I am blessed to be called “Aunt Beth” by fourteen nieces and two nephews (yes the “girl thing” must be genetic on both sides!). On my branch of the family tree the first babies to make their entrance in this world were my now 23-year-old twin nieces Kate and Beth. When I saw them for the first time at six months old, they stole my heart with their cute smiles and precious giggles. They have always been sweet, loving, “good girls” – wonderful and perfect daughters, grandgirls, nieces, cousins and big sisters. It has been a joy to watch them grow into mature, faithful, smart, talented, giving, beautiful, pure and godly young ladies. They are amazing role models for each cousin that came after them. They bring life, love and joy to everywhere they go and to everyone who knows them. I love these girls!
Kate recently sent me an essay she wrote about her summer missions trip to Uganda (not her first missions trip but one of many). I put it in under the comments from my recent post on adoption – Chosen to Love & be Loved – but then I decided that it needed to be shared with you all as it is such a beautiful, well written and inspiring look at adoption.
Her tiny arm was deeply scarred. I held out the bubble wand and she tried to lick the soap as I giggled and tried to show her how to blow. This wisp of girl had more spunk and attitude than I had ever seen in a 2 year-old package, but then she’d always been a fighter. She was birthed into a pit latrine – a hole in ground filled with human excrement over 20 feet below. She was found lying there amid the stench, alone and abandoned. It took hours for a slip-knot in a rope to finally catch around her wrist. She was pulled out, but not without profound damage to her wrist. They thought Zoe would never have use of her arm again.
It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.) Is that just a statistic? Not to me. I’ve held children in Uganda burning up with fever from Malaria who have no mommy to comfort them. I’ve listened to kids in Romania try without success to play the recorder because they had no daddy who ever taught them to count to 3. I’ve seen the look of belonging on the face of an adopted cousin as she reached for her mommy. She will never know the fear of being alone.
James 1:27 says “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.” Every human heart is an orphaned heart. We are all in that boat together until we are adopted by God the Father into his family. We never have to feel alone again because God care’s deeply about orphans. He has a father’s heart. A heart that is willing to take someone who may look different and have a completely different background then they do, into their family and love them like their own flesh and blood – this is the heart of Christ. This is the heart that is also ready to love people whose souls are in a different place. This is the heart that is willing to love others and bring them to a face-to-face relationship with Jesus Christ. I care about orphans and adoption because I too was a spiritual orphan who was adopted into the family of God.
Nicholas is a precious baby that was discarded into the bush of Africa when he was only hours old. He spent his first months at a baby house at New Hope Uganda. He learned to eat his porridge from a normal cup, not a bottle, because there was nobody to feed him several times a day. I met him when he was 6-months-old. I hugged him and kissed him and tried desperately to somehow convey to him that he was loved and things were going to be okay. When he was 1-year-old, he was adopted by a missionary family in Uganda. I saw him again two years later. He ran into the room in his train pajamas with a big smile and put his little hand out for me to shake. He will never remember what it was like not to have a mommy and a daddy. He knows that he is unconditionally loved and it has made all the difference.
“Mommy?” Zoe said as I walked into that same baby house. It broke my heart. I wanted to say yes. I wanted this little girl to have someone that she knew she belonged to. One day I want to welcome orphans into my home and family. I want to hear little voices say “Mommy?” and I can respond with a nod and a hug of welcome and belonging. One day all of us will stand before God and say “Daddy?” and he will welcome in his adopted children to spend forever with him. Zoe’s arm is completely healed now and one day her heart will be too.
May this essay challenge us all to consider what we may do to be a part of someone’s adoption story…whether that adoption is physical into a family here on this earth or spiritual into the family of God.