Dec 08, 2014
Today guest blogger, Dirk Bakhuyzen, shares his story to challenge the church in caring for "the least of these"—children wih special placement needs. Dirk is a These 400 orphan care advocate and adoptive father.
When my wife, Phyllis, and I adopted our first child, our reason for adopting wasn’t all that noble: we had three biological sons and wanted a daughter. Or as Phyllis told me at the time, “Three strikes and you’re out, Dirk. Let’s adopt.” So in 1986 we welcomed Leah into our home from her native South Korea, and we couldn’t have been happier then, nor could we be happier about that decision now.
Because we adopted Leah through Bethany Christian Services, we began receiving their LifeLines magazine. That’s when we first saw Will, a young boy from Hong Kong with special placement needs. Our youngest son pointed to Will’s picture in the magazine and jokingly said, “Dad, we should adopt him.” And then for the next several issues he again pointed to Will’s picture and urged us to adopt him. One day I asked Phyllis, “What do you think? Can we parent one more child?”
At the time, Phyllis was in her late 40s and I was in my early 50s. Our immediate reaction was, “We’re too old.” The fact that Will had Down syndrome wasn’t an issue for us; our only concern was our age. So I called Bethany Christian Services and asked them outright, “Are we too old to adopt a child with special needs?”
The answer surprised me, but it made sense. The representative from Bethany told us we were just the type of family they were looking for because our experience as parents made us ideal candidates to adopt. Still, we weren’t convinced it would be a good idea. So Phyllis and I agreed to not talk about it with each other for six weeks while we each prayed and thought about it before making our decision.
On the second day of our six-week period of seeking God’s direction, I came upon James 1:27, where we are told to look after orphans in their distress. I had never really noticed that verse in all my years of reading the Bible, and it seemed to just jump out at me. I was immediately convinced that we should adopt Will and shared with Phyllis—who agreed we would pursue adopting Will despite our initial feelings of uncertainty. Eight months later Will became a part of our family, and he has been a wonderful addition.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27 NIV).
So many kids like Will need families, and the church is in the best position to help find families for our These 400 kids. I especially challenge “experienced” families like ours—people who think they’re too old to adopt. Seasoned parents know what to expect and can handle the stress of caring for children with different needs.
Children born with a cleft palate, older teens, or children with medical conditions that are not treatable in their birth country can be considered “hard to place.” But cleft palates can be repaired and many medical conditions can be maintained, if not corrected, through medical care available in the United States. Older children may have more emotional needs than an infant or toddler, but who better to provide the nurture and love they need than families who love God and receive His grace? And like Will, many of the children seeking families through These 400 have more serious disabilities, but don’t let that get in your way. God may have chosen you and your family like He did mine. Will has blessed me with an honest perception to life and his love—a simple love that comes with no conditions or judgment.
Could God be calling you to be a blessing to a child like Will? Could He have chosen you as a child’s hope and future? You can learn more by visiting www.bethany.org/these400.
If you decide to adopt one of These 400, one thing is for certain—God will be with you. He will be your help when challenges come your way. God will show you how much He cares for your child, too—He will order and provide. He promises this in His Word. He has done it for Phyllis and me—and He’ll do it for you.
Listen to Bethany Christian Services’ Every Child podcast for more on issues relative to vulnerable children. From adoption and foster care to the introduction of sustainable social services in developing countries, Every Child features an informative discussion, led by Bethany’s President/CEO Bill Blacquiere, with leading voices from ministries and nonprofit organizations, as well as Christian authors and artists.
Read more from president and CEO, Bill Blacquiere’s Every Child blog on Christian Post.