“The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel.”
~John Piper, in his article titled Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel
In March of 2011, we began to pray that God would show us a way to help the rest of the children with special needs in Pleven be adopted.
He answered yes. He has shown us many ways to help. And many of you have helped!
In the middle of August, 2011, we prayed that God would open the prison doors of Pleven. I told the director that we cared about more of the children in the orphanage than just our Veronika. I asked her what needed to be done to make the rest of the children available for adoption, and what we could to do help.
In spite of the fact that the director coldly told us that all had been done, and that it was impossible to do more, God began to answer yes that very week, in dramatic and unforgettable ways that I still haven’t disclosed here on the blog.
That same week, I began to pray that God would break the hearts of His people wide open and fill them with His kind of love.
We began to see Him answer yes to that prayer as well, drawing families forward to claim seriously damaged children as their own beloved sons and daughters–to us, one more proof of the existence of God.
Once I returned home, we began to pray that every child in the Pleven baby house who has special needs [who we were told would never be adopted by Bulgarians] would be legally registered for adoption.
Before too long, we began to see Him answer yes to this request. He is still answering yes, as you will see shortly!
God has moved mightily on behalf of the children in Pleven.
But please don’t think the story of Pleven is finished!
My friend Grace Knuth arrived home from Pleven a week ago with her new little daughter Samantha. Samantha and Katie have many similar issues as a result of years of mistreatment.
Please read what Grace wrote last week,
“[My friend] and I picked Sam up yesterday on the infamous 6th floor of the Pleven baby house, where Sam has been living, and we saw with our own eyes the devastating darkness. Skeletal, nearly dead children. Caretakers handling them as if it’s all in a day’s work. I know that change is happening and the new director is working hard to make sure that it does. But for some of these children, I’m not sure that will be enough.
Again, we must continue to pray.
And we must continue to carry children out of there and into homes.”
Today I am going to show you the faces of fourteen little people. These little people were cast aside by their parents, by their culture, and by those in the Pleven orphanage who were paid to care for them.
These children used to be invisible to the world. We prayed for them. God moved. They are now available for adoption.
He’s sending the children in Pleven out of invisibility, sending them to us.
When I look at these precious children, I see the sovereign mercy of God.
Gage, age 2. Still so young! Lots of love and therapy will help Gage avoid the terrible damage that was done to the older children with cerebral palsy in Pleven.
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 2 year old Gage. firstname.lastname@example.org
Presley, almost 3. Nearly everything that’s written in her file could also have been written about Katie when we brought her home. Most of it is still true to some extent. Presley’s diagnosis won’t stop her family from bringing her home!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting almost 3 year old Presley. email@example.com
My heart leapt with joy to see Harvey’s face on this new listing! He is a child who formerly would have been considered unlovable, but God has a different opinion, doesn’t He? Here’s Harvey with his sweet smile!
Harvey, age 3, is waiting for his family to claim him from the top floor of Pleven and shower him with love!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 3 year old Harvey. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email Nina Thompson at email@example.com about adopting these tiny, precious 4 year old twins, who must be adopted together!
6 year old Brandi has spent all her life in a bed on the top floor of Pleven. People tend to ignore others who don’t readily respond back in the way they expect, so Brandi probably hasn’t had much attention or interaction. Just lying there, waiting for someone with enough love and time and patience to help her open up and bloom. I saw this for myself every day when I went to visit Katie. The children who cannot sit up and move around and reach out for adult attention are among the most neglected. Who will bring this child home and tenderly lavish on her all the love she’s never had?
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 6 year old Brandi. firstname.lastname@example.org
Carson, age 6, has a super cute smile which he’s not showing us here! He’s been observed walking outside, holding his baba’s hand. What a sweet, happy little guy!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 6 year old Carson. email@example.com
Kramer, age 8, was blessed, like many other children in Pleven, to receive care from the Tokuda Hospital. Some of you helped to pay for this treatment! Now what Kramer needs more than anything else is a family to love him and bring him home!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 8 year old Kramer. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thad, age 9, waiting on the top floor. Thad was placed in Pleven after being removed from an environment where he received severe abuse which caused brain trauma. Tiny hurt boy, where are your mama and daddy to show you what love is?
