Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Of Adoption and Christians and Money

We’ve been back from Bulgaria for six days now. I’ve wanted to write a “blog post summary” of our trip but it’s been hectic traveling, staying at my parents’ house, seeing our kids again, getting ready for Christmas in two days, etc. But now it’s December 26th, everyone is still asleep at 9:30 AM and I finally have time to post again about our trip and some final thoughts about the time we had with our three sweet boys.

In a sense it’s nice to be back home where things are normal and comfortable, but we have this feeling of guilt that we had to leave our boys behind, and we really miss them and wish they were here celebrating Christmas with us. It’s amazing how we were able to bond with each of them, only spending three days with each one. Vesta, our partner agency in Bulgaria, planned the trip perfectly. We thought 12 days would not be enough time to really get to know all three boys, but they worked it out for us to spend so many hours with them that it really felt sufficient. In fact, I think if we would have spent more days with them, they might have started to get too attached and parting would have been more difficult. Now that we are home we are praying for all three boys many times throughout the day, as well as working hard to get the final $19,000 together in agency fees so that we can get our USCIS approval (immigration approval for the boys). Praise God…someone made a $5,000 donation towards our adoption fund on Christmas Day so now we only need $14,000 more!! Then we will receive a court date in Bulgaria where a judge will declare us as the boys’ legal parents…. And then we get to travel back to bring them home! We are praying for supernatural favor that the time would go by quicker than the expected 3-5 months. (If you can help us with the necessary funds to finish this adoption, tax-deductible donations can be made HERE)

Not only do we feel sad about leaving our three boys behind…..we feel so much grief for the children who are still in orphanages waiting for a family. It gets more intense for them the older they get. The little ones don’t leave the orphanage…they don’t realize that life is different for children in families. But the older children go to public school….most of their friends have families….and many of their friends who live in the orphanage go home to their parents on the weekends. (These are families who feel they cannot support their children full time due to finances or other issues and so they send their children to live in the orphanage all week but they have them on weekends). The ones with no families really feel it. It’s not melodrama when you hear someone say, “These children have been waiting for families all their lives……all they want is to have a mother and a father.” I used to wonder, “Do they REALLY long for parents THAT much?” But the moment we met 12-year-old “Max” we were faced with the reality that this in fact IS the truth. Max was smiling from ear to ear as he was lead in to meet us. He flat out told us, “I’ve always wanted a mother and a father…..I told my friends, ‘You see….miracles happen at Christmastime!’” And then his director told us that she has 22 children in her orphanage between the ages of 11 and 16 who are all available for adoption and ALL desperately longing to be “chosen.” We could see it in the way they longingly looked at us whenever they would pass us by at the orphanage.

I’m so glad that we got to travel all over Bulgaria to three completely different orphanages. First we went to a very nice baby orphanage, where our 6-year-old son is still kept, due to the fact that he has a serious congenital heart defect and a serious cleft palate that makes speaking and eating more difficult for him. This orphanage was very well run. They have an excellent program for children with special needs…..even outside families bring their children to the center for therapy. Our little “Tyler” is well fed, well clothed, well cared for. But it was so clear that even in the best of orphanage experiences, it is nothing like having a family. There are 11 children in his group…they have different caregivers at different times of the day. They don’t have the same loving mom and dad tuck them into bed every night. They can’t climb into bed and cozy up with their parents when they have a bad dream. They have no one kissing their faces all over saying, “I love you soooooo much!” They have no one carrying them around, making them feel like they’re on top of the world. Yes, their caregivers are caring women, but these are not THEIR OWN children. They don’t love the children as their own…they love them more like a teacher loves a student. And I can hear someone saying right now, “This is not right….the caregivers should be more affectionate…they should carry the children, and kiss and hug them and love on them more.” But friends…this is not THEIR responsibility!! It is the CHURCH’s responsibility to love on and nurture these little ones! How can we expect those who do not know the love of Christ in a deep way….who have not experienced the new birth of adoption into God’s family, to be the ones who provide these precious children with the love and nurture that God wants them to have??? Being in this orphanage actually made me ashamed. Ashamed of the body of Christ. There is absolutely NO reason why any child should be fatherless. God calls us to be a father to the fatherless. You know, we hear overwhelming statistics of there being somewhere around 143 million orphans around the world and we think, “How can we possibly provide homes for all of them? We’d better just send money to the orphanages so the children are taken better care of.” But the fact is that most of the orphans in those statistics have a living parent or family member who is involved in their lives, and so they are not even available to be adopted. The actual number of orphans who are registered for International Adoption is estimated to be only around 20,000. That’s a pretty low number when you consider how many “Bible believing Christians” there are in the world.

