Who are these kids? They come from places with names like Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Guangdong, and others. Now they all live locally. All adopted from China. Some were "older child" adoptions. At least half were considered "special needs" adoptions by China. Heart defects, slow growth, limb differences, cleft lip and palate. These are just some of the needs represented here. And these needs have come into play in their lives in a variety of ways. Between them they have had numerous surgeries, speech therapy sessions, PT, OT, hearing and vision issues, and have visited specialists of almost every discipline in pediatric medicine. Some have needed only their local pediatrician. Some "obvious" needs have needed no interventions at all. Others have had "hidden" needs that have come up over the years, even if their adoption wasn't originally a "special needs" adoption. Many have had emotional needs to be addressed relating to attachment or fears or clinginess or adoption or being Chinese in various ways. Some of these children embrace being Chinese with everything inside them. Others prefer to just not discuss it at all. Still others have swung between these two or fall somewhere in the middle. Some are energetic and passionate and outgoing. Others are quieter and more reflective. But in reality, every one of the children in this picture had the exact same "special" needs: the need for a family, the need to belong, the need to be loved, the need to not be limited by their circumstances. Today these children are excelling in school. They play soccer and baseball. They take piano lessons. They are Girl Scouts. They take gymnastics and dance and sing in school or church choirs. They have learned to ride bikes and roller skate and go across the monkey bars. They are loved by moms, dads, sisters, and brothers. They have cousins and grandparents and uncles and aunts. They have families. They are loved, they are healthy, they are happy. They are beautiful children of God. So, yes..they are blessed.
But more than that, they *are* a blessing. They love big and generously. They teach me to love big and generously! They have expanded the hearts of all around them. They are survivors who have overcome more in their (2,3,4,5,6,7,8, or 9+) years than many adults. They show us what courage is. And Joy. They laugh with infectious joy. They cuddle up next to a parent on a Saturday morning. They reach a hand out to a little brother or sister to help. They giggle with one another as they attempt to use chopsticks to pick up chips. They make up games while the grown-ups talk. The older ones love on the little ones. The little ones look up to the older ones.
Many of these children don't actually know one another all that well. Due to time and busyness..some may only get together once or twice a year. Others see each other regularly at school. Some just met the day this photo was taken. But they are connected by shared experiences just as their families are connected by the experience of loving them. And it's my prayer that as they grow older and become "tweens and teens" (many approaching fast!), they will draw strength from that shared experience together. Tonight, I celebrate these children who make my world a better place. And I pray for the ones who still bear the label that *these* children are forever freed of: orphans. There are so many girls and boys just like these in China, in Uganda, in Hondurus, in the United States, and beyond. Please pray for them. Pray for them to find families. Pray for families to welcome them and love them. Pray for them to know their worth is not tied to the labels the world gives them, but to who their Father is.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!