Orphan Care in Times of National Disaster

Orphans & National DisasterOn October 3rd, as the news began to swell with reports on Ebola, I made a post about how Ebola is affecting orphans. I didn’t actually have a lot to say on the subject. I shared the few things I’d learned about the impact of the virus on orphans and reminded you that the yellow journalism that makes up our news can’t be blindly trusted. Despite my unoriginal content, that post has been getting quite a few hits. That’s not really surprising. Everyone is thinking about and therefore Googling Ebola. It’s been interesting to track the search terms that lead people to TIO. Here’s the phrases used today and yesterday:

  • How to adopt an ebola orphan
  • How to adopt african orphans from ebola
  • Children of ebola how to help
  • Ebola orphans adoption
  • Ebola orphans pictures
  • Adopt ebola orphans
  • Ebola orphans
  • Any groups helping ebola orphans

Like I said. The post has been getting quite a few hits. I’m sure that you noticed a trend as you read the search terms listed above. Over the past two weeks, the searches leading to my blogs have increasingly been about adoption. It’s wonderful that people are aware that Ebola orphans need help, but helping during times of upheaval is a delicate process.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that international adoption is near and dear to my heart, but I wrestle with seemingly opposite ethical issues involved in the process. If you follow me elsewhere on social media, you might also know that I’ve been (very) slowly trying to slog my way through The Child Catchers. To be quite frank, I wholeheartedly dislike the book. I disagree with much of what the author has to say and find her manner of presenting her content frequently offensive. However, as I mentioned to my brother this week, she raises some very valid points.

One of the stories shared in that book gave me a lot of food for thought. The author shared how, after the earthquake in Haiti, the US went into a Haitian adoption frenzy. The efforts to airlift orphans out of the country and onto American soil were spearheaded by well-meaning, but often uninformed individuals riding the wave of media attention. Now, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. When a situations like the Haitian earthquake or Ebola occur, it’s entirely appropriate to pull out all the stops to save lives and minister to people in need–especially orphans. That wasn’t the part that got me thinking. What did bother me was reading that many children with surviving parents were whisked out of the country without proper documentation. Children whose biological parents still wanted them. Some of those kids were adopted into the US and never returned to the parents who never surrendered them.

My point is, by all means, search for ways to help Ebola orphans. Be persistent about it. Don’t let children suffer and die and go uncared for. But at the same time, learn from the mistakes of the past. When a country is in turmoil, mistakes are easy to make. Mistakes that can permanently sever families and do children more harm than good.

If you’re one of the people coming to this blog after searching, “how to adopt an Ebola orphan,” please keep this in mind. Adoption is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But handled in the wrong way, it can cause a lot of pain and grief. Please, do not grow weary in well doing, but be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove in your quest to help.

What do you think? Have you found any ways to help Ebola orphans? Does your church support a missionary in a country affected by Ebola? Have you learned anything about this “national” disaster or any other disaster that could guide you in helping orphans in an informed way? How has the Ebola scare affected you personally?

Ebola Orphans: How Can We Help?

Ebola OrphansThis week on the TIO Goodreads group, a topic came up that–surprisingly–hadn’t occurred to me. Ebola orphans. With news about the Ebola outbreak unavoidable, I’m not sure why I never made the obvious connection. A young lady asked if there was any way  she could help children orphaned by Ebola besides praying.

Perhaps you’ve been following this closer than I have and already know the plight of Ebola orphans. But in case you don’t, let me explain what I’ve learned from a cursory study of some news articles. (A simple Google search pulled up TONS of articles!)

CNN claims that Ebola has orphaned 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone according to the UNICEF definition that says an orphan is “a child who has lost one or both parents.”

(SIDE NOTE: Before you get totally overwhelmed, it’s important to note that the news is all about sensational stories, and stories about orphans are often blown out of proportion. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but it’s true. The same CNN article also says that Ebola has killed more than 3,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The UN claims the numbers are vastly under-reported, but a claim of 3,700 children orphaned by of 3,000 deaths seems at least a little unlikely to me. Perhaps I’m too skeptical because I’ve read about situations like this being exploited during past disasters. What do you think?)

