusingly now-breaking heart, a heaviness overwhelmed me. And this is what I wrote:
Because of the National Policy (the one-child policy), not only abortion, but also ABANDONMENT runs rampant here in China. Our guide told us that it is very common for mothers to abandon imperfect babies or for unwed women to abandon children in hospitals or at fire stations or parks. Around 98 percent of these abandoned babies in China have medical or special needs. Some parents abandon these children because of the cultural stigma attached to special needs children. Others do it in hopes of giving their children, whose needs they may not be able to financially provide for, a better life. Others are thought to already have one child in the home. No matter the reason, she said that in many circles, abandonment is actually socially acceptable.
Seeing this policy in action and the effects it had on so many of these beautiful Chinese friends we made on this trip — and on our own SON — just BROKE. MY. HEART. Children are a BLESSING from the Lord — a JOY and the most AMAZING BLESSING OF OUR LIVES! The love and LAUGHTER that they bring into our home is immeasurable!
And here, because of the governmental policy, while the CHILDREN IN FAMILIES are just treasured and adored (and many Americans could LEARN from these Chinese families how to love on and treasure children!), the unborn and the newborn are sometimes seen as disposable. Especially those with medical or special needs.
Unless something changes, that means that there will continue to be orphanages here FILLED with “imperfect” children — wonderful, valuable, BEAUTIFUL children just like Superman who have some kind of visible imperfection that deters families from keeping them as their “one.”
My eyes are open, and as much as I want to move on with my easy, comfortable life and erase this knowledge from my brain, I just CAN’T. The image of thousands of abandoned babies rattles my brain and keeps me up at night asking, “How?! How?!” My heart ACHES for those babies … and my arms, though now full with the one life God has redeemed, seem too small to help so many other needy, deserving children who have ALSO been abandoned. Who have ALSO been overlooked. Who have ALSO been set aside as if their lives do not have value or worth because their “needs” appear too great.
I am processing this trip with an urgency instilled in me by a God whose heart BREAKS for these children — HIS CHILDREN! — who so many of us (MYSELF INCLUDED!) are happy to close our eyes and refuse to see.
My eyes are open, and I can no longer pretend that they don’t exist. That they are somebody else’s “issue.” That they don’t matter to our Father in Heaven who says He is a Father to the fatherless and strength for the weak … and that He moves through the hands and feet of HIS CHURCH (James 1:27).
If we are going to be His hands, our HEARTS have to move! And not just one time through adoption. FOR LIFE.
We can’t leave this experience unchanged. WE WON’T. I don’t know where God is leading me, but I feel Him rising up a calling inside me for these precious children, these precious orphans, who need to know they’re loved! Who need to know they’re valued! WHO NEED TO KNOW THEIR LIFE IS WORTH SOMETHING! Worth everything to a Savior who died for them.
As I pack up our suitcases and prepare to leave China, I pray for discernment. I pray for guidance. I pray for boldness. To take the lessons I’ve learned here and live them out not just casually, but RADICALLY and COURAGEOUSLY in a world that could easily go back to being safe and cushy and ALL ABOUT ME.
As we head home with this precious baby in our arms — the little boy who is such a treasure, joy and GIFT — I pray that we never stop remembering and advocating for the thousands we had to leave behind. And that the end of OUR testimony might just spark the BEGINNING of someone else’s.
More than 600,000 innocent, deserving, abandoned Chinese orphans depend on it.
THIS is why one adoption is no longer enough. THIS is why we host. THIS is why we advocate. THIS is why we are and will and will always spend ourselves for the cause of the oppressed.
Because adoption is no longer about us. It’s no longer about our family. It’s no longer about our desires.
It’s now about THEM. It’s about THESE SUPERHEROES. It’s about the 600 children we left behind in that Chinese orphanage and the 600,000 more who are waiting for SOMEONE to tell them they’re LOVED.
These are not salvation stories, friends. There is one Savior, and we are not Him.
These are REDEMPTION STORIES. Stories of how God redeems the brokenness that is at the heart of EVERY adoption story. And about how HE rewrites the orphan story.
With His pen. With HIS grace. With His love. With the purchase by His blood.
We just get the honor of playing a part in the story.
We can start the day we realize it’s not about US.
#breakmyheartforwhatbreaksyours #changetheorphanstory #whobettertoadoptthantheadopted