The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
As a child, reading was often my way of escaping the harsh realities of my childhood. I would go to the library and check out as many books as I could, hoard them in my bedroom and read till my eyes were blurry, immersed in the characters’ lives and relishing every happily ever after. The stories that seem to captivate me the most were the ones about orphans, such as Oliver Twist, The Boxcar Children and Anne of Green Gables. Yes, these stories abounded with tragedy, but the tragedies are seen through a romantic filter that casts the misfortunes in a less harsh light and the happy endings in a warm fuzzy glow. My overactive imagination even led me to believe that I was an orphan who discovered that my step-father was a Russian spy, and it was up to me to save America from nuclear annihilation! You are probably wondering, where is she going with this? Is she going to address reading, her childhood or her overactive imagination? I promise I am going somewhere, so just follow me on a journey that another family has traveled.
My husband and I made the decision years ago for me to home educate our children. Thus, to help make ends meet, I have often provided childcare in my home. Every child that has come into my home has been divinely appointed by God for a period of time. I know that sounds bold, but I believe it to be true. I never advertised, but the doors always opened through my husband’s work, our church or by word of mouth. Each time, we prayed and felt led from God that we could be a blessing to each of the families. I considered it an honor that parents and grandparents trusted my family with their children.
At the time of my daughter’s high school graduation, another door opened. This door would prove to be the most challenging, yet one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. A friend’s coworker had decided to expand her family through foster care and, eventually, adoption. She was looking for someone to help her with childcare. After talking, we found out how close we lived, and that proximity would be a blessing for both of our families. I decided that, since the door had opened, I would walk with this family on their journey.
To give you some background, let me introduce the Klines. At the time, this couple already had four children of their own, ranging in age from ten to sixteen. They are an exuberant family, full of love and energy. Both Chris and Jolene are passionate about children and God, and already felt tremendously blessed. They felt their hearts were big enough and they wanted to share those blessings with more children who did not have a forever home
Within a few weeks, they received a phone call from an agency that two siblings, ages two and four, needed to be placed immediately. They were also told that adoption was a strong possibility. They received the children on Friday, and my first day was the following Monday.
These two little ones were a whirlwind of energy that some might call absolute chaos! I have to admit, after the first day, I wasn’t sure if I had the stamina for them. My son said, “Mom, you got this!” when I voiced my doubts. As Ethan spoke those words, it was as if God was speaking to me saying, “With my strength, you can do this.” I am so glad that my son echoed God’s sentiments; it gave me the courage to continue. A little over a year later, the Kline were able to adopt these two little fireballs. One of the moments I will treasure most in my life is hearing the judge pronounce the adoption official while the whole crowd of family and friends gathered with them in the courtroom whooping joyfully.
Adoption is not always a romantic picture like the ones I read in books. It’s full of challenges. Often, these children have experienced trauma of some sort and feel rejected. They often do not experience the typical bonding that infants need to feel secure and accepted. This can hinder them in all areas, including physically, developmentally, socially and psychologically. They do not even experience some of the normal rites of passages that most children receive, like birthday celebrations or family vacations. Even the very definition of a mother and father confuses these children, causing them to often devalue the importance of these roles.
Despite the challenges, I have witnessed healing victories through the Kline adoption journey. I’ve seen a young boy follow his daddy like a shadow, trying to emulate his father mowing the lawn or building a deck. I see a young girl who could not wait to have her name on the sign that hangs in her home with the rest of Kline family. I also saw this same young girl who told me this past weekend she was a little nervous about spending the night because she does not ever remember not sleeping with her sister, someone she just met less than 3 years ago. I see two children who cannot wait to go camping and spend Thanksgiving with their grandparents, because they now have traditions. I have seen two parents who already had a full life, by all measures, open their hearts and home, embracing two little people by providing love, stability and consistency. This has come at a cost for them: nights of lost sleep, adding to an already busy schedule, and the challenges of how to best parent these two little ones.
I recently discovered that November is National Adoption Month, leading me to spend some time examining scriptures relating to adoption. I found it interesting that the Bible addresses how to treat the “fatherless” over 42 times in the Old Testament. It encourages us to “defend the poor and fatherless” in Psalm 82:3, and describes God as “the father of the fatherless” in Psalm 68:5. In the New Testament, Jesus makes clear to his disciples the value of children, and admonishes us to have faith like a child. Paul often relates the salvation experience to adoption, where we become the sons and daughters of God. In 1:27, James remarks “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Even the Holy Ghost, the very indwelling of God’s spirit in our hearts, is described in John 14:18 by saying, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” In this verse, “comfortless” is translated from the Greek word “orphanos”, meaning fatherless. God gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost so we will not be fatherless!! All of these scriptures demonstrate that God cares deeply about the fatherless.
Although I celebrate with the Kline family, I am also challenged about my own responsibility to the fatherless. What can I do personally to help these children? What is my responsibility? Friends, what is your responsibility? I am not calling all of us, or even myself, to start adoption procedures, immediately. Adoption is something that should be considered prayerfully, not made in a moment of passion. Yet, I can still reach out to those families who have adopted and encourage them in their journey. I can minister to those in my local church who are from broken homes and be a mentor in their lives. I can reach out to children in my neighborhood who need a positive light to shine in their lives. I can financially commit to places like The Lighthouse Ranch for Boys and Tupelo Children’s Mansion, two Christian organizations that support and defend broken and fatherless children. I can be blessing in so many ways, and so can you!