On Sunday morning, I will ride to the high speed rail station with Trena, Holly, and baby Leia to meet Leia’s adoptive parents, David and Kalina. Holly and Trena are going to let me be the one to hand Leia off to her parents, and I am THRILLED about this as I imagine what joy it will give David and Kalina to finally hold Leia in their arms! However, I know the moment will be bittersweet since over the past several months, I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with Leia and I have grown to love her.
Before moving to Taiwan, I knew about His Hands Taiwan, Inc. through Sara’s involvement with it. Though I thought it might be nice to help out on an occasional basis, I remember telling Sara that I would NEVER take a baby home on weekends like she did. I thought she was crazy to give up her precious relaxation time to deal with crying, poopie babies. It’s now nine months later, and I can honestly say that I think I’ve been bitten by the baby bug. Oh, I was right in assuming that I would have to deal with crying and screaming, midnight feedings, poopie diapers, numerous baby-spit-up-induced clothing changes (my clothes or baby’s), extra hassles with car seats and strollers, and…well, the list goes on. But there was no way to anticipate or count the joys of caring for babies, like sharing in snuggle time, watching wee ones grow and develop, making them smile and giggle, and all along knowing that I’m being the arms and voice of parents who can’t be with their children yet. Voluntarily caring for little ones that are not my own is definitely a sacrifice, yet the sacrifice is NOTHING compared to the reward.
The more the world of orphanages and adoptions is revealed to me, the more I observe and understand the act of sacrifice. First there is the sacrifice of a young mother who chooses, often agonizingly, to give birth and then to give life by giving her child away. Then there is the almost equivalent sacrifice of adoptive parents who wait with anticipation to take their child home–months of missing “firsts,” of longing to hold their child in their arms, of preparing emotionally and mentally to add to their family, of exhausting financial resources to pay for the expenses of adoption, and finally of offering themselves as parents for the rest of their lives to this little one to whom they have opened their arms, their hearts, and their homes. Least significantly, but most real to me, is the sacrifice of all the caregivers who play a part in the beginning of the life of the child, a child who might never know them and whom they might never see again after they have said goodbye. There is a great amount of sacrifice in the world of adoption, but there is also incredible joy.
Joy comes to the mother who chooses to give life to her child. Joy abounds in the lives of the families who accept a new life to be part of theirs. And joy refreshes those who work long hours to care for the little ones who have been orphaned. In fact, it seems that often great sacrifice leads to greater joy.
As I ponder the acts of sacrifice that I see in the world of adoption, I cannot help but think of the immeasurable sacrifice that Christ gave for me when he laid down his life for my sins. The things I sacrifice daily, the things I think are “big” sacrifices in my life, and even the truly great sacrifices of other people are nothing in comparison to what Christ offered for us. When I consider the immense amount of sacrifice and love that is poured out by countless birth parents, adoptive parents, and caregivers for the little ones who have done nothing in their own right to deserve these gifts, I am amazed. Likewise, I have done nothing to deserve the gifts of the Father, and yet he lavishes them on me. In fact, in the book of Ephesians, Paul uses the language of adoption to describe the Father’s perfect gift for us when he writes, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Over the time I have been involved with His Hands Taiwan, I have heard many people say that I’m giving a lot to help with these babies. However, my response is that I’m gaining so much more. In working with these precious children, selfless birth moms, tireless caregivers, and loving adoptive parents, I am catching a glimpse of true sacrifice. I am also beginning to understand what it truly means to be adopted into the family of God, and my eyes are being opened wider to the greatness of Christ’s gift of love to us.