As our adoption process crawls along, I find myself trying to envision my future children. We have not even started the process of matching children yet, but my thoughts continuously lean towards who my children will be and where they are coming from.
Often, as I walk our dog down the street, the children of our neighborhood are out riding bicycles and playing. Watching the ebony kids brings pictures of faces and features flashing into my mind of little, precious African children. Videos play in my head of my children playing, crying, smiling, laughing, running, wiggling and so on. I talk to my Father about them, for only He knows who they are. “What color of eyes will they have? How small will their feet be? Will they enjoy sports or playing music? Slender, chunky or middle ground? Will they give me as many gray hairs as I gave my parents? (Prayers for mercy follow this question.) What type of personality did You fashion in them? Will they look like me or Jennifer more? (ha ha) What has transpired in their lives up to this point?”
The faint, distant gazing of my mind’s eye and my whispers to God are all I have to embrace right now. Unfortunately, the reality of the chance of their history being brutal and traumatic are high. My children being born into this world in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2010 is an unsettling feeling. After all, the different reasons that they will be orphans, eligible for adoption, are not bouncy and cheerful.
I regularly wonder what happened to their biological parents. Being the poorest country on planet earth, hunger could very well have ended their lives. This is so commonplace in Africa, and especially the DRC, that hearing about it seldom even registers with us in the West. We often use the hyperbole “I am starving‘ when we haven’t eaten in 6-8 hours, but when was the last time you actually knew someone who was starving? The very functions and systems of their body deteriorating to the point of dying? The problem of hunger is not that there is not enough food in the world but the egocentric and myopic realities of fallen man. According to UN statistics, there has been enough food in the world to provide every human with a 2,000 calorie a day diet every single year. God has done His part, but we have not.
Murder is another frightening prospect of their parents death. With the DRC government and different rebel groups handing out death at the degree of Adolf Hitler, their parents’ lives being stripped from them is a possibility. Millions of Congolese have had their lives tragically taken this way. I cannot imagine the fear that permeates their society and the restlessness and insecurity one must live with in that country. Have my children experienced this first-hand? Were their parents stolen from them? Did they witness it?
But not all orphans in the DRC have lost their parents. Many are social orphans, kicked out of or left without family for a number of different reasons including incarceration, extreme poverty, physical abuse, abandonment and accusations of witchcraft. Yes, children are believed to be full-fledged witches there. Now, I have encountered real witchcraft more than once, but I have yet to see or hear of true evidence of children being witches. Even kids not able to speak have violent ‘exorcisms’ performed on them by what they call a ‘Holy Spirit inspired pastor doing the will of God’. There are cases of children being starved, beaten, burned and even killed by pastors or members of their own family in order to rid them of witchcraft. Not only do these deceived men torment adolescents, but they make good money doing it. They charge fees for their services. It is not unreasonable to charge $50 an exorcism in a country where the average annual income is $100. This flat-out angers me. The enemy tries to blaspheme and accuse the Holy Spirit of inspiring child abuse while using a man, probably himself steeped in the occult, to shame, confuse and traumatize innocent children resulting in abandonment or death. Just the thought of my children experiencing this pains my heart and brings tears to my eyes.
But I am not a man without hope. My hands are not tied and my tongue is not mute. I, in the here and now, can affect the lives of my future children. For I am a priest before my God and He does things because I ask Him to. Prayer is a gift that I am accepting and unwrapping. My petitions have gone up into the governmental center of the earth and the King has seen them. I have not had to wait in line, show my credentials, or plead the validity of my case. Now I sit in the waiting room to see the outcome of His consideration of my requests.
Here in the waiting room, children play on in my mind as I hold onto the truth of the goodness of His heart:
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.~Psalm 10:14