Adoption in the blogosphere

Update 2: I think both women are extraordinary and we ought to follow their examples. I intended no slight by using the terms “rant” and “social gospel advocate”. May more people follow in their footsteps. I apologize for miscommunicating. These are heroes to emmulate; this is not a critique.

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This rant is making the internet rounds. A young missionary girl, Katie, in Uganda writes about her heartwrenching, on-the-front-lines work:

Wednesday as I met with the Karamjong children for Bible study a woman walked up to me and handed me a baby that I presumed to be dead. And then she breathed.

The mother told me that she was quite positive that she (the mother) had HIV and therefore was not breastfeeding her 10 pound, 9 month old little girl. I asked, quite obviously, what she had been feeding her then? And this was the response that awaited me, “Nothing. We have no food.” Um. NO wonder the baby looked dead. She almost was. I pleaded the mother to let me take her with me, to be tested for HIV and be fed. The mother instanly agreed but fist wanted to show me her house.

I think I have seen it all. And then this happens. Thier house was made of cardboard and was smaller than the bed I sleep in at night. On the floor lay filthy old rags on which they slept and a pile of charcoal which they cooked on (when they did have food, I guess). I almost dropped on my knees right there. It was one of those I-just-don’t-have-a-clue-what-to-do-next moments. So I did the only thing that comes naturally to me. I scooped her up. I prayed for her mother and the 6 other children living in the house/box and promised to return. I drove as fast as I safely could to the nearest semi-good hospital and then to get some high energy formula.

For the first 24 hours, I could hardly stand to look at sweet baby Patricia (her parents had not named her for fear she would die, and I could think of no one better to name her after than my precious Mommy). The hurt and the hunger in her lifeless little eyes was simply unbearable. Every time I changed her diaper, more big fat worms (we are talking really large, earth worm sized) had come out. I cried for the things this child has had to endue for so long. And I cried to know that though I deworm her now, the minute I take her back to her mother, the worms will return. Her HIV test came back negative and I am praising Jesus for that. She was diagnosed with severe pnemonia and malnutrition. She can hardly sleep at night for coughing so much.

Katie writes about her anger and then mentions:

According to several different resources, there are an average of 147 million orphaned children in the world today (this statistic includes children who have lost only one parent as well), 11 million children starve to death each year or die from preventable, treatable illness. 8.5 million children work as child slaves, prostitutes, or in other horrific conditions (making things like that cute baby Gap dress Jane wore today…) 2.3 million children world wide are living with HIV.

That is 168.8 million needy children like Michael and Patricia. Seems like a big number, huh? It shouldn’t, because there are 2.1 BILLION people on this earth who profess to be Christians. Jesus followers. Servants. Gospel live-ers. And if only 8 percent of those Christians would care for just ONE of these needy children, they would all be taken care of.

Here’s the whole post.

One the things I think adoption and social-gospel advocates miss in their (justifiable) anger is that somebody is paying the bills for these programs. And it’s coming from Christians. There is no way to know who is giving sacrificially, as it should be, but sometimes I wonder if their ranting shouldn’t be more targeted. I don’t know the author above; I’m speaking generally.

Years ago, we were turned down for this kind of work on the state level because we had “too many children.” (This is funny to me since we only had three.) You can never know what someone is doing in secret. Still others are busy raising their own children, whom they can’t subject to the children in the local foster care systems, due to the horrific behaviors abused children bring into the home.

I seem to recall a story about Keith Green advocating that Christians’ default position should be missions, as opposed to setting ourselves up fat and happy in an American dream (that’s quickly turning into a nightmare). Did it go this way for you:  When we are young, if we don’t “feel the calling” toward sacrificial work, we assume we have the green light to go ahead with life and count it a sacrifice to work in the church nursery once a month?

I’ve never been one to make hard and fast rules for people to follow, but you can be sure that I’ll counsel my own children to make vocational choices toward a life that matters. I think the author is right, but I also think we should be confident in our own callings, provided that they’ve been examined honestly.

