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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Will Not Leave You As Orphans

Tonight we packed Dan up and tomorrow we’ll send him off to Uganda.

It’s funny to think what a commonplace thing it’s become for our family to send someone to Africa. Some people may think it’s weird or extreme but for us and for the other SixtyFeet families, hopping on a plane to Uganda is just everyday stuff.

And yet, this particular trip is very special for our family. This is the first time Dan will be back in Uganda since we completed our adoptions last winter. This will be his first time in the country not just as an orphan ministry leader but as an adoptive father visiting the birthplace of his children. And that’s pretty cool.

It occurred to us this week that Hannah and Joseph may want to send something over to Uganda with Dan. We asked them this week… “guys, would you like Daddy to take anything over to Uganda for your friends? He could take a gift to Mama Catherine or Pastor Ernest or your friends.”

Hannah and Joseph were DELIGHTED with this prospect and immediately set about identifying their most prized possessions for Dan to carry to Africa. Their little hearts were in the right place but unfortunately, most of these possessions were far too big for Dan’s suitcase. And so the negotiations began.

In the end, we settled on several small but meaningful items. Hannah is sending a stuffed kitty for a very special friend who lives with Mama Catherine. My daughter literally sleeps hugging this thing every night. And she BEGGED us to pack it and give it away to her friend. Joseph is sending some of his favorite books for his old pals. Both children scoured their closets and dressers and selected some beloved clothing items that they want their friends to have. And there are many lovingly hand-made pictures for Pastor Ernest and their other dear friends in Uganda.

After all of this sacrificial giving and excitement over their old friends you might ask me… do Hannah and Joseph miss Uganda? Do they miss their friends, their culture, their native language, their former way of life?

And I would say definitely. Yes. I know they miss it.

But with all my heart, I believe that having a real, forever family is worth the loss of those things. That's just my opinion -- and feel free to disagree with me. But that's my heart.

Time and again people have approached Dan and me with concerns about removing a child from their God-given culture and bringing them to live in America, as Americans.

But try as I might (and I have tried)… I cannot find anything in God’s Word about leaving a child as an orphan in order to protect their national pride or preserve their cultural heritage. I do not believe that view is biblical.

Regarding orphans, God’s word just says this: LOVE THEM.

For Dan and me, adoption was never about offering Hannah and Joseph a “better life.” For us, it was never about being able to give them more stuff, a better education, summer vacations at the beach and the like. It was never about turning them into Americans, because Americans “know better.”

But it was all about giving them a family. And this family happens to live in America.

Sure, we could have sent money across the ocean and provided for Hannah and Joseph’s physical needs. From a distance, we could have ensured that they had water, food, clothing and school fees for each month. And yet we knew the Lord was calling us to step up and to surrender more than just our wallets.

Sometimes I watch out the window when my boys play baseball together in the backyard. Sometimes I listen quietly in the hallway while my girls giggle at night and read their dolls a bedtime story. Sometimes I’ll peek around the corner just in time to see Joseph break his piece of candy in half and share it with Baby Charlotte. And then I know we’ve got something that money can’t buy.

It’s not all roses and rainbows around here. It’s not ever easy and sometimes it’s not fun. But we’re a real family. Hannah and Joseph have a Mommy to love them, a Daddy to protect them and brothers and sisters to share their lives with. And at the end of the day, I think that’s about the best any of us have to offer.

“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6, emphasis mine


Anonymous said...

Team Owens, you are truly precious!!! Gaye :-)

Tisha said...

Amen!!! Beautifully written...

Lara said...


love said...

cheering through my tears. YES.
love you.

We Are Family said...

Beautiful....That is what it is about for us too....FAMILY!

Taryn said...

Love this post...definitely agree :)

Meredith said...

Amen! So so SO well said!

Morgan said...

Absolutely beautiful.

Rebekah said...

So beautiful and so well said! We are praying for Dan and for your family while he is away! Love you!

Sarah said...

Love this. I know in my heart I am meant to work/advocate for the adoption of orphans. I am still feeling out what that looks like, but I am so glad (and refreshed?) to read this.

jkseevers said...

LOVE this! my heart is filled with wonder, and excitement at the thought of being used by Jesus to fulfill this part of the Great Commission...

thanks for writing it so eloquently!


Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Someone just left me a comment about how Family Life Today spoke about kids leaving their own culture - I'm gonna look for it now and come back. Be right back ;)

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Okay, it was Russell Moore, and it was awesome.



Sophie said...

Beautiful post Shelly, I love this.
And I love the childrens pictures.

the_blissful_mommy said...

Perfect, sister. Preach it. Love you. *tears here, too*

Christy said...

Love this post, Shelly, and love you! :)

anything but LoKEY said...

So well put! Thank u :)