“The church absolutely must be leading the way in orphan care. It’s not a negotiable; it flows from the reality of the Gospel.”
“The church absolutely must be leading the way in orphan care. It’s not a negotiable; it flows from the reality of the Gospel.”
“Orphan care is the outliving of the indwelling Christ in us.”
I only recently came across this video clip that was intended for Father’s Day. I cried and laughed simultaneously. Absolutely beautiful, and might I say the kids are just too cute.
PS – check out their other video clips as well, especially this one regarding Easter!
This is so true! No adopted child is “saved”, “fortunate”, “lucky” to be adopted so don’t advertise it!
This isn’t a fashion blog (wouldn’t that be fun!), but let’s talk about clothing. And I’m sure you’re wondering how this topic could possibly relate to adoption, but I promise it does.
I remember the first time I saw one. The lady was confidently wearing it and toting her transracially adopted child in her arms. And then I saw another one sported by a mom who was holding the hand of an unknowing toddler with black hair and dark brown eyes.
One Less Orphan was screen-printed on the first mama’s shirt. Just ADOPT! said the second mother’s tee.
With the same cotton fabric but with different texts and graphics, similar t-shirts say:
Save the children! (with a graphic of the country of China)
Orphan No More
147 Million Orphans
Expecting… (and then a graphic of Ethiopia… or China… or Korea…)
147,000,000 orphans… minus 1!
Change One Life
or a t-shirt that gives statistics of third world countries and then the words, Adopt One!
Before I write any further, I realize that the people who make and wear these pieces (or dress their kids in them) are likely coming from a place of love. They mean no harm. In fact, they are likely compassionate and creative and want to care for children just like you and I do.
But when I see these t-shirts, I cringe, recognizing the incredible amount of attention they put on adopted children. Just walk a day in the life of a transracially adopted child, and you’ll see he already gets copious amounts of attention given the mismatched appearance he has with his parent(s).
Then add the presence of one of the t-shirts, pushing him into the spotlight further and without his consent, and it screams, “THIS KID WAS AN ORPHAN!” It makes the child, even if unintentionally, the poster child for international adoption or for orphan care. Yes, the child instantly becomes an advertisement for adoption.
Beyond the issue of elevating the child as an ambassador for international adoption, these t-shirts connote far more than the actual words and graphics. Strangers and others start seeing the child as a service project. Or view the first grader as a charity case rather than a boy who likes Legos like his friends. Or perhaps others will believe the child is continually in need of saving or rescuing, given that the a-parents wear these t-shirts again and again and again. Some will fail to see the child as any other child but rather first as an orphan in need of pity.
And what comments and conversations do these t-shirts evoke?
Oh, you’re child is so lucky to have been adopted.
That poor, poor child. He’s so fortunate.
And to think she would have grown up in an orphanage without you.
You’re such an angel for adopting!
She was once so helpless and now she has you!
Thank goodness she could come to America.
I sure hope he grows up to know how lucky he is and what you went through to adopt him.
You can imagine how these comments and ensuing conversations might be internalized by the adopted child and how they may affect identity formation. That, however, could be a whole other blog post.
I understand that these shirts are worn proudly to raise awareness or to celebrate adoption and/or children. I recognize that proceeds for some of these shirts are used to feed and shelter vulnerable children, but could we think of other ways to accomplish these same goals — perhaps ones that do not dehumanize adopted children into numbers or charity cases in their presence? What an unnecessary and tremendous burden to put on adopted children, reducing them and their personal stories to pity, propaganda, and statistics.
I’ve surely stepped on some toes, but I urge you to consider what you might not have already.
Beautiful, honest written by Jennifer Phillips about the difficulties surrounding the adoption of their daughter from China.
Still Worth It?
It’s a peculiar thing to love a child who does not love you back.
