Saturday, March 1, 2014

Do Something!

I am just going to come out and say it. This post was difficult to write.  I have been pondering my words for several days and trying to think of the best way to say what I needed to say.  I did not want to upset anyone with my words, but at the same time, I needed to answer the question that I get asked continually with truth.  I finally realized that I just needed to say it.  I needed to speak from my heart and let the thoughts flow into words on this page.

What is the number one question that I get asked about international adoption?  “Why would you adopt from another country when there are so many kids in the United States that need a home?” That is the question.  However, the implications behind the question lie much deeper.  The implication is that American families should just adopt from the United States. There is also an implication that the need here in this country is so much greater than anywhere else in the world so how can we turn our backs on those children that live here in this country.  Sadly, many times the person that is asking me this question has never and would never consider domestic adoption or foster care adoption in this country.

I am not going to debate the importance of domestic or foster care adoption versus international adoption in this post because I believe that they are all important ways of creating a family.  I support anyone who chooses to adopt by any of these means because a child gets a family, and doesn’t everyone deserve to have a family to love them?

What I do want to talk about is why international adoption matters. Is our ability to love a child really constrained by the borders of our own country?  I don’t think so.  Our love should be boundless like the love that Jesus has for us.  When a child is born thousands of miles away in another country whether it be Bulgaria, Ethiopia or China, that child deserves a family.  In a perfect world, these children would find families in their birth country to love them and care for them and to help preserve the culture of their birth, but we don’t live in a perfect world.  The truth is that we live in a broken world, and these children, especially the ones with special needs, will have little hope of finding a family in a country where there are no services for children with disabilities, where there are no handicapped parking spaces, or handicapped seating in restaurants.  So, if there are willing and able parents in the United States who can love these children and provide them with the healthcare and the services that they need, then who are we to stand in their way?

Mother Teresa said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” And, isn’t that what adoptive parents are trying to do? They are trying to remedy a great poverty in our world.  Adoptive families are wanting children who were previously unwanted.  They are loving and caring for children who have known what it is like to feel unloved, neglected and ignored.

Can you imagine being a three month old baby and not feeling loved? It is almost difficult to comprehend, but it happens in orphanages every day around the world.  Imagine a room filled with 20 to 30 metal cribs and in each crib is a child, but there are only one or two orphanage workers to feed and change all 20 to 30 children.  The workers simply have too many mouths to feed so the babies are given bottles with large holes cut into the nipples of the bottles. The bottles are then propped up next to the child laying in the crib so that the liquid flows quickly down into their tiny mouths.  There is no holding of these children while they are being fed, no gentle pats on their small backs after the feeding, and no soft rocking in warm arms until sleep falls again.  The feeding is over and done almost as quickly as it started, and then the children are left alone, untouched in their cribs for hours.  No one is there to rock you so you learn to rock yourself, back and forth, side to side, harder and harder in your crib.

Diapers in many orphanages are changed only once a day so the children lie in their cribs for hours with not only a soiled diaper on but with wet clothes soaked from urine and feces.  You might think that there would be babies crying and screaming every day in these rooms at the orphanage because that is what a child who has been held and loved will do to get the attention of the mother.  A baby will cry when his diaper is soiled or when he is hungry because he is uncomfortable. The child knows that his mommy can remedy this discomfort. Why? Because his mommy has done it over and over since the child’s first day of life.  However, orphanages are sometimes the most quiet places.  Why cry when you know that no one is coming?

When my son first came home from Bulgaria, he would never cry.  He would fall and hurt himself, but he would never cry.  As little boys do, he would get into all kinds of scrapes while playing outside, but not one tear would fall.  It wasn’t until months later when he realized that mommy would come and kiss his boo boos and hug his hurts away that he began to cry when he was injured.  He learned that I would come and help him. He learned that I would wipe away his tears and give him a Band-Aid if needed.  He learned that I would give him food whenever he was hungry. He learned that I would hold him when he was sad or tired.  He learned that I would cheer for him when he did a good job.  He learned what it was like to feel loved.  He learned how to be a part of a family.

I firmly believe that all children whether born in this country or in China, Ethiopia, the Ukraine or any other country deserved to be loved. Love should have no boundaries or borders, and it should not be constrained by our nationality.  A child should not be deprived of a family because there is an ocean lying between him and his family.

So what happens if we put up the walls and decide that children in orphanages in other countries are someone else’s problem? What if we turn our heads in apathy because these children live thousands of miles away, and we don’t have to look them in them in the eyes every day? What happens then?

Per documented research on children living in orphanages in Romania, a child will be three months behind in development for every one month that a child spends in an institution. I have seen a four year old come home to his adoptive family and be developmentally and physically around 18 months.  These children will grow up in these orphanages and will lag behind in almost all areas.  They will be given a limited education, and they will be put on the street, sometimes as young as 14 years of age with no skills, no money and no prospects.  They will fall prey to human trafficking, particularly the girls who are at a much higher risk.  They will not have the opportunities to succeed that they so desperately deserve. A family would give them everything they need to succeed in life and stop this unbelievable tragic cycle.

You might ask how I know that the descriptions I have given of the babies in the orphanage are accurate. My simple answer is because I have been to such an orphanage. I have described the place in which my son spent the first three and half years of his life.  What I have seen, I cannot unsee.

God has given me a heart for orphans and a desire to help adoptive families in any way that I can.  He has also called me not once, but twice, to be an adoptive parent.  As I have said many times before, not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to help the orphans. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Sometimes that calling comes in the form of helping adoptive families by praying for them and being there for them on this very difficult and emotionally, mentally, and financially taxing journey.  

One of my favorite songs right now is by Matthew West, and it is called “Do Something.” If you have not heard this song, I greatly encourage you to take a listen and do something!  Here is a portion of the lyrics.

Do Something – Matthew West
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something.”

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