Warning: This post is written from my heart but it may offend some. That is definitely not my intent, but be warned. So if you are easily offended or feeling a tad grumpity, you might rather just go make a cup of coffee and relax. No matter what, I still love you but I am unashamedly a voice for those who have none.
Soaking in the moments as I looked out over Sweetwater Lake watching our kids have a blast in the water. Last week we had the incredible privilege to stay at our friends, Tim and Angela’s, lake home. They generously shared their gorgeous home and all their toys – it was delightful! Anyway as I watched the kids I reveled in their laughter, squeals, and noise. Six of them and some friends were on a lily pad (coolest invention ever) goofing around, pushing each other off, giggling with joy. Yet I noticed that even in the midst of their rowdy pleasure each was protectively cognizant of who was in the midst of them – our littlest Birdie.
As I took it all in, I paused to notice Birdie. I mean, really, really notice her. There she was, our little Down syndrome darlin’…the caboose of our 14-pack perched pickle-in-the-middle of all the uproarious screams, endless splashing, crazy-silliness…and just like that it hit me all over again. We could have easily missed this. We could have missed THIS. This right here – the entire scene – we could have missed it all.
As my mind took it all in, I became overcome with raw emotion and the sheer reality: We honestly could have missed this. We could have missed it all in every sense. The rowdy playing, screaming, pushing off the lily pad, while little Birdie plays – we could have missed it all.
And just like that it poured out…..all the reasons we had to legitimately turn our backs and say, “Nope. I’m not called to adoption” or “I’m not called to adopt anymore” or even, “The orphans/foster care is not my problem.”
Friends, it is *our* problem. We live here on this earth and there is a global orphan/foster care crisis. What are you going to do about it? How will you respond? I mean, really….what difference are you making in the crisis?
We had a millions reasons why we could have missed this very scene at Sweetwater Lake. We truly did. For starters, I have four auto-immune disorders that have wreaked some stupid-havoc on my body and leave me pretty dang exhausted. Secondly, we already had six kids. We’d adopted three of them so some would argue “I did my share”. We’d done foster care in two different states we lived in. Our lives were set. We didn’t have the money. All the reasons – just for starters! A million reasons WHY we shouldn’t have. Or maybe I should say, a million excuses why we could have turned the other way.
The excuses could have went like this:
We could have turned the other way because Jubilee’s a lifer. We could have looked the other way because Johnny’s a quadriplegic and in a wheelchair. We could have ignored Nehemiah’s situation because he came through a disruption. (Some question, “A disruption? Why invite someone else’s problem into your family?” Oh me! He’s been such a delightful treasure and clearly NOT “someone else’s problem” – he’s our joy! We could have missed out on Isaiah because our lives were comfortable and our youngest, Liberty, was five, my MS was being dumb and I needed a cane all the time and like I mentioned we had “already done our part by previously adopting three and doing foster care.”
We could have missed out on Elijah because we were already bringing home Jubilee from Ch*na. We could have missed out on Elizabeth because we were already in the process of bringing home both Jubilee and Elijah at the time from two different countries. We could have missed out on Ruby because she was dying and medically fragile and we were in our 50s and she was a little over a year old! And we could have missed out on Birdie because she is also a lifer with Down syndrome and a severe heart defect, not to mention we were already 57 and 61 at the time.
Yet we ran to them!! Even at our age we decided to relentlessly pursue every one of them. Even though some were lifers, some we were in the midst of already adopting others, many were out of birth order, some were older, one was a teenager…literally so many excuses why it didn’t make sense to gather them up, yet, how could we sleep at night? How could we pretend we didn’t know they were waiting? What would we say to Christ when we stand before the throne one day? What excuse would we have then?
And being gut-wrenchingly honest, it is literally horrific to know that there were others we prayed for who didn’t come home. Others who we were drawn to but didn’t get the chance before they aged out. Or another whose family couldn’t be bothered signing the paperwork and instead they have spent their entire life in an orphanage. Yeah, it legitimately is not fair and my heart breaks and I sob.
Every kid deserves a family. Every.single.kid. There are no exceptions.
Teaching my brother-in-love how to geocache!!
