I know, wow, not a very compelling title, is it? It's sort of a "back away slowly" warning when you see that perched on top of a blog post. But there it is. Something has been on my heart for weeks, and although I have NO idea if it'll EVER go beyond thinking and wondering, I'm going to tell you about it.
I recently read Max Lucado's new book, Out Live Your Life. (That's not what breaks my heart - it's a wonderful book, and there's a review coming soon. But go ahead and check it out anyway.) In this book, the author encourages you to reach out to the broken, the underprivileged, the sick, the hurting...and he acknowledges that not all of us are called to serve in the same area. "God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." (Romans 12:6 NLT) "For whom do you feel the most compassion?", he asks. "When does your heart break and pulse race?"
And then mine did.
Here's a brief excerpt that tells the story of a pastor's wife, a businesswoman, and the founder of a small relief organization. Edited to make my point, and emphasis mine:
"They traveled to Cambodia to encourage...a missionary friend. He led them to a section of his city where the modern sex trade runs rampant. An estimated fifteen thousand girls were on sale. At the time, more than a hundred thousand young women in Cambodia had been sold into forced prostitution. (They) looked into the faces of teen girls, even preteens, and could see a devastating story in each. (They) had no idea what to do but pray.
God heard their prayer and gave them their tools. Upon returning to the U.S., Jo Anne wrote an article about the experience, which prompted a reader to send a great deal of money. With this gift, the women formed an anti-trafficking ministry of World Hope International and provided housing for the young girls who were rescued or escaped from the brothels and sales stations. In just three years, four hundred children, ranging in age from two to fifteen, were rescued."
Max asked "when does your heart break and pulse race?" My heart started racing when I read about the 15,000 girls on sale, the 100,000 that had been forced into prostitution. Can you even imagine that many young girls? What SICK and twisted people would force a child into prostitution?
And then...I read "ranging in age from two to fifteen." That's where my heart shattered.
Anyone who knows me or reads my blog even occasionally knows that I have two daughters of my own. My oldest is six. My youngest is two. Some of those rescued girls were two. And I know...based on my own two-year-old...sure, she can do a lot of things on her own now, but two years is old is still just a baby. These evil creatures are breaking and tormenting not only innocent teenagers, but helpless little girls and babies.
I immediately visited the World Hope International website. From there, I read another site, and another, and another. I'm still reading. I'm still trying to figure out what I can do, what I should do, what I'm meant to do. From where I sit tonight, it doesn't seem as though I can do much - finances are limited, responsibilities prevent me from traveling to help people, and the whole situation is so overwhelming. It's not limited to Cambodia, of course. Children in other nations are similarly mistreated...even in our own.
Something else has happened in the past few weeks as well. Something that doesn't seem possible or likely or even very sane. Something I'm not even sure of yet, but something that won't go away.
As I was reading online about these children, I began seeing information about adoption. Not just here and there, but everywhere. Not only on the anti-trafficking sites that I was reading either. Emails started popping up in my inbox...how to adopt, financial aid for adopting parents, mom website articles about adoptions. Nothing I had signed up for, but there they were. Even on Facebook, adoption ads began appearing in my sidebar. Mentions of adoption on TV. Magazine articles. When I went to church on Wednesday night, there was a new poster about adoption hanging in my classroom. Mentions on the radio. Rachael - who writes down a request in a prayer journal every day as part of her Bible study - asked me one morning how to spell "orphans", and I had not mentioned any of this to her.
I was a nervous wreck for several days. Why all of the adoption stuff flying in my face all of a sudden? Was someone trying to tell me something? Or had I just become hyper-aware of it, having been reading about these children? I've always loved the idea of adoption. I've read about it before, I've watched Adoption Story on TLC (and cried every time), I've thought it's something I might like to do "someday", even though the astronomical cost in itself would likely be prohibitive. But at present, it was not a serious consideration. Gene is happy with our family being just the size that it is; me, I'm not sure from day to day. Two children are plenty on some days (like the one I wrote about last night!) On other days, I'd like another one. Maybe two. Depending on my current reserve of patience. But if we were going to expand our family, just having another child certainly seemed like the way to go. Even paying a midwife out of pocket for a repeat home birth would be scads cheaper than any sort of adoption!
Then I received one more email. This one was from the church I've been attending semi-regularly for about a year now (I adore it, but that's another long, drawn-out post) announcing the upcoming 7% Conference. Huh. 7% Conference? What in the world...?
Well, as it turns out...if only 7% of Christians, worldwide, would care for just one orphan...all of those childrens' needs would be met. The email was announcing a free, day-long conference about adoption. People will be attending from all over the east coast, to teach and attend classes on adoption - domestic, international, embryo, financial options, home studies, foster parenting, adoption ministries in churches, even the effects of sexual assault and trauma on children. This is a conference that will answer a lot of questions for a lot of people in a lot of different circumstances.
I felt blindsided by the very existence of this conference. After being pounded over the head with adoption information, this seemed like a huge culmination, like a suggestion that maybe I shouldn't ignore.
The only problem was, I already had plans for that day. I was due at Girl Scout training session that was to last all day and complete my training as a troop leader, and had made plans to attend with my co-leader. I didn't want to bail on her, or get in trouble with the council for not completing training...so I emailed the afore-mentioned co-leader and asked for her opinion.
It came quickly. "It sounds like He is trying to get your attention and tell you something!", she replied. "It sounds like you need to go to that conference."
There will be other training sessions. It would almost assuredly be longer before I could have all of my questions about adoption answered in one place.
So on Saturday morning, I will be attending the 7% Conference. I'm registered for three classes - International Adoption, The Home Study Process, and Financial Strategies for Adoption. All three are being presented by employees from east coast adoption agencies - people that really know what they're doing. I'm excited, and a little scared.
The way that the whole subject of adoption has been thrown at me lately, there's no telling what will speak to me on Saturday. Maybe nothing. Maybe I'll go and listen to interesting presentations and leave knowing that adoption is not the path for my family after all. It's the alternative that's frightening. Not frightening in the sense of adding a child to our family - if money were no issue, I'd have a Brangelina brood of my very own, with children in every color of the rainbow. I need a little Chinese girl, Cambodian, South Korean, Russian, Ethiopian. You give me a child in need of love, and I'll love on 'em.
The process is what terrifies me. The home studies. Can my house get clean enough? Are we *good* enough to adopt? What if Rachael tells the social worker that I yelled at her on that very bad day earlier this week? What kind of hoops would we have to jump through just to give a child a home? And worse, what about money? Adoption fees are insane, and it's no big secret that our money tree just didn't bloom this year. As I said - it seems hopeless. Impossible.
We have hidden away a trump card, one thing that can - if it turns out that these things are weighing on my heart for a reason, if it turns out that there is a child somewhere that is truly meant for our family - one thing that can overcome the overwhelming impossibility.
I happen to very well connected. My Father is in the business of performing miracles.