For several months I have been feeling a distinct call to orphan advocacy. I have not been sure what avenue to pursue, whether it be blogging, involvement in a particular non-profit, promoting orphan care in my own little sphere of influence, or something completely different.
I began praying, and looking, and listening for an open door.
About 2 months ago, a fellow adoptive mom posted a link on Facebook to the blog of a family who was adopting Katie.
Katie is 9 years old...yes years, not months. Katie has Downs Syndrome. Downs Syndrome does not cause a child to weigh 10 lbs 9 oz at 9 years old. Neglect and malnutrition, at the hands of an Eastern European institution did that. Her bones are porous and brittle like the bones of an elderly lady with osteoporosis. She came home with scurvy due to a lack of vital nutrients. She was so dehydrated that she was hospitalized in her home country within hours of release from the institution. Her teeth have never been brushed. Her fontanel (soft spot) has never closed due to malnutrition. Her body stopped creating human growth hormone. In her 9 1/2 years, she has only consumed a watered-down formula. She is still in diapers.
She was taken directly from the airport in the US to PICU in a leading children's hospital. And, upon examination at the hospital they discovered fractures in her spine from being handled improperly with her fragile bone condition. There is no excuse.
Katie has been rescued. Just over 2 weeks ago, a loving family brought her home. Just over 2 weeks ago, Katie began to experience joy, peace, and contentment for the first time in her young life. Katie was just released from the hospital.
She is on a long road to good health. Look at the difference in her already! How could anyone let a helpless, voiceless child live in the condition that she was in? How can compassion be lacking to this degree?
There are others. Many others. They are simply existing, just as Katie did. My dear friend, Stephanie, and her family are pursuing another. Lina is in the same institution.
The setting in the photo looks nice, doesn't it....they always do. Don't be fooled. Lina is 5 years old. Her files say that she also weighs 11 pounds. Lina is diagnosed with congenital myopathy. This is a muscle disorder, not a growth disorder. Again, there is no excuse for her size. There is no excuse for her spending her life in a crib. There is no excuse for the lack of care and attention.
Lina's mommy will be at her side for the first adoption visit soon, hopefully by Christmas. Lina will soon experience the soothing caresses of her mother's touch for the first time...hands that truly love her...kisses....words of love whispered in her ear. If only she knew!
What does all of this have to do with me?
A couple of weeks after I first began following Katie's story, her parents hosted an online auction to benefit another family who is bringing two children home from this same institution. Kelten and Teagan also have a loving family working hard to get to them. I donated a small item to the auction. And, when the auction was over, I asked Katie's mom if there would be more auctions. I wanted participate again. Her reply was that there would be another in December, and that they were looking for someone to administrate the auction so that they could focus on sweet Katie who would be home by then.
Thank you for the open door, Father. Though they did not know me beyond a simple auction donation, they entrusted this endeavor to me. I've gained the incredible privilege of calling these sweet people friends. Lina's mother, Stephanie, has included me in the amazing "God moments" in their adoption process. This family has gone from adoption application to their dossier being in Lina's country in just one month. If you know anything about international adoption, you know the number of miracles contained in that statement. I cannot express the blessings that I have received personally in 6 short weeks as a result of these friendships.
The auction is running right now. Lina's story has spread around the country. There are over 100 items and each one has a precious, generous heart behind it. Countless numbers of people are coming together to work toward Lina's liberation. She will soon know the peace, joy, and contentment that comes from a loving family.
And yet there are others. There are so many others in this dark corner of the world. God is shining a light there. Forgotten children are no longer forgotten. Those with no voice are gaining spokesmen. I've seen our Father at work as a warrior for the weakest of his children. He loves them ferociously.
I was once an orphan...and He loved me ferociously. I was lonely, hopeless, helpless. He sent an advocate, a spokesman for me. He sent His Son to liberate me. I am now a joint-heir in His family.
The gospel and adoption are beautifully woven together by the gracious hand of God. In Christ, God has shown His love to us as our Father. He has reached down His hand of mercy to us in the loneliness of our sin, and he has raised us up as members of His family. Consequently, one of the clearest displays of the gospel in this life is when redeemed men and women extend a hand of mercy to children in need and bring them into their families. ~David Platt, foreword to Orphanology
I do not believe that every Christian family is called to adopt. But, I believe with all of my heart, that every believer is called to orphan care. There is a plethora of ways to be involved.
~Giving financially to support adoptive families
~Advocating for specific children who are at risk
~Praying for orphans
~Supporting an orphanage
~Cheer leading for families in the adoption process
~Helping to create an adoption culture in your church
~Participation in adoption fundraisers
~Volunteering with orphan care organizations
And this is just the beginning. In what way is God calling you to be, as my friend Stephanie says, A Voice for the Voiceless?