I was lost, Now I am found
It’s a tragedy that in the prosperous continent of Europe there are still many cases of unwanted children and deficient care. Madeleine Koo (Louise George’s twin sister), writes of how God created an opportunity for Matt & Louise George, then serving as missionaries in Portugal, to make a difference through imitating God’s adopting love.
The email arrives at Christmas. It is a time of year when the sun disappears quickly in the evenings and steely rain falls like sheets against the cobbles of the old Portuguese city. ECM workers Matt and Louise George are caught by surprise. The photo is grainy and the information sparse. Would they fly from Coimbra, Portugal, to Sophia, Bulgaria? Could they meet this little two-year-old boy in the orphanage? Would he become their son? Could they give him a future?
Fast forward to autumn, 2018, Sydney, Australia. Four- year-old Calvin plays in the cool water of his paddling pool with his loving older sister, Anabella, aged nine. When he hears the kookaburras laugh in the gumtrees overhead, he pretends to be a monkey as he thinks that’s what he’s hearing. He is getting used to the hot summers and the strange animals. He enjoys going to the park and tasting his first mango.
Calvin, (an anglised version of his Bulgarian name Kaloyan, or Kal for short) is of Romany (gypsy) heritage. He lived in a State-run orphanage in Stara Zagora, a town near the Turkish border, from birth. The Georges named their adopted son after the great Reformation theologian John Calvin, whose writings inspired much of the current Presbyterian church doctrine.
“He has a Heavenly Father who has rescued him
... and placed him in a family who loves him”
“It’s hard to believe it was only in 2016 that we were in Bulgaria, committing ourselves to a little boy who didn’t know us, speak our language or trust us,” Louise says.
The Georges entered the adoption program during their 12 years as missionaries in Portugal because they were convicted by their own adoption through Jesus as sons and daughters of the living God. The legal adoption was difficult, and much prayer accompanied the lengthy process that involved three countries.
“The legal adoption process is the context for a relationship that has grown since then,” explains Matt, who is now ECM Director of Australia and New Zealand.
“Little Cal has been transformed. He now speaks (he used to be silent), is almost twice his body weight (from 9 to 17kg), doesn’t eat meals like this one might be his last and is able to concentrate on a toy he likes for 30 minutes rather than 30 seconds.
“Most of all we give thanks that he now knows he has a home and family,” Matt says.
“He has confidence in our presence to make his needs known.”
Milestones are celebrated to acknowledge the formation of the new family unit. On the one-year anniversary of Calvin’s adoption, the Georges celebrated by making his favourite cake and buying chips and Greek salad, which is what Matt, Louise and Anabella ate for most of the week they were in Bulgaria when they picked Calvin up from the orphanage.
However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing since. Calvin’s traumatic first few years have left a mark and the Georges are supported by a government social worker, speech therapist and a child psychologist. They are also very thankful for the support of family and friends.
“It can get very overwhelming at times,” Louise shares. “However, thankfully, we are not Cal’s saviour and healer. He has a Heavenly Father who was with him from the very beginning, saw his pain, rescued him out of a dark place and placed him in a family who loves him and will never leave him. It’s what God does for us, in Jesus.”
Matt and Louise draw encouragement from the gospel truth that God has transformed us and continues to do so by his definitive adoptive act.
“From our own adoption as Christians, we become more like his son and as we pray in Jesus’ name, we share in the fruitful prayer life of the Son,” Louise says. “It’s incredible that the Father hears us as he hears his own dear Son.”
As theologian John Piper puts it, “The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel.”
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