Our sweet, 9-year-old “Chase” lives in one of the poorest orphanages in the country. Most likely the children won’t have heat for part of the day or night in their brutally cold winters. Right now, the children need clothes and blankets and more meat to include in their diet. But all the clothes and blankets and meat in the world would not change the fact that these children (the ones who don’t get to go home to parents on the weekends) have nobody to hug and kiss them all over their sweet faces and say, “I love you, I love you, I love you!” No one to pray over them at night and help them with their homework and take them to the doctor to get to the bottom of why they aren’t gaining weight and why the eyeglasses are not helping their precious child to see better. No one to teach them about Christ and his sacrifice for us. No one to comfort them when they are afraid. Again, I can hear it being said, “This is awful! How can those orphanage workers not hug and kiss on the children? How can they not take the children back to the eye doctor over and over again when obviously the eyeglass prescription is not working? How can they just let him go on day after day being soooo skinny and not get to the bottom of why he isn’t gaining weight?!!” And again, I will say, “It is NOT THEIR responsibility to love and nurture and provide for these children!” It is OURS, CHURCH! OUR RESPONSIBILITY! How can we be so blind? We are sons and daughters of the most high God! His love for his children is immense. When we really know the heart of God then we know how much he wants to love those children through us. We must give God the opportunity to LOVE those children. We are the instruments through which he can love and save them. We need to be awoken to the need and heed the call of Christ to love the “least.” “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …..” James 1:27

The last orphanage we got to visit was that of 12-year-old “Max.” Max has the most wonderful teacher you have ever met. She herself has a physical disability and walks with a limp. She has been in the same orphanage for many, many years and she truly loves the children. We are so happy that Max will spend the next few months being cared for by her rather than feeling all alone. But she is not there all the time. She comes in for her shift….either night or day….and then goes home to her own family. She has twenty-something kids to look after and she can’t give them all direction on her own. A lot of teasing and name calling goes on….some of the kids skip school….some stand outside smoking cigarettes . She tells us how sweet all of the children really are….but they feel abandoned. Some, like Max, have lived here all their lives. Others have been abandoned by their parents at a later point in life. Some have been taken from their families for one reason or another. Most are embarrassed and ashamed to be living there. All long for a family to call their own. So, you see—even with the best, most loving and nurturing teacher….it still isn’t enough. It’s not like having a home. And we, the adopted children of God have a mandate to take them in. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matt. 25: 34-40

If you go back a couple of months and read through my blog posts you can find one in which I say something like, “Adopting orphans isn’t the only worthy ministry….some are called to prison ministry….some are called to preach the gospel……some to give money to the poor so they can raise their children on their own, etc. etc.” But being in those three orphanages over the last two weeks has changed my perspective. I no longer believe what I wrote. Instead I believe this: It is a travesty and a shame and a mockery of Christ for Christians to allow there to be children living all over the world without any parents or family to love them. It is fully our responsibility to adopt them. Imagine if every Christian family would take in just one child who is available for adoption….there would be no more fatherless children. And this wouldn’t affect your ability to do any other ministry you felt called to…..prison ministry, medical help ministry, preaching the gospel…..all of it could be done while caring for a fatherless child as your own.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t keep sending money to improve the standard of living for children living in orphanages. Many of those children aren’t available to be adopted, and they need meat and blankets and clothing just the same. But the ones who are available for adoption simply should NOT be living there. And we the CHURCH are failing them and the Lord by not taking them in. I know that not everyone can qualify to adopt….some are too young or too old, some have health issues, some don’t make enough money, etc. Many who fall in these categories do what they can….they donate financially to families who ARE able to adopt…they advocate for the waiting children, they pray, etc. ....and they will take part in the blessing of God for providing for these little ones.

In the past I’ve also blogged in a way that made the adoption crisis an issue of money. Sort of to the tune of….”If you have a lot of money and are enjoying fancy cars and fancy homes, while children are starving and homeless, etc. you will have to give an account to God.” I mean, this IS true….Jesus himself warned us that it’s a scary thing to be rich (you know….impossible to get into Heaven…..except with God’s help) But after our visits these last couple of weeks, I want to make a different plea. I’m not asking you to sell everything and give it to the poor (though Jesus himself has been known to ask for this). I’m asking the Church to make a different type of sacrifice. You know the line in the Keith Green song, “I don’t need your money, I want your life”? I’m asking my fellow believers in Christ….my adopted brothers and sisters who read this post… please consider giving a new life, new hope, the gospel of salvation, a loving, secure family….to a waiting child. You have a big home? Great! Share it with a fatherless child. You have new car? Cool—let your newly adopted child feel the thrill of driving around in it with you. OR….you have a small home? Great! Fill it with one more child who will just be grateful to have a mom and dad and siblings to love. You don’t even have a car? No problem, GOD will provide transportation for you and this precious little one….he does not leave us on our own when we step out in faith and love on his children. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a lot or a little…..those who are new creations in Christ are the most qualified to adopt a waiting child. As Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philipians 4:11-13

As we pray and await our reunion with Max, Chase, and Tyler, our hearts’ desire is that God will use our family to encourage other believers to do the “scary thing” of opening their home to a “stranger.” Is not this what God calls “pure religion”? Is not this what it means “to know God”? Let God soften your heart for these fatherless ones. Is it hard? Yes!  Does it disrupt your family for a while? Usually yes. Is it exhausting and scary at times? Yes, yes, yes!   But does God call us to a comfy, cushy life of mainly caring for “our own”? We already know the answer to that.

Much love from the Garcia Family.  Thanks for following along with our adoption journey!

Isaiah 58:10 And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
Jeremiah 22:16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? said the LORD.
Psalm 41:1 Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

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