Summary: As children we are orphans no more.

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If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. John 14:15-21

It is near dusk in the Chinese province of Hunan. A poor peasant woman is scanning the area from behind what has become known to the authorities in Hunan as a “drop-off” spot. It is a place where this peasant woman will abandon her little girl, not out of ill-intent or because she does not love her, but because she already has a son, and the poor family cannot afford any more children.

She has been told that her baby girl might just be lucky enough to make it to America. The mother knows that within hours the authorities will find the little girl, and the baby will be transported to an orphanage. At least that is her hope. That is what she has been told by other women. And so, she scans the area one more time, and she looks into the eyes of her little girl, and, in her own way, says goodbye as tears begin to flood down her cheeks.

She lays the child in a soft area, wrapped tightly, and luckily, this evening will be warmer than most. Although she could be arrested, she will wait somewhere within seeing distance of her baby girl to make sure she is picked up by the authorities and is safe. She knows that when she drops the baby off she will never be sure what will happen to her little one. She’ll never know if she will be well-cared for in the orphanage, if she will one day be adopted, or if one day she will look again from a distance and see a group of Americans being shown where the little babies were abandoned, as part of their adoption pilgrimage.

The mother just hopes that her daughter will be one of the “lucky ones,” and her little girl will find it in her heart to forgive her. She hopes that someday when her daughter reads about the situation in China she will understand that somehow, as cruel as abandonment might seem, her mother was doing it in her little girl's best interest.

I am told that a child develops much of who he or she will be in the first two years of his or her life. So although the little girl, or orphan, cannot speak, she must be confused as her mother leaves her, and another group of men pick her up. She hears loud noises that must scare her; she sees unfamiliar faces, which must make her feel alone; and she will now go into an orphanage where she will be one of many. She will be assigned a nanny who will try to see that she is fed, but since the nanny might have several babies to attend to, sometimes the bottles are propped up and the diapers (if they even have any) are not always changed.

The little girl may receive some stimulation, but monies are short, and although the conditions are improving in many of the orphanages, there is still precious little time for the nannies to spend the quality time with each baby that the child needs. The girl will be one of many in a large room.

I can’t imagine what it must be like: a baby without a name or a date of birth. The orphanage will name the baby with some generic sounding name that sometimes resembles a number more than a special name, and I suppose the directors guess the baby's age.

Have you ever thought about how lonely it must feel to be known as an orphan? No name, no birthday, no place to call home. Simply abandoned. The word abandoned carries a lot of connotations with it. What must it feel like to be abandoned? Think about that for a while: abandoned and then institutionalized.

I want you to visualize a six-month-old baby that has just been adopted. What I see is her smile, her energy, her unique qualities. But do you know what I visualize most about this child? How much her parents must love her.

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