And here there are literally millions of treasures just like Jubilee, Johnny, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Elijah, Ruby and Birdie…waiting. Just waiting. Kids with special needs, medically fragile, lifers – all waiting. They wait with no hope. Some occasionally watch a friend leave with a family and wonder, ” “What is wrong with me?”
All the trauma, all the loss, all the heartache and all the brokenness and yet, each child’s only true need is for a family to say, “You’re ours forever. We can’t imagine our lives without you. We have your back. We will always love you. And when you struggle, we will be there to pick you up. When your loss, abandonment, heartache, trauma overwhelm you we will work through it together.”
And as I watched Birdie playing on the lily pad, surrounded by her adoring siblings all I could think was, “She’s playing on a lily pad instead of sitting in an orphanage unloved and unwanted! How come others don’t get it? How come so many friends don’t get that we were put on this earth to “love others as we love ourselves”? How come? How can so many good people turn away from the orphan crisis and pretend it’s not going on? How can they sleep at night? How do they? I really can’t comprehend the, “We are so busy,” or “We are not called to it” or “It’s too expensive” or “We are just about to be empty-nesters so no.”
Busy? Busy with “stuff” or things that truly matter for eternity? The only TWO things that God says are “pure religion” is 1. to care for the orphan 2. to care for the widow” (James 1:27) If it’s stuff that you’re busy doing, Marie Condo it, throw it out and bring home some treasures! In fact have a yard sale with the stuff you “Marie Condo’d” and that’s the money to start the process!! Win/Win!
You’re not called to it? Really?? Remember that parable in Luke 10:30-37 Jesus told about the man who was beat up and dying and two “religious” people passed by and yet the man who already had plans and somewhere to go, put his time on the line and picked him up and took care of the beat-up man’s immediate needs with his own money and then carried him for care!! He even went out of his way on his return to pay up the bill. Orphans/foster kids are waiting, but so many good people “pass by” choosing to ignore the crisis.
It’s too expensive? We had zero in the bank to begin an adoption. Zero. ZERO. And God provided for every single penny needed for our eight adoptions in nine years. Every.single.penny! Ya’ know why? Because we have a God who wants kids in families and He is not a deadbeat dad! He will provide all that is needed – no matter what!
Empty nesters? What better time to say, “Let’s do this! Let’s close out our years investing serving and loving those who long for a family!”
As I watched Birdie play, really, truly my heart was broken. Not only for the kids who wait…but for what my peers are missing out on. Dw and I honestly believe we have the greatest gig going on – a houseful of treasures that know love, family, hope, Jesus, peace, joy, kindness, faith, comfort…instead of each of them living lives of despair and hopelessness. Why don’t our peers see it? What “stuff” matters more than the vulnerable people who need them?? I mean, they NEED them – they have no voice!
I dunno. I just don’t get it. In all sincerity, my heart appropriately grieves that my peers would rather do anything else than spend their days watching their own little Down syndrome darlin’ play on a lily pad or seeing their own sweet dolly who’s a quadriplegic with hydrocephalus maneuver her wheelchair while squealing with joy cause ya’ know – medical professionals said she would “never”. Or talking to their 15-year-old son about the possibilities of being an anesthesiologist. Or dreaming with their 12-year-old about being a professional sports player….and the list goes on…what’s better than all that? Seriously, what could possibly be better? I’m truly dumbfounded.
Now before anyone says, “But I’ve heard about all the problems that people have had after they’ve adopted kids and I can’t do kids with problems.” Well, let’s set the record straight – bio kids are not exempt for ‘causing’ problems. Problems are the result of us all being broken humans! There are no exceptions to that. And frankly, God in His wisdom knew that being human would create problems, yet He clearly gave a non-optional mandate to care for the orphan and kids in foster care! Of course we have had struggles. But oh-my-gracious, I would not trade our lives for anything!
Every one of our 14 was worth it. Every one of our 14 is an indescribable gift to our family. Every one of our 14 we wouldn’t trade in or give back. And there is not a hint of regret in our hearts. I just don’t get why others don’t care and I will plead till my last dying breath with all around me to please, please, please bring home treasures – fill your home with them, make them yours – they need you and truthfully – you really do need them! xo