Shortly after deciding that we wanted to adopt we sat down to have breakfast with our friends that were adopting from Ethiopia. We asked them how they decided to pursue adopting from that specific place. They quite beautifully delivered an explanation of how God had directed their hearts to Ethiopia. One specific phrase struck me that day and the same phrase has endured in my memory. They said to us, “Our heart is to adopt the least of these.”
Jesus said that, “whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him.” This phrase captured the essence of our heart for adoption. The desire in our hearts to adopt was rooted in our desire to serve Our King. We wanted to share the Gospel through adoption.
After hearing this phrase in the context of adoption, it began to surface in every one of our prayers as we asked God where He wanted us to adopt from. Our heart was now to adopt “the least of these” as well, just like our friends.
My heart aches for every orphan in every country, regardless of whether the country is resource-rich and thriving or poverty stricken. The thing that burdens me the most about the plight of orphans is the fact that millions of children go to bed every night without knowing that they are loved – that their mommy and daddy love them and that God loves them. Again, whether this is an orphan living in the US or in Uganda, this tormenting reality is jarring, harsh, and worth laboring to remedy.
As we began to research different countries that we might adopt from (both our own country as well as several international countries), we continued to pray that God would lead us to the “least of these.” For us, that meant that He led us to Uganda.
As a couple, we are both burdened by the fact that children are hungry and have no access to food. Burdened by the fact that children with HIV die every minute when simple medication could have sustained them for a healthy life. We are burdened by the fact that abandoned children end up as sexual slaves with no hope of escape. We are burdened by the fact that too many children are not afforded access to basic education.
We couldn’t shake this list from our minds. It seemed as if an orphan in Uganda had no opportunity for a healthy life. We felt so sad and so frustrated picturing children living within such circumstances. God had absolutely shattered our hearts into a million pieces for something that we knew broke His heart first. We now knew where we were going to adopt from.
God directed us to Uganda and, because of His sweet sovereignty, we were granted eligibility as candidates that met the country’s specific requirements. This was especially sweet because it was one of the VERY few countries that we were eligible to adopt from (which we didn’t even fully realize at the time). I was 23 and my husband was 25 and we had been married less than a year when we began the process. These facts granted us eligibility, but barely, to only a few countries globally. Thankfully, Uganda was one of them.
God brought us a referral for our son James, whom has now been home with us for almost a year. When we were connected with James we were told that he was HIV positive. This fact terrified us because we knew nothing about the HIV Virus, we only knew that it was something to be taken very seriously.
We were nervous about adopting in the first place, about adopting internationally, about becoming first time parents, about all the unknowns….at first, adding in the fear of adopting an HIV positive child seemed like too much. We sought counsel from a few trusted friends. One of them that was experienced with Ugandan adoptions told us that people in Uganda with HIV are considered to be like present day lepers. This hit us hard. We asked ourselves how Jesus responded to lepers.
He had compassion on lepers, while others stayed away from them in FEAR. He reached out to touch lepers, while others WALKED AWAY. We realized that we had to follow the example of Jesus. We couldn’t let our response be marked by FEAR. We couldn’t WALK AWAY from the child that God was asking us to care for.
Praise God for directing our hearts! James is an unbelievable blessing. My husband and I are head over heels in love with him. The fact that he is HIV positive hardly defines him, but it is a part of him. It is a part of him that we embrace and that we hope he will one day use to glorify God through.
While we were in Uganda this past summer with James, God placed it on our hearts to begin pursing a second adoption…and soon. The scenes surrounding us each day sharpened our awareness of the imminent need of so many Ugandan children. We began praying for the next child that God would lead us to adopt as our stay in Uganda came to a close. We also began praying that God would bring us another child with HIV.
He has since answered our prayers and we are in the process of adopting from Uganda again!
I hope that as you pray through where to adopt from that you would prayerfully consider adopting a child with HIV.
Ugandans have begun to adopt their country’s own orphaned children which is wonderful! However, most Ugandans still will not adopt HIV positive orphans.
The greatest blessing of my life is knowing Jesus. He has revealed so much of Himself and His character to my husband and I through our adoption of James. We’ve begun to notice that if the decision in front of us seems really scary, it is worth pausing to pray through and consider. We were scared to adopt in our first year of marriage, we were scared to adopt a child with HIV, and now we are scared to adopt a child that is almost 6 years old. But God has been so faithful. Pray that He would reveal Himself to you. As you begin to glimpse more of Him and more of His character, you will be blessed with the bravery to pursue the course He is preparing for you.
This post was written by a friend of mine that wishes to remain anonymous.