I have found myself, OFTEN, bristling when a friend or acquaintance announces with glee her intention to adopt a child from an Eastern European country. I have pigeonholed this region of the world as the WORST possible place from which to adopt! Some of my prejudice (and yes, it is prejudice, plain and simple) revolves around my time spent in a large online adoption group. In that group, I followed the adoption processes of many families through EE. Some of those families had to pay bribes while in country. Some had to stay weeks -even months- longer in country than planned due to paperwork snags. A couple of families arrived in country only to find their intended child has living birth family refusing to consent to the adoption. I have read blogs of crushed parents, returning home empty-handed and thousands of dollars poorer. There are no guarantees in any adoption process but in EE, it seems you are almost guaranteed a bumpy ride!
I have asked myself WHY a parent would risk the money, time and heartache adopting from such a tenuous place.
And then I log on to Reece's Rainbow (www.reecesrainbow.org).
And I see the section called "In Loving Memory".
And I look at face after face with almond-shaped eyes, Down Syndrome features like those of my own son.
And I realize they are dead orphans. Never claimed.
They, most likely, died in miserable internats, on plastic mattresses in puddles of their own urine.
Many could have been saved with a simple operation or penicillin.
They would have loved a chance to sleep in a Thomas the Tank Engine or Dora the Explorer comforter, tucked in with hugs and kisses and "I love yous" from parents who can honestly say "the pleasure is all mine". They would have loved that.
Any child would.
I hear stories of teenagers turned out onto the streets at sixteen years old with just a backpack and a "good luck" as they go, with no education and no job skills, to make lives for themselves. I read that the suicide rate is astronomical among these teens and that boys and girls alike, turn to prostitution for survival. I think of my own teens, able to definitively state that they are saving their purity for marriage. It never crosses their mind that they may have to trade it for food or a warm jacket.
And I soften. Not toward a corrupt system or greedy adults. Not toward a culture that views orphans as less-than. But I soften toward these parents, who know they will be walking a tightrope over an open volcano and decide to brave the trip anyway. They go. Hoping it will not be THEY who fall prey to greed or bait-and-switch tactics. But knowing they might. They go. Leaving behind biological children, jobs, commitments and a cushy life of hot running water and Starbucks on every corner.
So, to those friends and readers who are preparing a walk toward your child in Eastern Europe. You have my respect. My prayers. You are far braver than I. Your calling scares me to no end and I feel grateful that God has not (as of yet) called my family to that region. I am frightened of everything related to that part of the word - the mentality, the post-communism harshness,the lack of English speakers (ha ha). . . you name it!
And yet I know that our God is everywhere, all the time. I have no doubt HE has placed HIS angels in the most unlikely places there to reach out to and touch those HE desires. I have heard there is vibrant, active MINISTRY there. People are coming to Christ there. Hearts are being turned toward HIM and, through that, toward the neediest in the country.
So I have purposed in my heart for the next eight days to pray for eight of the countries of Eastern Europe. Some of those are non Hague countries involved in adoptions to the United States. I am weary about even this. Because God has called me out of my comfort zone so many times after this sort of conviction. If he calls us there, I know HE will be the safety net.
The countries I am praying for, starting today (Sunday, Dec. 11) are:
Lord, forgive my prejudice heart.
Children Aging Out of Their EE Orphanage - Off to Start Their "Lives"