Well it is Thursday in Katowice, the sun has been missing since Tuesday, the air has a hint of Christmas coal in it, the cars that sit a while have a small covering of Advent ash on them, and we are a bit cabin feverish as you can probably tell by the beginning of this update. Since the untimely death of our Wii power cord, our plans for passing the hours after dark, which begins daily around 4pm, are shot and we have pretty much played on the iPad, iPhone, ran wild in the house throwing a $1 ball of fabric from Wal-Mart at each other to pass the time. So, at this point, whatever form of enjoyment we have had inside is credited to Steve Jobs (FYI, who was adopted, click here to read the article) and Sam Walton.
It has not been an eventful 2 days, other than a few wrestling matches between Layla and Victoria. Layla is bigger, but Victoria is more agile. Think the Big Show versus Rey Mysterio. Definite size advantage, but agility balances it out. We played in the mall playground for a while. Layla has now been a bully to kids on 2 continents. She is still working on the concept that she is not the center of everyone’s world. Ryleigh had a great time and seems to play well with others despite the language barrier. Victoria does a lot of watching at first, but does play well. For 3 years, she has hardly left the confines of the orphanage, maybe out to a doctor’s visit once and again, but for the most part, everything we do with her is the first time for her. It is hard to imagine. First time for her in the mall, first time to McDonald’s, first time in an elevator, and so much more. We are working with her on some of the characteristics she has that show up often in institutionalized children, nothing major thus far, but they are there. That is a sad sentence and phrase that I just typed; “Institutionalized children.”
Today we ate at home for every meal. It was nice to not be in the mall food court, but a challenge to round everything up at the store without the help of translation. You just hope you are buying cow’s milk and not goats, the same with cheese and butter, hoping that the sausage we bought was not for a dog, because that is in the meat section as well and other minor shopping issues. I praise God that we have these “problems” while many others around the world would love to have my “problems.” Another thing we have noticed is that we catch a lot of looks in the mall. Maybe because we have 3 kids, 1 that speaks English and uses that as her opening line to everyone she meets, 1 that screams in English, and then 1 that screams and says who knows what in Polish as we travel the mall corridors. She could be screaming “These are not my parents, help!” Who knows?
Yesterday we had a visit from the Polish social worker, though she probably has a different title here, and it went well. It was very laid back and we spent a great deal of time on Facebook with her and our translator, Magda. She was interested in what life will be like for Victoria when we get home. She wanted to see pictures of church, family, and the house. We then drifted into another tangent and looked at other adoptive families from Poland that we have connected with through this process. The saddest part of her visit was when she asked us if it was okay to speak with Victoria in Polish about us. She explained to Victoria that Leigh and I were her mommy and daddy and what our roles in her life were and would be. It is heart breaking to think that Victoria, and so many other children around the world, have no concept of what a mommy and a daddy are or what we will mean to her and how we can and will impact her life. Yet, many of us take this for granted.
Stats for the past few years say that only 50 or so children are adopted out of Poland to the US a year. Just think of all the other children that never make it out of the orphanages around the world, never know what it means to have an earthly father and, because of the unwillingness of a vast number of “Christians” to reach out to the least of these, and not defend the fatherless, many of the children will never know what it is to have a Heavenly Father as well. Just think, our delayed obedience, which is disobedience, could be a factor in someone else spending an eternity separated from the love of a Father, all because the love we claim to have for the Heavenly Father was not real enough in our lives to change the way we live and do something radical in our lives so that something radical can happen in someone else’s life.
Leigh and I were those people. The more we prayed about adoption, the more real the orphan crisis became to us. For the first time, James 1:27 was real. It was not just words on a page in a book. Psalm 68:5-6 became a real thing. It says God is a “father to the fatherless.” I want to be like God. He wants me to live like I believe what I say I do, so…… The thought of adoption was scary at first. The most popular defense mechanism I used and we still hear from people à “It costs too much money! We’d love to adopt but we just can’t afford to.” Just slap God in the face why don’t you and tell Him that your obedience depends on your finances, and that your current uses of His blessings prohibits you from being obedient in this area. You know, we’d rather not have our lifestyle impacted by this issue. Leigh and I are examples of this being a lie straight from the devil. As many of you know, I lost my job in June. We could have quit the process or even postponed it. We prayed about what to do. God told Leigh to press on. Meanwhile, I am crunching numbers in the corner thinking, I am not so sure. I carried that burden for weeks. One weekend we travelled to Michigan and listened to Russell Moore’s “Adopted for Life.” That weekend I gave that burden to God. It was out of my hands at that point. There was nothing that I could do in my own strength to fix the problem. If we were to continue, He would have to sustain us. He would have to provide. As my buddy Josh says, “God’s will, God’s bill.” The Monday after we returned from our weekend trip, we are working VBS at our church and we get the phone call. The agency was offering us this precious little girl, whom we now hold in our arms, and are madly in love with. Would we have been blessed with this little girl had we not released our doubt and worry and lousy excuses to God? I don’t know. But praise God we did.
Victoria is blessing us daily. She is a reminder of what the Gospel is. Not what the Gospel looks like, but what the very core of it is. Never before has the reality of salvation, being adopted into the family of Christ, loving the “unlovable”, and my unworthiness been so real. To experience the Fathers love and then to be blessed by this little girl, it is amazing, it is humbling, and it is beyond words. God is blessing us far more than we are blessing Victoria by being her family. Our prayer now is that through the experience of earthly love that she may one day come to desire and know a supernatural heavenly love of another adoptive father.
Where do you stand? If you call yourself a child of God, you are adopted. We as believers are called to care for orphans, no two ways about it. The Bible speaks numerous times on the subject. Are you caring for the orphans? Are you called to adopt? Foster? To support an adoptive family? Are you praying urgently? Not the “I’ll pray for you” prayer, but the prayer that you would pray if you really and honestly believed that the only thing that could change the circumstance was your prayers. Are you using the excuse of money as your reason not to adopt? Please pray about your role in the lives of orphans. They are 163 million strong worldwide. You could change a life, and possibly an eternity. Jesus gave the command, the response is yours.