Whatever the actual numbers, it’s clear that Ebola has affected and created orphans. And to make matters worse, the rapid spread of the virus is making people afraid to care for newly orphaned children. Many news articles quote UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, who said, “Ebola is turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence.”

So how should we respond? To be honest, beyond praying, I’m not sure. But, to be sure, praying is a very good thing to do. Another member of TIO Goodreads group replied to the original question by saying,

Sometimes, I think God allows us to feel helpless so that we’ll pray harder and truly learn to depend on Him, truly realize that we are powerless and humble ourselves before Him. It’s very easy to get busy DOING and to claim that prayer works but not truly believe it wholeheartedly – because prayer IS doing!

She is so right! It’s not easy to latch onto tangible ways to help when not even the “professionals” know what to do. But we can always, always pray. And in praying, we are doing.

Do you know more about how Ebola is affecting and creating orphans? How do you think Christians as a whole and as individuals should respond to this problem? Do you have any further thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on how to help?

Kang’s Heart of Hope

Kang's Heart of HopeLast month, a post on my friend Marli’s blog caught my attention. She shared a post about Timothy, a little boy in China who has both Downs Syndrome and a heart defect. Marli’s post linked through to the original post, written by Hannah “Jiejie,” a young woman who knows and loves Timothy. After reading the post, I contacted Hannah to see if she’d like to post about Timothy here on TIO. She replied that Timothy had received the full funding for his heart surgery, but she would love to post about another little boy. Here’s that post.

 ~*~

I was chatting with my parents via Skype when my mom told me, “There’s a new little boy at the orphanage. He seems to have a heart defect.”

When you think of orphans and orphanages, maybe the first thing that pops into your mind is a row of cribs filled with babies. This is an accurate picture. But when I think of orphans I see another image; the two, three and four year-olds who are abandoned. These are the children who have known a family, and who have been loved and treasured by their parents, but when the medical needs became too much, or when the heart defect was diagnosed and a life-saving surgery quoted at way more than the family could ever expect to borrow from relatives, hope was abandoned and the children left alone at the orphanage gate.

This is Kang’s story. I know nothing of his birth parents. I know little about why he was abandoned, but I can guess.

Kang is almost three. His lips are blue, his fingertips are blue, he is weak and he is small. He has little strength to do anything. Kang has a very complicated heart defect. I can only image that his parents took him to many doctors and most of them probably said that there was nothing that they could do – only big hospitals in the city have the expertise to do a surgery that would repair Kang’s heart. Maybe they took him to one of the bigger hospitals in the city? Maybe the hospital gave them an estimation of what the surgery would cost. They must have cried-ugly that night as they watched their little boy sleep peacefully without a clue that his parents were about to make a decision that would change his life and his story forever.

Kang_1 Kang was abandoned just a few months ago. He is almost three, y’all, almost three. Think about your own two year-olds. Are they aware that they have a mommy and a daddy? Do they understand that you are there to take care of them and meet their needs? They do! And so imagine what Kang’s little heart must have done when he woke up and found himself away from the family he had known and surrounded by the chaos that is a toddler room in an orphanage. Busy nannies scrambling to meet the needs of dozens of children… crying children who just want to be held… fighting children who have learned how to get their own way… quiet children who know that no one will come.

And so Kang’s broken heart that couldn’t provide his body with the oxygen it needed, broke again.

We worked with the orphanage and they were able to get him taken in to the local hospital for some tests. The doctor said that surgery was necessary, but impossible. We took the results to some of the excellent cardiology hospitals in Beijing, and the surgeons said that surgery could be done. They suggested that they could repair his heart with one major operation, and that it would cost $20,000.

Taking a deep breath we stepped back… wow. That’s a lot of money. We looked at some other hospitals and applied for a government grant. The government rejected Kang’s application, saying that it was too late, he should have had surgery years ago and that there was no hope.

I don’t know about you, but the thing that gets me riled up the most is when somebody says that there is no hope. I think that the hairs on the back of my neck visibly stand on end. And so when the government rejected Kang’s application and refused to fund his surgery because they said he, “has no hope,” I decided that we have to do something.

