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Adopting Serena


By Kiersten Venezia

“There are over 143 million orphans in the world. Can you imagine the pain and loss of even one child losing his/her parents, and then multiply that 143 million times? It is incomprehensible for us to think in those terms.

Some orphans are fortunate enough to be placed in orphanages, and might possibly be eligible for adoption. But think of those who have physical deformities or diseases. Many times, they have no hope, no voice to speak for them. They live at the orphanage until their early teens, then many are out on the streets, to make room for younger orphans. A number of them will turn to alcohol, prostitution, or a life of crime.

Ten years ago, my husband and I traveled to China to adopt our daughter Qu Gong Ping, whom we named Serena. Two months before we left for China we received a Fed Ex package with a small picture of her, with her birth date, weight, and length. She was a five-month old healthy infant girl. That’s what we thought until we met her.

On that glorious day in March when they placed her into our arms, we knew something was wrong. She was bundled in 5 layers of clothing, but weighed next to nothing. Later when we got to our hotel room, we removed the many layers and discovered that she was skin and bones, and extremely malnourished. She was 6 months old, but only weighed 8 pounds, with no muscle tone and a gray hue to her skin.

Of course any mother’s first instinct was to feed her little baby. But much to our surprise, after a few seconds of her bottle, she began to cry and pushed it away. See, my daughter Serena, was born with a cleft palate. Fortunately for her it was unnoticeable to the orphanage staff. It wasn’t discovered until a week later when we took her to the medical clinic as part of her visa process. There the doctor pointed to the back of her mouth and did the best he could to explain in sign language that she had a cleft palate. After the first shock of discovering her disability, we realized that she was our daughter and we would do anything to get her the surgeries she needed. Six months later, she had corrective surgery which forever changed her life.

However, I now know that if Serena had been born with a cleft lip, she wouldn’t now be part of our family. She would have been placed on a special needs list, and possibly never adopted. I’m so grateful that God brought us to her, because I can’t imagine her not being a part of our lives.

Now, as I partner with Children’s Hope International, I have the privilege of extending help and care to many more orphans who are in need of surgeries. In the last year and a half, we have raised funds through my performances to provide three surgeries so far. Those children’s lives are changed forever. We are continually looking for churches, schools or other organizations who would like to join us in this effort to make a difference and be a blessing!”

©Kiersten Venezia. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Kiersten Venezia produced her first album, “Good Promises” in 2005. Within six months of the release, she was invited to share the stage with ZoeGirl as their opening act in St. Louis, her hometown. She has since written songs for SSM Health Care, been featured on local TV and radio shows, lead worship and performed for thousands of people around the nation.

Kierstan is our Coffee Shop Concert artist this month. To hear learn more about her and hear her music, see our Coffee Shop.