Picture yourself in an orphanage in China...surrounded by 20 or so small children, toddlers and infants. This is a "nice" orphanage compared to most of the state run institutions, yet it is outdated, has distinct unappealing smells and has caretakers that are there only because they need a job. Around 8:00 in the morning, three Chinese women arrive at the orphanage with four children....two infants, a toddler, and a fifteen year old. Four children that have no family, no parents, no siblings, no one to protect them, care for them, love them. One of the crying babies is placed in your arms. Crying, crying! His little mouth is making sucking noises as he is obviously hungry. You are handed a bottle and feed him his first meal at his new home. Because of the language barrier, you have no idea where he came from, how recently he was abandoned, how old he is. But it doesn't take words to know that this little human being needs love...needs care...ultimately needs a family. After his bottle is finished, his cries continue. He cries throughout the day...through his nap....through the afternoon...at 5:00 pm it is bedtime for infants...and his cries continue into the night...
This is not just a sad story! This is real life for millions of children! And the scene I just described was a real life experience for our daughter just 2 1/2 weeks ago. As she has shared this scene and many more very similar stories from her seven days at a foster home (orphanage) in China, my heart burns with the question of what can I do. What is the answer to this sad reality for so many little lives? I am one person...we are one family...I feel so helpless...it seems so hopeless. Yet our God is so much bigger than all of this. He could wipe out the whole orphan crisis instantly. But He chooses to use us...the weak of this earth....we must first be willing....willing to surrender and say yes even though we will be stretched beyond anything we have possibly experienced before.
So, I am going to make myself vulnerable and share some of our testimony. I do not enjoy exposing myself, but I have a burden on my heart for these helpless children.
About five years ago, the Lord began working in our hearts and Craig and I both felt Him calling us to do more with our lives than just live out the Christian version of the American dream. We did not know what He had for us, but we began praying "Lord, show our family the plans you have for us." We had no plans of adopting. We were very happy with our "perfect" little family of two girls and two boys. We supported and encouraged those who God had called to adopt, but it wasn't for us. We didn't know what His "plans" for us would look like, but we were open. Then about two years ago, our hearts began to change. As the Lord continued to work in us through several different circumstances, we began to see and feel the enormity of the poor and needy in our world. For us, He began to lay the burden of the orphans on our hearts. I won't go into all of the details of what finally brought us to the point of saying "yes" to one little four year old boy with a huge smile....but it was God working in us....and us finally getting to the point of surrender.
Even when we finally felt God calling us specifically to Kian, we still had so many doubts, questions, and....yes excuses. One of our biggest obstacles was finances....and this is where I start to feel vulnerable and hesitate to share...but I will. We were striving to live debt free other than a small mortgage we still had on our home. We lived very comfortably but not extravagantly. We had only a small savings which was intended to be used to purchase a newer much needed family vehicle. So we took a step (actually a huge leap at the time) in faith and committed to an adoption....a little boy....a $30,000 - $35,000 commitment. We had absolutely no idea where the finances would come from but God had called us and we were confident (at least most of the time) that He would provide. And He did!! We serve a mighty God and He is amazing! He is creative and He makes things happen in ways we would never have imagined. This is getting lengthy and I don't know how many details to share but my point is....do not let the lack of finances stop you! If God has placed a burden on your heart to help the helpless, He is so much bigger! He has proven this to our family personally not once but twice. And we have stood in awe as we have watched Him work in other families as well.
With our first adoption, we were amazed at the way the money trickled in a little at a time. I can not count the number of times we went to the mailbox to find an envelope with a check in it for our adoption fund. Also, we applied for nine adoption grants. The grant applications were very detailed and tedious and actually took as much time as the adoption paperwork. It was huge at the time....but like anything else....done a little at a time, it is very doable. Out of those nine grants, we received money from six totaling $16,500. Yes...it was worth all the hours of filling out applications...a little boy was waiting in China for a family....yes it was worth every tear and frustration...yes it IS worth it. Another way this adoption was financed was with a garage sale. Family and friends donated many items and time to make this all happen. Baked items and food were also served at this event to bring in funds. It was exciting to feel the support of so many working together on Kian's behalf! A few months later, our most memorable "God" moment with the funding of this adoption was on the day I opened an envelope from an adoption grant organization. A few days prior to this, a caring friend had asked us how much more we needed to fund our adoption. I had crunched some numbers to see where we were and shared with her that we needed approximately $7000 to be fully funded. That day when I opened the envelope and read the letter saying that we were being awarded a grant for $7000, tears flowed. At that moment more than any other that I could remember, I realized how much our God really cares. And He provides exactly what we need when we need it!!
Our second adoption has again been a step in faith financially. This time we did have a small amount to get us started with the initial adoptions costs, but when that was used up, where would the rest of the funds come from? I will have to say that after seeing God's provision the first time through, I have not stressed the financial end of it at all this time. God has a heart for these children and he will see this adoption through. This time around has been a little different. We have only found one check in our mailbox marked for the adoption fund. Money has not trickled in. But we have been blessed to see God provide in other ways. Again we applied for several grants. Immediately we were awarded $1000 from one organization. We continue to wait to hear back from the other organizations. The most amazing way funds have been provided this time is through and adoption auction. Dear friends offered to do an adoption auction on Facebook with all the proceeds going to our adoption of Tia. Being on the receiving end of this has been very overwhelming and humbling! We have had to remind ourselves many times that it is not about us...it is about a little girl in China waiting for her family. Seeing God's people join together in a common effort has been very encouraging to us. And again it has been so very exciting to see how God has worked, in a way we would never have dreamed, to provide for the financing of this adoption. The almost $14,000 from the adoption auction has nearly funded our adoption of Tia! Praise Him!!! We serve an amazing God!
Again...my point in sharing all of this is first of all to bring glory to God! He can and will do exceedingly more than we can imagine.
Secondly, if there is even one person out there that is holding back from reaching out to one of these little ones, may our testimony be an encouragement. God is so much bigger!! Surrender it to HIM!!