. . . is what Liliya told me.
We scurry around #5 rounding up girls to take to our favorite Ukrainian restaurant, McDonalds. Kids see us and come running with shouts of “Seen-dee! Beel!” Hugs, kisses, chatter and then through Liliya they quickly understand what is happening. They haven’t been chosen. But instead of getting mad and skulking off, they help scour the orphanage in search of the ones who have been chosen. Several hang around in hopes that they too could be included, but don’t complain when the girls gather and Liliya says, “Only these six.”
My heart aches for the ones who are left behind, and this is just “left behind” for a trip to a fast food restaurant.
But those who are coming with us are thrilled. Lera, Katya, and Paulina …
… are outwardly beside themselves, while Olia, the “other Katya,” and Julia …
are a bit more subdued, but with sweetness keep smiling and hugging us as we cross through the gates of #5 and board the micro-bus for the 10-minute ride to McDonalds. They’ve been chosen.
“This is only the second time I’ve been here!” Paulina lets us know, through Liliya. Although I wanted to tell her how blessed she is to have eaten at McDonald’s only once before, I decide that this benediction would be slightly confusing …
Hamburgers, Sprite, French fries, ice cream and balloons for everyone! Woo-hoo! Katya doesn’t eat her hamburger and when asked why, wrinkles her nose and proclaims, “Bugs in the hamburger.” Maggots actually, are what she is talking about when we explore this statement further.
Although I correct her for Paulina’s sake, who has just polished off her hamburger and is staring, quite concernedly, at her buddy,
secretly I’m very happy that Katya is not a McDonald’s lover. “Shire-kee” in hand, arm in arm, the girls board the micro-bus back for #5.
Glad we were able to bring brightness to these girls’ day, our hearts are still heavy for the ones we couldn’t treat, we couldn’t choose. In reality we didn’t choose anyone today. They are simply girls who God brought across our path on this journey. And we didn’t choose this one …
She was chosen for us by the Father to the fatherless, just as surely as our other six were chosen. I gave birth in my body to these six …
But, by God’s grace, and with His help, I am now giving birth to this one. She is miraculously coming into our family, just through a different birth canal – a birth canal lined with battles and balloons. My mind and heart drifts back to those precious, indelible, holy minutes in the birthing room with our sixth child. “The baby’s coming!” our doctor announces. Determined to not allow the precious progeny I have carried for nine months to slide back up the birth canal where life is easy, warm, familiar, I pray and I push, and I push, and I push…
This is where we are now. The pregnancy looks a bit different than it did with Piper, and Monday morning will bring us to crowning – a painful burning from which there is no turning back and tearing is a possibility. Right now, the head is barely showing, but a healthy delivery is not yet a “sure thing.”
And honestly, in some ways we won’t believe that the delivery is secure until I touch down at Dulles Airport and Katya and I walk through that heavy metal door…This is what the adoption process does to you.
“They understand,” Liliya said, and she’s right. They understand because they’ve seen it happen again, and again, and again. They’ve stopped asking why this one gets to go to McDonalds. They’ve stopped asking why that one gets to go out with Vinny. They’ve stopped asking why another gets an “American Mama and Papa” and they are stuck here year after year, fighting for trinkets, displaying treasures to visitors, giving back what has been freely given to them in order to feel human.
They need to stop understanding so easily. They need the care and compassion from people who will invest in them in the long-haul. As I’ve mentioned before, most of these kids are NOT adoptable. They have mothers who are in jail and won’t sign off their papers. They have fathers who are drunk day-in and day-out and yet won’t release them for adoption. They have parents who are parents on paper, but not in real life. Some, even when offered the chance for a family, refuse because of a brother or sister or friend they would have to leave behind. But even so, we can invest in them. We can offer them a hope and a future. We can come alongside them financially and pay tutors to teach them English which gets them an immediate “leg up” in the world. We can provide financially for their mothers so that they can take them out of state-run institutions, bring them home, and give them an education beyond what they get in the orphanages. We can provide hosting opportunities for them so that they can experience family life. We can follow them through from graduation from these orphanages to entrance into a university. All in the hope that they will not end up a statistic.
Not everyone is called to adopt. But everyone who claims Jesus is called to care for orphans. The question isn’t really whether you’ll care for orphans, but how you’ll care for orphans.
For Katya, because of this call, her life is about to change. Her entry into our family is still a bit tenuous, and yet we are crying the battle cry all mothers cry in the birthing room. We are calling out to God begging for her healthy delivery. And you are cheering us on. Perhaps you have even given sacrificially for this birth to happen. Perhaps you have been inspired to ask yourself hard questions and seek God’s heart of compassion and justice for the least of these. From the birthing room, we cheer you on.
Katya woudn’t understand if we showed up at #5 and chose Lera, Paulina, Olia, the “other Katya,” and Julia, but didn’t choose her. She would be mad. She would shut down, and maybe even throw a temper-tantrum. And this would be right. She’s tasted what it’s like to be chosen, and to be overlooked, at this point, would create a righteous indignation because she knows she is “ours,” although we know she truly is God’s.
Will you join us in giving others who are the “least of these” this understanding of innate worth and value simply because they are made in the image of God? Will you join us in welcoming the Katya’s of the world? If your heart is stirred and you want information of how you can personally become involved in being the hands and feet of God, the Father the fatherless, leave a comment along with your email address, and I’ll get in touch with you.
After all, we are convinced that understanding is not always a good thing ….