I’ve been adopting the needy since I was eleven years old. Really. My first was a rose-breasted grosbeak hatchling fallen from the nest, knocked out by a vicious red squirrel who ate his three siblings and must have forgotten about the one on the ground. I saw the whole bloody mess on the edge of our yard.
What do you do when you see helpless and needy just trying to cling to life?
I stooped down to the little one’s level, down onto the edge of lawn and forest—of light and dark—and I scooped the helpless one up gently. I could feel his tiny heart throbbing fast in my hands and, as if to say without words You’re alright now—You’ll be alright now—I have you safe in the palm of my hand, I covered him with my other hand just enough to keep him warm.
I brought him into my home and made a special place for him—a shoe box lined with soft tissues and grass and leaves. And then I went to work fixing him a meal, for I knew he must be starving. My mother had called the vet and asked what we could do. With trowel in hand, I plunged the blade into the earth and brought up a clump with worms, pulled them out with my bare fingers, and brought them into our kitchen. A dropper full of castor oil and a handful of worms went into my mother’s blender, high speed, until a delectable puree of worm became a meal fit for a bird. The smell was nauseating but we weren’t thinking of ourselves. We were thinking of saving a life—of giving what was needed despite the unpleasantness to us.
And I used an eyedropper to feed the baby bird who received the puree like the liquid was coming from its own mother’s mouth.
I wish I could say that the baby bird lived and was released into the wild. He survived a couple of weeks and then developed a respiratory illness. I awoke one morning to the sight of him stiff and lifeless on the bottom of his cage, right by my bed.
Through tears, I was still consoled in knowing I had done everything possible to save this little one and, in the end, he was well-worth my efforts because he had a longer life than he would have had otherwise. And there was no doubt he was loved. His fears were calmed. He let me hold him in the palm of my hand and lull him to sleep with my gentle stroking along his back.
And through the later years, there have been orphaned opposums and baby skunks and chipmunks—all such a blessing to help and many made it back to the wild.
We never know what will happen when we step out of our comfort zones—out of our familiar—to give ourselves to the helpless and needy. Maybe our efforts will pay off big? Maybe our efforts will not? But is it really about our efforts and their outcome—about a long life or a life lived according to our hopes and expectations? Or is it about just giving all you can from the heart and watching what the power of love does to both the receiver and the giver?
I’m still learning after all these years after adopting three Russian orphans, bringing them into our home—our family. One looks like she may never leave the nest and if she does it will be into another nest God provides with loving caretakers. One needs lots of external structure and guidance because his brain doesn’t work well in the areas of planning, goal-setting, making decisions, stress management, making wise judgments. One has a host of learning disabilities and a hearing impairment and ADHD. Three precious children—all adopted at ages 6, 4, and 19 months—all with special needs that will last a lifetime, barring some miracle. And they all know and love Jesus . . .
Most people think that adopting is a one-way, love-giving sacrifice. But this is not true. God continues to peel back layers of truth to show me about the needy and helpless. Without God, we’re all needy and helpless. None of us can save our selves. None of us can work hard enough, achieve high enough, become good enough to earn access to abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.
We need a rescuer—a redeemer—a savior—who will come down to our level by edge of light and dark and scoop us out of the bloody mess we’ve made for ourselves or that others have made for us. We need someone who loves enough to give us what we need to bring back life and wholeness.
And Jesus has done this for me. He has taught me that by reaching out to the needy, we can see Him reaching out to us in our neediness. By comforting the scared, He relieves our own fears. By loving the abandoned, we find our own anchoring in a forever home. By giving to the homeless, the helpless, the needy, we begin to see our own homelessness and helplessness and neediness—and the walls of separation between the haves and have-nots disappears. We’re all in the same broken state here on earth with only fake facades making us look different and separate.
Fact is, we’re all orphans living in a broken world looking for love and peace. And there is only one who has the ability to take us in forever and care for us in the way we all really need so that we can live and thrive and give—so that we can experience life abundant in His hands.
So when people say my husband and I are such good people to have adopted three orphans with special needs, I smile knowing. The three of them have imparted more truth to us than we have to them. We’ve led them to the feet of their Savior who has scooped them up forever and will always care for them as He sees they need. I don’t need to worry, though sometimes I admit I do—me of so little faith.
What I find most fascinating is that in caring for the poor and the orphans as the Bible tells us to do, we are really pulling back the curtains hiding ourselves and seeing that we, too, are in desperate need of adoption. And when that day comes—when we accept being adopted by the One who offers a forever home and a forever loving relationship with all who will come—life changes fundamentally—from the inside out. Perfect? No. We live in an imperfect world, yet. Perfect people? No. We still struggle and fall. Difference is—we never struggle and fall alone anymore. We have an assured home. We have an assured Love, Jesus. We have peace that passes all understanding when we settle into the loving hands of the One who love us perfectly and forever. And no matter what happens, no matter how long our days, I am blessed with this assurance.
So I keep looking for ways to adopt. So far, we don’t feel called to add to our family through typical adoption. But I have been called over the years to bring some “younger birds” under my wing to love and nurture and watch them grow up. It’s called mentoring—discipling. And that’s what Jesus tells us to do.
And we can “adopt” children from all over the world in need for as little as sacrificing two Starbucks drinks a week–$38 dollars a month through highly regarded charitable organizations like Compassion International.
My “son’s” name is Ezekiel Kiptoo. He’s seven years old and lives in Uganda in a region infested with malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, HIV/AIDS. I’m developing a relationship with him through letters and I have pictures of him tucked in my Bible along with prayer requests. My $38 per month helps him eat nutritious food, get a good education, be involved in soccer, learn about Christ, and eventually it will help him learn a trade—all designed to break the cycle of poverty and help him help others do the same.
I have another “daughter” in India who is twelve. My contributions are paying for all the same needs of Ezekiel and, most likely, substantially lessening her risk of being trafficked.
Would you please consider sponsoring a needy, helpless child today? Would you please consider adding to your family and perhaps—the greatest blessing of all—the possibility of adding to the family of God, giving them an eternal home where one day all needs will be met beyond our wildest expectations?
Here’s a link for more information:
Remember Christ’s words—“What you sow you will reap.” The amazing, wonderful truth about God is that whatever we sow yields multiply more than we ever give in the first place—for us and for others—all for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom on earth and in eternity.
Adopt an attitude of adoption? Be blessed beyond your wildest expectations?
Blessed is he who is kind to the needy. Proverbs 14:21