Baby No. 59 – Abandoned

It is hard to fathom what goes through the mind of a mother who has just carried a child in her belly for nine months, given birth to the child and then with the help of the father or on her own abandons the child in the toilet of a public restroom. This newborn baby with the placenta still attached was shoved down a traditional Chinese squatty potty and left to die. Thankfully, someone heard his cry and he was rescued. A section of the sewer pipe was cut out with this little boy stuck inside and delivered to the hospital. As I watched the video of this unfolding, there it was, a section of the pipe carefully removed exposing the face of this beautiful baby boy. Baby No. 59. The name he was given based on the incubator he now occupies in the hospital. Every face has a name. Sadly, some are simply a number, because those who should care the most have abandoned their role in giving a name with true meaning and purpose. Here is a link to the video to watch for yourself:

This incident was hard enough to watch on it’s own, but it also stirred up emotions I felt very strongly when we were in China picking up Hope. Here is something I wrote while we were in China last year:

“We also received all of our notarized official documentation on Thursday. One of the forms was the certificate of abandonment which really brought about a range of emotions for me. I was sad for her biological parents because they missed out on such a wonderful, bright little girl who is so full of life. Sad for Hope knowing that dealing with being abandoned by her biological parents is something she will deal with through out her life. In the midst of those sad feelings, happy for us that she gets to be a part of our family and we get to be her parents. With those feelings comes a sense of guilt of being happy that she is with us when the best thing would have been loving biological parents. Emotions we will all have to wrestle with over time.”

Like Hope, this little boy will someday be asking the question, why did my parents not want me? The sad reality is, these parents are giving up a future of happiness and joy of knowing their child in the moment of abandonment. You so often hear children who have been abandoned say, do they ever think about me? Do they even care what I have become? There is a sense of emptiness I feel even writing about this and knowing Hope will be asking us these questions someday.

With all the happiness and joy Hope has brought into our family, with a personality that lights up the room and an intellect that will allow her to accomplish great things someday, I will have to try and answer her question of why she was not wanted. In those moments, my heart will break for her and the parents who chose to leave her in front of a hospital at three months of age. No matter how much love we have given her, no matter how successful she might become, long after her heart has been physically repaired, she will carry a wound, an emotional hole in her heart that will always wonder, why was I not wanted? Why was I not good enough?

So What’s in a Name?

It was 2:30 am on the night I returned from China in 2009. I was wide awake from jet lag and Susan was hanging in there just to be able to hear about this little Chinese girl I had met. This conversation was a long time coming for her. She had felt God stirring in her heart almost eight years earlier to adopt a little girl from China. God had finally captured my heart for this idea of adoption. Of course it only took me eight years and a trip to China to do it, but I was finally coming around.

In the midst of our conversation about this little girl we only knew as Xiao Xia, I had this thought come into my mind. If we really do adopt this little girl, I want to name her Hope. I was still dragging my feet and unwilling to share this thought with Susan. If I offered a possible name, it seemed like I was crossing a threshold of commitment to adoption I had not previously been willing to make. Just about 2 or 3 minutes later, still not having shared the name, my concerns became irrelevant. Susan spoke up and said to me, if we adopt her, I want to name her Hope. You can imagine my surprise as I shared with Susan, I just had the same thought minutes before. It was in that moment I knew we were going to adopt this little girl who we would call Hope.

So in the middle of the night, we headed towards our computer to learn how you go about adopting from China. The Shaohanna’s Hope website (back then) was the first site we went too. As we sat there, we talked and cried together about what God was now stirring in both of our hearts. Susan repeated something she had read or heard Stephen Curtis Chapman say about knowing this was his daughter in China and he just needed to go and get her. Now I don’t know where this statement came from or even how accurate it was at the time, but God used those words from Stephen Curtis Chapman spoken through my wife to confirm the same feeling I had in my heart. Upon hearing these words, I wept uncontrollably. The jet lag helped, but I was up the rest of the night reading about adopting from China.

I thought God’s confirmation of a name and my willingness to finally say yes to adoption was a clear sign to move forward. God had honored Susan’s obedience and patience with a less than unwilling husband. I thought the hard part was over since we were now both on the same page. First thing Monday morning when I began to call adoption agencies, I was unpleasantly surprised when the first few agencies refused to work with us after I shared my story of meeting Hope and our desire to adopt her. What we learned was China did not allow pre-identified adoptions. Simply put, if you meet a child, your not allowed to adopt them. This would take a miracle is what we were told. Like finding a needle in a haystack.

So What’s in a Name? We would learn over the next three years before bringing her home, there was so much more meaning to the letters, H O P E, the name God had clearly given to us. HOPE: The Desire Of Fulfillment, Faith, Trust, Expectation, Belief. There were many lonely days on our journey where we had to hope against hope. On many occasions it felt like Susan and I were the only one’s who believed in the miracle of bringing Hope home to our family. Hebrews 11:1 says it best, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” In the end, our hope endured and allowed us to experience a God who still performs miracles in the 21st Century.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Every journey begins with the first step. I must admit I am somewhat jealous of those bloggers who have years of blog posts archived to their name. But just like me, they all started with their first blog post, they all started somewhere. I thought it would be symbolic for me to start my blogging journey on the day I began my journey here on earth forty-four years ago today.

I have always enjoyed writing. OK, now that I wrote that, I realized it might be an overstatement. Their have been seasons of my life where I have enjoyed writing. I wrote a monthly newsletter when I served for the Charlotte Eagles of Missionary Athletes International. I enjoyed sharing the amazing stories God did through my time serving in sports ministry. I enjoyed the writing I did while I was in seminary. I have plastic bins full of papers to prove my writing from seminary, and since they are all done and graded, I am going with the fact I enjoyed writing them. One of the goals I set for myself in 2013 was to start writing a blog. It has taken me five months and six days to get to this goal, but you have to start somewhere.

One of the reasons I have felt the urge to begin writing again is what God has been stirring in my heart over the past four years. In April of 2009, God rocked my world when I met a little girl in China named Zhang Xiao Xia. This little girl who I now call my daughter Hope has thoroughly changed my understanding of God’s love and the Gospel which I have always had a great passion towards sharing. The name of my blog is “Faces With Names” and expresses the longing I have to connect the reality of the faces of orphans we see in brochures, in videos and on television are real kids with real names. Psalm 147:4 says, God determines the number of the stars and calls each of them by name. If God knows the number of stars and knows their names, how much more does He know the names of every orphaned and vulnerable child who He created and designed in His image.

I completely understand the disconnect of not caring for orphans and their plight in the world. There was a time where they were a nameless face to me as well. But not anymore. Now, each day I stare into the face of a once abandoned child who we call Hope and realize God knows the names of every face, of every child. So I begin my journey of blogging to express the desire I have to bridge the gap of indifference to the estimated 153 million orphans around the world. Every face has a name! Are you willing to take the risk to ask God how you can know the name of at least one?