Yes, it’s true, Kang’s surgery is complex and there is a chance that he will not survive. But do we have the right to make this decision? Do we have the right to choose not to give Kang his only hope of survival? Where do we place our trust?

Kang’s surgery will cost between $16,000 and $20,000 USD. This is a lot of money, but not if we stand together, a little here and a little there. It will add up. Are you willing to take the risk, to give Kang hope? His life is worth it.

Kang_2 (1)

Kang is currently being cared for by Little Flower Project’s baby home in Beijing. His fundraising page is here.

Will you stand with me?

~*~

I hope you didn’t mind the slightly-longer-than-usual post today! If you have time an inclination, I’d really recommend checking out Hannah’s blog, Loving Dangerously. It’s a lot of fun to read through.

If you have any questions for Hannah (or me, of course!) please leave a comment. Comments are always awesome! 😉

DR Congo’s Orphans With Families

Ben DillowThis morning I woke up to find this little guy’s picture in my inbox. That adorable smile makes you want to smile back at him, but I didn’t. The title of the email made me dread to read the words around the picture. The headline read, “Rest In Peace, Ben Dillow.”

Ben Dillow was a five year old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He wasn’t an orphan. In this picture sent out by Both Ends Burning, Ben is holding a picture of his parents. He was legally adopted with approval by both US and Congolese courts. Everything was ready for him to travel to his new home until the Congolese government stopped issuing exit permits.

Last Saturday, Ben was buried in the DRC because his medically fragile condition could not be sufficiently treated in the DRC.

Over the past few months, 350 legally adopted children have continued to wait, living without their families. The situation has caught the attention of lots of people.

I personally have been trying to “not get involved.” With a crazy busy schedule and concerns within my own family as my mom fights cancer, I didn’t want to get sucked into figuring out another political issue concerning orphans. It seems like situations like this are always messy, complicated, and chock full of heavy emotion.

Getting this email today made me jump online and start doing some preliminary digging. The Congolese government claims to be refusing exit permits because of concerns about the health and well-being of previously adopted children. As I’ve stated before, international Adoption is not without problems (read 3 Problems of International Adoption), but whenever I hear about countries closing to adoptions and listen to the arguments of adoption skeptics, my thoughts return to children like Ben Dillow.

If governments are really concerned about the “health and well-being” of children, what about the children like Ben. The kids who are dying because they’re alone. Because the people who love them–or who would love them–are not allowed to reach them. What about the kids who grow up in orphanages and enter adulthood only to die young and continue the vicious cycle of the fatherless.

International adoption might not be the ideal solution for these kids, but until a better system is put in place, why should they be condemned to lives without the hope of a family?

I still don’t understand the details of the politics and reasons surrounding the suspension of exit permits from the DRC. I might not have the time to look into it further. I do know from past research that many situations like these start with a concept that is intended to help kids “in theory.” But all to often the very children supposed to be helped are harmed.

Want to learn more yourself? Read the details on Both Ends Burning, or read personal stories on Blessings & Raindrops and in the post Why I Called the White House Today.

What was your first reaction when you read about Ben? What are your opinions on the current situation in the DRC? What would you like to see happen next? How do you think teens can get involved in this situation?

In closing, I’d like to share this letter Both Ends Burning sent from Ben’s mom.

To Anyone Who Will Listen:

In memory of our son Benjamin Chase Dillow.

I write this letter imploring, pleading, no, begging that my son’s death not be in vain. Benjamin deserved life, he deserved to be united with his family, but was denied that by the senseless suspension of exit permits. He was one of the many critically fragile children that have families waiting helplessly to bring them home.

Benjamin was critically ill but his doctors in the DRC knew and had stated that his health could be greatly improved with more advanced care offered in the US. His story could have been about the life of a young child that was given a chance, a hope of growing up with his brother and sister, a life of birthday parties, and first loves, graduations, memories with his loving family. But instead Ben’s life ended because the DGM failed to see my son as a life. This orphaned boy was not worth the consideration to give him a chance at life. Benjamin’s death should be a warning to the reality of this suspension.

