I cannot imagine the heart-breaking anguish three-year-old Robbie experienced as he realized that his mother had left him in care in an American orphanage. With no determined or date of return, his mother drifted in and out of his life as he struggled to grasp hold of any sense of normality, security, or love.
Though some form of stability was provided by regular visits from his maternal grandmother and a caring housemother, the deep emotional wounds left by parental abandonment led to feelings of deep rebellion, anger, and dejection. Once his mentally ill mother gave up her parental rights Robbie held out hope that his wealthy paternal relatives would adopt him. Their rejection cut him to the quick and plunged him into a state of desperation during his teen years.
Castaway Kid chronicles the autobiographical reflections of author R.B. Mitchell, who spent nearly his entire childhood in care within an orphanage. Writing in simple, strikingly transparent prose, Mitchell lays bare the wounds created by repeated abandonment and rejection by his family. His would be a truly heart-rending story were it not for an adoption that came once his childhood years were passed.
Mitchell was adopted into the family of God, accepting the Father’s promise to be home for him; to provide him with a never-faltering source of love, stability, and identity. Guided by His spirit through the process of deep forgiveness for those who forsook him, Mitchell was able to move forward into a new life including a wife and children as he learned to trust and love. Coming from an orphanage with dismal outcomes for its long term residents, Mitchell’s life stands out as wildly successful. A college graduate and participant in international missions, Mitchell is now a well established financial consultant and motivational speaker.
The icing on the cake in any autobiography are photographs of the author. Castaway Kid provides pictures of the author’s family, from his childhood, of the orphanage he called home, his college years, and his own family. I rejoice for the work that God has done in the author’s life. Thankfully everyone can experience the personal love of the creator of the universe, whether orphaned, empty or confused, His free grace available to all comers.
Life in an orphanage is no longer a cultural reality here in North America, but remains a fact of life for millions of children worldwide. Though Mitchell never draws parallels between his life as a castaway kid and that of today’s domestic and international orphans, one can’t help but make the connection. God’s heart is one of adoption, of love and of reconciliation. The story of Mitchell’s life brings the emotional desolation these beloved children experience into sharp focus and embodies the spirit of adoption that God longs to engender in his followers. While Mitchell may be one of the last “lifers” from the American adoption system, we should remember the children waiting for families in foster homes and orphanages worldwide.