Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why China?

Martha ~

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Why China?
This is a question Matt & I have already been asked on several occassions since we've let it be known we're on the adoption trail again.  I guess people expect a quick one sentence, firm answer.  I can never come up with that.  So I will attempt to offer some answers here. 

The first and foremost reason is that's where our heart is.  God led us there to get our Cassidy and He is leading us there again.  When we got to the Chongqing Children's Home to meet Cassidy for the first time,  Matt & I both got a mental picture that will never leave us.  We were in the elevator with our travel group.  When the doors opened to our destination, we saw a sea of little faces either walking around or in baby walkers.  I would guess there were 20-30 kids who almost all turned to look at us when those doors opened.  That was just a fraction of the 400 children who lived there at the time.  We think often of those faces and wonder where they are now.  Those 400 are just a fraction of the estimated 500,000 orphans in Chinese orphanages. 

Some facts about China that make a difference to us ~ It is a communist country.  Freedom of religion does not exist there.  To put it on a personal level, Cassidy mentioned recently that if we hadn't brought her home from China, she might never have known about Jesus.  That means everything!
Family name and reputation is invaluable to the Chinese people.  Children "age out," meaning they are no longer available for adoption at 14.  Between 16-18, they can no longer live in the orphanage.  Without any family, family name, and many times without a proper education, the future is bleak.  There are no social services.  No one to help them up.  Poverty and homelessness likely awaits them at the age of 18.   Because of a growing gender imbalance, more and more men of marriagable age cannot find women to marry.  Young women are being kidnapped and forced into marriage.  These young women on their own are easy targets.
Since 2007, the adoption of "healthy" girls from China has slowed incredibly.  The wait for us in 2004 - 2005 was six months.  It is now 3-5 years.  This time, we plan to adopt through their special needs program.  Children in this program can have needs ranging from very minor to very serious.  Boys and girls are both available in this program.  I've heard that superstitious people there believe that people with any visible deformity are bad luck.  Think about what kind of future that promises.

I feel that I've rambled on, yet there are probably more facts that would help explain the "Why China" question more thoroughly.  Maybe I'll do a continuation later.

I know without a doubt that God loves every child He has created.  He loves them equally whether they are in China, Ethiopia, Mexico, or the United States.  Every child deserves love and a home.  God has simply called us to love another of His children that just happens to be in China. 

"I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you." John 14:8

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hello World Part 2: The Case of the Missing Nothing Box

Matt ~

Mark Gungor, a national marriage speaker/comedian tells of a special gift most men have in their brains called the "nothing box."  For the majority of all males, the nothing box is a special place.  They can crawl inside, pull the lid shut and think about absolutely NOTHING, and continue breathing.  It's truly an anointed place.  I do some of my best non-thinking there.

So one day back in March of this year I woke up and to my great horror I couldn't find my nothing box.  I remembered having it out the night before but I was very careful to put it back in its spot, right between my wife and work boxes.  This morning, however, my brain fired off thoughts like an M-16: Adoption, golf troubles (I tend to hook the ball), adoption, things to be done at work, adoption, college fund for my two daughters, adoption, retirement savings, adoption…

Being nearly astute sometimes, I noticed that the dream of adoption kept popping back up in my mind.  As my wife chronicled in the previous blog post, we'd talked about it often, and agreed that we'd like to but we didn't see how it was possible.

So I stopped and asked God about it and the conversation went a little something like this:
Me:      "Hey God, have You seen my nothing box?"
God:     "Yeah, sure.  I created you."
Me:      Crossing my arms over my chest.  "You know what I mean.  I seem to have misplaced it.  I can't find it.  I keep tripping over the adoption box."
God:     "I took it."
Me:      "You took what?"
God:     "Your nothing box.  Replaced it with your adoption box.  It's time you slow down and listen to me son."
Me:      "You did what?  How could you?  I love my nothing box."
God:     "I know, I know.  But you were abusing it.  You were going there instead of addressing the adoption box."
Me:      "What's to address?  We've done it once.  I only keep it for the memories."
God:     "It's time for you to open it up.  There's new stuff there."
Me:      Gulp.  "Really?  What new stuff?"
God:     "It's time you take a good hard look at this.  Figure out what fears are holding you back.  Get them out in the open and take them to me.  Let me handle them.  I want you to do this."
Me:      "Oh."
God:     "Clever retort."
Me:      "You made me."

So anyway, after much apologizing to God for being a smart mouth I agreed to think about it and God agreed I could have my nothing box back.

Initially, all I could see were the obstacles, the first being the 25-30 thousand dollars needed.  Don't know about you all, but that's a whole lot more than chump change to me.  Then I recalled something about the Israelites and manna, and the way God had provided for Martha and me all throughout our twenty-two years of marriage.  Why would he stop now?  Okay, but what about retirement?  We need to get that built up.  I wouldn't care if I lived in a shack, but I've got a precious wife who deserves more, and I don't want to be a burden on our kids.  Then the thought hit me: where in the Bible does it say anything about retirement?  All I'd do is sit around in my nothing box all the time anyway.  But I'm forty-four.  Um, remember Abraham?

For every excuse, the Lord had an answer.  Faith.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Faith that He'd show us the way to make this dream come true.  Faith that He'd show us how to raise the money.  Faith that He'd provide.  Like He always does.

I don't want Him to walk this road for us.  He's already walked one for us once.  But I want him to lead us down the road and to guide our steps.  So I prayed to God, asking Him to light the path.  Then all of the great and wonderful things about the adoption call began to drift across the landscape of my mind.  I love kids.  Another child would be awesome!  I loved realizing how God picked out Martha, Courtney and I for Cassidy and then sculpted us into a family.  I find peace in knowing that Cassidy has professed Christ and belongs to Him now, something that likely would never have happened if she were still in China.  Another child that needs a family could have four people that love him or her totally and unconditionally.  How much more important is that than my personal comfort!

I had – or rather, God had sold me on it.  A week or two later, on a Saturday morning I talked to Martha about it, and well, the rest is yet to come.

We're thrilled and we're anxious to see how God provides.  But we're not scared.  The Lord Jesus is not the author of fear.

These days, I find myself feeling more and more like I'm square in the center of God's will for our family.  I'm also spending a fair amount of time in our adoption box.

They're both pretty cool places to be.