When I look at the eyes of these other critically ill children, I see sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These children have families that want to give them their home and hearts. We as parents want to hold our children, to comfort them while they are sick. We want to give them the care that they need and deserve, even if it’s only to hold their hand during their last breath. My son passed away on August 4th at Mutumbo Hospital with his care taker by his side.

As my son took his last breaths, he cried for his “Mama”. I cannot tell you the pain of not being by his side; the pain of being helpless to do anything. Please do not let this happen to another child. Give my son’s death meaning! Give these children a chance! Give them life!

Through Tearful Eyes,
Morgan and Grace Dillow

Read the email from Both Ends Burning here.

Adoption: An Insiders Look

Adoption An Insider's View

Today’s feature is a guest post from Spencer Rothfuss. Hope you enjoy! 😉

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Adoption. When Leah first asked me to do a guest post on TIO about adoption I wasn’t sure what I’d write about. There are many facets to adoption that would each take volumes to cover; everything from the legal requirements of adoption to attachment and bonding with the child you adopt. I guess I’ll start by telling about my experiences with adoption. My family first got involved in adoption in October of 2009. We submitted our application to a local adoption agency for a domestic infant adoption program that was predicted to take 9-12 months; similar to a normal biological pregnancy.

However, my family’s process was unusually, well, dramatic. Our adoption agency went bankrupt and we were moved to a new one a short time after we began and the process stretched on. Finally, in December of 2011, two years later, we received the call; we were matched. The baby we were matched with was a boy and was scheduled to be born by C-Section in about a month; mid-January. Mom and Dad met the birth parents. We were talking about details like his name, his room in our house, and then God decided that the time was now. Just two weeks after we had heard of this precious little boy, and four days after Mom and Dad had met the birth parents, we were at the hospital and Michael Joseph was born on New Year’s Eve, 2011. We spent four days in the hospital and were visited by an average of five grandparents from both families each day. God miraculously provided for us in many ways. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard, truly it was. But if God wants something to happen, and Oh does he want adoption to happen, it will happen and he will be able to accomplish it.

Adoption is truly the full realization and ultimate end result of a pro-life mentality. And just as Jesus came to give life and life in all its fullness, so our enemy is bent on bringing death and removing the beautiful symbol of our adoption into Christ’s family. As Russell D. Moore says in Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches:

“But adoption is contested… The Scriptures tell us there are unseen beings in the air around us who would rather we not think about what it means to be who we are in Christ. These rulers of the age would rather we ignore both the eternal reality and the earthly icon of it. They would rather we find our identity, our inheritance, and our mission according…to what the Bible calls “the flesh” – rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit of life. That’s why adoption isn’t charity it’s war.”

When we set out to adopt we defy the powers ruling over our fallen world. We roll back the clock to before the fall and bring a little slice of that intimate perfection with God back into our day.

Michael lived and grew with us for about a year and half before we decided we wanted more. We wanted more of this picture of God’s love in our lives, more children in our family. In August of 2013 we started our second adoption process. This time through Lifeline, based out of Alabama, to do an international adoption from China. We were matched with Lucy Joy Haiyan “Sparrow” Rothfuss in January (for those who know about this process, we are now LID and are hoping to get our LOA by the end of September). Lord willing we (or at least some of our family) will travel around October and spend two weeks in country. We are absolutely ecstatic. To stay up to date on our process, please visit our family blog.

Adoption is really a marvelous thing. It has been a great experience for our whole family. Adoption has really changed me. In a good way. It has really given me an appreciation and awareness of something I had only passing knowledge of before. And I got a new brother out of the deal so it was a double win. One of the greatest ways you can contribute to the cause of adoption if you can’t adopt yourself is by doing awareness like this blog. Spreading the word about children who need to be adopted really can make a difference.

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A Note From Leah: Learn how you can support the Ruthfuss’ adoption of Lucy Joy Haiyan by visiting their Puzzle Project.

