The number seven was a number that consistently came up in my life, so it seemed natural that Jennie and I would have seven children. God blessed us with our seventh child, Georgia Bess, on June 4, 2009, and I thought our large family was complete. As I sat down for dinner in early January, I looked around the full table (plus a high chair!) and asked the question “Who’s missing?” In unison, our 6 other kids said, “We’re all here, dad!” “Well, it seems like someone’s missing,” I said.
Thus began a journey in the Thomas household to seek out what God was seemingly laying on the hearts of my wife and I. Adoption had been on Jennie’s heart off and on for a long time (unbeknownst to me!) and was now nagging at me as well. We began to talk through this crazy idea. Then we began to pray. Through a series of events and conversations, and many “coincidences” (is there really such a thing?) we realized that, yes, we were being led into something. What were we going to do?
Where we finally landed was this: there are millions of orphans around this world – somewhere around 147 million to put a number on it – and therefore, a tremendous need for adoptive parents. We’ve all seen the pictures, but have we not conditioned ourselves to look the other way or have compassion for a moment only to move on to the next item on our to-do list?
God has richly blessed us with seven birth children and we know both the joy and the WORK of raising a famly and we take it very seriously. We also understand that these are all HIS children, given to us for a short time to shepherd into adulthood and hopefully into service for Him. We want our current children to understand fully what it means to “be the hands and feet of Christ” and this is only one of the ways we can do that. We suspect that though this addition to our family will provide blessing to a child in need, we stand to be blessed in bigger ways by what this child will bring to us.
James 1:27 says: “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.” Can God be any clearer? Can the pictures of the needs that exist around the world be any clearer?
And so, we have begun the process of adoption from Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country with a rich history, yet devastated by over 20 years of communism, political upheaval and AIDS. It has a population of about 90 million people with around 5 million orphans, many of them living in the streets. Though there are obviously any number of places in the world where orphans exist, our hearts have continually been led back to Ethiopia.
When we think of reasons for not doing what has been laid upon our hearts, most all of them come down to “stuff” and “my time” and “comfort”. Not very good reasons when you really think it through. And then there is Proverbs 24:12 which continues to haunt: “Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”
Jennie and I ask for your prayers and encouragement as we embark upon this journey. Please pray for God’s hand in the process and for his guidance with the paperwork, finances, travel and safe arrival of a new addition(s) to our family. We hope you can all join in the arrival when the time comes