Monday Morning In Cambodia

Note: This is a rerun of a post from my previous blog, posted during the holidays in 2009. The essence of this post is still true… the only difference is there are now something like 32 children under Bykota House’s care.

Last night – Monday morning in Cambodia – my friend Rhonda posted this FB update:

My Monday—a woman is waiting for us at the gate to abandon her child. At least she stayed with the child and waited for us to awaken instead of just leaving the child and walking away.

Most of you know Rhonda and her family moved to Cambodia five years ago with a heart to serve the children left behind after adoptions shut down. They currently provide a home to seventeen children.

Make that eighteen.

On a Monday morning in November, a seven year old boy is handed off to strangers by a woman he has been calling mother. She adopted him but now has learned that she is pregnant and has decided she no longer wants this boy who shares no genetic material with her.

A seven year old boy cast aside, just like that.

Cambodia has been closed to American adoptions for nearly eight years now. For very good reasons. The system was corrupt to the very core. Founded on corrupt principles by an American woman who later served prison time for her crimes against the children of Cambodia. (Technically for document fraud and money laundering… all of which was done in the name of adoption.) It has taken all this time for Cambodia to write new laws that are stringent enough to meet international standards. Expectations are that the new improved laws will pass by the end of the year. It seems only a matter of time until the U.S. ban is lifted and Americans can once again adopt from Cambodia. And I am nervous.

I am nervous because I know that corruption does not go away just because we write new laws.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

We live in a fallen world where people use children for profit. Where a child’s value depends upon who they are entrusted to. Where agencies who purport to work in a child’s best interests go to any length to ensure a steady supply of babies for unsuspecting Westerners. Where a seven year old is left upon a doorstep because he is no longer considered worthy to be called “son”.

The new law encourages domestic adoptions above international ones. This is good – when possible, children should remain in their home country. Adjusting to a new family is hard enough without also losing your language, your culture, everything that is familiar to you. But a good law can’t change old attitudes overnight. Rhonda commented on her status – “The new adoption law that will soon take affect actually bans single men and women from adoption BECAUSE if they adopt while single, they will then marry and when they have their own child, they will abandon it.”

I can not understand this, having two biological children and two adopted children of my own. I would never choose any one of them over the others. But then, I have never been faced with that choice. And I have not been raised in a culture that values genetic ties above all else. So even as my blood boils, I try not to judge too harshly.

At the end of the day, all our rational discussions – and our heated ones too for that matter – can only go so far. At the end of the day, there is still a seven year old boy being left at the gates.

A friend of Rhonda’s asks, “Will you try and find a home for this little one?”

For Rhonda the answer is simple, obvious.

“At Bykota House, he has found a home.”

It costs $300 a month ($3600 a year) just to pay the rent on Bykota House. $300 a month seems like very little compared to what rents run around here – especially when you consider the size of the house. But the Benz’s do not have a large income and what they have each month is stretched far beyond the limits. Recently Rhonda confided to me, “We take care of expenses month to month with varying support for BH but there is never enough to set aside $300 each month toward this bill. Often we are short and it is quite a balancing act. We have so many low months and then when we have the occasional month with extra, that is always thrown towards the Drs clinic because we have so many medical needs and they let us run a NGO account or some other need that has been waiting.”

It bothers me that they are burdened by only $3600. It is a lot of money for a missionary family supporting eighteen additional children. But it’s not a lot of money for us. Especially not if many people each gave a little.

There are so many good causes, especially this time of year. It seems like I’m asked for money practically every day. And it’s not like we’re feeling flush with money what with the economy tanking like it is. But still, I can’t stop thinking what it must be like. Waking up on Monday morning to find a woman at your gate. A small scared seven year old boy standing next to her. “Take him” she says. And walks away. There is no time for an assessment of the budget. No time to discuss what sociological and societal problems led to this moment. Nothing to do but open the gate, and welcome the child.

And suddenly I realize this is about more than just one seven year old boy. This boy is to me a reminder of what this time of year is really about. It’s not the decorating, the cleaning or the shopping. It’s not my ten mile long to-do list or even a visit to Santa Claus. It’s about opening the gate… and welcoming the Child.

“… Whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.” Matthew 18:5

* * * * * * * *

11/27/2012:  Would you like to buy a present for that little boy at the gate or one of the other Bykota House kids? There’s still time, but not much! And it’s SO EASY. Just click on this link and it takes you straight to the Bykota House Amazon wishlist. From there, just pick a gift, buy it, and it will be sent straight to me… and I will deliver it to the kids on Christmas Eve. The gifts on the list range in price from $4 to about $40… it really takes so little to make a big difference!

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