Delighting in Orphans

Delight in OrphansDiscussing orphans and orphan care often becomes depressing. There are so many seemingly insurmountable problems, so much suffering. Even our reasons for caring about orphans as Christians often sound dreary. We “grieve for what grieves God’s heart,” which is a good thing, but my tendency (and, I expect, that of others as well) is to get stuck in the enormity of the problem. Philippians 4:6 says,

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Being careful (or anxious) doesn’t do anyone much good. It doesn’t help us or the orphans we are concerned for. But God takes things a step further in Psalm 40:8,

I delight to do thy will, O my God…

These words were spoken prophetically about Jesus, but I think they apply to us as well. How can we delight in doing God’s will by serving orphans? How can we keep from becoming anxious and overwhelmed?

God’s got it under control.

…the poor committeth himself unto thee, thou art the helper of the fatherless. –Psalm 10:14

We have all heard the phrase that God loves someone more than we do. He loves our family more than we do. He loves our friends more than we do. Well, he also loves each and every orphan more than we do. While we see numbers, He sees the intimate details of each child’s life. I can’t explain why so many of these children suffer so much and are never rescued. But time and again I come back the understanding that I don’t need to understand. As Corrie Ten Booms father once explained to her,

It would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.

Our job is to do what we can, but we don’t need to try to carry a knowledge too heavy for us. Surrendering that anxiety to God can free us to serve more joyfully.

Orphans are fearfully and wonderfully made.Psalm 139-14

I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. –Psalm 139:14

Just like every other person, orphans are marvelous, wonderful creations of God’s hands. As a homeschooled student, I’ve attended many homeschool conference. Many times I’ve heard speakers encourage parents to step back from the incessant concerns, problems, and challenges of raising their children, and take time to delight in their kids. To appreciate their talents, their strengths, their potential. I think the same is true of orphans. We get bogged down in the magnitude of the problems and forget to be amazed and inspired by  the care God put into making them. The way their hands move, the smiles that cross their faces…everything about them is a miracle crafted by the hands of God.

Orphans are a blessing.

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. –Mark 10:14

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. –Psalm 127:3

The concept of children being a blessing has largely been lost in our culture, yet the Bible is quite clear that they are. Orphans are no exception to this rule. They are gifts to be treasured and loved.

As you seek to partner with God’s heart by helping orphans, don’t become discouraged. Delight in doing the Lords work instead of letting it become depressing and overwhelming.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. –Galatians 6:9-10

Do you take joy in serving orphans? Can you find God’s hand at work in their lives? Can you share any examples of  delighting in orphans?

Who Are Orphans?*

Human Question MarkWe spend a lot of time talking about orphans on this blog. No surprise there, right? But who are we talking about when we say “orphans.” As I’ve said before, delving into the world of orphan care is complicated and confusing. Trying to define who orphans are is no exception. Traditionally, the word is understood to mean a child who had lost both parents through death. That’s not the definition assigned to it by people working in orphan care. According to UNICEF, an orphan is any child that has lost one or both parents to death.

You’ve probably heard that there are 153 million orphans in the world today. This is a number confirmed by UNICEF and the American government that includes both single and double orphans. While many of those 153 million children desperately need aid, some of the would resent being called orphans. For example, 40% of babies in the US are born out of wedlock. These children are included in the 153 million orphan statistic. We probably wouldn’t consider these kids orphans if we met them. However, the Bible generally uses the term “fatherless”, rather than orphan, to describe children Christians are supposed to minister to. Single orphans need to stay on the radar, but it’s important to realize that not all of the 153 million orphans are living lives of family-less deprivation.

While the 153 million orphan stat does include some kids we wouldn’t consider orphans, it also excludes some kids we would. Counting single and double orphans fails to take into account children abandoned, surrendered, or trafficked into lives of vulnerability and loneliness. Of course, there’s some overlap. Single orphans often end up fending for themselves when a poverty stricken single parent can no longer provide for them. Single and double orphans fall prey to traffickers more frequently than kids with both parents. However, many kids in orphanages, on the streets, and trapped in human trafficking have two parents. While these kids are not orphans by traditional or UNICEF definition, they’re one of the groups I think of when I talk about orphans.

So, I guess the bottom line is that the “Orphan” in “Teens Interceding for Orphans” refers to vulnerable kids around the world, regardless of how many parents they’ve lost or how they’ve lost them.

Who do you think of when you talk about orphans?

*This post was inspired by the “Who Are Orphans Really?”, chapter 4 in KnowOrphans by Rick Morton.

