November 2014 brought the privilege to partner with (un)adopted on a life-changing trip to the Dominican Republic.
During the 8-10 month prep time for the trip, our team was busy raising extra funds, gathering supplies, planning travel, and securing passports. To say I was amped up would be an understatement. One afternoon, while my 7-year-old daughter, Kate, and I were watching a video of me taking an ice bucket challenge at WAYNES to raise money for Christmas gifts for the boys’ home, her questions began to flow.
In her sweet little voice, she asked, “Daddy, where is the Dominican?” I confidently explained how far away it is and showed her on the map. “Daddy, why do you have to go help the boys?” I confidently stated that I didn’t HAVE to go help, but WANTED to go. “Daddy, where are their parents and why do they need you to go help?” “Ummm, well . . . (this is where my extensive reading, training, and fatherly wisdom really kicked in) Hey, look over there, something shiny!” No, really; I did stutter and stammer and let her know we would talk about it more at bedtime that night. “Okay Daddy.” Whew! Off the hook! Deep breath! At that moment, my goal of expanding her world through the trip to the DR became a reality I couldn’t escape. It was clear that I was walking the line of protecting her innocence and gently letting her in on the harsh realities of a fallen world.
Up until this point, when having a teachable moment with Kate (like crossing the street without looking both ways, being kind to friends, or telling the truth) I would ask her, “Kate, what is my job?” She answers, “To keep me safe and teach me how to live.” This is my best effort to instill in her my role as a father, and I pray it works.
This is the part of the story where I share a nugget of wisdom and tell you how we had an awesome moment that night at bedtime where I explained things so perfectly—with warm milk, moonlight shining through the window, and lullabies playing in the background. Nope! She crashed on the couch without brushing her teeth, (don’t judge) and I finished up emails and proposals. But, we didn’t forget. We have had multiple conversations like that one since the DR trip last fall.
While spending time with Jon and Shannon, the directors of Ninos de la Luz, Jon shared how they welcome new boys from the street to be part of their family at the boys’ home. He shared several promises that he makes to the boys when they arrive, but this one I brought home with me: “I will never lie to you.”
It is a privilege to be a father and a gracious responsibility from our Heavenly Father to support the fatherless. After all, Psalm 127:3 says that “children are a gift from God” and He is the Master giver!
“To keep me safe” + “To teach me how to live” + “I will never lie to you” = how the Father loves us, His children.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing me eternal safety through your Son’s sacrifice, teaching me how to live through your gentle hand, and giving me eternal truth from your Word.
Matthew May, (un)adopted trip participant to the Dominican Republic
For more on Lifeline’s (un)adopted orphan care ministry, visit unadopted.org.