Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why do orphans need families?

I am so very excited to be partnering with Show Hope as a blogger for the Show Hope Blogging Network.  I'll be writing each month to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the global orphan crisis. 

Why do orphans need families?

The answer to this question is simple.

You know the answer.  Well all do.

Everyone needs a family.

But if we explore this question beyond the surface, the reasons orphans need families is so much deeper than a one sentence statement.

Seven years ago I found my "face".

What is "a face" you ask?

It is that which makes the orphan and the orphan crisis REAL for an individual.

Her name was Gabriela.

My mother and I had arrived in Guatemala to visit our son AJ.  This was my second trip as Jeremy and I had met him a few months before.  My baby boy's first birthday was approaching and if he wasn't going to be home, I desperately wanted to be in Guatemala.

We had arrived the day before with duffel bags of teddy bears and supplies for the orphanage.  Our translator picked us up and drove the 0.5 mile to the orphanage.  When the green, steel gate closed behind our SUV, I heard the children.  We walked into the back door and were greeted by a sea of smiling faces and a chorus of ¡hola! My broken Spanish allowed me to quickly conversate with the children and move quickly behind our interpreter.

Our agency had asked us to take photos of a few children while we were there.  This had become a an expected request and a desperate connection for waiting families.  We had been on the receiving end of these photos many times and were happy to return the favor.   I had my mental list of children and got my camera ready.

Gabriela.  She was seven years old.

She was the waiting child of a family whom we had grown very close to here in the US.  I knew her story and was so very anxious to meet this precious girl.

The large Spanish style wooden door creaked open to the courtyard where the older children were playing.  Our translator murmured words and Gabriela crept up between the sea of faces.

Her face was smooth and shy.  Her demeanor was sweet yet a bit timid.  She looked at us with such hope, worry, and despair.

When I asked if I could take a picture of her, everything about her changed.

I saw the world in her eyes.

Her deep, brown pools of reality were staring at me and I could not run and hide.

I could not shut off the tv, rip up the donation solicitation mailing, or just shake my head in general discomfort and change the subject.

She was

Her eyes reflect everything that was right in this world...and everything wrong in this world.

She slowly revealed a smile that is forever etched in my brain.

She never uttered a word, yet she told me EVERYTHING.

Are you going to be my family?  

No?  Ok.  But this is going to my family so...

Please love me.

I'm happy.  Well kind of happy, but know I could be happier with those who love me.

I'm here but not because I want to be.

Pick me.  Pick me.

I will smile for my Mommy and Daddy.

I won't cry, I promise I won't cry.  I will be good.

I'm just a child.  

I deserve love.

I deserve a family.

Yes you do sweet girl.

Every single child in this world needs a family.  But for some reason, which I have yet to pinpoint one rational reason, the orphan crisis and need for families is out of reach.  Foreign.

Its not personal.

My own initial experience with our son did not change me like my experience with Gabriela did. I had been so wrapped up in him, just our son, I had merely scratched the surface into the world of orphans.  I had yet to plunge into the water, I had simply dipped my foot in the shallow end to test the temperature. His story was personal to me, but the others?  They were not. Gabriela opened my eyes and gave me a much wider lens of orphans and the orphan crisis. I saw more than just my son in that orphanage after that visit.  A few months ago we visited our daughter in Bulgaria in her orphanage.  I saw more than just her when the door opened and those children flooded the room.

I didn't GET IT until I saw it and couldn't look away.

As a culture we tend to avoid that which is hard.  We live in such a time of convenience, immediacy, and insatiability. Facing the question of why orphans need families is hard. They need families because all children should have families. This is where we end the story and find something else to talk about.  When we categorize these children as they, it becomes impersonal and far from reach. Intangible.

But indeed, these children are tangible.

We weren't made for lazy-boys, my dear friends.  We were made for purpose.

Orphans need LOVE.

Orphans need HOPE.

Orphans need SUPPORT.

Orphans need HOMES.

Orphans need FAMILIES.

Families who will hold them in the middle of the night when the trauma(s) of their past comes raging like a bull and they don't know how to process it.  Families who will be patient and encouraging along the attachment and bonding process. Families that will love, feed, clothe, bathe, shelter, teach, and provide stability.  Families who will laugh at the silly and cry in the sorrow. A family is a basic human right.

I think about Gabriela a lot. Her story does not have a happy ending.  Perhaps this is why she sticks with me.  Her reality is the reality I needed to ignite the fire in my heart for orphans. The rest of her story is protected for safety and privacy, but I desperately needed to share my "face" with all of you.

Why do you think orphans need families?  Do you have a "face" to share?

Psalm 68:6
God sets the lonely in families

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