On Gotcha Day when we saw Rachel's orphanage director, we asked through our guide if we could visit the orphanage before we left Shanghai. At first she said that she didn't think this was such a good idea, as Rachel might struggle to return so soon after meeting us. I'm not one to take "no" for an answer very well... especially in matters such as these, so I resorted to begging! (and silently praying, I might add!) Praise God, she changed her mind and said that as soon as the adoption was final the following day, we could drive out for a visit and see where Rachel spent the first 7 years of her little life.
If an orphanage could possibly be described as "beautiful", the Shanghai CWI would be just that! It is considered the model orphanage in China and much money has been spent for it to continue in such a reputation. Even so... it is an orphanage... full of orphans... this is unacceptable! Rachel has never once enjoyed a special bond with any one individual. She has apparently had over twenty different caregivers in her short lifetime. These caregivers work in "shifts" and then return home to their own families when their day is done. Because Rachel has such a critical heart condition, she was never considered for a place in a foster home, where she might learn what it means to be part of a family. Again... unacceptable! It will never be OK with me for even ONE child to grow up in such an environment without ever knowing the love of a Mommy and Daddy. To make matters even worse... an orphan in China is, and will always be, just that... an orphan. They carry the last name of an orphan and will forever carry the "stigma" of their unfortunate beginning. Most are unlikely to ever receive a real education or a decent job because they are considered the "unlucky" ones in society. And most parents of any young man would prohibit their son from ever marrying an orphan, as it might bring bad luck upon the entire family. Once an orphan... Always an orphan! No family, no future, no hope. This should never be!
But God (two of my favorite words) has made a way for some of these precious children to have their lives and their futures redeemed through the beautiful process of adoption. And among the 160 million orphans in the world, a few are actually "chosen" to receive the gift of a family... a hope... and a future. These children don't "merit" this in any way and they can't give anything in return for the gift of adoption either. Is it any wonder that the Lord's heart beats for such as these? Oh, how grateful I am that His heart beats for me too! I AM the orphan, you know? You are too! Without our adoption into His family, we too are completely without hope... without a future. What a beautiful thought, that out of the 6 billion orphans (I mean people) walking this planet... I was CHOSEN to be HIS! No longer an orphan, but a daughter! No longer unwanted, but loved! I have a name... I have a hope... I have a future!
When we arrived at the orphanage, Rachel looked a little bit unsure of things... I wondered if she actually thought we were bringing her back to the life she thought she'd finally been rescued from. I had our guide assure her that we were only here to meet her friends and teachers, and to say "good-bye". We were her Mommy and Daddy, and she would never be alone again. Still, she seemed unconvinced. But as each caregiver congratulated her on her new family and bid their final farewells... a new little girl began to emerge that I hadn't seen before. There was a spring to her step and at one point I saw her standing before a table full of little boys asking about her new "Mama" and "Baba", with a hand firmly planted on her hip as if she thought she was "somebody" special! She grabbed her two sisters by the hand and marched them along as if to announce to everyone that would listen..."I have a family! I belong! I'm going home!" She had finally been CHOSEN!
Just before we said our last good-byes to a group of class-mates and teachers, she was asked if she was sad to leave the orphanage. She was quick to respond! "NO!" she said, "I have a Mommy and a Daddy, and I'm going home to America!" She had been CHOSEN and she was going home!
Rachel's paperwork indicated that over the years she watched as other children were chosen and then left one by one with their forever families. She told her teacher that she dreamed of the day when she might be adopted too. What must it be like as a child, to watch as the children around you leave with Mommy's and Daddy's, while you wait... and wonder if it will ever be you? Oh, what a joy it is to be used by God to be the answer to so many years of wondering... of dreaming... You have been chosen, precious child ~ never to be alone ~ never to be forgotten again! What a privilege it is Rachel, to hold your hand and walk with you as you discover God's beautiful plan for your life!