It started in the hospital. As I walked down the hall back to my room that one day, I had this tight feeling that all wasn't well in one of the rooms I passed. I glimpsed a new mama - one whose baby was as new as mine - holding her little one and staring at her baby's face. There was something in the blank look on her face that made me look away. Something about her slouched shoulders and appearance of resignation that made me feel uneasy. She wasn't smiling. She wasn't totally distracted by her newborn. She was just there - an emptiness of her womb seemed to mirror her heart. A few times she paced by my room, whispering into her cell phone. I don't know her story. I never will.
My nurse friend, the one who was in the room when Maddie breathed her first and then also when Hunter made his appearance, the one who took care of me and my babies so wonderfully, told me that there were some painful hard situations on the OB floor that day. That all wasn't right - it wasn't as it should be - it wasn't as God designed it to be. And she murmured words that have haunted me since. "Sometimes, I can hardly bear to watch babies leave the OB because I am so afraid no one will take care of them."
No one will take care of them.
No one will take care of them.
I have thought of it hundreds of times since her head shook with the words. I have thought of it when I changed Hunter's diaper and cooed and talked to him. I have thought of it when I carefully washed between all his tiny toes. I have thought of it when I smiled at him. I have thought of it when I stroked his incredibly soft fuzzy head. I have thought of it as I rocked him to sleep. I have thought of it when I put a hat on his head and carefully covered his ears before we go out.
I have thought of it and thought of it and thought of it.
What about all the little babies who go home with parents who won't...
Here I am, overjoyed to have my baby, loving every minute of being with him and taking care of him and speaking in the only language he understands - care. He understands my love because I take care of him. He hears "words" of love when I smile and talk to him. He feels loved when his needs are met.
But what about the babies who go home and don't ever hear love?
I'm not saying that mother in that room next to mine just a week before Christmas didn't love her baby. Maybe she did. I hope she does. It was just the overpowering unhappiness I sensed that makes my mind wander back to her so often.
It makes me want to do something. SOMETHING.
I have several friends who have adopted children. They love and adore these children and there is an inexplicable joy when they bring these pursued children home (from in-state or another nation). There they are loving these children of God because they specifically chose to - because no one else would. Because they were the ones ordained to take care of these little ones who had no one.
And while my heart aches and aches and aches for the hundreds of thousands and millions of babies all around the world who have no one to speak love to them, I simply do not feel that I am currently being called to bring one of them into my home. God has not revealed that to me or given me that desire.
So how do I fulfill that command to care for the orphans? How can I speak love to them when I am not their mama - when I will not be the one to bathe them or dress them or comb their hair? Is this a part of the Word I simply shrug off onto my friends who have gone literally/figuratively to the ends of the earth to get these children?
Instead, lately I am trying to live this command in a different way.
I have had the opportunity to give to some friends - to support them financially - as they "pursue" adoption. I love that we say people "pursue adoptions". That is an awesome way to phrase it. So much better than saying "they are trying to adopt". Pursuing has this wonderful tenacious tone to it. Giving to my friends who are pursuing adoption is a great way to live God's command.
I also pray for people I know who are adopting or who have adopted. I have watched these friends walk the adoption road and I have heard their hearts ache and soar with each little step in the process. It is not easy. Their labor and delivery seems to last months - sometimes years. Praying for them as specifically as possible is a great way to support them on their long journey. (And of course, sentence prayers work here too!)
Sponsoring children or giving financially to Christian groups who meet the needs of orphans is another great way to fulfill God's call. Very often, a small amount of money (in my eyes) makes a huge amount of difference in a child's life.
Lastly, I have been praying for all those children who leave the hospital in the arms of parents who don't really want them - who won't really care for them - who won't clean between each of their tiny little toes. I have been praying for the babies who are not held when they cry. I have been praying for the babies who sit in dirty diapers way too long. I have been praying for the babies who don't see smiling faces beaming down at them. I have been praying for the babies whose mamas are about to bring them into the world even though they are the last thing that mama wants right now.
We baptized Hunter a few weeks ago. My nurse friend, the one who knew Hunter's first moments, came through the line and hugged me close. Hugged me tightly and held me long. I knew what she was saying without words. She was hugging a mama who loved and cherished her baby. And I'm sure we were both thinking of the mamas whose babies were more a burden than a joy.
Pray with me, won't you?