National Adoption Month
There are a few blogs that we have been thinking about writing over the past few weeks, but I wanted to take some time today to focus on the month of November in the world of adoption and orphan care. In 1984 President Reagan proclaimed one week in November National Adoption week, President Clinton extended that to the entire month of November, and President Bush continued the focus while he was in office. As far as the federal government is concerned, adoption month is focused on adoption from the foster care system but we will extend that to all types of adoption for the purpose of this blog. On top of that, November 13 has been declared “Orphan Sunday” as churches are encouraged to pray for and bring light to the orphan problem worldwide. In light of that focus, and we will probably put out another blog with a similar focus on Nov. 13, I wanted to talk a little bit about adoption and orphan ministry.
Back in 2012, Jess and I started the process to adopt internationally from Ethiopia. At the time, intercountry adoptions were being completed on a consistent basis and Ethiopia was a consistently good country to adopt from for different reasons. The truth is, even before we were married, we discussed the fact that we would expand our family through adoption and we really thought it would be international adoption. If you have been keeping up with the All Things New story over the past few years, you may also notice that 2012 was when we began working with the orphanage that has since become All Things New. There is a direct correlation here that will be the focus of the rest of this blog. When we went down to Haiti for the first time, something happened. I cannot accurately describe it, but I am going to really try so that you will hopefully get a sense of my true passion for adoption and orphan care.
When we met our kids for the first time, they were not living in the facility where they live now. When you drove up there was a sadness (not in the kids, but in the environment) that seemed to be just underneath the happiness that was coming from the children. I don’t want to say that their happiness was fake, but it was almost like a mask. You see, when you drove up to the place the kids would run out and hug you, they would sing songs for you, and they would put off an air of joy that was really cool to see and be a part of. The problem was there was something else going on. We did not know at the time how poorly they were cared for, how often they were beaten, or how many times the 2 “caregivers” would just leave and the kids would be alone. But that wasn’t exactly it. There was something deeper that just seemed to overshadow everything else. I think, now that Sophie is with us, that I have a better understanding of what it was. If you have kids, I want you to think about this and if you don’t, just think about your brothers and sisters or nieces and nephews.
Right now, I think about Sophie in that situation. I think about what her life would be like if Jess and I could not take care of her. What if, right now, after just learning to crawl and eat on her own she was taken to an orphanage? What if she could only get her hands on 1 meal per day? What if the water that she drank was contaminated and she was constantly sick because of it? What if the people who were supposed to take care of her did not really even like her, did not know her name, and cared more about taking care of themselves than her? What if she were not loved? She would never have the chance to thrive, to reach her God given potential, and she would not be the wonderful, happy, spunky, curious, beautiful, constantly-laughing girl that she is today. I just cannot imagine it, and it kills me that there are hundreds of millions of children who go through that every day or even worse are killed before they even have the chance to take their first breath. I’m telling you that when you get into the world of adoption and orphan care it is not all joy and good pictures. These things weigh on your heart, they are constantly in your mind, and they change you…And they absolutely should!
Back in 2012, when we started the adoption process, we had no idea that we would end up living in Haiti and we had absolutely no idea that our first child would be an American, red-headed, infant who was born right down the street from us. What we did know was that there are millions upon millions upon millions of children just like Sophie, just like Vageley, just like your son, just like your daughter, just like your grandchild, and just like you who will never ever know the love of a Mother or the love of a Father. Let me give you a warning. If you want to continue to live the life you are living now, do not get involved in orphan care or adoption. Because the minute that you let the magnitude of the fact that there are millions of children who will go to sleep tonight unloved, there are millions of children this year who will be killed before they even take a breath, and there are about 165 children who have died in the time it took you to read this blog of hunger sink into your mind you will never be the same. Turn back now and forget what you just read if you want to be able to go to a movie theater tonight and not think about the fact that if you add up all of the popcorn, coke, ticket, and candy sales in the room you could have just funded an entire international or domestic adoption (this is something that I have thought on numerous occasions). Stop reading if you want to be able to take your wife or family out to a nice dinner and not think about the fact that almost the entire world will never experience what you are experiencing right now and for the cost of that one meal you could feed a family for a month. And please do not think about the fact that if you were to go to your church parking lot this Sunday and add up the cost of all of the vehicles that you may or may not end up with a number greater than the GDP of half of the nations in the world and that if everyone had bought a car for half of the price they actually paid and then donated the rest we could have brought thousands of children into their new forever families.
I say all of this to say that I had no idea what I was getting into when we flew down to Haiti for the first time and then just a few short months later started the adoption process. We just could not look into the eyes of these 30 orphans and not have it change our lives. In fact, it was only 5 months after our very first trip to Haiti that we began the adoption process. Here is my challenge to all of us, including myself. It is not enough to do the minimum we could possibly do to help children. We have to begin to ask ourselves how can we sacrifice our own comfort, our own money, and our own lives to help children all over the world just like Sophie, just like Malayika, just like your son, just like your daughter. I am going to close with a quote that many of you have probably heard from David Platt, and my prayer is that something like this happens to each and every one of us.
“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”–David Platt
What will you do?
If you are looking to get more involved in orphan care, adoption, or even in All Things New, please contact us and let us know. We will be more than helpful to do anything we can to help you change the world by changing the life of a child!