Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Can I Do for the Orphan?

Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday. The one day a year that some churches set aside to remember and discuss the orphan crisis facing this world. A day where I am sure my Facebook feed will be covered in touching videos highlighting the orphans of this world that need our help.

Even as an adoptive parent, I have found myself asking, what can I do for the orphan? God calls us to care for the orphan (and widow - don't forget the widow!) in their distress. And certainly in my heart I know that adopting one child is not the end of my journey in orphan care. But what can I do right now? I mean, here we are expecting our 3rd child - no agency in their right mind would accept us to adopt again right now. Peter and I already know that God is calling us to bring more children into our home through adoption, but what do where we are right now, while we wait?

Adoption is awesome! Adoption is a great way for the orphan to be redeemed and to once again have a Father and a Mother who love them and a home to call their own! But I also do not think adoption is the right decision for everyone. Not everyone is equipped to handle everything that comes with adoption - and that is okay. I am also not one to believe that adoption is the ONLY answer to what God is telling us to do in James.

So while we wait for that day to come where we will once again adopt. I refuse to sit idle. I CARE about these orphaned children around this world. So I have been left to compile a list of ways we can help, without adopting:

Support an Adopting Family: This may feel a bit indirect, but in truth this is impacting adopting families in profound ways. We would have NEVER been able to complete our adoption of Malachi if we did not have an army of friends and family backing us up!

Our army helped us financially to pay the ransom to get Malachi home! From the anonymous $1500 cash sitting on a doorstep signed Keyser Baby to the pennies that people collected for us in baby bottles - it all added up to pay the ransom to bring our son home! Adoption is expensive, there is no way around that, and very few families called to adopt have the amount of money it takes in hand to pay for it! If you see an adoptive family selling t-shirts, buy a shirt! It doesn't have to be a huge cash donation but every little bit adds up and helps release the financial burden on an adoptive family! I will never forget all the people who came forward to help us in this way! They cared for the orphan in their own way!

Be encouraging! Walking through adoption is hard. It is hard financially, emotionally, physically - you name it. It is just plain hard! I honestly still cringe at the idea of going through the adoption process again. I HATED it! Give me childbirth 50 times over please, before making me got through the hell that is the adoption process!!! It's paperwork, and more paperwork, and oh redo that document even if it took you 2 weeks to get it done in the first place. And oh, resubmit these fingerprints please and that will cost you another 6 weeks! It's waiting and waiting and waiting and then more waiting and court dates and court dates and ugh! When you sign up to adopt, you may be given a rough timeline to follow but things can change at a moments notice and it is so unpredictable. At least with pregnancy, no matter how bad it can get - you have a date (give or take a few weeks) that it will be over! So be an encouragement for the family going through this! We may be irrational at times so try to be understanding when we are!

Cover them in Prayer! This is one that ANYONE can do! And it is the most important step! I was 10 weeks pregnant when we got on the airplane to pick Malachi up - and I was terrified! I had been so sick and did not see how I could survive 30 hours on an airplane. I have no other way to explain it but that I was covered in prayer while we were flying, but I didn't get sick ONCE while we were in Ethiopia! I know that may be a silly example, but prayer does matter! I wholeheartedly believe that choosing to adopt opens up a huge spiritual battle. Satan does not want to see the orphan redeemed! It is a battle to get these kids home! I have friends right now who are in the trenches battling government authority to get their children home. It is ugly and the battle has been raging for 3 months now! These families need our prayers!

I believe adoption is important and will always have its place, but I am going to go off in a different direction now. I think there is something deeper, down at the root of orphan care that I think could make the biggest impact - Child Sponsorship!

Having a heart for adoption and not necessarily being in a place to adopt right now is hard! But I fully trust that God has put us exactly where he wants us and has gifted us with a second biological child. Sometimes I really struggle with this desire to be doing more. When Eli was 3 months old, we really started researching adoption again - but that is clearly not God's plan for us right. At times I have struggled with guilt, like by having another biological child I am turning my back on a child who needs a home. I know it kind of sounds ridiculous.

But through it all, God reminds me that he is GIVING us this glorious gift by allowing me to carry our 3rd child. And through it all, he has shown me that there are OTHER ways that I can support the orphan. And my heart has taken off for child sponsorship! There are many children in this world, who find themselves living in an orphanage because (usually) their one living parent or their aunt or uncle or grandmother could not afford to care for them. That really bothers me! No child should be surrendered by their birth family solely because of poverty. But sometimes this feels like the only option for families. But what if, instead we stepped up child sponsorship, enabling this birth family or aunt or uncle to maintain care of these children! And this I believe, is truly the root of Caring for Orphans!

Right now Peter and I have 8 sponsor children. They range from $25 a month to send the child to school and provide basic medical care and basic food, all the way up to $750 a year to remove a little girl from the life she lived in the garbage dump to living in a boarding school, where she has her own bed and 3 meals a day and is getting an education! There are so many different organizations that offer child sponsorship and I feel that it is an awesome way to support Orphan care!

Another way in which I really feel like God is changing me, is in building personal relationships with these kids! I have heard so often lately, how these children ADORE getting letters from their sponsors, and how they truly treat us as part of their family. So my desire has been to start creating personal relationships with our sponsor children. When they send us a letter, I'm sending one back! My first opportunity with this was with our little boy in Uganda. I was given the opportunity to send him a personal care package. It was fun to shop for him! Then a few months later when I all but forgot about the package, I got pictures back of him with his ball in his hand, and wearing his new clothes we sent him and he was holding our picture! I don't know what he was thinking but we were told that he would not put our picture down! I have truly been missing out by not starting this relationship building earlier! This Christmas we have the opportunity to send a care package to another one of our sponsor kids and I can't wait!!! Through it all, I have discovered how much these kids are becoming a part of our family. I love these kids and know that there are opportunities for us to meet some of these kids and I really hope to take advantage of that someday!

Or how about looking around in our own hometown? Find a single mother, whos children have been "orphaned" by their non-existent father. Maybe provide free babysitting for her, or help her buy some of her groceries. Lend her a listening ear over a cup of coffee! Orphan care can truly look so different for each and every one of us!