This post has been on my heart for a while now but I didn’t know exactly how to begin writing it. It involves a burden that I feel because of Yohannes’s story, and I want to respect him and his birth family by not sharing information that is really his to share one day should he make that decision. When we began the adoption process I honestly thought we’d receive a referral for a child whose parents were deceased. I guess I was naive, but I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that might not be the case.
I shared that Yohannes has a living birth mother here on the blog before I fully thought through whether that was appropriate for me to share in this way or not. And it’s true. There is a beautiful woman in northern Ethiopia that he belonged to first. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to know more about her story and what led to her decision, but I do know that some of the circumstances in her life have been hard – much harder than I can even begin to imagine. She made a decision that was heart-wrenching, and I honor and respect her decision. I’m so thankful that we have pictures of her, and Yohannes remembers her well. I believe she was a great mom who loved him very much. I have meticulously taken notes of everything he’s shared in case he forgets those memories one day. In my heart, I hope he’ll never, ever forget her.
I’ve struggled with his – now our – story because I often wonder if she would have been forced to make such a decision had someone walked beside her and helped her. I may never know because all we have are bits and pieces of the story. What I DO know is that this struggle has given me a passion for not only adoption, but family preservation as well. I came across THIS POST by Shaun Groves a few days ago, and here’s what he said when their case worker asked what he thought about birth parents:
“I’ll always be second best…at best. And that makes me very sad.”
Sad for birth parents who couldn’t afford to feed their child, take them to a doctor, send them to school.
How brave. How sacrificial to let go of your flesh and blood so that she may have life. No greater love.
But how sickeningly sad that any parent faces this choice.
There was some controversy in the comments about that statement – “second best…at best” – but I instantly understood where he was coming from. When my little boy remembers his mom in Ethiopia and tears well up in his eyes because he misses her, I GET IT. It makes me so sad for him. I know he’s happy here, but he now carries a story that includes a lot of loss and pain and confusion. It’s a lot for such a little boy to have experienced in such a short amount of time. There have been times when I sat and quietly cried with him as I held him while he grieved. Those moments are few and far between, but they change you and give you perspective. In a perfect world his family would have remained intact and had all the things they needed. Unfortunately this world is broken, and we will strive to be the best “second best” we can be for him.
These thoughts lead me to something else Shaun said in that blog post that I’d ask you to consider:
My family’s adoption adventure has changed my perspective on what it is Compassion and you and I are doing together. This isn’t just “holistic child development.” This is orphan prevention.
Lightening the financial burden a family feels by paying a child’s school fees. Educating a child so that she may be better employed than her parents, so that her own children will not live in extreme poverty. Providing proper nutrition for children so that they do not develop costly medical conditions. How many children have been able to stay with biological parents because of child sponsorship? This is giving children the best we can.
The best for a child is to be raised by a loving mom and dad. In their culture. Their language. Their family.
As someone who believes in adoption AND family preservation if at all possible, I agree with him that sponsoring a child is often truly orphan prevention. And that’s why I’m excited about advocating for children through Compassion. I desperately want to be a voice for children in need AND play a role in helping keep families together. It’s a deep, burning passion that God’s given me that I couldn’t escape if I wanted to.
I’ve shared these two children with you before HERE, and I’m still in need of finding sponsors for them by JULY 29th.
(UPDATE: Georgina now has a sponsor! Thank you, Buoniconti family!)
If you’ve ever felt led to play a hugely significant role in the life a child in need and haven’t acted on that, I’d like to encourage you to sponsor Juan or Georgina. Your $38 a month could literally change a life and give hope where hope is hard to find. Please email me using the contact link above or leave a comment below & I’ll be happy to give you more information.
I’ll leave you with a quote that has impacted me recently from a great book I’ve read:
And as I held her hand and prayed for her, God revealed to me a profound truth – that I was the answer to Octaviana’s prayer. Eight thousand miles from my home in Seattle, 14,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains, she had cried out to God for help, and He had sent me. God had sent me to help her. He had sent me to comfort her in her suffering, and He had sent me to be Christ’s love to her. She had prayed and I was God’s answer. I would be God’s miracle in her life. – Richard Stears, The Hole in Our Gospel