on being thankful

Some of you know that Jenny and I are exploring adoption.

We have 3 kids, 6, 4 and 2, and so it's not because we cannot have biological children that we are seeking direction, asking questions, and praying about adoption. A lot.

There is a Biblical model for adoption, of course, a mandate to care for the fatherless and the destitute, to show compassion, meaning that you see suffering and want to alleviate it.

We live in a world with a lot of kids who don't have parents - the Bible calls them fatherless, orphans. Being a kid is hard. Being a kid whose parents are both dead is a lot harder. Being a kid whose parents both died because of war or AIDS or famine is impossible. Those kids mostly die.

Often in international adoptions one of the parents dies, the mother, for example, of Malaria, and the father takes the baby to an orphanage, not because he is dead, but because he cannot feed the baby because he cannot feed his other 5 children because it has not rained or insects ate his corn or evil men have ravaged his country. We can blame the father, say they should stop having kids, get a job, get educated, stop looking for a handout, the list is quite long, really. All of it based in acrid arrogance stemming from ignorance. The destitute child remains, no matter our opinion of the father.

I have been emotionally unattached from the adoption discussion, similar to how a father struggles attaching before he can see his child stretching out his beloved's belly. Just facts. Data. Detail. How. How much. Where. I have been overwhelmed with information, like holding a glass under a waterfall, I felt ripped away, knocked down, washed out. Too many questions. Too much corruption. Too many details.

So I prayed. Because a Good Shepherd leads me. A tender Shepherd. I can talk to Him. He listens. Guides. Comforts. Gives wisdom. As I prayed I thought about my three children. About thousands of other fathers who love their children as I do mine, yet lack the resources to feed them. To feed them, you understand. Their children go to bed hungry. They wake up hungry. They drink foul water. When they are sick, they are just sick. There are no options. No money, medicine, entitlements. Nothing but hunger and despair. And I thought about how desperate a man would have to be to take his own child and give them to another person in an orphanage so that their child could live. So that their child could maybe get adopted by rich white people and taken to a better place. He would have bitter tears, having failed as a father to provide for a child he loves. I tried to imagine how he would feel and I wept. I wept at this cursed planet, at sin and death and Satan who kills and steals and destroys. I am powerless to repair all that sin has broken.

We complain because it costs too much to go to a movie. We gripe about too many political commercials or that our air-conditioning makes the electric bill high. Or that it costs so much to water the grass. Or that gas is expensive or Wal-mart is too big or our show is a re-run and forget that we have movie theaters. We have TV's to watch and air-conditioning to cool us off. We have electricity and a yard to water. We can drink the water! We have a car to put gas in and a store that sells so much food for so cheap that our greatest health concern is that we are too fat. Our poor are too fat. Think about that!

I have so much food in my house that I have to keep the children from eating it so that they will be hungry and eat during one of our three daily meal times. I feed poor people. I give food to street kids. I live in a 3rd world country. And I am desperately haunted because it is not enough when we can do something and must do something to redeem more good out of this fallen wreck of a world.

So today I am thankful. That my children can be picky eaters. For a computer which cost more than most poor families make in 6 months. That I have money to buy medicine and visit doctors and have clean water (even if I have to buy it in a bottle). I am thankful that my children have 10 fingers attached to 2 arms. They have 2 eyes that work. They do not have a hole in their heart or water on their brain or a broken chromosome.  I can hear them laughing and screaming as I type and I am thankful for voices not mute and ears not deaf. That I, in privilege I will never deserve, have the opportunity to do something at great personal cost to demonstrate so minutely the heart of Jesus.  

It is, so very truly, the very least I can do to demonstrate thanks to the God who gave everything for everyone so that we would love Him and love others until He returns and makes all things new - which is yet something else to thank Him for.


Anonymous said...

True sincere gratitude is hard to come by Brandon. I applaud your attitude and envy your servant heart!

Anonymous said...

Or, the father (or the mother) relinquishes the child to the orphanage because they are told that the adoptive parents will send them money for the other kids. Which happened in our recent international adoption, and took us by complete surprise. This, even though the courts tell the birth parent that money will not be sent, but the local orphanage workers say the equivalent of "it's just a formality, everyone gives money." And then had this confirmed by someone doing relief work for a Christian organization and living in the country that giving money to the family is culturally expected, even though our agency told us otherwise. The Bible tells us to care for the TRULY fatherless. Unfortunately, 95% of the children in international adoption classified as orphans have one birth parent living, or are over the age of 5, or have special needs/health problems. And if you're wondering why God would put it in your heart to adopt, then why would He have directed me to your blog entry? Just something to think about. Know that entering in to this process is about adopting an entire family if you do end up taking a child from a living family.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify...I say "unfortunately" because now having been through the process, I know that our child's first family would have loved to have kept him if the local organizations would have offered help to the entire family and not just one child if relinquished. It's not straightforward, it's complicated.

Brandon and Jenny said...

Thank you for your comments!

We are seeking a special needs little girl who was brought to our attention soon after I wrote this blog. I am unclear as to how that is unfortunate, but thank you for your relating your experience. From what country did you adopt?

Brandon and Jenny said...

Dear 2nd Anonymous person - I forgot to say how very sorry I am that you have suffered because of others' manipulation and deception. What a terrible thing to have happened to mar something as wonderful as adoption. May the Lord bring healing to all involved.