James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In observance of November as National Adoption Awareness Month, we are sharing stories of adoption, rescue and redemption that have touched our heart and that we hope will touch yours. You can read Dustin & Courtney’s story here and Brian & Beth’s story here.
Adoption has changed my life and my family’s life. It has changed the way we think and our entire world view. I have found myself immersed in a world of child advocacy, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, standing in the gap, and walking through the trenches for the broken. This road that God has led me and my family down has not only opened our eyes to what God calls the purest form of religion, it has opened our hearts to a level of love that is a rare gift.
I am not one of these people that knew as a child that I would adopt. In fact, I never once thought about adoption until I was finished having my own five biological children. It was at that time that my husband, Shane, and I went to a Christmas party and ran into a friend who had just adopted a little girl from China. This couple also had biological children so the first question I asked them when they told me they had adopted was, “Why?”. They told us they heard her story and how she had been abandoned and left on a door step of a building. They said they had room in their home and room in their heart, so “Why Not?”. As they were talking, I looked over and saw their beautiful little girl laughing and giggling and spinning around in circles to the music that was playing. I thought of her story and how she had been left on a doorstep as I watched her in amazement. She was a miracle in front of me. A life that had been changed, saved, given a chance…all because this couple said “Yes” to her.
It was not long after that, Shane and I said “Yes” ourselves. It was initially a documentary show featuring orphans in Africa that had tugged on our hearts and caused us to take the leap of faith to start the adoption process but in our minds we thought it might be hard for a child from Africa to come into a home filled with 7 white people. Thus, we decided we were going to adopt a 2-year-old little girl from Ukraine. We had two biological daughters first and three younger sons, so in our minds we thought it would be perfect to have another little girl as the youngest. She would look like all the rest of the children. She would fit in perfectly.
Well, God allowed our adoption journey to last four years to change our futile way of thinking. He changed our world view and the way we thought our family was “supposed” to look. He taught us that families are connected by love, not color. After a long road of waiting and walking out our faith, that 2-year-old little girl from Ukraine actually became a 4-year-old little boy from Ethiopia that we brought home to our family in 2008.
When our little boy walked through those gates with his timid little smile, reaching up to take our hand and call us “Mom and Dad”, our hearts changed forever. The caretaker looked at us and said, “He has been waiting for you for a long time.”. He had been waiting for a mom and dad for over a year in that orphanage while he watched some of the others be chosen and leave. You see, he didn’t care that we were white or that we didn’t speak his language. We learned that the language of love speaks louder than any other.
Because that little boy opened our eyes to a world of need that ripped our hearts out, we were moved to try to advocate for the others that remained behind that had not been chosen yet. God opened doors for us to start our nonprofit, Ordinary Hero Foundation, in 2010. Today over 400 children and families are sponsored in Ethiopia within our program. We have connected hundreds of waiting children into forever families by advocating for them. We now have a life center on the ground in Ethiopia that hosts adoptive families and those joining our mission trips each year to serve orphans and children in need.
Many, many lives are changed today all because we stepped out in faith and said “Yes” to adoption. Because we walked out that 4-year journey of the waiting game within our own adoption, it led us to our son which God had picked out for us all along in His perfect timing. At the end of that journey, we found an entire HUGE calling waiting for us through Ordinary Hero that we didn’t even know existed. We also just brought home a 16-year-old son from Ethiopia one year ago. Our hearts have been opened once again, now through the love of the much older child in need of a family. No one ever said this journey was easy. Grabbing the hand of a child and welcoming him into your family is a step of faith and a call from God. But I have found it is the hardest and most rewarding of any call we could ever have. It is the same love and grace that God gives us each day as His adopted children. What a blessing to be His hands and feet and pour that same love out to a child that needs us so desperately.
Our motto in Ordinary Hero is “CHANGE THE WORLD FOR ONE”! You can’t change the whole world by helping just one person…..but you can change the whole world for that ONE. And without fail, your world will change too.
Kelly Putty has been married to Shane Putty for 24 years. She is a mother of 7, with two of her children having been adopted from Ethiopia. She is founder and director of Ordinary Hero Foundation. She travels to Ethiopia every three months, living out her passion, while serving orphans and children in need.