18 months ago I had an emotional goodbye with the first orphan I ever knew. (I wrote about it here). That week with him changed my life, and since then God has grown my heart for His children suffering around the world.
When I said goodbye I honestly never thought I would see him again. I hoped and prayed he could be adopted, but I had no idea how likely that was.
His story didn't stop there. In May, he was brought home by a wonderful family, after I advocated, a wonderful crazy family as he became their 6th child, 4th from china! Since then his mom has shared little snippets of how he is doing with me, and photos. It has been great to get those updates.
However I still never imagined I would see him so soon. I got the chance to go to Passion conference in Atlanta this year. A 4 day conference with over 60,000 christian students. Atlanta is where Ian happens to live and his parents said I could come stay for two days!!
I must admit, I was quite nervous beforehand. I didn't know how he was going to react, whether he would remember me or whether it was just conjure up bad memories from the orphanage. It was quite the opposite!! They were two of the most fun crazy filled days! His family welcomed me in with opened arms, making me feel like I had known them forever.
When I walked in the door, Ian ran over and gave me a big hug, with his famous smile, and then ran back to the game he was playing. His mom had warned me that it would probably take a few minutes for him to become comfortable enough with me again. And sure enough, after a short while he was back over giving hugs and chatting away! Let me tell you that his English is so good!
The next two days with them were such a blessing. I got to know his brothers and sisters well too, they are a crazy bunch but lovely kids!!
I got to see him play his basketball match, eat lots of southern food, go to church with them. The most fun was going to the skating rink which had an arcade there too. We went through a lot of quarters and won lots and lots of tickets which we used to get some useless junk!!! However the best bit was seeing how much fun Ian was having!! He kept saying 'this is the best day ever!'.
Saying goodbye this time was very very different. It was sad in that I don't know when I'll see him again. It could be years. At the same time and it was so happy! This time I was leaving him with an amazing family who love and cherish him! A family who give him everything he needs, and a family who teach him about Jesus.
Reflecting on the whole experience on my flight home, I am ever more sure that adoption is so important. We can fund better programs at orphanages, have better facilities with more food and nannies, but quite simply if these kids are not given the love and attention they need to develop in families they cannot fulfil their potential. I knew from 5 days with Ian that he had great potential. I am now excited to see what happens with him.
One thing is for sure, his life will never be the same, and nor will mine.