"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."
~ David Platt
David Platt's words from his excellent book, Radical, stick in my mind. And they sum up my feelings about our last few days in China. On my first day with the kids their special needs were noticeable, but as the days passed, so did their differences, and all I could see were their individual hearts and gifts. The kids radiated a desire to love and be loved.
Each and every child was precious, and what I thought about again and again was how each and every one deserved a loving home. Each child's gifts far outweighed their challenges, and in fact, it was amazing to see the determination and grit that so many possessed. It was incredible to see how kind the kids were to each other--how they shared everything they had even though they were used to having almost nothing. What a life lesson for us all.
What really broke my heart was how the kids seemed compelled to prove to us how wonderful they were. They want a family. They want to belong. They want love. It sticks with me in a way I haven't experienced before. I am changed in a way I can't explain. I have been to orphanages before--but this is the first time I've had a chance to really get to know specific orphans before leaving them behind. I am broken-hearted. And it makes me want to do more.
Not everyone is meant to adopt, but everyone can do something for an orphan. Each one of us can reach out to a homeless child somewhere, in some way. We can find a way to make a difference. This action might be through sponsoring a child; donating to a special needs adoption fund; being part of your state's foster care system; advocating for children in need, or offering support to someone who has recently come home with an adopted child. We can work in family preservation programs to keep children from becoming orphans in the first place. We can offer our time, treasure, and talents. We can offer our hearts. WE CAN PRAY! We can join together and we CAN make a difference!
These photos were taken on our trip to the zoo. It was a first for all the children and their delight was evident. As a reminder, "Philip" and "Ione" are waiting for families, along with all the children who we worked with in China. Also pictured above are 4-year-old "Elise" and 7-year-old "Lyle." They are all listed on Holt's Waiting Child Photolisting. Please call Holt International 541-687-2202 for more information.