Each table was diverse in age and race, the room ranging from newborn to 50-something. We all had one thing in common: adoption. This room was full of parents who made significant financial and emotional sacrifices, biological children who made room for more, and children who were once orphans or at-risk.
Ten years ago, there were perhaps a dozen adoptive families at our church. Today, we have at least three times that. Just since January, we have had three families return with new children from around the globe, and two others who will be expanding their families before the year is out.
I'm always overwhelmed with gratitude to see these gatherings getting larger and larger, knowing the stories behind each family unit, and to be one of them.
I sat there, knowing the dismal future (if any) these kids have been redeemed from, and make mental comparisons to their new reality. They aren't just saved, they are loved. I watch the spontaneous hugs and kisses these former orphans lavish on their new parents and the affection returned. I see the little ones sitting on laps, arms around their mothers' necks. I giggle to watch the gentle interaction between older, biological children and their younger adopted siblings. My heart swells with their sense of security and worth.
These kids have come from China, Ethiopia, Russia, Korea, Haiti, Guatemala, and within the US. Many came as sibling groups, instantly doubling the size of their new families. Some came with the additional challenges of limb deformities, deafness, cleft palates, or serious illness. Some came "healthy" and had serious conditions discovered later, conditions they probably would not have survived had they not been adopted, yet are manageable in the US. They've been harshly abandoned on trash heaps, lovingly turned over to orphanages to save their lives, or sacrificially given in adoption to give them a better future.
All of them needed a family.