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 9 year old Thad. email@example.com
Chad is 9, and very small for his age.
Here’s another photo of Chad, because you need to see him smiling his cool dude smile for the camera!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 9 year old Chad. firstname.lastname@example.org
Theodore, age 10, has spent his whole life in Pleven, like so many of the other children. After spending some time receiving medical treatment at Tokuda, he’s back on the top floor of the orphanage. He looks spiffy wearing a pair of pj’s donated by a Pleven adoptive family!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 10 year old Theodore. email@example.com
Garnet, age 10, has a beautiful, sweet spirit just like Penny does. So full of life in spite of her barren and forsaken circumstances!
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 10 year old Garnet. firstname.lastname@example.org
We see these faces. We have prayed for these children. They are real people. Real human lives.
And God has seen to it that we are keenly aware of their need.
He sent them to us!
How will we respond to Him?
Now that they are here before us, and our eyes have been opened to their need for parents, can we say we bear no responsibility for them?
Or will we allow ourselves to be moved? Moved by God? So that when He’s finished moving us, we’re in a different place than we were before?
Friends, I have two more little faces to show you.
These two small children may be familiar to you. They were shown to many, many people, and they were not chosen.
Their little faces traveled back to Bulgaria with the message written in bold lettering across the front, from us to them, “We agree with you about the value of these two. Payton and Penny? Not worth it. Here are their files back, you guys, nobody over here wants them either.”
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 8 year old Payton. email@example.com
Please email Andrea Roberts for more information about adopting 12 year old Penny. firstname.lastname@example.org
Does that message make you feel grieved and ashamed? Does it cut deeply into you? Do you long to send a different message back to Bulgaria?
“These children are precious to us. We would gladly take them into the heart of our family as God did for us with all our special needs!”
Nevertheless, when we send a child’s file back, the message that does get through to the other end is, “It’s too bad about these kids, it’s really a shame, and we’re sorry, but…”
“Us? Adopt a disabled child? You aren’t serious, are you?”
“They’re too expensive.”
“We’re afraid of the medical bills.”
“It’s too risky.”
“We’re uncomfortable around people with disabilities.”
“I don’t think I could love them enough.”
“They would make life too difficult.”
“Their needs are too much trouble.”
“We couldn’t keep living the way we’re used to living.”
“It would require too much sacrifice.”
“They’re not really our responsibility.”
“We couldn’t handle being saddled with their needs.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to the children to bring them into our family, because we don’t know everything about how to help them.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to our other kids, either.”
“Our house isn’t big enough.”
“We don’t have everything we would need to take care of kids with special needs.”
“We’re not that crazy about medical stuff. Or therapy.”
“There are other people who know more about that sort of thing, anyway.”
“We already have enough on our plates.”
“I wouldn’t have the energy I needed.”
“We already feel overwhelmed at times with all we have to do.”
“We would be crazy to even consider it.”
“I just can’t picture it happening.”
“There’s no way!”
“No. Just…no. We don’t have to give a reason.”
May I ask a favor of you?
Could you please go back up and read that list again?
See if you can spot the similarities between the excuses made by many modern American Christians who qualify to adopt, and the ones you would get if you asked Payton and Penny’s parents, their culture, and their Pleven neglecters why they don’t want Payton and Penny.
When God put our family’s feet on the adoption path, we could have legitimately made every excuse on that list and more, and most people wouldn’t have blamed us a bit. We had more reasons than most families to say “No.”
In fact, we’ve discovered that all we would have had to say was these five simple magic-eraser words, “We aren’t called to it.”
But simply saying something doesn’t make it true.