Advocate & Pray: Jacques

JacquesJacques’ eager smile caught my eye this week.   He is seven years old and is in Florida, waiting in the foster care system.  He loves to play sports, but struggles with school.  A special consideration for Jacques is his brother, with whom Jacques wants to remain in contact once he finds his forever family.

Jacques is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

There is so much to say about Jacques. Jacques has a bubbly personality and he is playful and energetic. This little boy is ready to go outside, play games, and play sports. Jacques would benefit from a structured after school activity program. Jacques requires assistance with special education services, and needs an adoptive parent to be a strong educational advocate for him. Jacques would benefit from a loving family that is ready to help him heal from his past and prepare him for a bright future.

Visit Jacques’ profile

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Seven year old Jacques is waiting for a supportive, loving family.  Click to tweet

I Want to be a Princess (a poem)

I want to be a princess,Princess2
Not the ordinary kind.
Don’t care about the dresses,
But about the ties that bind.

I want to be a princess,
In a family of my own,
To know a mommy loves me,
Not to sit upon a throne.

I want to be a princess,
In the heart of my own dad,
He would be the bestest king,
And we’d never be too sad.

I want to be a princess,
Just because a family cares,
Never be alone again,
But go to parks and fairs.

I want to be a princess,
Have a daddy say goodnight,
Get lots of hugs and kisses,
Before Mommy dims the lights.

I want to be a princess,
But I don’t need a lot of lace.
If only you would love me,
I’d wear a smile on my face.

(copyright 2014, by Leah E. Good)

When It Hurts

Sad girl2

I had known helping these children would make me feel good in so many ways, but I’d never counted on the profound sadness I would deal with daily. ~Kay Bratt, Silent Tears, pg 189

One of the first things I found out when I started voicing my dream of someday adopting an older child was that the idea scared people. Most adults seemed eager to share with me every adoption horror story they’d ever heard. It felt like they wanted to discourage me, and I found that frustrating. I knew lots and lots of adoptions were successful, but often only the bad stories got attention, and I figured that’s why people were skeptical. I still think that’s true because the majority of people are not well-informed about adoption and orphan care. But I’ve also learned that loving the fatherless almost always brings some level of heartbreak.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. ~C.S. Lewis

Some people feel the pain more than others. Some volunteer and pray only to watch the child they love die without ever knowing the love of a family. Some watch foster kids return to home situations they know will be harmful. Some families cast off into the uncertain waters of orphan care and adoption with open hearts and a determination to make a difference only to watch their dreams crumble. The kids they reach out to don’t know how to be loved. They react to their new families’ compassion with endless rejection. And sometimes these families make the decision that loving these kids means letting them go. I don’t claim to know what that’s like or how hard that decision is. I do know that these people get the full dose of heart-break that loving orphans has to offer.

I’ve also rejoiced with friends as they watch their adopted children walk the slow path to healing. But these same people have walked through their own share of difficulty. Their adopted children have suffered, and they bring that suffering into their new families. The path to healing causes each member of the family to share in that suffering, to walk long and dark paths before finally seeing a flicker of light.

On a much lesser level, those of us who care and learn and try to do whatever we can will share the pain of loving orphans. A few weeks ago I sat in the living room with my parents, sobbing over the knowledge that many fatherless little girls are forced into the horrible world of sex trafficking. Each story I hear, every video I watch causes my heart to ache. The simple act of becoming aware and educated hurts.

God calls us to act despite the risks. Understanding that helping can hurt gives us much-needed caution and humility. So we begin with learning, listening, planing, and only then, finally, action — always ready to recalibrate when we discover the mistakes we’ll inevitably make. ~Jedd Medefind, Becoming Home, pg 67

Several years ago I found a hymn that I would play endlessly, often with tears running down my cheeks. The first line says, “Let your heart be broken, for a world in pain.” There is something deeply beautiful about becoming vulnerable and broken for someone else. It’s what Jesus did for us, after all. Nothing could ever be as horrible and yet overwhelmingly glorious as the cross, and He asks us to follow in His footsteps.

The enemy is fierce and he would like for you to think that he has won. Don’t believe his lie. ~Brother Andrew