It has been 5 years since I faced the lowest ebb in my life and wondered what path God was leading me. We had just finished our 4th and final attempt at in-vitro fertilization in March of 1997, which ended again in a failed attempt to build our family. I will never forget that last time at the doctors office after the procedure, knowing that this was our last time to try to have a family, knowing that if this didn't work there would be a void in my life forever.
I told my husband, Jim, when he came in the room as tears rolled down the side of my face, that I knew one thing, and "I didn't want to talk about it now, but I never wanted to be "here" again." That day, and the five long years before, I had gradually begun to feel there was no light at the end of my tunnel, and I felt as if I was being swallowed up in a black hole of gloom and despair.
Often times I told myself, maybe God just didn't mean for us to have children and we were just supposed to have our furry children (dogs). I also hung desperately to Proverbs Chpt 3, Verse 5,6.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
I have to admit though, I often asked "God, why me!?" And I also prayed for God to shout the answer at me, because I couldn't quite hear what He was trying to tell me. I knew there was a direction, but I just couldn't quite see what was right in front of me.
God's answer came about one month later in a way I didn't anticipate. We had begun researching adoption, and I got very discouraged after talking to several domestic agencies that told me it would be 5 or more years to adopt a healthy infant. Then one day in May, Jim came home and said "what about Kazakhstan?" I, being geographically challenged, had never even heard the word Kazakhstan, much less knew it was the country where I would find my children. So we got out the globe and then Jim told me the details. Four months later we were parents! I am overwhelmed when I think of the course of events God has provided in our lives, from bringing Kazakhstan to our attention at the right time, to the perfect timing of our trip. My babies were God's most perfect answer to our failed fertility treatments!!!! They are the reason we never got pregnant!! I can almost hear God say as He gives an audible sigh…"Now you get it!"
After our adoption, I felt like God had put something in my path that He did not intend for me to easily forget. I began shouting from the rooftops about international adoption because I wanted people to experience the joy I had, and I wanted them to know there was an end to the hopeless journey of infertility! Then my shift changed, I could not forget the children left behind, and I found a ministry in my life that would change me in ways unimaginable.
God has entrusted us with this mission in life and I wanted you to share with you why I do what I do and why our family opened an adoption/humanitarian agency. For another family, adoption may have touched them in a different way....or they may be helping in some other direction. Looking into these children's eyes you see the potential their lives hold and realize how international adoption may be their only hope for a future. I thank GOD that I was led on the path to adoption for my own children 5 years ago, and also that I have been given the blessing of a job that I don't consider work. You see, God placed in my heart a very heavy burden almost 5 years ago~ it is these children overseas living in orphanages.
There are times I feel as if some of them will never be adopted, and I feel like I have let them down because for some of them, we are their only hope for a family, and they continue to wait. I feel like maybe we don't do enough to promote the adoption of the older children, perhaps we aren't letting our families fall in love with these children through us and feel our compassion for them. I wonder what it will take for each one of these children to be adopted... and have the things we take for granted, such as a family, a home, dreams of the possible and impossible, and the delight in the sheer ability to be a child. I look at them and feel like they are drowning in an ocean without a lifeboat. I go to bed at night and wonder what could we have done differently to help at least one more, that surely there must have been something we could have done that would have been more. I hope and pray we can make people see these children for what is in their heart and soul, and not look at them for the shape of their eyes or the color of their skin or hair.
One night, I came across my favorite little boy on our website whose 6th birthday was coming up. This little boy touched my heart the very first time I saw his picture, and that night I looked into his eyes in the picture, and at that moment, I felt as if we have failed him and left him behind. How could such a beautiful child not have found his family yet? He would not celebrate his birthday with balloons, a fancy cake, presents, friends, or fond memories. There will be no pictures of his party to look at later in life, there will be no excitement~ there would just be another empty day for him. And the sad reality is, he will not know any better that he is missing anything. I sat there crying and feeling totally helpless. My heart breaks for him and all the other children his age both older and younger. As each day, week, month, and year goes by for our waiting children, their future is bleaker and their fate becomes more sealed with the truth that they may never find parents. After the children turn one year old, their chances for adoption are greatly reduced. Many of them will live their lives in the orphanage system, and while they are well taken care of and loved, they are not nurtured and loved as parents as a family would love them. They don't even know what they are missing. These children when they reach the age of 16 will be turned out on the streets with no family or direction, and many are unable to lead productive lives and contribute to society in a positive way.
I am reminded of a story that one of our families told me about while they were overseas visiting their children. He said he was there one day when it was a day to "move" some children out and he saw a bus and heard screams and cries of the children, and he didn't know what it was. He asked the overseas adoption facilitator and was told those children were being transferred to the orphanage because they were now 3 and too old for the Baby House and were moved from the only home they had ever known. He said it was heart wrenching to hear them. These children were forced to break the bond with those they loved and trusted most... and you see, this is now part of who they are today. These children are old enough to understand rejection, old enough to understand where they are, old enough to understand that others may get adopted, but not them, old enough to understand something is just not right. They see parents come and choose other children, and they understand "it isn't going to me this time either." They are internalizing this information and it is changing who they are and who they CAN BE! They will learn to cope and continue to live life as they know it, and never even realize what they are missing, and this reality of their lives to me is what is the most tragic!
My faith is so strong, that I know that God has a plan for these children...however it does not lessen the pain of their waiting for me and that is what continues to motivate me. I am sitting here contemplating what makes some children be chosen and others not? I have no answers at all. I have to believe that we have just not found their parents yet. I ask you to join me in praying for the waiting children. Pray for the ones who are cold and hungry, the ones who will be moved to another setting because of their age, the ones who know something is missing, the ones who cry at night, the ones who are sick, the ones who aren't perfect, the ones who get scrapes and cuts but never get Scooby Doo Band-Aids, the ones who have dreams they may never get to realize, the ones who have nightmares, the ones that will never play little league baseball, the ones who will never hear encouraging words pushing them to achieve higher goals, the ones who are about to be released from the orphanage into their real life on the streets, and the ones who are now babies who have begun their wait, and who will one day still be waiting and hoping endlessly for parents.
I write this article in the hopes that you will tell someone about the plight of children waiting for adoption in overseas orphanages. God places these things on our hearts to move us outside of our comfort level so we can help HIM make a difference. We know about the children associated with our agency, but this is only a fraction of the children who are waiting for adoption in overseas orphanages. I hope you realize that if you spread the word, that you could be the hand and messenger that God is looking for to help Him find parents for these children.
Cindy Harding is a director of World Partners Adoption. www.worldpartnersadoption.org