132 Million. What does that number make you think about? The National Debt? We wish! How much a professional athlete makes? Probably pretty close. No, this is the latest statistic on the number of orphans in the world. Now, people quibble about what the word “orphan” means. Is it losing one parent? Or both? It doesn’t really matter. What it does mean is, at the least, 132 million children in the world are hurting.
My name is Martha and I was asked to do a guest post on The Cheap & Choosy. My first thought was “not me”. Writing is not my gift. But, the more I thought about it, the more I believed that this was actually something small that I could do to shed a light on the orphan crisis. You see, The Orphan is my passion. A little background here so bear with me. My husband and I knew while we were dating that we wanted to adopt a child when we got married, whether or not we could have biological children or not. We had the privilege to help with an orphan from Belarus while he was here on a summer program and fell in love with him. Another American family adopted him and we got married and had our son. About a year and a half after he was born, I felt the itch, the “I’m ready for another child” itch. It was time to look into adoption.
We started the process with a local adoption agency and after a good number of months, things were going nowhere fast. Through much prayer and counsel we decided to wait a while to see what direction we should go in. We felt the Lord was directing us to Ukraine but things were not working out. During this waiting period to see which direction we should go in, I was looking at a website that helps special needs children in other countries find home called www.reecesrainbow.org. I had seen thousands of children’s pictures over a period of months and would say “I could love that child” “I could be her Mommy!” However, one day a new picture popped up: a picture of a little 15 month old with a crossed eye, wearing a pink turtle neck. Something grabbed me right then and there. She was deaf and possibly had some more severe issues. Her picture wouldn’t get out of my mind. For months I had been looking for my child and I had a sneaky suspicion I had just found her. However, she was DEAF. That scared the pants off of me! Could I do that? For the first time, I found myself talking myself OUT of a child. I can’t do that God. It’s going to be too hard!
So, God found me in the shower. Literally. I found myself crying in the shower, knowing what he was asking of me but saying “I can’t do this God!” So, he whispered back in my ear “I know you can’t, but I CAN!” People who know me, know I am down to earth and don’t usually have these types of experiences but I will tell you here and now, it was real and life changing. I felt a peace that passed all understanding. The next day, the Lord confirmed the same thing to my husband and we committed to my daughter who just happened to be in Ukraine.
|Laurel – August 2012|
The next 3 months were a blur but long story short, we went to Ukraine, stayed 6 weeks and came home with a very cute, very hearing impaired, very smart little girl. The conditions we saw in her orphanage were not horrible like some people have seen but rather poor and rundown from lack of funds. They washed, hung up and reused DISPOSABLE diapers. All of the playground equipment was broken. The children we saw looked well fed but my daughter ate and drank until she would throw it back up. These children would run up to us saying “Mama”? “Papa”? And we’d have to shake our heads “No”. They were so starved for love and affection. The special needs ones are the most heartbreaking. In Eastern Europe, there are really no programs set up for these children. No place for them in society. They are seen as outcasts and better off in institutions than out on the streets with other children. Special needs children are transferred from the baby house at around 4-6 years old into an institution (sometimes an adult mental institution). The trauma of this is dramatic! I could tell you a thousand stories but I won’t here, yet. Investigate for yourself. It’s very real. These children are children just like the ones in our own houses, but they won’t get a chance to live. They will rarely be allowed out of their cribs (if at all). They are without a chance for having a mommy & a daddy.
So was adoption easy? Nope. I’m completely honest about that when people ask me. We had an easier transition than most but I think most would agree that raising ANY child isn’t easy. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Seeing my deaf daughter learn to speak and hear is unbelievable! She has a chance to learn and grow and be loved and that is all the difference.
I challenge you, look for yourself. Visit www.reecesrainbow.org. Pick a child to pray for or even support. A verse from the Bible that really challenged us was this:
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
We may not be all called to adopt but we can all do something. We can pray, support a family in the process, give money or time to the orphan cause.
“Adopting a child will not change the world. But for that child, the world is changed!” – Author UnknownTake the challenge….ask God what he would have YOU do! It just might surprise you.
|Laurel (1 month home) with brother Noah- 2009|