He matters





                                                  {picture not my own}

 Before I met my son, I loved him.  Before I held him, I felt passionately protective of him...but then, one afternoon my love for him changed.   I suddenly knew him all fleshed out in front of me.   I knew the sound of his giggles, the smell of his hair, and the curve of his toes.  He was real. He was mine.

Late one afternoon in Guiyang, at the height of the sidewalk rush hour, we ventured out to find somewhere to eat.  The sidewalk was a carpet of motion, people bustling every direction, heads turning to take in the strange sight that is two white people pushing a Chinese child in a stroller.  I could see my little boy wilting under scrutinizing scowls,  he knew they were looking at him.  It made me want to scoop him up and run away to a place where he was just a kid.

As we walked, I saw something that caused me an actual physical reaction.  On the sidewalk ahead of us was a boy, he was small, but he was probably a teenager.  He sat with his skinny legs bent at unnatural angles out on front of him.  His face was down, eyes fixed on the pavement, and a little rag was laid out in front of him to collect Yuan.  

I have seen people begging in poor countries before, but this time, as I pushed my son with his skinny legs bent at unnatural angles out in front of him, it was different.

I felt my stomach rise to my throat, my heart rate increased, and my hands began to sweat.  It was all I could do not to stop dead in my tracks and sit down on the sidewalk next to this boy.  I wished I spoke his language and could tell him that he is so much more than his suffering, that he has value, that he is not a dog on the street to be kicked and mocked.  He is not in-valid.  I wanted to scoop him up and take him away to a place where he could just be a kid.  A kid who didn't have to hide his face and stare at the sidewalk.  I hid my gaze as we were pushed along by the crowd, our guide continued to tell us stories about this city.  I pretended to listen.


My ears were ringing with the thought,  that beggar could be my child.

In 8 years Elijah would have "aged out" of the system.  He would trade the orphanage crib bars for...
I hate to even guess.

Maybe begging on the street, exploited by someone who would use him as part of a trafficking ring, taking for themselves any pity money he happened to bring in.

The boy sat there, and no one even broke stride.

Two different boys, dealt similar hands in life, but with two very different futures.
Two realities painfully colliding inside my head and heart.

It felt something more than pity, it was personal.  Grief.  Deep grief for the ones who will never know what it is to be treasured.  An ache for the countless others tossed aside like trash, the imperfect ones.

This is one of few options that await our worlds most vulnerable...children who are abandoned because of their special needs.  The ones who are "lucky" enough not to spend what remains of their lives in an adult institution, will end up on the street.

This could have been my son.

It's easy to judge a society that, for a variety of reasons, feels that it is better for children with special needs to be raised in state care, but if we take a closer look at our own society, and even more so our own prejudice filled sin corrupted hearts, it's a little harder to point fingers.

  I don't know how many times the notion has been suggested to us, from a variety of sources, that somehow our child coming to Canada with medical needs is a "burden on the system" and somehow unfair to Canadian born children...like he might steal their piece of the compassion pie.  So you see, we too have a "survival of the fittest" warped human nature, deep within our hearts.  We value strength, talent, beauty, and productivity...but yet we miss seeing beauty and strength in the most unlikely places. We completely miss seeing the beauty in weakness, vulnerability, and dependancy, our own or others.

We build up our walls, and preserve our own kind.

The life-poured-out, strong became weak for the sake of those who could not help themselves, gospel of Jesus Christ turns this world system upside down.  I'm so thankful that God in his great overflow of mercy brought me to his table, despite the fact that I was not entitled to a single good thing he had to offer.

When we first brought Elijah home it took a couple weeks to venture out with him into our small community, where everyone knows everyone else.  I didn't want to be the object of anyone's attention...negative or positive.

 I cringe at "You're amazing. He's so lucky.  That's so good of you to take him in"... it's so very uncomfortable and inaccurate.  I'm not amazing..seriously.  Luck had nothing to do with him coming home, and only God is good.

I also had to gather enough fortitude to weather the ignorantly negative comments and remarks I knew we would receive.

I just want people to see us as regular parents, and Elijah as just one of our kids.

More than anything I want people to know my son for who he is, and see him as just a little boy.

 He is Elijah....not "that boy from China"  not " the boy with Cerebral Palsy".
He's a Burlando kid.  He's my son.
 He's a boy that had a rough start, has been through more than I may ever know, who happens to be affected by cerebral palsy (which also makes him the strongest most resilient person I know), and has an amazing God glorifying future ahead of him.  God wasn't asleep the day he was born, his purpose remains. He doesn't need pity, any more than we need admiration.

My boys life and future has changed dramatically through adoption, it's true.  I am overwhelmed to the point of tears when I think about it, I am so extremely thankful...so thankful that God worked past my own fears, and self preservation, and see fit to choose us as his parents.   Now that he's here in my arms, I can't hardly even bear to think about him being alone, or scared, or hurt, or hungry.  We are so blessed by him.

He matters.

So does the boy sitting on the sidewalk that, despite walking that same sidewalk several more times, I never saw again.

Adoption matters because kids matter.





Soli Deo Gloria,

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What your Church needs from you. A letter to the big, messy, adoptive family.

About Elijah