By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
MT. AIRY, Md.—Though Joel and Amy Rainey always had adoption in the back of their minds, it was in May 2009 when God really pressed the desire into their hearts—the same exact week that baby Grace was born and abandoned halfway across the world.
“We were away together—to get away from the kids [Samuel, then 9 and Seth, then 4]—when God really spoke to our hearts about adoption,” remembered Joel, director of missions for the Mid-Maryland Association in Eldersburg, Md.
Before, when the Raineys wanted to adopt, they wanted to rescue somebody from an otherwise harmful experience, he explained. But a wise friend cautioned them: while rescue was a noble cause, if it was the only reason, they needed to wait.
And wait they did.
Over time, they both felt the longing for another child to be a part of the family. They felt that God wanted to bless them with a little girl.
So the prospective parents approached another family from South Columbia Church who had adopted several children from China. They recommended Chinese Children Adoption International (chinesechildren.org), an adoption agency with offices in Colorado and in China.
Soon after applying and plowing through the paperwork, the Raineys learned they were matched with a child, an infant from the Gansu Province in the “sticks of China—a whole lot like Greer, S.C. [where Joel and Amy grew up].”
Baby Grace had a cleft palate, and like many other children born with birth defects in the heavily populated country, which enforced a one-child policy, was deserted by her natural parents.
It took about 18 months for the adoption to be finalized, an agonizingly long time especially for Amy.
“Adoption really increased my prayer life. Once we were matched with a child, we had to wait 8-10 months, knowing that our child was on the other side of the planet, and we couldn’t do a thing about it,” she shared.
The international news suddenly became significant to her. “Every time we heard about earthquakes and floods, we had to keep putting our child into God’s hands,” she said.
For Joel, the adoption experience helped him have a greater appreciation and understanding of the Gospel.
“God pursues us. He slayed His own Son on our behalf, and He gives us the right to become His children,” he said.
As Joel filled out the paperwork and struggled through fundraising for “someone who doesn’t even know you,” he learned valuable lessons about God’s selflessness in reaching out to those who don’t know Him.
Now as Grace crawls up into his lap, this simple gesture means the world to him. As a father figure, he has a greater understanding of what it means to be lost and separated from God and then to have the incredible experience of joining God’s family.
It’s hard to imagine not having Grace as part of the family, he added, laughing, “We don’t play too much man-to-man defense anymore!”
Even so, their sons love Grace. “It’s amazing to see how they act with her. They are so attentive, so gentle,” Amy said.
“Grace isn’t intimidated by the boys. She jumps right into the middle of what they are doing,” she said, adding it was helpful to already have children at home, since Grace was accustomed to having children all around her at the orphanage.
Presently, there are 150 more children at the same orphanage waiting for parents.
“When adopting, you think about what a blessing you are to a kid, but the truth is, what a blessing she is to us!” Joel said.
His Facebook status on Oct. 9, 2011 put it this way: “One year ago tomorrow, this little girl came into our lives, and into our family, and permanently changed our lives in the most blessed way. Happy Rainey Family Day to Abigail Grace Rainey!”
Equally celebrative, Amy is quick to say: “Adoption is not for every family, but orphan care is for every believer.” She shared several ways to be involved in caring for orphans: advocate and pray for orphans, go on mission trips to serve in orphanages or help those who are in the adoption process by praying for them and giving financially toward their adoptions.
“My church even gave me a baby shower, because they knew I didn’t have any girl items,” she said.
To find out more, contact Amy at [email protected].
To increase awareness about the growing number of orphans around the world, the Christian Alliance for Orphans and the Cry of the Orphan has marked Sunday, November 6 as Orphan Sunday (http://orphansunday.org).
National Adoption Day 2011 (http://www.nationaladoptionday.org) will be held on Saturday, November 19. Celebrated across the United States, more than 350 community events are held each year to finalize the adoptions of children in foster care and celebrate adoptive families.
An SBC Adoption Fund for ministers also exists to financially assist ministers in the adoption process. The vision is to help ministers bring their children home and ignite a culture of adoption in churches across the country. Learn more at www.sbcadoption.com.