Today we interview Christine Niles. She is a writer and corporate refugee with a heart for orphans, and a mother of two girls adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. She is also the author of “The Secret No One Tells You: a manifesto for the discouraged.” Christine blogs about adoption, parenting, and making a difference in the world at www.riverofthoughts.com. Follow her on Twitter @croyseniles.
#LF: Why are you so passionate about adoption?
The “right” answer is because God calls us to be, but the honest answer is simply because we’ve learned through personal experience how amazing a “written off” kid can be and how God makes beauty out of pain. The idea of a child’s potential being lost because I wouldn’t step out from my comfortable little life and open up my home and my heart? Unacceptable.
#LF: What made you move from thinking about adoption to actually living it and doing it?
A scared little 12-year-old girl named Masha. We were busy enjoying our “dual income no kids” life of freedom and fun when we heard about a hosting program that brought kids (some adoptable, some not) to the US to stay with families and experience a little hope and love. Over the three weeks that we hosted her, she blossomed from a timid, scared girl to a vivacious, fun-loving kid. She taught us about love in a way we never could have imagined on our own.
#LF: How has adoption led to a more full life?
It sounds a little counter-intuitive, but we let go of trying to fill life up. The process of adopting (twice) has opened my heart to the crisis facing children around the world. I recently left my corporate job to work for Adventures in Missions and to focus on writing, including my blog about adoption and orphan care issues and making a difference in the world. I’ve learned that by letting go of my selfishness and giving up my ego, I’ve made whole lot of space to let God work.
#LF: Have there been any unexpected challenges? How did you cope with them?
Any time you go from no kids to two teenage girls, you should expect the unexpected! The things we thought would be difficult (like language) turned out to be less challenging than things like patience and wisdom as we tried to earn the girls’ trust and pack 12-14 years of parental trust-building into those early months.
As for how we cope? We pray a lot. We seek out support from peers and pros. We read a lot of books and blogs. And we have tried to keep a few non-kid interests that provide a haven to “refuel” when times are difficult.
#LF: How do you hope to impact culture?
There are 153 million orphans in the world, stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty, disease, and loss. Every year, that number rises. My prayer is that others would discover that no matter what their circumstances, they can make a real difference in the life of a child who has lost the protection of his or her parents.
#LF: What Can the #LiveFully community do if they want to support the cause?
I understand that 153 million is overwhelming. But if each of us reached out to help even a little bit, we could change a whole generation.
- For those of us short on money, we can give our time to local children’s programs, volunteer for food or clothes-packing programs, or pour our energy into mentoring a kid who has lost a parent.
- If we’re short on time but blessed financially, we can sponsor a child or help a family who is called to adopt, but is struggling to raise the money for home studies and legal fees and travel.
- To go a step beyond, join a short-term mission trip that’s focused on orphan care, and let our hearts be broken in the best way possible.
You can get more of Christine’s wisdom and passion on her blog, River of Thoughts.