If you’ve ever been to an orphanage/crèche/hogar/children’s home to visit or serve, you’ve undoubtedly had the feeling I hope to describe. There will be one child (sometimes a few) from each trip who leave the country with you, not physically, but in your heart. Once you have seen the yearning for a family in a child’s eyes, once you have seen and loved on children with unspeakable past traumas, you never forget it. You take these children with you. When you shut your eyes, you see their bright faces staring back at you, longing for love. After almost of decade of working on behalf of vulnerable children, I take several children with me. At some points the memories of them are more intense and vivid than others, but they are with me. Always.
Every child in needs is absolutely worthy of consuming our thoughts and every child deserves a family. And yet, each trip, one or two children are unforgettable. Interacting with them changes me on a soul level. Maybe we take only one or a few children with us because that is all we have the mental capacity to handle without becoming completely overwhelmed. The need is indeed overwhelming, which can paralyze us from action. Perhaps God knows that taking too many of these children with us all of the time would not serve us well. Perhaps God knows that the stories of a few children is more mentally manageable and will lead to change. The story of each child in need of a family is a powerful story.
My recent trip to Haiti was no exception to the general rule that at least one child would come with me. This child was an infant, which is unusual, as in the past it has been the older children that most strongly pulled at my heart strings. This child was beautiful, as they all are, but it was the story (as it was told to me) combined with her sweet face ensured that the memory will be with me forever. As with many children who were abandoned the story may never be fully known, but the parts that were shared with me were enough to juxtapose the vulnerability of an orphan and her resilience. It seemed that she had been left outside in early infancy. She was brought into care after animals had gotten to her, probably because they considered her to be food. Without the protection of a family, her body was gnawed on and now shows the scars of the incident. Her struggle is a real one, and one that no one should experience. I cannot forget her.
This is the intense and unyielding feeling that brings some to adopt. It’s what brought me to the conclusion that I must be a part of these kids finding families. This feeling hits me every time I visit children around our world without families. While hearing these stories and knowing thesechildren can sometimes be painful, it is also extremely powerful. Through us, the power of each child’s story has the opportunity to change our world.
During November, National Adoption Month, MLJ Adoptions is raising money for its Special Needs Adoption Fund. Money donated to this fund will be used to provide adoption grants to families adopting children with special needs which include medical needs, children older than five and sibling groups. Won’t you donate today to help provide one more child with a loving, permanent home?