For years Heather and I have been advocates for adoption. We have supported families, given financially to various non-profit organizations, and been part of ministries that support orphans all over the world. Decatur First Church of the Nazarene, where I previously served as lead pastor, had over seventy adopted children in the congregation.
My hope is to continually raise awareness regarding the great need for rescuing children around the world. Currently, nearly 18 million children worldwide have lost both parents and 153 million have lost either one or both parents. Many parachurch organizations, denominations, and local churches are deeply committed to helping orphans find forever families. However, it is not enough.
The Bible calls us to “Defend the cause of the fatherless…” (Isaiah 1:17). Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” God is a great protector and loving Father to orphans all over the world. However, He is calling us to be His hands and feet. Hopefully, more people will be inspired to take action as it pertains to adoption and foster care.
Kacey Xing-Yu Powell
In January 2014 as I was scrolling Facebook I noticed that a friend had posted the following on her timeline: “Friends, this is Kacey. Kacey is a beautiful 13-year-old girl, who is waiting for her forever family to find her. She has Beta Thal major… She ages out of the adoption program in October 2014. What this means, is that if she doesn’t find a family by then, more than likely her transfusions will stop. If her transfusions stop, her life will end. Please help me pray that her family will step up, and she can live life to the fullest!!! If you are interested in learning more about her, please contact me!”
When I read the post, tears came to my eyes and I sensed God say, “rescue her.” Immediately, I sent a text to Heather and asked her to take a look at the Facebook post. Within minutes she sent a text back with three words, “Let’s get her.” From that moment Kacey became our daughter and we moved forward with no reservations.
Several months before we were set to travel to China to finalize the adoption we received word that Kacey had undergone a major surgery. She had a splenectomy due to swelling from an iron overload. Kacey has Beta Thalassemia Major, and her body doesn’t produce oxygen in the red blood cells. Therefore, Kacey receives blood transfusions on a regular basis.
With regular blood transfusions, she gets the healthy red blood cells that she needs, but she also gets an overload of iron, which builds up in other organs such as the spleen and liver. We were hoping to have her home before she had any major surgeries. However, the orphanage thought it was critical to have the splenectomy. Many joined us in parrying for Kacey and her current treatments have normalized her hemoglobin and iron levels. Thanks be to God!
Excited doesn’t begin to explain how we felt the night before leaving for China. “Surreal” is a better word. Heather and I were overwhelmed as we boarded an airplane to fly to Guangzhou to get our new daughter, Kacey Xing-Yu Powell. Never would you have convinced us twelve months before that we would have another child less than one year later. God did an amazing work in our hearts as we prepared to bring this beautiful little girl into our lives.
You can read Kacey’s detailed adoption story here: “Gotcha Day”
Lilah Shu-Nu Powell
In 2015, Heather and I began praying about adopting another child. We reviewed several dozen adoption files, but didn’t find “the one,” until Summer 2016. If you’ve ever adopted you know what I mean when I say, “the one.” Maybe it’s something about pink dresses and hair bows (remember Kacey)? After several months of prayer and discussing the possibility of having another child with our family, we felt that Lilah was our daughter. Together, with our kids, we committed to become her forever family.
Lilah was found abandoned in a small village when she was a baby (11 months old). She was sent to the Children’s Welfare Institute of Cheng Cheng County. She has lived in the orphanage her entire life. When we decided to adopt her, she was 12 years old. Lilah also has severe scoliosis. She’s had corrective surgery twice and is doing much better; however, her back needs more attention.
Some have told us that we’re crazy for adopting again. They’ve told us we’re too busy, to old, and already have too many responsibilities. They say we should be saving for retirement and looking forward to the kids being out of the house. While we appreciate people’s concern, we’ve decided that we’d rather have less stuff and rescue a child than retire early. For us, that is more rewarding than anything we can gain in this world.
Through the process of adoption we learned that, without realizing it, we are often victims of cultural influence. Society teaches us that we need to do things a certain way and that our families should function according to societal expectations. In the months leading up to our adoptions God reminded us that when we commit to doing what He calls us to do, He takes care of everything we need in the process. I’ve seen this illustrated over and over again by amazing, selfless, mission-minded people.
Being missional isn’t about “what you do,” it’s about “who you are.” If “who you are” is right, “what you do” will be right. To my readers: if you’ve prayed, gave money, or provided encouragement through the course of either of our adoptions, we say, “Thank You.” Whether you realize it or not, you have played a vital part in saving a life.
The pure happiness that comes from saving a child is beyond the most satisfying thing you can imagine. It has fulfilled our lives in a way that words cannot describe. Think about it this way: being born into a family happens biologically; there is no choice in who your family will be. However, adoption means that someone looked out at the entire world and chose another person. I don’t think we can conceive the gravity of what it means to rescue a child: to choose another human being to love unconditionally the same way God loves us. It really is a miracle.
Adoption literally means saving a child’s life. Imagine growing up with no one to call “family.” Imagine no father or mother, no brothers or sisters, and no extended family. That means no family get-togethers, no family vacations, no family holidays, etc. It really is hard for those of us with caring people in our lives to fathom. Guess what? We can change this reality one child at a time. What will you do to be the hands and feet of Jesus as it relates to the fatherless and motherless children of the world?