When a child grows in your womb, she is part of you. You speak to her, you feed her, you nurture her. You are familiar to her. The first time she’s placed on your chest, she naturally snuggles up. She doesn’t have the muscle tone or coordination yet to try to move away from you, but even if she did, she wouldn’t want to. A newborn’s body naturally curves onto yours as she leans in, not away, for reassurance. She may cry, but she nestles against you for comfort. Being apart from you is scary and unknown; being held by you is home.
My Chinese adopted daughter Lucy and I did not get the privilege of this natural form of bonding. She and I missed out on crucial months of stroking, rocking, singing, and cuddling. Left alone for most hours of the day on a wooden slat that cruelly pretended to be a bed, she soothed herself with tapping or tongue-sucking. She had no one else. I entered the scene 15 months into her under-stimulated life and wanted to hold her. I wanted to kiss her and stroke her and give her all the things she’d missed out on for so very long.
I was not welcome.
I was a stranger, and because she was sensory-deprived, touch was almost painful for her. When I held her on my hip, she leaned her body back, hands in the air. Her newborn body never got the opportunity to nestle against the chest of someone who loved her, so she never learned how to lean in for comfort. Instead, she stiffened at my touch, her expression stoic. When she awoke from her nap, she didn’t cry for me—not even when she had a soiled diaper. Why should she? When no one rushes to your side when you cry, you eventually stop crying. Lucy didn’t know she needed me because her needs had never been met well. The concept of a mother was foreign to her.
This form of rejection would have been heartbreaking enough had I brought Lucy home under normal circumstances. But I was wrestling with the unrequited love of an infant as a temporarily single mom in the center of a bureaucratic nightmare. My husband and I are missionaries in Australia and traveled to China with our three children in tow to adopt Lucy at the end of 2013. Following the instructions of our adoption agency, the National Passport Center, and fellow ex-pats who had gone before us, my new, malnourished, 15-month-old daughter and I flew to the United States immediately after her adoption to secure her automatic U.S. citizenship, obtain her U.S. passport, and fly home to Australia, to which my husband and other children had already returned.
Her passport application was denied.
Based on a residency issue we didn’t know existed, and to our knowledge had never previously been applied, the agent refused to issue our daughter a passport. Eventually, to our shock and dismay, her U.S. citizenship was denied as well. This left me and my frail, sensory-deprived daughter indefinitely stuck half a globe away from the rest of our family. The longest I had ever been away from my children was eight days. I was now staring down the barrel of a potential six-month separation, possibly longer.
I was so torn. My three biological children who were bonded to me, and had been since day one, were on one side of the world. My adopted daughter, who still didn’t quite know what to think of me, was with me on the other. I felt so guilty for “abandoning” my older three who needed their mom, yet I had been called to love one who had already experienced abandonment and was only beginning to heal.
Loving the three was easy; loving the one was hard.
When all we knew of Lucy was four pictures, a video, and a limited medical file, the words “She’s worth it” flowed easily. Worth the paperwork, worth the adoption fees, worth whatever it would take to mean she was ours. My husband and I knew it would be hard, that it would change our family forever, but we emphatically claimed that she was worth it all.
Now that statement was being tested.
Was she worth being separated from the rest of my family indefinitely? Was she worth the legal battles, the hours on the phone with congressmen, senators, and the State department? Was she worth the enormous stress?
During this period of separation, a question hovered on the lips of those who meant well: If the battle over Lucy’s citizenship and a passport became lengthy, would I consider leaving her in the United States with family and returning for a time to Australia to be with my husband and the other kids? I could understand why some people thought I should do so. I’d only had Lucy for a short time, and she was just getting used to me. Babies are resilient, and oh, the hero’s welcome I would get at home! I could imagine my older kids’ response: My youngest would squeeze my neck as hard as she could. My second-born would give me lots of sloppy kisses, and my oldest would sweetly say, “I’ve missed you, Mom.” It would be such a relief to hold them again.
On the other hand, I had to fight every day for another tiny little piece of Lucy’s heart. She didn’t give kisses. She didn’t know how to hug, keeping her hands defensively in the air most of the time that I held her. She would have rather been alone in the dark than with me.
