I could not honestly tell you how I met Sarah. I only recall that many of my memories from high school have her in them. She was a part of my group of friends. And as often happens after high school, we lost touch. That is why, a decade later, when I read that she was living in India taking care of foster children, I was curious. And after reading her blog post entitled: “To Those Who Want To Adopt ‘Someday'”, and having it completely change my view on adoption, I began following her story.
Sarah told me that when she boarded a plane to move to India and volunteer as a foster mom in an orphanage for one year, she had two big fears. “The first, and probably my biggest fear, was looking ahead to either a commitment to spend the rest of my life in India, or at some point leaving the children I knew I would love as my own.” I realized that her two fears were opposite possibilities—one of those fears would have to come true at the end of her year.
As she approached her one-year anniversary, she reluctantly shared on her blog:
“I’ve known for a little over a month that I would eventually need to write this post. I’ve had a hard time accepting what it would mean to write this…At the end of July, I will pack up my two suitcases, give each of my boys big hugs, tell them “good-bye” and that I love them for the last time, and board an airplane to move back to the U.S.”
There was only one thing in that post that she had incorrect. She would not be giving hugs and good-byes to each boy one last time. For one little boy this would be a “See you later.”
During her year of serving as a foster mom to twelve boys with various disabilities, Sarah shared that one of the greatest joys she witnessed was also one of the biggest heartaches of her year. “One of my greatest privileges was witnessing 4 of my boys join their forever families. For as much joy as it brought my heart, it brought just as much heartache for the children left behind. As a foster mom in a family-style children’s home, I loved on my kids as best I could, but I was constantly reminded of the ways that I fell short simply because I was temporary.”
What she did not know at the time was that God was taking that temporary service, and etching a piece of it into her soul for eternity.
Although each of her boys claimed a piece of her heart, one of them took an extra generous part of it. “Joel has been through way more hurt in his 8 years of life than anyone should have to go through in their lifetime.” Sarah explained, “I felt particularly burdened to pray for a family for Joel – I knew that he needed the healing God provides through families and I knew that he would thrive in a family.”
By this point you are probably guessing where the story is heading, and that the family Sarah was praying for was herself.
“God carved out a special place for Joel in my heart. He and I formed a special bond as we worked through some of the repercussions of his past. He showed me more than anyone how I fell short as a foster parent. I so badly wanted him to be loved by someone who could honestly tell him that they would always be there for him, that they would love him unconditionally, and that they would never leave him. When I was praying through whether to move back to the US or extend my time in India, Joel was at the forefront of my mind. I couldn’t leave without knowing that he didn’t have a family coming for him. Finding myself as never being enough as a foster parent for my kids, I had a deep desire to be permanent. I saw the overwhelming, inexhaustible need for adoptive families and knew that I couldn’t use my singleness as an excuse.”
At first glance from the outside, it might seem a strange idea: a single woman from the United States adopting a nearly nine-year-old boy from India. When I asked Sarah about the doubts and struggles she has faced, she responded with this:
“I like to think of the parable of the starfish – the one that describes a man walking along a beach covered in starfish. As he picks up the starfish one at a time and throws them back in the ocean, a bystander calls out to tell him that there are too many and he’ll never make a difference. The man just smiles, picks up another starfish, and says, “It makes a difference to this one” and throws it back in. While it can be crushing to think about the estimated 130 million orphans worldwide, I also think about the one. While I can’t put 130 million children into families, I can provide a family for Joel”
Sarah has worked tirelessly since returning to the United States to bring her son home. With piles of paperwork and her home study complete, she is praying that she will be matched for adopting Joel before his birthday on February 25th. And further, that God would work miracles (which He does) to reunite her with her son as a family by early fall of this year. She shared that, “So far God has abundantly provided for all of our needs through the generosity of others, but I will need to raise an additional $5,000 by the time that I match with Joel in order to keep moving forward.”
You can help write Sarah and Joel’s story by praying for God’s hand in the process to bring him home soon, and by clicking here to giving financially toward Joel’s adoption
Sarah and Joel’s story has challenged me in many ways, mostly in the excuses I am prone to make in serving the Lord. Single and young, Sarah has obediently taken the steps forward to follow Christ’s call to care for the orphans, even to devote her life to giving one child a family. Because one is worth it. I wanted to ask Sarah, selfishly perhaps in seeking answers in my own heart, how others can step into the world of orphan care. Here is what she shared.
When I asked Sarah what she would say to a family who is considering adoption, she replied with a quote from Francis Chan:
“We need to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence. So many won’t do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait? For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? Wouldn’t that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27)?”
-Francis Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
Sarah added: “If you have it on your heart to adopt, take a step toward it. God will close the door if it isn’t the right time. But err on the side of action – the need is too great and the call is to clear not to. Yes, adoption is hard. It is not a light decision. But I am more than confident that God will supply your every need… I would highly recommend The Connected Child by Dr. Karen Purvis, in particular, for anyone who is pursuing adoption or foster care.”
For those not in a position to adopt at this time, but their heart is heavy with the desire to help orphans, Sarah gave these ideas for how to do so:
- You can donate your talents to help fundraise for a family who is in the process of adopting
- You can provide respite care or meals for families who are fostering children
- You can advocate and pray for orphans
She continued, “There are so many ways, big and small, to get involved in orphan care both domestically and abroad. Check out cafo.org for resources to get started.”
Follow: follow their story on Sarah’s blog and on Facebook
Read: and share her incredible blog post, “To Those Who Want To Adopt ‘Someday'”