"A few days ago I went to my 16 year old brother’s performance. Over 200 high school students held their heads high and played their memorized music, knowing that their parents were watching from the stands. As they showed off their skills, hundreds of proud parents looked on, eager to capture each moment on camera or film. In the middle of the moment, it felt so obvious, so right: this is what a 16 year old child should have . . . someone interested in their life. It is what I pray for each of the kids in the orphanage.
People often ask me what the hardest part of my job is, and I can say without hesitation that the hardest thing is watching a child’s 16th birthday come and go with no family stepping forward to adopt them. 2010 has been especially difficult in this area. This year there were no families deciding to file paperwork at the last minute to keep a child eligible for adoption.
Instead, 16th birthdays of children I know well and love dearly have come and gone over and over again. Each of them hold a special place in my heart, a place that will now be a little bit broken and hurts every time I think of them and what awaits them outside of the orphanage.
Each of these children is so different, each has unique needs and challenges but in one way they are all the same-they desperately wanted and needed parents, but parents never came. They will never have a chance to show mom and dad what they can do. They will now face life on their own. The commitment of an adoptive family to love them no matter what, could have changed all this, but for those 16 and over, it will never happen.
At the same time that I smile watching my brother, another part of me cries inside for the 16 year olds I know on the other side of the world who have gone without parents for so long and now will go without them forever. Please pray for these kids, as well as others in the orphanage who will be turning 16 this school year."
From a friend about children living as orphans in another country:
“I met him 9 years ago. Back then, he was a tiny 8 year old, bouncy, bubbly, and full of life. Now he is taller than me. On his birthday last week, he turned 17. His mother is alive but mentally disturbed and unable to care for him. He waited for years, hoping for an adoptive family. No one came. I haven’t seen him for awhile; he is in and out of the orphanage, probably finding trouble. But today I saw him and we talked about life, about the future, about his plans—and we played a game together. His eyes lit up, “I LOVE that game,” he said. “Let’s play!” He was respectful and played by all the rules. When it was time for me to leave he helped me gather up all the items that the other kids had been playing with and insisted on carrying the bag as we walked to the gate. I saw it then, in his eyes . . . this child was created in the image of God and even though no other adult is there to see it or notice it or care, there is something good in him, something very good.
In some kids in the orphanage goodness is so easy to see,
. . . in "E" who kicked around a soccer ball today with his little brother and then sat in the grass for a long time finding new bugs
. . . in "V" who found the self-control to not blow up when another boy was teasing him unmercifully this afternoon
. . . in "S" who was trying to fix a bicycle wheel today and sat patiently explaining to another boy what needed to be done
. . . when little "K" skips down the hallway to give me a hug and say hi
. . . when "K" sits quietly and reads her book in the middle of the noise and chaos that usually surrounds her
I can see something positive in each one, but there is negative too, believe me, a lot of negative: bad behavior and habits, disrespect, and hurtful teasing.”
How incredible to know that all of these things can change. By the grace of God hearts can be changed.
I have seen how children can change through adoption. I am in awe of the changes that have happened in one little boy's life over the past months since he has lived with his new family. He looks so healthy, there is a sparkle in his eye, and he chatters on and on, but the most amazing changes to see are the ones that have happened on the inside. He is more confident, loving, caring, respectful, and considerate. These changes have not come without the cost of time, energy, and love from his parents, but oh what a reward! What a joy to see him run into his dad’s arm, carefully push his brother on the swing or sit at the kitchen table working through a school book with his mom!
God created all these good qualities in him from the very beginning, now in a family he is able to grow, and mature in these things under the watchful eyes of his parents and so many other adults who love and care for him. The other children that remain as orphans have good qualities too. Sadly they often go unnoticed. Thank you for praying for them and the many other orphans who are waiting for parents.
By God's grace we desire to live our life to serve and glorify Jesus. He is our treasure. He is the one we trust. He is the one we love.
We are a family of eight praying that God will use us to minister to orphans around the world and encourage Christians to reach out in mercy to orphans. At home we serve with Palmer Home for Children. Palmer Home is a ministry to children who are growing up as social orphans without the nurture and support of a loving family. Palmer provides a stable, Christ-centered home for these children. Internationally we serve with Share the Hope. Share the Hope ministers to orphans around the world. Both at home and around the world we proclaim good news of Jesus Christ and reach out in mercy to these precious children. We hope that this blog is a testimony to you of God's mighty hand and that you are encouraged to serve Jesus with all your heart and to reach out to orphans.
Matthew, Sheila, Karina, Harrison, Isaac, Noah, Storey Grace and James!