It was already dark when I arrived home from a dentist appointment in Mae Sot (two hours drive away). I walked into the house and there was no sign of my wife or little Abigail. (At least one of them should have been asleep by now . . .). I unpacked the groceries that I had bought, and then put myself to bed. A short while later Inge came up the stairs with Abigail. She told me that Abigail’s father and grandmother from Burma, were here to visit Abigail!
We have been desperately wanting to get in touch with the father, as there are unanswered questions with regards to us keeping Abigail. Two students went off into Burma to fetch Abigail’s father. Asking him to come and see us. Now this may seem like an ordinary everyday event for most of us, however not so in the jungles of Burma!
Abigail’s father is a “porter” for the Burmese soldiers. As you know by now the Burmese soldiers and the Karen people have been at war for more than 60 years! A “porter” is someone that the Burmese soldiers use for whatever they like! Very often they send porters ahead to crawl on their bellies along pathways in order to make sure that there are no landmines which have been laid. They are terribly used and abused by the Burmese army.
Abigail’s village was attacked by the Burmese Soldiers and when trying to escape Abigail’s mother died in the jungle, due to sickness, malnutrition and exposure. Her father not being able to care for little Abigail (there are three siblings already) asked Sunshine Orchard to help. When we arrived, we were asked to take care of Abigail (then known as Kukupaw). This we gladly did but soon fell in love with her. The idea of adopting her crossed our mind many times. But how could we? What would the father say?
Early this morning we both went to meet the father and grandmother. This was his third visit to see his daughter since his wife died. He knew that we were keen to adopt her, and so we met. We had been told through interpreters, that he had no objections to us keeping little Abigail.
The grandmother was concerned that she may never see her granddaughter again, but we assured her that this was not the case. It seemed that both were in agreement to let Abigail stay with us.
Adoption is undoubtedly a major challenge! Almost an impossibility! A little Karen girl with no identification, born in the jungles of Burma. No mother. The father does not even know when Abigail was born. And now she is a refugee, living in Thailand. All these seemingly insurmountable hurdles to face when considering adoption. Not to mention the fact that we are missionaries with no employment, living on a tourist visa, and no income! All that paints a pretty grim picture!
However we went ahead and drew up papers for “guardianship” of Abigail. The father signed (fingerprinted) the document along with the grandmother and three Karen witnesses. Photo’s were taken of all of us together. We helped them out with medicine, clothing, blankets and transport money, for which they were very thankful.
It was a very sad, yet happy moment. Looking into the fathers face, one could only imagine what was going through his mind! The pain, the suffering! The memories of his wife! And now being faced with the decision to give guardianship to strange missionaries. My heart went out to him.
You may ask “why did we insist on guardianship at all”? Good question!
There have been many stories of children who have been left at our children’s home. Left for us to raise and to teach! To give them schooling and to teach them English! English being the most valuable asset. Then after a few years the parents will fetch their children (who now know a bit of English) and send them to the big cities like Bangkok. There they are to work; often with the little girls being used as prostitutes! Little English speaking girls are very sought after as prostitutes. They in turn become sex slaves sending what little money they can earn back home to their parents! That is the reason why we are so hesitant to return these little ones to their parents!
We pray for God’s guidance and leading in the decisions we need to make for every child that comes to Sunshine Orchard. How we would love to just hold on to them all. To shelter and protect them from the evils of this world. Especially the babies! We need lots of prayer and discernment as it is never easy when dealing with these precious souls that God has placed in our care.
We ask that you remember us in your prayers. We pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to know what to do in these difficult circumstances. Please keep all of our children at Sunshine Orchard in your prayers. They are all precious souls for the Kingdom. All precious in His sight.
We look forward to the soon coming of our Lord and Savior when we can all go home at last! Let us all remain faithful until that day.