UPDATE: You really need to read this post as a follow up. Excerpt:

let’s face it, we all want to be katie in one way or the other.   we all want to march in and save the world.   we love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the poor, the suffering, the outcast. 

what we don’t want to do is get up right now and love the drunk in our family.  or the brother who can’t keep a job.  or the self-important right-wing(or left-wing!) jerk we go to church with. 

the ever-wise everly said it in the comments yesterday:

I’d rather be holding an orphan, giving her the first taste of comfort, the first love of Christ, her first toys and clean clothes and bath than dealing with a few of our used-to-be-orphans who sometimes seem to make life messy as a goal.

you see, that’s the problem.  eventually, the orphans become the kids next door, the teenager someone’s having a hard time with, the adult who can’t hold down a job.   then they aren’t so lovely.  and then i don’t really want to save them anymore.  i just want them to grow up, get a life, quit taking advantage of people.

14 Responses to “Adoption in the blogosphere”

  1. 1
    brooke

    I read this the other day and didn’t get it as a rant … must have read to quickly. You’re right … those social programs are highly supported by Christians. I never thought of that. I do wonder … what the actual percentage of Christians giving really is and what that percentage of their income really is? Sometimes I think the poorest in the US give the most percentage-wise … the most sacrificially.

  2. 2

    But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body. . . 1 Corinthians 12:18-24

    If all became overseas missionaries, from where would their support come? If all adopt, who would feed the hungry? If all clothed the naked, who would visit the prisoners?

    The issue is that many, including Katie, and Keith Green and several people I know, imply that if all believers aren’t doing exactly what THEY are doing, then we are disobeying the explicit command of God in OUR lives. It is understandable. It isn’t biblical.

    Katie is doing a remarkable work. Where she errs is in commanding all believers to follow *her* calling.

    When my husband and I were young we left our families and moved thousands of miles away for a ministry position. My husband and I have been in youth ministry, international and domestic missions, Christian education, camp ministry, and campus ministry. Right now he’s an assistant manager at Chick-Fil-A asking people if they want fries with their chicken nuggets. It’s not where we want to be, but it’s where the Lord has us right now, for our good and His glory.

    Lord willing, we will return to vocational ministry of some kind, but I will *never* imply that the guy who serves me chicken, or fixes my car, or . . . is depriving the world of the gospel, or failing to follow God’s plan and gifting for his life.

    Ooops. Turned into a post instead of a comment. So sorry.

  3. 3
    Robin

    Amy–I do not get to read your posts very often, but when I read this one, it hit home. I am the mother of 10 children. One stepson, two biological, and seven adopted through foster care. My oldest is 32 and my youngest is 3 years. I have been told I am crazy and that I might have made a mistake. There have been times it has been hard, three are very special needs, but never a mistake. I would have loved for more to have prayed for me instead of critizing and judging me. Pray for these children who are without parents and for our Judicial system who make the decisions for these children.

  4. 4
    Amy Scott

    @brooke: I used the word “rant” because she said she was angry, wrote her post in a hurry, and then put it up without spell checking it. FWIW, I think it was a good rant.

    She’s a hero.

    To reiterate my point: I think the author is right, but I also think we should be confident in our own callings, provided that they’ve been examined honestly.

    It is just an opportunity to look inside and say, “Do I love Jesus with everything I have? Am I trapped in consumerism or am I following His will for my life?” My only object in stating the other side is to concede that it looks different in each person’s life.

  5. 5

    Amy,

    I found Katie’s story to be absolutely inspiring. As I’ve read back over her posts, I do not find her to say that everyone needs to be just like her, nor that everyone has to go to the mission field.

    I think she just had a moment of despair. Surely that is just natural for someone who has seen a lot of suffering.

    I do think that you are right, though, Amy – it is a wonderful opportunity to look within and see if we are right where God wants us. Regardless, probably most of us could live more simply in order to help fund missions such as Katie’s. I’m inspired. My kids are inspired.

    I read another great blog – called Ali’s African Adventures. Have you ever read that one? It’s by a young, newlywed nurse who works on a Mercy Ship.

    Sometimes, no matter where we serve God, we get tired and we despair. I know that I do.

  6. 6
    Amy Scott

    God bless Katie and her work. May we all look to her example and give as freely as she does.

    I am subbed to Ali’s African Adventures, and sometimes I want to sell everything I have and go do what she does. Then I remember that I’m not a nurse and needles make me faint. But I am sure God has a plan for me too…. :) (And man oh man, I shouldn’t have said that because God likes to use weak people, doesn’t He?)

    I don’t see Katie’s dispair as a sign of weakness but of strength. She so obviously cares and loves and feels. Would we all so rant and dispair as she does over things that matter….that’s my prayer.

