Thursday, August 6, 2009

His Burden is Light

Before I start, take a look at the new button in the top right sidebar (it matches the above image). Now, I'll tell you a story.

When we first started this adoption process, we had a rather simple picture of what would happen, which included an orphan who needed a family(in our minds a child whose parents had died) and a family (ours) who had plenty of room for another place at the table. Throughout the process our minds and hearts have been stretched as we've gotten a more realistic image. First, most of the children available for adoption in Africa are not "true" orphans. They have living family members, even parents, who have either relinquished or abandoned them due to extreme poverty, disease, or other cultural issues. This was wrenching for me to realize, and actually caused me to step back from the process for awhile as I considered the implications of it. Furthermore, if the child we adopt has living family, there is no clear way for us to help them. We've questioned our agency and they've been clear that absolutely no money or assistance can be provided by us because of child trafficking issues. We have also become aware of the staggering numbers of orphans in Africa and around the world. In Ethiopia alone there are 4.3 million orphans, and I believe that last year only around 8000 were adopted. Clearly adoption is not the answer to the world's orphan problem (though a beautiful solution for those who are adopted).

As we processed some of this information, I really questioned whether we should adopt. Adoption is expensive, and the amount of money we were spending on this adoption could feed and educate dozens of orphans in Africa. Maybe we were being selfish. Maybe we should just send our money to Africa for orphan care and give up the idea of adopting. As I agonized over this, I e-mailed a friend and posed the dilemma to her. My wise friend's answer was simple: do both. Adopt, because through adoption God is giving us the opportunity to provide a family for a child, and to pour our hearts into him in the way that only a family can. And...continue to care for and provide for orphans somehow.

I should mention that my wise friend is the mother of three children. All three are adopted, and all three have special needs. And, she and her husband (also a wise friend of ours!) are currently preparing to sell their house and move to Zambia, South Africa to pioneer a ministry to orphans with special needs. I could go on and on about what they're doing and how excited I am about it, but instead, why don't you just click on the "Special Hope Network" button and see for yourselves. Read what's there, and let God break your heart and give you a burden. I will admit that sometimes I lose sleep over it; I lay in bed some nights and see the pictures and hear the stories we've seen and heard over the past months, and ponder what God has asked of me, and what more He will ask. And I am excited. It's a burden I am eager to carry. Now click on the button on the sidebar, or click here, and see what I mean.

“He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know me?” Jeremiah 22:16

Oh, and if you're interested, following this post is one with an update of our adoption process. :)

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