Saturday, November 23, 2013
What I'm Thankful For
Since it's November, the month of Thanksgiving, I have seen people post on Facebook what they are thankful for each day. I have never been one of those people but I found myself reflecting on something I am grateful for: people who have answered God's call to take care of the orphans. This is not an easy call and it is missions on a life-time scale, as it is one the mission field comes home with you to live. It requires not only a lot of money, but time, emotions, faith, and trust.
We are at the anniversary of our invitation from the Ukrainian SDA, so I have been ruminating a lot on the adoption process and I remember how much of an act of obedience it was on all of our family's part. Our family is not wealthy and the financial aspect alone was an obstacle that we had to trust that God would provide if we followed the path we felt He was calling us to.
Even greater is the emotional journey that adoption is and continues to be. So much of the adoption process is not in your hands and as you wait or have to submit documents or resubmit documents again and again and wait for documents to return, it sometimes feels as if it will never end. Throughout all of the paperwork and the waiting, one has to remind yourself of why one is doing this: for a child. These children are in our hearts long before they are ever in our families, before we even know them or see them.
Orphans are not nameless, faceless statistics. They are children. Children who desperately need to not only know the love a family, but the love of their heavenly Father. With Cava, we have watched a child who came to us knowing nothing of the love of God or of Christ and has truly begun to experience what that means in his life. To hear him tell us that God loves him makes whatever we have gone through worth it.
Adoption isn't just a financial investment, it's an emotional, spiritual investment, and an investment of the heart. Adoption is not impersonal in any way, but is deeply personal and asks a lot of those who undertake this journey.
I am thankful for those families who have heard and believed in the call to adopt from somewhere else in the world. These families travel to another country, experience another culture and language, and are willing to give up their comfortable lives to face the unknown in other countries, often not knowing when they are going to be able to return him. This requires great trust and surrender. You are at the will and whim of foreign governments who decide how your adoption is going to proceed. Ultimately, they are trusting in God and that all of it is for a greater purpose and reason.These are families like the Littlejohns and the Newberrys; both of whom left their biological children to go to the Congo and Ukraine on an act of faith knowing that this is, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted in the world." (James 1:27). No matter how difficult the path, they have taken to undertake it and through all of this know that God is not only with them but is using them for His glory.
I am thankful for those families who either adopt through foster care or are foster families. I have been blessed to know such people who have opened their hearts and homes to kids who need love and a family, even if it is only temporary. Tony and Nella are just such a couple who have taken in an amazing and beautiful little girl to be their daughter. Or the Kavanaughs, who have not only adopted a precious little girl they fostered, but Susanna has also started Least of These Gaston in order to help kids in our local foster care system and to help be a voice for them.
I am thankful for people like Katie Davis who leave family to go to another country and who allowed herself to be open to the family that God had for her. She said that she is "so grateful for the opportunity to raise my children in their own country and culture. By living here with my children, we also have the great privilege of maintaining relationships with biological relatives of those of my children who still have living relatives. . . we often get to invite them over for a meal, help them with their struggles, and share the Gospel with them."
It is not an easy path to choose and not everyone is called to undertake adoption, but for those who do, they get to see a true glimpse of the family we are adopted into through Christ as it gives us some insight into how much the heavenly Father has given up to adopt us into His and of the great love He has for us, even when we weren't deserving of it. As Romans 8:14-16 tells us, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father."For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children."
So, as we approach Thanksgiving, I would like to say that I am thankful for the gift that adoption is and for all of those people who have allowed themselves to be open to receiving this miraculous gift that, ultimately, gives glory to God.