Posts Tagged 'orphan'

– They Just Fell Through The Cracks

Use by permission of Kerry Hasenbalg

The date was April 18, 1993 and the place was Taroko Gorge, Taiwan. Taroko Gorge is a gaping rift in the eastern mountains, with sheer marble cliffs, jagged rock and deep gorges rising up from a river bed far below. A group of college student visiting Taiwan on a study abroad program were hiking the breathtaking gorges. One the the students in that program was me. And I can vividly recall being in awe of God’s creative landscape. But my time of awe was abruptly quenched when a group of students came looking for us to tell us that we had to return to the ship immediately because two of the boys in our program had gone off hiking and had fallen into the gorge. And one of them had been found, but one of them was still missing, and we were stunned because he was one of us.

Our university ship eventually left port without him and we continued to receive word that he had still not been found. We were told that this young man was the son of someone apparently very important. His family had great wealth and they were not sparing one dime to search for him and, hopefully, rescue him – helicopters, round-the-clock search parties for a very, very long time. And life seemed to stop on the ship as we just waited for news. Conversations were totally consumed with talk of this lost boy. Many tears had been shed and we all wanted to do something, but we could do nothing but wait and pray. You see, he was one of us and it could have been any one of us that day.

We were keenly aware that this lost boy was somebody’s son, alright – the son of Gordon Crawford. His name was Brett Russell Crawford. According to the LA Weekly, Gordon Crawford, and I quote, “is the guy who once upon a time placed a big bet on what were the blue chip entertainment stocks and made gazillions for a lot of people, including himself. As those show biz firms morphed into big media, Crawford assumed even more power when his investment position became huger by default. None of that is to say that Gordy isn’t a great guy. People love him. Besides, it’s hard to say a harsh word about someone who in 1993 suffered such a huge personal tragedy as the death of his 21 year old son, Brett, during a hiking accident in Taiwan while enrolled in the semester at sea program. Crawford has told his friends, “I would give up all the money I’ve ever made to spend one hour with him.””

Brett’s name, his face, and his story we’ll always remember, because he was one of us. And, yet, for so many sons and daughters who have fallen through the cracks of the earth – lost and in distress and barely hanging on and in desperate need of rescue – no one searches, no one comes, no money is sent, no one prays, no one mourns, and no one even remembers them, and they are as real as Brett. Even though we’ve seen them – their pained faces; their hurting bodies. We’ve heard stories about the scars to their fragile souls – on the streets; on TV. We’ve witnessed them in our own neighborhoods – we’ve even been in their homes; in the places that they live. And sometimes we remember their plight – we think about it, briefly, and yet we just seem to forget. Why? Because they’re not our own children, they’re not the children of somebody we know, and they’re not the children of someone we deem important. If they were a celebrity’s child, you better believe we’d be all about it – reading about it – wanting to know what happened.  You see, they’re nobody’s children, really.  They are the fatherless.  They’re just orphans.

Spend time talking to child welfare professionals about children who are repeatedly abused and neglected in state run foster systems… orphanages… the ones who died on the streets… and you’ll hear them say, “They just fell through the cracks.” A wise woman, for whom I used to work on Capitol Hill, when she was speaking to a group of these professionals she said, “These children don’t fall through cracks, they fall through fingers.” That day she was talking in the context of government workers, but God did not entrust them to governments. God Almighty, the One who calls Himself the Father of the fatherless, entrusted them to us. These fingers through which they’ve fallen are our own.

Exerpt from a speech made at the 2007 “Adoption & Orphan Care Summit III.”  Follow this link to hear this compelling speech in it’s entirety.

– An Interview with George Bailey of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

This article is written to provide some encouragement for families who have adopted orphans and found their lives changing in unexpected ways. Sometimes our plans get changed as we live life! Our idyllic family dreams are impacted by an adopted child with unexpected needs, developmental delays, and bonding issues. I thought of George Bailey from the classic 40’s movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” and what he might have to say to adoptive families. This is a fanciful “interview with George Bailey”!…

INTERVIEWER: I caught up with George a couple weeks ago at his office on the main street in scenic Bedford Falls. When I arrived, he greeted me warmly and waved me into his office with his long hand wagging at the end of his wrist and an invitation to take a seat. We jumped right into our interview….

INTERVIEWER: How long have you been at the Bailey Building and Loan now?

GEORGE: “Way longer than I had planned!”

(He leaned back in his wooden swivel-chair and put his feet up on the desk and smiled with raised eyebrows.)

INTERVIEWER: How did that happen?

GEORGE: “That’s a long story.”

INTERVIEWER: I remember you speak in the movie a couple times about your dreams to travel the world and build things.

(George jumped to his feet, stretched out his neck and enthusiastically recited the lines with his arms beating the air.)

GEORGE: “I’m going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. I know what I’m going to do tomorrow and next week and next year. I’m going to build things. I’m gonna build air fields… skyscrapers… bridges a mile long…Oh, yaw, …and lasso the moon for Mary, too!”

(We laughed together as he sat back in his chair.)

INTERVIEWER: So, how did you come to change your dreams?

GEORGE: “Well, that’s just the thing. I didn’t set down and make up my mind that I didn’t want to do those things. I really believed I’d be happy and fulfilled if I could travel and build things.”

INTERVIEWER: So how is it that after all these years you are still at the Building and Loan?

GEORGE: “Oh, gosh, I guess a lot of little choices along the way.”

(His gaze drifted away and he seemed to focus outside the window on a point far away.)

