Thank you, thank you for your prayers today. The Lord was gracious, and all six of us were able to go to visit the orphanage today – the Guangzhou Social Welfare Institute. Lils and I were barely hanging on by the skin of our teeth at times, but we made it.
Today was another sobering day, for many reasons, but it was also a day full of gratitude as we realized more of where Mia Grace has come from and where we are bringing her to.
The woman who met us at the front gate was the same woman who placed Mia grace in our arms on Gotcha Day. Her name is Wendy, and she has worked in the orphanage for ten years. She is a really special person and she helped to answer so many of our questions about Mia Grace and orphan care in general.
The first place she took us was the picture at the top – the baby hatch, the place where Mia Grace and so many other babies were “dropped,” or left by their parents. This was probably the most emotional place to see. Most parents who drop their babies are from rural areas that do not readily have access to medical care for babies with special needs. This was, most likely, the case with MG’s parents. I do not know their specific reasons for leaving her at this station, but I could almost feel their heartache standing there. I pray for her parents frequently, particularly her mom. I long for her to come to know Jesus Christ. Seeing the baby hatch today only intensified that prayer. Wendy told us that in 48 days, they had 200 babies dropped or abandoned. Because of that, they had to shut the hatch down and are thinking of other ways to try to help and educate these parents from rural areas. The writing on the side of the hatch reads something like, “Parents, please stop and consider. Do you really want to leave your baby? A parents’ care is much better for a child than an orphanage.” What heartbreak that small hatch has seen.
As we walked away (and honestly, I really wanted to run away – standing there thinking about Mia Grace being abandoned, or any baby for that matter, was a thought I could endure for only so long), we turned towards the front entrance to the orphanage.
The orphanage itself is located on the outskirts of Guangzhou in a more peaceful, rural area than the packed, dense area where our hotel is. I was thankful for the sight of green plants growing in peaceful fields. And we found out that Mia Grace had a foster mother for a month after her surgery, and her foster mother was the local farmer. Maybe MG will end up with a green thumb!
We walked through the front entrance stopping long enough for a photo…
…and then walked up a flight of stairs into the main building where the children live.
Our first stop was the room where MG spent many of her waking hours. It was the baby room, a room full of babies 3 and under. There were women in the room called “grandmothers,” and they work for an organization called Half the Sky. There is 1 grandmother for every two children, and they spend eight hours a day with the children. We had the opportunity to meet MG’s grandmother who loved on her, patted her cheeks, rubbed her head, and was genuinely excited to see her. I am so thankful for that woman and the time she spent with MG. Mia Grace didn’t bat an eyelid through the whole affair and calmly sat observing everything from her perch in the baby carrier.
We then walked down the hall and saw the room where Mia Grace slept along with nine other babies. The room definitely didn’t have much fluff, but the sheets were clean, and frankly, I was thankful she had sheets. We met another family here who got their little girl the same day we did, and their daughter has had a really tough time. Cries and cries and seems inconsolable. The parents told us her orphanage was pretty rough, and the babies slept on boards in a crib. There weren’t even mattresses. So MG’s room seemed like a five star hotel from that perspective! We also got to meet her night nurse, the woman who oversaw Mia Grace’s room (along with five others) during nap time and night time. Here is Mia Grace’s bed and her room:
But the sweetest and saddest part of the day was seeing the other children at the orphanage. There are 1000 children at this particular orphanage, and each one of the faces we saw was beautiful. Taking photos of the children was not allowed; I wish I was able to send you images of their faces. Many had some sort of mental or physical handicap, particularly the boys. Beautiful little girls stated at us out of the same somber eyes that Mia Grace looks at us with, and little boys shyly gave us high fives or submitted to having their head rubbed or patted as they passed by.
I’m not sure which was harder – imagining Mia Grace being there or leaving the 999 children who were still there behind us.
Wendy told us that every year, about 60 children are adopted from the Guangzhou Social Welfare Institute, mostly by Americans. 60. With 1000 children still there. In one orphanage. In one city. In China – a country of over 1 billion people.
I promised myself that this blog would not be something that hits people over the head with petitions to adopt, so this is the only time I am going to say this. But please hear me on this: the Bible is clear that we are to take care of widows and orphans. In other words, for Christians, it’s not an option of whether we feel called it to orphan or widow care or not. What it comes down to is just simple, plain obedience.
I know there are many ways to care for widows and orphans and adoption is certainly not the only way. But it certainly is one way. And what I want to say is this: if you or your spouse feel any movement towards adoption, any push, pull, or openness from the Spirit of God, keep walking through that door. We serve a God who is big enough to shut the door on your behalf if it is something you are not supposed to walk through. But if you are meant to keep walking, just do it one step at a time. That’s what I had to do. I finally had to stop waiting for some big “call” to adopt and just had to take the next step of obedience…and then the next step…and then the next step. The fear never totally went away and at times seemed to be downright overwhelming, particularly the morning of Gotcha Day. I almost had to start blowing into a paper bag. But at some point as believers in Christ, obedience has to trump fear…and we begin to walk forward. But go ahead and take the next step and have that conversation with your spouse. Or maybe just start quietly praying for your spouse. Or call the agency. Or meet with a couple who has adopted. Or if adoption isn’t the way you are to take care of orphans, ask the Lord to show you the way, and trust that He will. But whatever you decide to do, simply decide to take the next step, and see where it takes you.
There. I said it. Thank you for taking the time and space to read and to listen. The faces of those children today compelled me to say it. I know the Lord will show each one of us how and when and where to take the next step.
I am off to bed, hoping tomorrow Lillian and I are truly are virus free. Thank you for your prayers for us today. They made all the difference.
The Baker 6