When Kyle Croft traveled to China in August of 2010 to serve with his school’s mission trip, he had no idea how his life was about to change. Sure, he’d heard that mission trips broaden one’s perspective and bring more awareness to the needs of the world.
That was until he met Phillip.
Croft was first introduced to Phillip at the Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village near Beijing, where Phillip had lived since he was seven months old. He was a 12-year-old spunky boy with an outgoing personality who had spent his whole life in a wheelchair.
From the very beginning, Croft had a special relationship with Phillip because he stuck out: he was smart, happy, and knew English very well. Besides, the fact that he was paralyzed from the waist down set him apart from the other orphans. Croft would jokingly tell the workers at the orphanage that out of all the kids there, Phillip would be the one he would want to adopt.
After returning to America, Croft began his freshman year at Corban only to find that the desire to adopt Phillip was not going away. His mother, who accompanied him to China, felt it too. The Crofts began praying, and Croft’s father, who was skeptical of adopting a boy he had never met before, began having a very clear change of heart.
“I saw God work in my dad’s heart the most because adoption was never part of the plan,” said Brittany Croft, Kyle’s sister and fellow Corban student, “but God worked in my dad’s heart so much. Now every time he talks about it, he cries.”
Throughout the year, the Croft family prayed for God’s direction, and by March 1, 2011, they decided to adopt Phillip and give him a new place to live at their home in Spokane, WA.
The paperwork has been tedious to complete, but the Crofts are hoping that by March 2012, the adoption will be complete and they can bring Phillip home with them. Since Chinese law states that boys cannot be adopted once they turn 14, the Crofts are getting Phillip just in time.
Although the Croft family is excited about making Phillip a part of their family, they still have reservations. Because Phillip lives in a wheelchair, his new family will have to remodel part of their house, adding ramps and other additions to make it accessible to him. Their normal activities will not be the same, but to them, the joy of following God’s will far outweighs the sacrifices they will be making.
“There’s just a lot of unknowns,” said Brittany, referring to Phillip’s handicaps. “I don’t really know what it’s going to look like. My family doesn’t see that as an obstacle, but as another way for God to be glorified.”
Adding to the Croft family’s series of changes is Phillip’s adjustment and reaction to his new life. Because of the many flaws in the adoption process, the adoption agency will not tell Phillip that he is going to be adopted until two weeks before the Crofts take him home, in case anything falls through and it cannot work out. Because of this, the Crofts are anxious about Phillip’s reaction to the sudden news that he will be taken to America.
“You don’t know what kids are going to think,” said Kyle. “You don’t know if you resign yourself to orphanage life. But God will equip us—we’re in it for the long haul.”
The Croft family has received many different reactions from people when they explain their decision, but most of their friends fully support what they are doing. On one occasion, after Brittany and Kyle had shared Phillip’s story during a Chapel student seminar, Kyle received $366 from an anonymous donor in his mailbox.
“My jaw just dropped,” Kyle said. “How cool is that that some college kid scrounged up all the money they had to give to Phillip?”
More than anything, Kyle and the rest of his family see their commitment of adopting Phillip as a way to honor God and reflect his love for us. Kyle memorized Ephesians 1:4-6, which tells of God adopting us as His sons through Christ: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
“I memorized this verse because of this adoption. My parents love Phillip this much. My dad’s never met him and my mom only knew him for a few hours, yet they’re willing to bring him halfway across the world to live with us. It reflects God’s love, which is infinitely greater.”