It would have made sense for me to go home, right? Except, she’s my child. Mine. God gave me a love for her that is just as intense as the love I have for my other three. This baby came to us traumatized and neglected. She had experienced abandonment once, and I could not do it to her again. I couldn’t undo the security she was just beginning to feel. I just couldn’t.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus talks about the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep. This priority would seem foolish to most, but Jesus is no ordinary shepherd. He knew the one was worth it. I was worth it. You are worth it.
So was Lucy worth it? Even though she didn’t lavish me with affection, didn’t yet fully accept me? Even though she pushed me away? Even though it meant indefinite separation from the other loves of my life?
I looked into those deep brown eyes, full of mystery, sorrow, and yet the slightest hint of hope and light, and I said, Absolutely. Our commitment to her was being tested to the fullest extent, but our answer was still yes. We would do it all over again.
In a world that so easily throws up its hands and says, “Too hard,” and walks away, God was asking us to mirror his commitment to his people by looking at sweet Lucy and saying, “Dear one, you are not too much for us. No cost is too high; no burden too much to bear. We will fight for you, because you are worth it.”
Who knows? Maybe a day will come when Lucy walks through the pain of questions of identity. It’s almost inevitable. Maybe one day she‘ll feel sad because she looks different from us, or maybe a peer will cruelly joke about her “real parents.” Maybe it is for these moments that God created an opportunity for us to fight for her, for me to choose to stay with her rather than return to her adoptive siblings. Maybe God knew about weak times to come when she would need to know for sure that she is worth it.
I pray that she’ll be able to look back and see that at a time when she offered me nothing, I sacrificed presence with those closest to me in order to love her and bring her home. I pray that the memory of that sacrifice will draw her heart towards a Savior who also forfeited presence with the One closest to him so that he could one day bring her home, for good.
*This article is a modified excerpt from her book in progress, Bringing Lucy Home: A Story of Hope, Heartache, and Happiness © 2014. You can read more about her family’s story at littlelucymei.blogspot.com.
“Ultimately, here is the result I see again and again: love for orphans transforms. It transforms children as they experience love and nurture they’ve come to live without. It transforms individual Christians, as we encounter Jesus deeply and personally in a destitute child. It transforms the broader community of believers as well, pulling us corporately beyond a religion of self-development to a costly-but-muscular faith. Finally, love for orphans transforms a watching world, as it sees – perhaps for the first time – the Gospel embodied.”
Christian Alliance for Orphans
“The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.”
Katie J. Davis
* Taken from the book “Kisses from Katie”.
“When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, He also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope to adopted children with no fear.”
I came across this post on Show Hope’s blog. A good reminder to all Christians to get and be involved in the orphan care movement.
1. All Orphans Have a Father
God is the great protector and loving Father of all orphans. Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” He who numbers the hairs on our head will certainly not turn away from the orphan.
2. All Orphans Deserve Justice
Deuteronomy 10:18 says, “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” And Psalm 10:14 says “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Justice is a fundamental part of God’s character. He promises protection and help for those who cannot protect themselves, and he cares about righting wrongs in the lives of orphans. God invites us as his people into this holy work of securing justice for orphans.
3. The People of God Will Care for Orphans
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” God’s people are called to actively pursue meeting the needs of orphans and a great place to start is through prayer. Each month, Show Hope features a prayer focus child from one of our Care Centers in China. Praying for orphans becomes much more personal when you know the face and the name of a child who has been directly impacted by the orphan crisis. Whether you are a prayer partner, an advocate, a Show Hope sponsor or even a prospective adoptive parent, we have great resources available to help you get involved in caring for orphans!
4. The People of God Share Their Resources with Orphans
The following verse comes from a passage in Deuteronomy where God is instructing His people about tithing. Deuteronomy 14:29 says, “And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” God calls His people to specifically remember orphans in their giving. Show Hope provides creative ways to give to the cause of adoption and orphan care.
You can read the full post here.