Sophna and Sophinia

Sophna and Sophinia
Our Girls

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Siding for my house

We recently had to buy siding for our house and I totally get that we have to take care of our house as an investment. I get it. But I don’t. The internal struggle I have with money is something I honestly never expected. But I honestly would not have it any other way. I cry out to God to please continue to burden me with the things that matter to Him. When I get to Heaven, I am fairly certain He will not ask me whether I took good care of my house as an investment. I know from what He tells me in scripture that He will ask me specifically what I did for Him. 41Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.” Going to Haiti has been absolutely life changing for me. But I also see how unbelievably easy it is to get sucked into the comforts of America and the dangerous wealth that we enjoy. “Dangerous?” you ask. Did you catch the part God said about the eternal fire?

One of the most interesting things to me since I have begun to read authors such as David Platt, Eric Idleman, etc., is that when I try to share with other Christians that we American Christians have truly been missing major pieces of the gospel, I am made to feel like “that is fine for you Donna. You have that passion. But that’s not for everyone”. Um, yes it is! It is scripture! And here is what is really perplexing: why is it accepted by the Christian community that it is OK for me to challenge non-Christians to seek the claims of Christ and the truth of the scripture. But it is not OK for me to challenge my Christian friends to seek the claims of Christ for those of us that call ourselves Christians? Yes, I do have passion and I will not apologize for that. And yes, I do believe that Christ expects all Christians to have this passion.  So it is not wrong for me to share the gospel - and it is ALL the gospel – not just the part about saying a prayer and receiving eternal life. I want my Christian friends to be passionate about what Christ wants us to be passionate about.  And He makes it very clear in both the Old and New Testament that there is a foundational expectation that we die daily to self and make the needs of others, especially those in poverty, widows and orphans, more important than our needs.

When people think that I have gone over the edge, it is interesting the things they come up with. I have had people tell me that my “first ministry is to my family”. Yes, that is true. But that is not an exclusive ministry. I am pretty sure when God told us to take care of the least of these, He was not just talking to the childless! I want my children to see Christianity in action – they need for me to model for them how I spend my time, treasure and talent. I have people point to things I have done as if I am sharing my passion for the gospel with them to get some kind of ‘attagirl’. Believe me, I know that my actions are insufficient and that God has not burdened me with this heart to be satisfied with any of my meager attempts to die daily to myself!  I had someone who loves me very much tell me the other day that I was going to “burn myself out”. Oh how I pray that is true! I am sure the child going to bed tonight without anyone to tuck her in is completely burned out on being lonely and wants to ‘take a break’ from being an orphan. I am sure that the woman making $2 a day is burned out on watching her children starve and would love to just take a break from poverty. I am sure the St Jude child, the prisoner with regret, the man in the nursing home with no one to visit him, the woman being forced into prostitution, the drug addict, and anyone and everyone that needs the love of Christ is burned out on not knowing Him! We are called to burn ourselves out being His hands and feet for these burned out people!

So, when it comes time to buy siding and I calculate in my head that I could feed a family in Haiti for 10 years on what I just put on the side of my house, I will thank God that I am struggling with that. And as long as there are 147 million orphans in the world and 6 billion Christians, I will continue to challenge my Christian friends to consider adoption, fostering and orphan care. And as long as 40% of the population on earth lives on less than $2/day, I will continue to ask my Christian friends why they think God has blessed us in this country with so much. And I know I will offend some. And I know others will think I have gone ‘too far’. But I will continue to live as if every day was the day Christ is coming and ask every morning how He wants me to die to myself and ask every night before I go to bed for forgiveness for my insufficiency in doing so.  Including forgiving me for how nice my house looks with new siding…..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

But Why Aren't You Adopting From The United States?

Not too long ago, when a friend posted about our adoption, someone asked her “why don’t people adopt from the U.S?” Most of the time I like to respond with “oh, you are adopting from the U.S? That’s great!” just to make them think. But this person seemed sincere in wanting to understand. Let me start by saying that the honest truth to this question is that undeniably, God told both my husband and I that we were to adopt from Haiti. I remember when the Holy Spirit prompted me with this and I kept brushing it off with excuses “too old, too comfortable, costs too much, etc”. I have been trying so hard in my walk with Christ to just be silent and listen (you know quiet isn’t my forte!), that this time the Holy Spirit actually got a word in edgewise with all my normal jabbering and I knew that I was supposed to listen. But beyond the “I know I was called” answer, I feel like I now understand the hearts of people who adopt internationally and I will do my best to share my understanding.  First of all, adopting from the U.S. is an awesome thing – we adopted Mitchell when he was our foster son when he was 8 (he came to us when he was 6) and he is 100% our son. I wasn’t a Christian when I became a foster parent so I was fostering out of conviction of giving back to the community, the world, I don’t know, I just felt like it was something I needed to do. Now I see God’s hand all over our adoption of Mitchell! 

