I sat with her as she signed the life of her son over to another.
I held her hand as with a stroke of a pen, she chose to surrender her rights, her name removed from his, the right to have his head upon her chest.
The "Church" calls him orphan, but he was never an orphan.
Yes, he was removed from her, for good reason. Yes, he needed safety, protection and stability established.
But there was not an hour of his life that his name has not been wailed from the deepest parts of her soul.
There has not been a night that his face has not fluttered through her dreams.
There is not a day that passes that her mind doesn't dream of her hand reaching for his.
In the world of "Orphan Care," it's easy to draw lines in the sand before we understand the sides....
System vs. Church
Birth vs. Adoptive
International vs. Domestic
Adoptive vs. Foster
Is there a reason it has to be one or the other?
Yes, I know and understand the places where the lines must be drawn. An adoptive family must "break" from the birthfamily for a season or more to establish their child's place in the family.
The system must be faithful to keep its boundaries and parameters in order for them to do what the government has commissioned them to do.
But in order for the Gospel to go forth in this world of orphan care, we must begin to listen; to understand; to acknowledge and celebrate the stories God is writing through us and the roles He is calling us to play, because we are not all called to same roles.
I recently came across a post that verbalized some of the unspoken words I've heard through the faces at various conferences and orphan care meetings.
It drew a line in the sand between international orphan care and domestic orphan care.
Granted, I understand that people on both sides of our callings can be accused of diminishing the significance of the other's calling. But, who said that was ever our job?
The post I am referring to did challenge readers to examine the greater need for international adoption, claiming that foster care statistics are inflated, foster children are cared for, and foster children have greater options upon aging out.
Folks, let me tell you. There is NO line to be drawn here. For us to stand on one side or the other, I truly believe is a divisive effort of our Enemy in the ways God longs to unify us and use us for His kingdom to be brought to earth.
Though we haven't adopted internationally, we have explored it numerous times and begun the paperwork at various points.
Though we haven't adopted domestically, we were in line for a child we longed for, but because of circumstances beyond of control, we were called to walk away in order to protect one of our foster children to whom we had first committed.
So though I don't have first hand knowledge in all these areas, I will tell you Jamie and I have studied, listened, researched and observed close friends and the systems a great deal.
Internationally, the needs are beyond anything we can comprehend...in one country. Multiply that by the countries across the world, and let your heart break for the these things that break the heart of God.
But the great need internationally, does not diminish in any way the need domestically, or belittle it.
Yes, domestically, my children are placed in a safe home with access to medicine and food, but I will tell you also that the majority of them did not know that before they came into my home, and some of them truthfully won't know it again when they leave my home.
Yes, foster children do have access to educational and career opportunities once they "age out," but as we read yesterday in Leslie's post, there are few among this nation stepping up to walk with these children. And as is across the world, the reality is our American children are walking from the door of foster care into the world of human trafficking, kill or be killed, crime, and manipulation in order to survive.
And the little girl who is banging her head against my wall is suffering from the same attachment disorder as that little girl in China in an institutional crib.
These children are not either/or; they are both/and.
And our command as believers is not either/or; it is the command to carry the Gospel of Christ into the places of darkness in which these children, mothers, and fathers abide.
Walk into Child Protective Services on Monday and say you want to serve the "orphans" of the city, and you will be shunned from their front door forever.
These children we are serving on the domestic front are Orphans of the Living. Many of their mothers and fathers are jumping through hoops of the system to fight tooth and nail to have them back.
Some are not and have relatives standing in the battle.
Others, do become lost, pushed forward and labeled unadoptable. In Alabama, if each church was willing to only take one, just one of these children aging out, and walk with him, mentor him, fight for him...then the outcome and opportunities of our youth would be different than that of the horrors we have heard of around the world.
Can we check our expectations at the door? Can we leave our pride outside?
I have dear friends who have placed their babies for adoption at birth. I have precious friends who have been forced into surrendering their older children to adoption.
Are we willing to claim a child as a member of our family even though he or she may never want to have our name?
These are the faces of domestic adoption. They are vastly different than the young girl abandoned at the Chinese orphanage or the millions of hearts in Africa, but they are still faces.
Let's not give way to the division the Enemy longs for us to become entangled in. Instead, let's link arms, hit our knees for one another, and go out into the world to be the Incarnation of Christ to places of darkness by His mercy and grace that unites us all.
Because of the One who is the light,