A few of my heroes

My wife, Kori, and I took some time on Monday to get out of the house and enjoy the holiday. The kids spent most of their morning enchanted by the glow of their various rectangular electronic devices while Kori and I hung out at a local coffee shop and wandered hand-in-hand along the streets of Columbus’ Short North arts district.

After doing a little shopping, we stopped in at home and made sure the kids were still respirating properly and then headed to the Asia’s Hope office for a nice antipasto lunch — olives, cheese, cured meats — the whole shebang. Seth was in South Dakota playing some rock festival, so we had the place to ourselves.

I pulled out some old hard drives from the cabinet, put on some Rich Mullins tunes for old-times’ sake and we took a leisurely stroll down memory lane. Kori is working on putting together a “life book” photo album for Xiu Dan, our seven-year-old daughter, and there are a few pics we couldn’t find on any of our home computers. I found the correct drive on the first try (a minor miracle in itself), so we had plenty of time to look through the thousands of photos I took on our 2006 adoption journey to China. 

Most importantly, we located a dozen or so photos we’ve never published anywhere, and which have seen only by close family members. We found the pictures of the orphanage where Xiu Dan spent the first year of her life; we found the pictures of the tiny apartment where her nanny cooked and cleaned for Xiu Dan and three other babies, the pictures of her tiny crib. We also found some sobering images, most notably the piece of sidewalk where Xiu Dan was found lying, wrapped up carefully and, I imagine, kissed goodbye by a mother she’ll never know.

Most precious to me, however, are the photos of my daughter’s nanny — whose name we never learned — and of the orphanage director, the man Xiu Dan called “Ba Ba,” Chinese for “Daddy.” I don’t know anything about these people. I don’t know their marital status, their religious beliefs, their political convictions, but they’re heroes to me. I owe them an incredible debt. They fed, washed, protected and cared for my daughter when I could not. When she was an orphan, they took her in and gave her what was, from everything I can tell, a loving and safe temporary family.

Xiu Dan's "BaBa," the orphanage director who cared for her for her first year.

Kori, Xiu Dan and Xiu Dan's nanny at the orphanage in Zhangshu, China

Xiu Dan and Kori resting at the hotel in Nanchang, ChinaI feel the same way about the workers at the underfunded, overcrowded state-run Vietnamese orphanage who took such good care of my son Chien while he waited for his forever family to arrive. May God bless them today!

What an honor it is for me to work for an organization filled with caring men and women who have dedicated their lives to caring for orphaned kids at risk of sexual and economic exploitation. Our Asia’s Hope home parents have given up other, easier careers and have sacrificed most of their privacy and a lot of their independence. They never “get the house to themselves.”

Parenting is never easy. But imagine adding 20 kids to your home — 20 kids with 20 different tragic life stories that led up to them joining your family. It’s not just admirable, it’s heroic.

A few of Asia's Hope's many wonderful parents.

It’s a joy to wake up every day and head into the office knowing that I’m working not only for the kids of Asia’s Hope, but for the staff. Please say a prayer today for all of the wonderful staff of Asia’s Hope — almost 150 in Cambodia, Thailand and India — for the home parents, the cooks, the teachers, the nurses and our country and regional directors. Pray that God will continue to bless and encourage them and reward them for their hard work and dedication.

May God bless all of our families and all those who care them.

John McCollum2 Comments