I’m an adoption t-shirt junkie.
Although my closet used to be filled with the cute and stylish clothes of a girl who cared whether or not she looked like an adult, now, Supersoldier’s one-box-in-one-box-out rule has caused me to bring more adoption t-shirts IN … and a whole lot of cute clothes that just sit on my shelf begging to be worn on that rare day when I both shower AND brush my hair OUT.
Every time my neighbor’s second cousin’s former high school teacher pursues adoption, my first question is where I can buy the family’s t-shirt. (Because let’s be honest, you’re not a bonafide adoptive family unless you’ve designed and sold t-shirts to fund your $40,000 adventure ... only to realize that the $87 profit you earned after PAYING for the design and shipping of such t-shirts was not worth the 27 hours and 46 trips to the post office for your effort. But thank you, t-shirt making companies, for giving me false hope that my entire adoption might be paid off by appealing to the fashion sense of my five friends. I try to keep false hope alive in the twinkling and naïve eyes of adoptive families by being their No. 1 t-shirt-purchasing fan.)
So when I prepared to pick up our host child in Atlanta three weeks ago, my biggest pre-pick-up concern was not whether or not the child would like me (I am somewhat experienced these days at dealing with boys who aren’t my biggest fans at some point of every week); it was which t-shirt of my prized collection I should don for the occasion.
THIS beauty (above), which was actually designed years ago by my bestie for an adoptive family I never even knew, was the winner.
And friends, after three weeks hosting a superhero-in-no-more waiting in our home, I am more convinced than EVER that IT TAKES A VILLAGE to raise a child. And it takes a COMMUNITY to change the story for an orphan.
It takes amazing foreign language speakers like Miss Mackenzie, who spent her last summer before moving to China loving on and investing in our family. Who spent six hours a week playing with our superheroes and tutoring them in Mandarin and translating for our summer superhero when our translation app totally wrecked our lives. (I’m pretty sure DJ did NOT ask for a gigolo. Or tell the dentist when he was pointing to his tooth that he wanted a sex image. But thank you, Google Translate, for scarring our dental hygienist and our boys, who now want to know how a gigolo is employed. We are ever so grateful.) Who was on call for nights when tears stained our superhero’s face and questions about planes and flights and what his life might look like in the future plagued his sleepless mind. Who became DJ’s big sister … and who left an indelible mark on our hearts and lives.
It takes generous medical personnel like Dr. Ridge and Dr. Kavanaugh and their entire welcoming teams, who invited us to their facilities and provided DJ’s dental and eye exams at no cost, simply because they, too, wanted to serve. Who donated not only their time, but their hearts, their smiles and their beautiful personalities, so that DJ’s first tooth and eye exams EVER were fun, positive, amazing experiences.
It takes local businesses, like our town’s Martial Arts Academy, who offered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for superheroes who have rarely to ever left their orphanages to participate in tae kwon do lessons and sparring classes and the BEAUTY of martial arts … for free.
It takes passionate and generous people, like the owners of Sage Harvest jerky, who started local businesses JUST so they could GIVE more to the orphan cause … and who use their business to tell the orphan story. And in the process, told DJ’s for us.
It takes a community who braved thunderstorms and insane humidity to attend a birthday party for a superhero who has rarely been celebrated as an individual in his life. Who not only participated in sack races and pin-the-star-on-the-shield games in ungodly heat but who also hand painted, hand drew and hand decorated STACKS of cards for our superhero’s scrapbook — one he’ll get to take with him to China until his forever family can begin their own.
It takes friends who invited this crazy crew to outings and lunches and museums and splash pads and displayed patience and generosity of another level when our superhero-in-no-more-waiting pointed to my watch and used clear-as-day English words to announce, “Go home. Go home now.” After only 20 minutes on location.
It takes sistas from another mother who prayed and called and texted and celebrated. Who sent emails, cards and Facebook messages of encouragement. Who delivered flowers and liquid yoga and stress-free tea and coffee brownies when the ice maker, washing machine, cell phone and vacuum all died within the same week and stranded us without a machine to wash host boy swim suits or a phone to call host boy chaperones.
And it takes mamas who, after said washing machine died, not only offered to let us use her washing machine but instead provided full service laundry drop-off … and then delivered the cleaned and folded clothes to our house later that night so we wouldn’t have to leave the extended family we were simultaneously hosting in our home.
It takes grandparents who spent entire weekends swimming and bowling and beach visiting and ice cream eating with superheroes who had rarely experienced such luxuries, and it takes relatives who drove entire days just to spend a few moments in our home with our superhero.
It takes aunts and uncles and cousins and relatives who drove hundreds of miles to surprise superheroes at beachy destinations and introduce them to the wonderful world of water balloon fights and wax hands. Who loved on our superhero-in-no-more waiting as if he was their very own. Who entertained him and carried him and played with him and loved on him. Who showed him this priceless picture of extended family life.
It takes children, the innocent and precious and irreplaceable hearts of children, who drew pictures and jumped on trampolines and included an orphan in their play even though they couldn’t understand his words. Who took our summer superhero by the hand when he was feeling excluded at the playground. Who cheered him on even as he lagged behind in a sack race.
It takes host siblings who loved this little man so well, even when it was hard to give up rooms and alone time and individual attention from Mom and Dad, but who sacrificed their COMFORTS to serve a child who came to us without ANY. And who taught their host brother how to wrestle, how to snuggle, how to LOVE like FAMILY.
It takes a blog community who, FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH, has been SO PASSIONATELY telling the orphan story. Who has messaged me at midnight and has shared 32,541 posts on their personal Facebook walls. Who has invested in this journey and taken up the orphan cause.
And it takes the CHURCH – and not just the one we attend who has SO BEAUTIFULLY embraced DJ and made him a part of their families this summer.
It takes the body of CHRIST.
The body of believers who know FIRST-HAND the LOVE and BEAUTY of adoption. Because they’ve experienced it themselves: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
And because we’re children of God, we get the PRIVILEGE of playing a PART in HIS STORY – His story of LOVE. His story of CARE. His story of REDEMPTION.
We don’t HAVE to live out our calling in James 1:27 to care for orphans and widows in their distress; we GET to. Because HE loved US FIRST.
And it takes ALL of us serving. All of us caring. All of us speaking for those who have never had a voice, all of us loving using our OWN gifts, our OWN talents, our OWN resources. The ones God has uniquely given us to do His work on this planet.
It takes a village.
And when that village rises to the challenge and gives and prays and advocates and serves, orphans find families. The fatherless find homes. And LIVES CHANGE FOREVER.
That’s the POWER of God’s village.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of ours. <3