There is a ledge, and I fear I am standing on it. Standing so close to the edge, where my toes curl around it, and I lean slightly forward looking over it. What happens when I jump? As a logical component of a type A, successful married couple, looking over this ledge is irresponsible. No, this ledge has nothing to do with infidelity. I don’t think it violates any of our vows. But I’m afraid, my husband’s vow to love me in sickness and in health may soon be in question- as maybe I’ve lost it? I feel like I stand on this ledge, where if I take a few, heck, several, steps backwards, I am on very solid ground– the ground we’ve spent our whole lives working towards. I am an advanced practice nurse with a great job, at a company I have worked for almost my whole adult life. I have 3 beautiful, smart kiddos, enrolled in a wonderful private Christian school. I am married to my best friend, my lifelong love, my high school sweetheart. I have my parents nearby who are amazing and support all of our steps.
Yet, I have seen what my eyes cannot unsee. Not only are there kids who need families, there are children living in this world, my world, who are being deprived of basic rights- like food, water, dignity. The right to have a clean diaper. The right to be considered human, despite a disability that makes them a little different. Different, not unhuman. As my 4 year old falls asleep next to me every night, often holding my hand, and I hear his sweet, steady breaths, my heart breaks. How can mommas and daddies buy the lie that because their child isn’t “perfect” physically that they aren’t perfect? How can they be so convinced of this life, and so scared of what people will think, that they are willing to relinquish their very child, their perfect creation, to a life without love, without nutrition or hydration, without hope? When I promise this same 4 year old that “Mommy’s and Daddy’s always come back,” my heart again breaks, as I know that for him this is true, but it is not true for all the little boys.
So, I stand on this ledge, looking over at the horror not very far from our own cozy world. Beyond this ledge is a world of orphanages, housing hundreds if not thousands of children, who are deemed unwanted, unloved, and a burden to the country they live in. There are orphans living in villages, where they are the heads of household because their own parents have died, of AIDs, poverty, or Ebola. You saw the news about the hundreds striken with Ebola in West Africa. I have looked into the sad faces of the children on adoption waiting children sites who were left as orphans as a result.
God has definitely used Stacey Gagnon, founder of LostSparrows, to say the words my heart is feeling. On her blog at lostsparrows.org, she says “I admit the orphan crisis is completely overwhelming, the numbers are astounding. It’s an ocean-sized problem and we are standing on the shore unsure what to do. But I know the answer. The answer is seeing ‘the one’.
The ‘one’ is the child sitting in an orphanage without a family.
The ‘one’ is the family being told that their child is broken and deformed and they should not take the baby home.
The ‘one’ is the mama who went against the doctor’s recommendation and brought home the special needs baby and now is floundering without support.
Because when we look at the whole, we lose sight of the ‘one’ and we are overwhelmed. When we don’t see the ‘one’, we see an issue that grows everyday. And we want to say things like, “I didn’t cause this”, “This is not in my backyard”, or “I don’t think I can help”. We say these things because it helps us to not think about the orphan. A child sitting without touch, without love, and without family.”
I’m afraid that being able to see “the one” is what has led me to this ledge. I understand that although I didn’t cause this crisis, it’s not in my backyard, and it’s going to be so very hard to help make a difference, I CAN actually make a difference. So can YOU. In so many ways. I don’t actually know what jumping off this ledge is going to look like for me or for my family. But I do know that I’m not afraid of it. I know that God has led me to this ledge, and he will guide my steps through it all.
Will this look like adoption for our family? Will this look like leaving everything we know to go help overseas? Will this look like being a voice for these children who otherwise are forgotten? Will this look like supporting the heck out of mommas like Stacey Gagnon who are making huge differences? We will see. For now, I will continue to stand on the edge, and lean ever so far forward.