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On Callings and Compassion

On Callings and Compassion

Allison Head Shot-2Guest Post on Compassion by Allison Shorter

When I was about 14 years old, I read a news magazine article that would forever change my life. I didn’t know at the time it would mark my destiny but now, 26 years later, I can absolutely say that learning about the one child policy in China marked me, and I found my lifetime calling as a result.

As I read this article, I was saddened to learn that baby girls were left in front of police stations, orphanages, in the woods, and in the dump just because they were girls and not boys. Boys are the preferred sex in China because they are supposed to care for their parents, can make more money than girls, and can work in the fields. (This is in no way intended to reflect poorly on China or her government. They do a great job of helping many orphans. Every country has to take care of orphans; it’s just that my heart is for China, so this is my focus.)

Something rose up in me that day — perhaps because I am a girl myself — and told me that that this was not okay. Girls have just as much value as boys and all people are created equally. I just remember thinking that people should never be put in the trash, especially because of the sex they were born into.

Having compassion for females, no matter their age, means considering what their lives must be like as a woman or girl in their culture. It means thinking about what their parents must say to them, wishing they were a boy and saying they hate them because they are a girl. I think of how their hearts ache just because they are not a boy; not feeling loved or valued, feeling stupid, less than, like they aren’t worthy of an education, and the list goes on. In my reflection, I realize that I could have been born in China and myself been thrown away and rejected.

The more I thought about the devaluing of girls and women specifically in China, the more I wanted to create change and do what I could to be a voice for them and to let them know that they matter. So ever since I was a teenager, shortly after reading that magazine article, I decided I wanted to adopt a girl from China and do what I could to help at least one girl.

When I got older and started dating Kevin, who is now my husband, I told him about this passion of mine. I loved him and wanted to marry him, but I was more confident of adopting a Chinese girl than I was about him just because I was so certain of this passion and calling. He said adopting was fine with him, so we were able to continue dating. At the time, I didn’t know what else to do, but I knew I had to do something.

Through the years of our marriage, my husband and I have tried to adopt twice. Twice it has fallen through. The first time I got pregnant with our now seven-year-old daughter, so we were disqualified. The second time we were told that China gave the girl we were matched with to another family.

After much heartbreak, over $30,000 spent on adoption fees, and hundreds of hours of paperwork, I let my 20-year dream go. I didn’t know what else to do. We had tried all we could but were out of energy, money, and hope that adoption would ever happen for us.

IMG_4727-2Three years ago all of that changed when we felt the call to move our family to China to help orphan girls. After a long process, we decided we wanted to help teenaged girls coming out of the orphanage by giving them life skills, a job, the chance to be in a family, and to give them the support and encouragement that has probably been lacking their entire lives. We want to let them know that they matter and have things to contribute to society, and are not just be a drain on others. Compassion has been the driving force of us wanting to help orphans in China. We’ve been considering what these girls have lacked and want to try our best to help fill those needs in their lives.

To younger women I would say that all life is valuable and equal. No one is better than anyone else, no matter sex, social status, race, or age. We are all created in the image of God, and we all are uniquely made. The world needs your gifts, your talents, your love, your compassion, and your voice. Don’t shrink back because you are a woman. Feel free to follow your dreams. Men are not more valuable than you, and the world needs female ways of thinking just as much as it needs a man’s viewpoint. Men and women are different, and the world needs both voices to be balanced.

We look forward to getting girls in a few months and continuing to be able to live the dream I’ve been called to live, helping Chinese orphans however I can. In my mind there’s no greater cause than helping them become all they were created to be.

[Editor’s Note: The Chinese policy has recently been changed so families can now have two children though it is not yet clear whether there has been widespread adoption and support for this new policy.]

Allison Shorter is an American currently living in China. Her family started Josiah’s Covenant, which will help train orphan girls coming out of orphanages, giving them housing, life skills, a job and a family. For more information please visit or connect with her at
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