The recent post by The Wife of the Pres was right along the lines of thoughts that have been brewing in my heart, and since she had the courage to come out and say it, I wanted to add just a bit more reflection from the China side of things.
When I first came to China (five years ago), the wait for a referral was still quite reasonable. However, things quickly changed. As I loved on kids at the orphanage each week, and prayed for families for each of them, anger was my first response to the slowdown. I firmly believe that there is one greater than and in control of governments and policies, and I pleaded before Him as the ultimate defender of the orphan.
But then a few things changed my heart. And instead of complaining to Him about the situation, I started praising him for the situation. You see, I looked around my orphanage and the majority of the kids I saw were kids with special needs. Almost all of the older kids had a special need. A majority of the kids—old and young—were boys. And suddenly I saw the Great Shepherd nudging His sheep in a direction they had not originally planned to go.
I started to notice two trends. One, more Chinese families adopted healthy babies. In China, this is a big step outside the norm and expected behavior. Chinese families were venturing outside their comfort zone. Special needs kids are less likely to be adopted domestically, likely because there are not the resources and education available here that are available in the States. In most families, both parents need to work in order to provide for the family. The school system is rigorous and those with special needs that impact education often get left behind.
The second trend was more and more American families moving over to the special needs program. Kids—including boys—that in the past may have remained in the orphanage year after year were now being adopted as toddlers.
I don’t think families that are switching over “made a mistake” or “misheard the call” or are “settling” for a child with special needs. Instead, I see a loving Father who knows how big of a step of faith each of us can handle at one time. I moved to China with the intention of staying one year. If the Father had told me, you’re heading over there for six years (or from today’s perspective likely longer), I may have never boarded the plane the first time. It was a big step of faith to come for one year, just like it’s a big step of faith to consider adopting a healthy child internationally. But the fact is, the Father asks us to keep on stepping. The steps that follow the first often are not nearly as difficult, but they sometimes take us further and further away from the road we thought we were going to take.
By increasing the wait time for healthy children, I see the Father nudging people to take steps they perhaps never intended to take, and through that He is pouring out his love on “the least of these.” My encouragement to you today is simply to ask, am I supposed to take one step further? For those of you who expected to adopt a healthy child, are there some special needs you can trust the Father to equip you to handle? Those who are already in the special needs program, is the Father asking you to be open to an even greater range of special needs? To bringing a child into your home that may never be able to leave your home?
As I’ve taken steps of faith, unsure of where they were leading me and the provision that would sustain me, Isaiah 50:10 has been a great comfort to me.
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Here, the Father does not promise to reveal exactly what’s ahead. He doesn’t flip on the light to show you how it’s all going to work out. Instead, He invites us to step onto a dark road, trusting and relying on the all-sufficient One.