Do you remember your 16th birthday? Probably. It’s a milestone for most of us. Driver’s license. Sweet 16 party. Maybe a first love.
Here in America, turning sixteen is an epoch in most of our lives. It’s celebrated and anticipated. There was even a show on MTV about the many ways we go over the top for this birthday.
It’s the year that many of us view as our first “grown up” birthday. It feels like we are on the cusp of adulthood, and we are excited to gain new freedoms. I remember asking my mom if maybe I could get a later curfew to match that Cinderella license. The possibilities were endless…and they were all so exciting!
Turning sixteen is such an illusion in so many ways, though: we think we are so grown-up, but most of us have parents protecting us, keeping us safe—sometimes even from ourselves and the decisions or mistakes that we are too young to fully understand. Our parents slowly introduce us to the challenges of adulthood within the safety of their love. And when we really are grown, we look back and see how their restrictions were full of tender care for us.
But I know a young man on the brink of that birthday, and he is facing something far different. Instead of parties and parents helping him grow into himself, he is looking at a life alone.
In one short month, a boy in Eastern Europe –who we will call K– turns 16. And when he does, he loses his chance to have a family. He will no longer be available for adoption. He will no longer be able to be someone’s child. He will be expected to truly step into adulthood at an age when the rest of us were just playing at it.
And here’s the worst part of it: he doesn’t even think a family is possible for him.
But it is.
In the last year, K’s life has changed dramatically. In the summer of 2012, he attended a Christian summer camp and heard about Jesus, and he was changed. Jesus became his personal Savior that summer, and since that time he has turned away from his old life. Where he once wanted nothing to do with family, he now is ready to find his forever home.
K is free for international adoption. But he doesn’t think anyone will come for him in the next month.
A missionary who has known him for years says, “He needs people to believe in him, and he will do it. He is one absolutely amazing kid.”
And that person who believes in him can be you.
Even if you don’t have a homestudy. Even if you don’t know what you have to do to become his mom or dad. Even if the words in this post caught you sideways, and this thought of adoption is your first ever.
There is still time.
But not much.
As long as the paperwork is started in his country before his birthday, he could be yours.
And the gift you will give him for his 16th birthday will be better than anything in the whole world. Better than he could have ever hoped.
You will be giving him a family.
Update: A family is pursuing him!