There is a well-known story of a boy walking along the sea shore throwing starfish that had washed on shore back into the ocean. An older man approaches him to teach a lesson about common sense. He tells him there are so many starfish on not just this beach but many others like it. He tells the boy throwing these few starfish is really making no difference. The little boy throws another into the ocean and replies, "It made a difference to that one."
This is our one more starfish.
These last few weeks I had the distinct privilege of watching 14 new children have their lives forever changed. At its peak in 2005, around 15,000 children were adopted internationally by American families, mostly from China. International adoption has sharply and steadily declined since that time. Last year there were around 5,000 international adoptions and about 2,500 of those were from China. If the pattern continues this year, the following photo shows roughly 1% of this year's American adoptions from China.
The families in this photo are truly amazing. I have been inspired, awed, and blessed by getting to know them. We've shared tears of happiness, and tears of exhaustion, homesickness, and frustration as we've all struggled to bond with our new children. Each one was drawn to adoption for their own reasons, each family making incredible sacrifices to help just one more child. For many of these families this was not their first adoption, and most have biological and adopted children at home or travelling with them. Listening to their stories has encouraged me to pray and advocate more for the children left behind.
Nine years ago when we traveled for Juliana's adoption it was tradition to take "red couch photos". Chinese adoption has changed so much since then and now we take "red stairs photos". Here is our red stair family picture. We're almost done with our time here and I am anxiously waiting to have our whole family in one picture.