INTERVIEWER: There certainly were a number of times in the movie where you had a choice. You didn’t have to take over the Building and Loan when your father passed away – that delayed your plans for school. And your brother had agreed to take your place at the Building and Loan when he graduated – you let him take the other job with his father-in-law’s company as a researcher. And then, when there was a panic among the account holders at the Building and Loan, you took your own honeymoon money and paid it out to the people to keep the Building and Loan open. George, why did you do these things? What caused you to forsake your own dreams?

GEORGE: “Well, I never did give up my dream, but other things that came up were more important than what I wanted!”

INTERVIEWER: What was more important than your dreams?

(I leaned forward to hear his explanation. As he spoke, he began getting worked up about the situation he was retelling.)

GEORGE: “Well, for one thing, old Mr. Potter had a lot of this town under his thumb and he was taking advantage of honest, hardworking people. If he had his way, he’d own everything in town and everyone would serve him.  (George was on his feet by now.) As for my brother, I just couldn’t deny my own kin the opportunity that opened up for him.”

INTERVIEWER: You seem pretty passionate about justice for the oppressed and doing the right thing!

GEORGE: “Well, I didn’t set out on no mission.  (He leaned across the desk in a seeming effort to make his point.) These things just came up and one thing lead to another and here I am, still running the Building and Loan.”

(George straightened up and his scowl was replaced by whimsical look that came across his face.)

INTERVIEWER: It seems that every time you were faced with a choice in the movie, something caused you to deny your own dream to help someone else. So, how did it turn out for you?

GEORGE: (He turned and put his chin in his hand, thinking for a moment…) “Well…okay! (He lifted his head and his eyebrows were up again.) After I met Clarence and he showed me what could have happened, why, I saw things differently. It seems to me that all the little choices I had made all added up to a wonderful life after all!”

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else that you’d like to say to the families?

GEORGE: “Well, you know I’m no preacher. All I can say is that I’m a pretty happy man the way things turned out. I may never get to do much traveling or build any bridges like I had planned. But I’m building something here in Bedford Falls that has turned out to be very dear to me: a family and a community of people I care about.”

INTERVIEWER: Thanks for your thoughts, George! I’ll see you again next year around Christmas time!

David Avilla – May 25, 2008

– How’s Your Investment Portfolio Doing?

The concept of having resources set aside for future use is common. Friends discuss investment tips at parties. Some people form clubs where they pool their money together. Getting the best return on your investment is an acceptable topic of conversation, even among strangers.

But what if wise management and good stewardship of resources didn’t end up just with the instruments of commerce, like money and stocks and certificates of deposit? Bruce Wilkinson, in his best-selling book “A Life God Rewards” offers a perspective of investing for the future that also includes spending our energies and efforts in endeavors that have eternal value based on God’s standards.

Groups of passionate volunteers and team members have made just that kind of eternal investment in the lives of Russian and Ukrainian orphans that have visited the U.S. through Advocate for Orphans Internation (formerly known as Adoption Adventure). The return on their investment won’t be measured in dollars, but will be in the eternal effects on the lives of children and the families who adopt them.

If you were to visit on a typical day our day camps where the children meet each weekday for two weeks, you would see the same kinds of activities going on as in most Sunday school classes or summer YMCA programs – crafts, music, games, free play and field trips. But the difference is this – the objective of the entire Advocate for Orphans team of leaders and volunteer staff is to extend God’s care toward these children by creating an opportunity for each one to meet their forever family.

The stakes in this game are incredibly high. Every year thousands of Russian and Ukrainian orphans reach the age of 16, aging out of the orphanage system, and are released into the streets. The statistics show a staggering saga of misery for these kids – at the end of the first year, half of them are either incarcerated, in prostitution, or deceased. The effort to create an alternative opportunity for these orphans by matching them with families impacts their entire reality by changing their living environment, improving their health and vitality, and receiving the love and guidance from parents that will affect the course of their entire lives! Truly there are eternal matters at stake here! There is a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and beauty to be rescued!

The battle to fight is against the ravages of being unloved and lonely in this world. The Bible says that “God sets the lonely in families” and that “God is a father to the fatherless.” There is a battle going on in the cosmic level to disconnect children from the love and nurture of a family and sever them from the blessings God wants for them. The adventure to live comes from our volunteering to join the battle and then observing with our own eyes how God overcomes circumstances and hurdles to accomplish His objective to reach these children with His effective care through us! And the beauty to rescue is the innocence of childhood that rests in each of the children who participates in one of our programs.

When people volunteer freely to participate in this cosmic battle the forms take on unassuming and small proportions. At our day camps you will witness mothers bringing snacks, high-schoolers guiding the play times, and helpers cleaning up the crumbs on the tables and floor at the end of each day. There will be a photographer giving his or her time to provide flattering photos of the children. There will be families driving the children to and from the day camp and providing meals and clothing for them. There will be translators who will form a vital communication link between the families and the children who are being considered for adoption. All of these people will be contributing in simple ways, but they will have a profound effect when combined together with the other members of the Advocate for Orphans team.

The effect of our programs is that on average well over 80% of our visiting children have families step forward to begin the process of adopting them. Since 2002 we have participated in matching 184 children with families. And, of those 184 children… well, 151 are already home!

So, how’s your investment portfolio doing?

David Avilla – May 25, 2008

~Older Orphans

Until now, only about 20% of Ukrainian orphans over the age of 7 are adopted.  After the age of 10 that number drops even further.

Why is this age “too old” for an orphan, but considered still young for our own sons and daughters and nieces and nephews?  This is a question that must be asked.

Are they really “too old” or is that an excuse to cover for our unfounded fear?  And, if it is an unfounded fear, what must we do to rectify it?