Why do you care for orphans?
The you in the question is directed toward me.
Why do I care for orphans?
When the topic for the month appears in my inbox I always think I have it in the bag. Truly. On the surface these questions are not hard to answer. Total common sense, I think to myself. Then I open the email and find myself so very wrong.
Unlike many people I know or have been blessed to meet in the world of adoption, my heart for orphans does not stem from an early seed. Growing up, my defintion of an orphan was nothing. I honestly do not have a memory of understanding what that meant.
I find that sad.
My first true understanding of orphan came when we initially began exploring adoption. From the domestic program information meeting to the international information meeting we attended, I fostered an unattached understanding of the orphan.
Depraved Indifference was my creed.
Oh, that is SO sad. I just can't.
I made it about me.
As we drove up to my son's orphanage, that indifference shriveled and buried itself along the road. The building stood as a safe fortress, boasting tall concrete walls, and green barbed wire. The gate opened as our car pulled forward and I felt trapped. Trapped in this world I didn't want to be in. I wanted my baby, but let's go. In and out.
I didn't want to see the rest of it.
The building inside was clean and pristine, full of noise and children. I was impressed as I walked the stairs to meet my son. The horror stories I had heard about "international orphanages" were certainly not what I was seeing. I stepped on the landing and lost my breath. Babies. Everywhere. Laying and playing in a fenced off play area. To my right, two babies in swings. To my left, three nannies holding babies.
What on earth?
Something completely visceral rose up inside of me.
This is NOT right.
On the first day in-country during our pickup trip we chose to visit Antigua. Have you been in a place where the saying "go two blocks and you aren't safe"? We drove two minutes from our hotel and were no longer safe. It was raw and shocking. As we kept driving I saw shacks in hills and mountains. Children's eyes peering out at me from behind small peep-holes cut out. Poverty beyond anything I had ever imagined. Young women passed me on the cobblestone streets of Antigua with babies on their backs.
Driving into our daughter's city all of those same descriptions flooded my vision.
This is not right.
My care came from being in the thick of it. I didn't get it until I saw it. Experienced it. Felt it.
I'm not proud of that fact. I wish I had learned more about orphan care, the orphan crisis, and how we can help.
Because we can.
We have a society who is very "I will" and "I can" and in the same breathe "that is their problem" and "oh, that is a shame but I'm staying put in my pretty little world". When it comes to the we, WE lose ground.
A few days ago I was introduced to a video:
Eric Ludy's Depraved Indifference
"I suffer from depraved indifference....oh we care. Its not that that doesn't move us at some level to hear about this little child, over in Liberia. We care. But we can go home tonight and sleep just fine. How is that? Its because there is an indifference to that life. And its naturally born within us that that life isn't affecting us. Its not in our backyard. Were not related to it. Its someone else's issue..."
I refuse to say to myself, "that's not my life so I shouldn't or can't do anything about it."
I have been moved.
Moved to refuse the notion that the orphan crisis is impossible.
Moved to understand that these children are living, breathing, human beings, not something to brush aside because its too hard for me. It is not about me.
I refuse to believe that it impossible for "those orphans" to affect me.
Because they are in my backyard.
It was my AJ. It was my Mimi. My children were orphans.
That is why I care for orphans.