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"Any Given Saturday" - Dec. 22, 2011

There is one thing that I wish every person in the world could witness just once in their lifetime… something that would change their lives and make them rethink the way that we all assess value based on a person's outward appearance or abilities, and how God accepts us. That one thing that I wish everyone could witness is the coming and going of children at the Shamian Island Medical Clinic on any given Saturday. Sarah and I have experienced this phenomenon twice now, and each time it has left us speechless.

What's so special about Saturday? Saturday is the day of the week when all the newly adopted Chinese children come to the clinic to get their medical check-ups before finalizing the immigration requirements for the U.S. government. It used to be that you would mainly see a steady flow of "healthy" baby girls at the clinic, but that was back when China had an excess of infant girls due to their one-child laws. Now days, things have gotten better and there aren't as many healthy baby girls needing families; in fact, couples currently trying to adopt these "perfect" baby girls must wait in line for six or more years. So who is it that fills the halls of the Shamian Island Medical Clinic these days? Now it's mostly children with special needs… children who were abandoned because society labeled them as imperfect, or because their parents wanted to keep them but couldn't afford the necessary treatments/surgeries to save their lives.

Twice now we've had the opportunity to sit in the clinic as we waited for our appointment, all the while watching the other children coming and going with their new families. The emotion that this experience stirs up is almost indescribable. For one, there's the look on the faces of the children being adopted… faces filled with joy, excitement, pride and sometimes cautious hope due to the uncertainty of what's to come. But even more moving than the faces of the children is the nature of their medical conditions; some are minor or "correctable" conditions like cleft lip/cleft pallet, but others are more significant things like limb deformities, heart defects, deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, facial scaring/deformities, and more. These are the children whose faces have moved us to tears… not tears of sorrow but tears of happiness. Seeing the love and acceptance that these children feel is beyond words, and seeing the pride and joy on the faces of their new parents who have adopted them, despite their differences or challenges is equally inspiring.

Perhaps the reason that it's so incredible to see children being adopted, regardless of their imperfections, is because that's what God does with us. He doesn't care that we're scared, broken, rejected or imperfect; he loves us regardless of those things, and as the Bible say, He "adopts us as His sons and daughters". The great thing about adoption, and the reason we feel so called to grow our family through it, is because it is permanent; the very second we have seen the file with the name or face of each of our children, we have instantly known that they are ours forever and that nothing can ever change that. This feeling of permanence doesn't change just because of any "imperfections" our children may have, and it doesn't weaken the longer it takes for them to come home. In the same way, God never changes his mind about us; he accepts us 100% through all of our imperfections, mistakes and past history… but even more, he still accepts us regardless of how long it takes us to "come home".


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