The blunt truth is that there’s nothing innate about our family that makes us more “called” than many other Christians to care for fatherless, outcast kids with problems.
We still don’t believe that every Christian can adopt children with special needs. That’s obvious!
But it is just as obvious that God didn’t give any of His people the calling to spend their lives ensuring that they stay comfortable and entertained.
It’s obvious that He is active in His world, and is calling His people to be His hands and feet in sacrificial ministry of many kinds.
It’s obvious that this story God is telling requires a response. It is not on the level of the latest in riveting “inspirational religious fiction.”
It’s obvious that more than a percentage of 11% of 1% of modern American Christians can and should be right on top of this one, adopting children with special needs from countries that imprison them for life.
It’s obvious when we look at waiting children listings that many qualified people are holding their doors closed against the children. And we grieve when we hear of prospective parents who have been waiting for years, insisting on a “perfect” child who may have been trafficked, and bypassing thousands of innocent children with special needs. Nobody is trafficking children like Katie and Harvey and Bonnie and Thad.
If we had made excuses for why we weren’t going to walk the special needs adoption path, Katie’s file might still be invisible, hiding in one of the dusty stacks of files lining the dusty hallway in the MOJ.
How much we would have missed by saying “No!” What a tragic and staggering thought!
If we had said, “No,” would that mean we hadn’t been called? Or that we had stopped up our ears to the call?
I understand that it can all look so far away from the ordinary, everyday lives of modern American Christians as to seem unreal. The words of those of us who have been there seem so pale and insufficient to convey the reality and urgency of the need.
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we could somehow take these fourteen small children from their Pleven beds and place them in the center of every church sanctuary in America?!
They could stay there in full view of everyone until they were all claimed! And then we could bring the next group over, and then the next group, and the next group!
Some may say, “But if it were that easy, I would take one home in an instant.”
Listen, friends, what do we really believe about God?
Is our God a great and faithful God or a puny and pathetic God?
He promises to provide all we need in order to do what He gives us to do.
He promises to increase the strength of the weary.
Do you believe that? Does He keep His promises?
Yes. Yes, He does.
When it all boils down to qualified Christian parents making a decision between a “yes,” and a “no,” it’s really that simple.
Not easy! Never easy! But simple. Straightforward. Trustworthy.
God is faithful to those who trust in Him.
Now there are fourteen more children available to be adopted from Pleven. Children we have grieved and prayed and donated for, all without seeing their faces. Knowing God, and seeing His work in and through His people, I have so much hope for these fourteen, and for every last treasure waiting in Pleven!
May I challenge you to keep praying for these tiny, outcast human beings until their families step forward to claim them? I know that many of you will do that!
And friends, we are praying right along with you!
Scripture makes it clear that it’s God’s job to do the convicting, the calling, and the moving. He’s the only one who can get inside people’s hearts and change them. Only God has the right to require His people to live a life of sacrificial, no-holds-barred discipleship for His sake.
He simply empowers us to speak out and live out the truth of the gospel.
We will never smooth over the difficulties or dilute the message, even when we suspect our honesty might scare away potential adoptive parents. We will tell you the truth about the hard parts and tell you the truth about the faithfulness of God.
Because if the call to sacrificial ministry is softened and made to sound like nothing but bubbles and fluff, those who respond will not be disciple material.
We don’t know which of you He is calling to parent these fourteen needy children, and all the rest who are still waiting to come out of obscurity into the light.
But we do know this. Our God is in charge and our hope is in Him!
He is still convicting and calling and moving families to desperately desire to bring these little ones home. Releasing them from their desolate prison, giving each one a new name, a new life, and a new family.
Just as He did for each of us when He set us free from our shackles, redeemed our lives from destruction, and made us His own beloved sons and daughters.
“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
Born of a woman, born under the law,
To redeem those who were under the law,
That we might receive the adoption as sons.”
“Once you were not a people,
But now you are the people of God;
Once you had not received mercy,
But now you have received mercy.”
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”