  7. 7
    Lois

    I clicked on the link where Amy said “you really need to read this post”….

    It is so true at least for me that I do not deal well at all with what is in my backyard.

    I do transcription for evaluations of kids like are described here…. http://intent.squarespace.com/brush-strokes/2009/9/4/i-wanted-to-dance.html

    (from the link:)
    “while i was patting myself on the back for adopting a baby, God was looking ahead to the teen who would be crippled by brain-damage, ruled by cravings and impulses and helpless to stop and terrified of the consequences; who would be invisibly handicapped so that when the world demanded his compliance – he could never give it. God loves the man, who may go to jail; who will probably fight addiction; who will most likely be unable to hold down a job or pay his rent. God looked ahead and He loved that man.”

    Back to me: …and I have tried several times to explain to people what my boss explained to me happens to the baby’s brain in the womb as a result of mom’s alcohol consumption…. the frontal lobe is damaged. The reasoning, thinking part is damaged.

    Do read the link.

  8. 8

    I read through the comments expecting to see this brought up. What is heart breaking to my mind is people who would absolutely love to bring that little one home, but government doesn’t allow it.
    I also think, if I could send food for Patricia and de-worming medication, where would she get an education and go to work?
    The problem is so very big and I think individuals are overwhelmed to know how to proceed.

  9. 9

    Kimberly, isn’t that step two? Feed them, save them…build the schools, educate them, teach them a trade?

    Katie has raised the funds to educate at least 300 children. She needs help, bottom line.

  10. 10
    Lois

    I just want it to be known that I inadvertently put that smiley face before the quote because I put a colon and then a closing parentheses. horrors.

  11. 11

    I understand what you mean about getting turned down for mission work. Several years ago my husband and I applied for foreign mission work. We were told no because “we don’t like to split up families and you have children.” (we had 2 at the time, planned to take them with us) The situation in the world is so frustrating. It is so overwhelming when you stop and think about how many helpless people are in need. I sometimes think about how wonderful it will be when God calls us home and there is no pain, suffering, death, sickness, etc…..

  12. 12

    i agree with you amy, that we can’t forget that katie’s kind of mission’s work is funded by christians who give. and i appreciate that you identify the crux of the problem – at least in my estimation: we tend to feel that we have a free pass out of missions work if we aren’t called to africa.

    i actually took katie’s admonishment as a relief: this problem is not too big for Jesus’ body to face! if instead of leaving all the work for a few “heroes” each of us lived below our means and gave abundantly, if each of us took responsibility to minister passionately to the people we are ALREADY in contact with – the church could turn the world upside down. and yes! if we could have kingdom of God dreams instead of american dreams…how would Jesus be lifted up in the world?

    it’s exciting to think of what the church could do, one step of love at a time.

    ~ thank you for the link. you know, it’s easy to write about loving people – and writing it out makes it REAL for me, stirs my heart and gives me a goal to point towards – but the living it is the hard part. and if there’s anything extraordinary going on at our house, it’s probably the extraordinary amount of times i find myself stumbling around and making a mess of things. thank the Lord that Paul thought to remind us to “keep pressing on.” otherwise i think i’d just lie down and quit. :)

    God bless.

  13. 13

    Oh, Ali’s African Adventures is so hard to read. My husband limits me to one post every few days. I can’t handle it. I know I’m where He wants me, and we are moving towards adopting a sibling group, either from Africa or Foster-to-Adopt, but it’s so hard to remember that we are only called to our part, not to fix the entire situation. It’s overwhelming.

    I’ll have to read these links later. In a few days, when I’m feeling less crushed.

  14. 14

    i’ve been trying to comment, but this site doesn’t like me, apparently. :)

    i give up on my other comment, but i did want to say to Lois how much i appreciate your words here. having an FASD child changed the way i look at the world. now i know that there is a real possibility that those people on welfare/in jail/on the streets/abusing drugs/prostitutes, etc. may be trying to live in this world with brain damage. not all, of course, but many more than we want to accept.

    now when people so flippantly talk about others not trying hard enough or not deserving help or dismiss them as “losers”, i just cringe. if we could SEE how their brains have been damaged, if it was as obvious as a missing leg or a broken back, we’d have compassion on their inability to perform to our standards. but these poor people have to suffer the betrayal of their own minds and the rejection and punishment of society as well.

    it breaks my heart.


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