However, there are some out there who don't give credit to this day because they don't like the word "orphan". People nit-pick over lots of words in the adoption world. Some don't like the term orphan or Gotcha Day or Forever Family.... the list goes on and on. I'm not here to debate the terms used. We choose to commemorate this day (and this month as National Adoption Month) because we believe the idea of children without families is too important to be ignored. There are many people advocating for children who need a home, a family, because today is Orphan Sunday. Hopefully many children will soon find their families because of the advocating that goes on on this day and in this month, and because of that, I am a fan.
We get asked many questions about our family and about adoption pretty much every where we go. That's okay, we're happy to talk about it. It's not like we can just blend in. :) We have been so blessed by adoption, so we love to talk about it.
The most common question we get asked is something like, "How did you get started adopting?". So for those of you who don't know, here is our story:
Jeremy and I began dating right after high school. We were good friends before that. As a teenager, I babysat for a family who adopted. I was very close to them and saw the blessings that came as a result of adoption. That long ago (over 20 years ago!) the seed was planted in both of us, as Jeremy came to know that family as well (and we are still in touch with them to this day!).
Fast forward about 10 years and after collage, getting married and focusing on careers for a while, we were ready to start our family. We were blessed with our 2 biological boys. When it came time to discuss child #3, we just knew we wanted to adopt. It was never a second choice for us; it was always with joy and pleasure that we added to our family by way of adoption. We had a lot of love to share and we knew that child would bless us immensely. So along came our Allie by way of adoption from South Korea in 2011.
At that point, we thought we were done. We swore we were done; 2 beautiful boys and a perfect daughter. Life was full and happy. But God had other plans.
In 2012, I participated in a bible study about the book of Nehemiah. Through that study, I learned more about what it means to have our hearts broken for what breaks the heart of God. Once we feel the pain God feels for his children, we then are moved to act on it. At the same time, I was hearing adoption stories everywhere. Every conversation, every news article, every book I stumbled upon had something to do with adoption. I began hearing more about the staggering numbers of children without a family to call their own: upwards of 147, 000, 000 of them worldwide. If all the orphans came together to form their own nation, it would be among the 10th largest in the world.
We should not be okay with this.
Also around the same time we volunteered for an organization called Hands Against Hunger, where we helped pack foods to go to starving children around the world. The images we saw of the children starving and dying of thirst and dirty water (30,000 a DAY) rocked my world.
Our hearts broke.
Our eyes were opened.
We weren't okay with doing nothing anymore. We had to do something. Although our lives were full, we certainly could make room for one more. We told God, "Okay. We hear you, we know. Lead the way."
And so we were lead to China. We began the process for a special needs child and were on a mission to bring her home. God knit her tightly into our hearts and we couldn't get her home fast enough.
A really cool thing that came as a result of our adoption processes is our spiritual growth. We have been stretched and pulled past our comfort zone so many times since we began adopting that what once felt insurmountable now seems like no big deal. When we chose to adopt from South Korea with our first adoption, we chose that country in part because they escorted children home rather than requiring the parents to fly to the birth country. We had 2 very young boys (they were 3 and 5 at the time she came home) and at that time we thought, there's NO WAY we could travel across the world for what would have been a 4 day trip. We also felt like we couldn't handle a child with special needs. Which was okay at that time. That's where we were then and that process brought us Allie, who is obviously meant to be our daughter.
But when the time came for the second adoption, having a child escorted home was no longer an option. We had to leave the country and fly to China. In fact, the trip would be 17 days gone away from our 3 kids, to bring home our new daughter with special needs. They were 3, 5 and 7 at the time. What originally seemed impossible the first time was of course daunting, but yet doable the second time. I remember clearly waiting at the airport to board the first of many flights. I HATE flying. I am not a great traveler. I'm a home body and am not that adventurous. And yet, I truly felt God lift me up as we boarded that first plane. I was ready for 24 hours of travel to get to my new daughter's birth country. I was ready to face jet lag, a new language, new food, new culture... I could do it. And He literally carried me through the entire trip. It was so awesome and SO WORTH IT. It was an amazing feeling to have the opportunity to literally be Jesus's hands and feet. He made me brave.
I've learned that we just have to be willing. He just wants our hands open wide, our hearts and minds open. He wants us willing to boldly take that first step of faith, and he'll take us the rest of the way.
We've had to make sacrifices. We can't go on many vacations or have big Christmases or passes to
lots of places. We don't eat out much or have new cars; we have to pinch pennies at the grocery. We are a family of 6 in a 3 bedroom house. We've spent countless hours do adoption paperwork when we could have been doing something way more fun. And we are totally okay with that.
We are by no means perfect, far from it. We are always tired and sometimes impatient. But we're learning that we want to focus our lives on God rather than ourselves. We so badly want to walk the walk, be the church, and do His will. We have a long way to go, can grow so much more. But we have been blessed SO GREATLY by adoption. I would never, ever trade my girls for a more luxurious or easier lifestyle.
So today is Orphan Sunday. God calls all His children to care for orphans in their distress. If you feel something stirring in you, if you feel a nudge towards adoption or fostering, if you're no longer okay with millions of children growing up with out a family, I'm here to tell you that you can do it. Take that first step. Start researching the options, asking questions. Just don't feel like you have to figure it all out yourself- God will take care of the details. Just be willing to take the first step. He will make you brave, He will make you bold. You can change the world for ONE and you will be blessed a thousand fold.