““I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” — John 14:18
Hope, I believe, is a gift from God, something we can hold onto if we are feeling distressed or wishing for a better tomorrow. However many of us in the Western world hope for things that the rest of the world doesn’t. Like hoping we are on time to school, or we hope that we get an A on our English test, or hope that there’s at least one parking space open. But the hope of God is a hope for the many people who are struggling and suffering in our world. The same hope many orphans have that someday they will be adopted into a family that cherishes and adores them. Being a former orphan myself, I have been touched by the Lord in a unique and special way.
God began working in my life when I was born on October 31, 1994 in the small town of Lom, located on the Danube River in northern Bulgaria. The only orphanage that accepted younger children was the orphanage in the town of Montana. I am so grateful my biological mother gave birth to me and through God’s grace was able to give me a second chance at life. After visiting my homeland of Bulgaria last spring, I was able to see my orphanage in Montana and see where I was born, allowing me to really understand where I came from and how much adoption has impacted my life.
I had not known what to expect when we arrived at the orphanage. I was able to meet the orphanage director—the same woman who had accepted me into the orphanage when I was a baby. It was an incredible feeling to see her and hug her after so many years apart. I could only remember her from photographs and videos, but she remembered me immediately. Later that morning some nurses came in and they were so happy to see me. They all hugged me and some of them even cried. In this intense moment, I felt at one with these people who had cared for me and loved me when I had no one.
Seeing the orphans there made me feel unified with them as well. We all shared the same past and the same situation. I loved them so much and felt as though we were connected in some spiritual way. I was able to hold one in my arms and I was so grateful and hoped for these children to have an amazing chance to be adopted and live a wonderful life like I did. It was very hard to leave and know that I might never see them again.
After that very emotional and life-changing visit to my orphanage, we drove for about half an hour to the seemingly deserted town of Lom. Just walking to the hospital, I felt uneasy. But also, knowing my birth mother had walked into the same building and had given birth to me in that exact spot made me feel closer to her than I had ever felt—a spiritual unity. My family and our guide Petko were quiet and so was I; the entire city seemed to be silent during our visit. But it gave me the perfect atmosphere to just think and take in what I had seen. Forever from that moment, I would be grateful for what my mother had done. Forever from that day forward, I would have closure and unity with her. Never before had I thought I could be that close to her. After that visit to the hospital, I felt like I had just met her. At last I felt unified with my biological parents. At last I felt one with my past and present. And most importantly, I felt unified with the Lord as I began to feel a call upon my life.
Seeing Lom in person was a remarkable, yet emotional event for me. It was strange to accept the fact that I indeed was born here, in this tiny town that was one of the poorest towns in all of Europe. It was humbling, but when I saw this I was immediately blown away by the power of God and His love for me, as well as my adoptive family. How was it that I, this small baby from a tiny poor town, was able to go to the Montana orphanage? Then, to be adopted into an amazing family and to live in America! God’s grace, I truly believe, is the only reason for those wonderful things.
After seeing the poverty in Lom and Montana, I felt hope for the children who were still in the orphanages. It made me very sad to see these children, knowing that their future was undecided, but I was also happy to see them with so much joy and love. Walking through the halls and seeing the children, it was strange to realize we shared the same ancestral blood and our heritage was very much the same. Although my biological father was from Ghana, I still felt a oneness with the children, as though they were a part of me. Just as I did, these children have wished for a family to love, and hoped day after day that someone would come and take them home forever.
This trip to Ghana and Bulgaria gave me a great feeling of unity, love, and closure. My mind overflowed with wonder as we landed at the Sofia airport. I felt a humbling unity and sense of honor with the city my parents named me after—such a beautiful place connecting me in a concrete way to my heritage. When we flew into Ghana, I felt a rush of some strange emotion I could not comprehend. Seeing all of the Ghanaians made me feel like I was a lost child finding the family I never knew. I looked around in wonder as I studied every man, woman, and child that passed—trying to see if we shared any of the same features. I was fascinated by the way they spoke and the way they dressed.
It was so honoring to share my father’s African heritage and I felt deeply humbled that I was part of the same blood and history as these Ghanaians. The Ghanaian people were so hospitable and kind. I was slowly beginning to feel the strongest and most humbling unity with God that I had ever felt in my life.
In Sofia we were able to go inside many of the beautiful churches that were spread out around the city. Even after years of communism, many of the Bulgarians still keep a strong faith in God. Before I was born, God found the perfect place for me to enter the world. It was strange to feel His presence in Bulgaria, knowing that He met me here in this tiny town in Eastern Europe that almost no one has heard of. The amount of poverty and depression in Lom proved to me that only the love of the Lord could have rescued me from an unimaginable fate. Only God could have taken me from the poorest country in all of Europe to one of the wealthiest and most successful countries in the world. I will thank Him through service for saving me twice. Not only did He die and sacrifice His life for my sins, but He has also rescued me from abandonment and has blessed me with an amazing family and history.
Although many people do not understand adoption, or do not understand the lives of orphaned children, God does. He is the reason we can still hope for the millions of children who desperately need families. Now I hope to make a difference in this world, and hope I can repay the Lord for all he has done for me. As a junior in high school, I want to continue to become educated about the world so that I can have a positive impact on the lives around me. I hope that other adopted children will be inspired to help those in need. They too were once vulnerable and seeking love and care, and God rescued them.
- Sophia Wilson
-from All God's Children newsletter