Today is Orphan Sunday, a fact I was alerted to when I read a touching post by Pastor John Piper's wife, Noel, at the Desiring God blog. In it, Ms. Piper recounts her own adoption journey, deciding with Pastor John when their kids were in their teens that they wanted to adopt trans-racially.
I was particularly moved by a significant moment in Mrs. Piper's intersection with the issue of adoption. She visits an orphanage in Asia and is overcome with sadness as she gets to know little girls who have been abandoned in every sense. Home from that trip, and with these precious little girls on her mind, she gets a call from an agency about adopting an African-American baby.
Their story ends well. But I scarcely need to tell you that there are far more orphans than families willing enough to adopt them to actually go through the arduous administrative, emotional, and financial process. The Orphan Sunday website quotes an estimate of 143 million orphans in the world today. This is a staggering number, the need amplified when you consider the common causes of being orphaned - war, famine, AIDS - and the common reasons parents decide to abandon the babies they've brought into the world - a preference for sons, or an inability to care for someone with physical disabilities.
Amy and I did not adopt out of some enhanced urge to "save children." We cannot have kids biologically, but wanted to have kids, and we got lots of help along the way in the process of adopting both Aaron and Jada. So when I think of how we became parents, the dominant theme isn't of us sacrificing, it is of us being richly blessed.
But one lasting mark of being a parent of adopted kids is that I am more sensitized to the kinds of things you might read on the Orphan Sunday website or that Mrs. Piper shared in her recounting of their adoption process. 143 million, to me, becomes an even more overwhelming number, because for me it is not just a big, impersonal figure; rather, it represents little Aarons and Jadas, whose lives are precious, and yet many of whose development trajectories will fall far short of the joy and purpose that could have been actualized.
What drives Orphan Sunday, and what drives Pastor and Mrs. Piper, is a God who has special concern for the orphaned among us, and who cares about what sort of concern we will have for them. And so I invite you to join with me in praying today for those orphaned in this world, and for a worldwide Christian community to be mobilized in response to both the need and the call.