One thing that is common between adopting Mitchell and adopting the girls is: we weren’t out seeking to adopt – God just made it clear that this is what we were supposed to do. We purposely stopped having children after we had Claire.  I was old and there is a reason women over 35 are told it will be rougher to have children because I am here to tell you - it was rough!  So when people ask me why we aren’t adopting from the U.S., I believe they aren’t asking us why we aren’t adopting a healthy baby through a private adoption. This is normally when the adoptive parents are infertile and the birth mother is making a beautiful choice due to her circumstances. Obviously Jim and I would never have considered this type of adoption given our situation. I would have total guilt when I see how many couples are desperate to adopt healthy newborns when I was perfectly capable of having my own children, especially since our purpose was not to go out and adopt more children - we already had a basketball team. So I assume the “why not the U.S.” question excludes this scenario.
What I think this question means is why aren’t we adopting through foster care as we did with Mitchell.  Please understand that foster/adopt is living out James 1:23 to care for the orphans and widows. These precious ones need forever families just like the other 147 Million orphans around the world. I would love to look around my church and see it filled with foster families where we know a child has a better chance of growing up to seek God because of his/her time in a Christian home, whether or not they are adopted by the foster family. But the very fact that we have foster care in this country is ultimately the difference between an orphan in foster care in the U.S. and an orphan living in an institution in a third world country.  A foster child has a fighting chance of surviving this life. Foster children will eat every day, will go to school, get medical treatment, a family that will not mistreat them (if the state is doing their job), and because they live in America, they will have a real chance at becoming productive members of society.  The institutionalized child on the other hand, does not get any of these things.  Adopting an orphan from an orphanage truly means saving a life.  The mortality rate of children in orphan care is staggering, estimated between 20-30%. The conditions in an orphanage we cannot begin to imagine. My friend who adopted from Russia said in that country, they don’t want the orphanage workers to bond with the children so they don’t pick them up or hold them. She said there were literally children rocking back and forth, banging their heads with their hands, trying to self-soothe. It was dank and dingy and scary. America wouldn’t dream of putting children in an orphanage (Thank you Jesus!) and we certainly wouldn’t consider treating them this way.  Orphanages in third world countries are over-crowded, under-funded, under-staffed and because there isn’t a DCFS to monitor them, they are places where abuse and neglect are rampant.
Now, if a child does survive an orphanage, the outlook for their life is downright hopeless. I wish I could remember the statistics but it was something like 80% of children that ‘graduate’ from an orphanage will end up in prostitution or human trafficking. The scum of the earth that prey on children for these industries know what the chances are for orphans who can’t read or write and have no life skills (not to mention the inability to understand relationships) so they are the first to prey upon them on ‘graduation’ day. Children in orphanages fear their 15th or 16th birthday because they know that no matter how bad the orphanage was, they have no hope when they leave its doors. It is sad and disgusting that UNICEF has this propaganda that orphans need to stay in their country because “they might be the future leaders”. If they are the future leaders, why are these countries allowing them to die in institutions? Future leaders are not typically prostitutes or slaves that can’t read or write.
The people I have met adopting internationally understand the hopelessness associated with an orphan in an orphanage. They also understand that 1. God does not see race or nationality – He puts the lonely in families, 2. ALL children deserve a forever family, 3. those that adopt internationally obviously aren’t opposed to adopting in the U.S. – they celebrate all adoption! It is just that 4. they feel called to do for the least of these and there is no more innocent victim of a third world country than an orphan in an institution. Adopting a child from an orphanage truly is saving a life – both figuratively and literally.
I know some will still ask “why not adopt from the U.S.”   But you can’t change the fact that God calls some to foster/adopt in the U.S. and He calls others to adopt internationally. And you really can’t change that God celebrates all adoption. God’s own heart is adoption because he adopted us to be his children.  I hope that I helped someone understand that they don’t need to ask why we are adopting from Haiti – we know, without a doubt, that we saved 2 precious lives from prostitution, slavery or death. And there are 147 Million more waiting to be saved…….