This month was a dream come true for me. Every year I long to be able to go to Summit (the largest orphan care conference in the country). But every year it comes and goes and I just don’t seem to be able to get there.
This year was different! I got blessed and was finally able to join hundreds and hundreds of like-minded people at the conference in California.
It was fantastic! The organizers truly did an amazing job at putting together such a huge conference. I was so impressed. I picked breakout sessions which interested me and for two days I got to meet tons of new friends and hear hours upon hours of orphan talk. I loved it!
On the first day of the conference I walked around, taking in the campus of the exquisite Saddleback Church, which hosted the event this year. Purposefully, I made my way to the enormous area which housed the exhibitors–tons and tons of them lined up along the grassy area and all the way down toward the parking lot. The rows of various ministries involved in caring for the fatherless in one way or another seemed to go on forever. Each small booth so beautifully decorated with wares from Africa, South America, and anywhere else in the world. All of them with one thing in common. The orphan!
As the jam-packed days unfolded, I sat in session after session listening intently. Hearing amazing stories of redemption and watching DVDs which broke my heart in two….I waited.
But I didn’t find what I was looking for.
By Friday evening I felt such a desperate longing–like a piece of my heart was completely missing.
Where were they?
Where were the almond-shaped eyes?
The missing limbs?
Where were the least of these, as the Bible calls them?
The ones who so desperately need the body of Christ to advocate for them?
Was I missing them?
I realized that in the two days that I sat gleaning from others and having my heart challenged…not once did I hear the words “special needs.” Perhaps I missed it–which is quite possible.
I felt like a huge piece of the adoption puzzle had been left out of the large sessions. I longed to see a focus, or even just a little mention, of special needs children who so desperately need families. On Friday night I looked around the sanctuary and felt that still small voice whisper to my heart, “They just don’t know, Adéye!” Through no fault of their own, I realized once again that even at a huge conference like the one I was sitting in–even congregated with like-minded people who passionately care for the orphan–many just don’t know.
They don’t know that children like our Hasya and others exist.
They don’t know about the plight of countless children around the world who are literally left to die in cribs.
They don’t realize that this is also our problem.
They just don’t know. They haven’t heard yet. They haven’t seen yet.
I lay in bed after the final night of the conference and cried out to the Lord for the least of these–the ones so often hidden in darkness, in secret places (as Isaiah says). I lay there wondering, “What can be done to bring this issue into the light more and more?”
I don’t have the answer to that question yet.
Oh, friends, this is the thing that keeps me up at night. This is the thing for which my heart cries out to my Father in heaven.
When will the whole world SEE that children who have special needs are a blessing, a joy, and an absolute delight? I believe that every orphan deserves a family and I rejoiced that so much light was shed on adoption and foster care in general at Summit. It was truly incredible.
But the weakest of the flock–the most vulnerable of the fatherless–well, I could not help but feel that they were sorely missing. I long for more to be done. I long for special needs to get equal exposure as other topics at adoption conferences.
I do know that as adoption advocates for children with special needs continue to work so tirelessly to bring this issue more and more into the light, change will eventually come. I only wish it could be quicker. Children are perishing daily!
And so we continue to pray.
We continue to advocate.
We continue to use our blogs, our social media, and our voices.
We continue to shout it from the rooftops and tell the whole world that CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ARE A BLESSING!
And we redetermine in our hearts that we will never rest, we will never grow weary, and we will continue to fight with every breath we have for the precious, precious ones who so desperately need our voices.
Some people prefer not telling the world that their children are adopted, and that’s perfectly fine. I totally respect that and understand their reasons for choosing to do that.
Us? We choose to walk otherwise. We welcome every opportunity to tell the world that our children are adopted! It opens their eyes to a crisis they never knew about. It gives us an opportunity to tell people we meet that our children are God’s beautiful creation…just the way they are. And it gives GOD an amazing opportunity to move on their hearts and show them that these ones whom we have been blessed with are passionately loved…by choice! Our children are a walking testimony to the goodness of God and to the inestimable value that is in every child.
The truth is that God uses our children way more than He uses Anthony and I put together…they are part of HIS story, His redemptive plan for the orphan…and we will never be silent about it.
If only the whole world knew what we know. That these children too deserve to be heard, and loved, and treasured…and adopted.
This Mother’s Day I counted my many blessings. My three sons whom the Father abundantly blessed me with. My four adopted daughters–each fearfully and wonderfully made just the way they are. And, of course, our darling Hasya–waiting on the other side of the world for her rescue.
Pressing on toward the finish line and not growing weary…until the whole world hears!