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Monday, July 27, 2009

Weighing heavy on my heart ...

Ever since returning from Ethiopia with our two little boys, there is something heavy weighing on my heart.

As parents, we all worry about our children. I'm not talking about the everyday concerns, I'm talking about those moments when you get a peek into somebody else's personal hell and you feel that momentary terror inside for your own child. You know, the things you see on the news that wake you up in the middle of the night, praying and pleading for your children's safety and health. Child abduction, molestation, disease, cancer, car accidents ... horrible, horrible situations that parents around the world, and across the street, are living through right now. When these situations hit close to home, I've often had the thought that I don't know how that mom or that dad can bear to live through it.

I remember seeing news clips about the famine in Ethiopia or the genocide in Rwanda, and turning my face away from the horrible images on the screen. Terrible images to see, but they did not affect me because I had personally never seen a starving child, or the look of desperation and hopeless pleading in the eyes of that child's mother. After awhile, the images start to all look the same and we become immune to the horror.

Then one day it struck me, that the only difference between my child (my precious, beautiful and valuable daughters) and that starving, orphaned child on TV was an accident of lattitude and longitude. Simply where they were born. What if that was me, living in poverty in Africa or Asia or India, and what if I was watching my child starve in front of my eyes. Worse yet, what if I was dying (of some stupid infection that could have been cured with a simple antibiotic) and when I was gone there would be NO ONE to love or protect my children. NO ONE to tell them they are loved and valued, NO ONE to give them hope. In fact, when I am gone, they will likely starve to death, become prey to some sick child predator, or they would have to sell their bodies for a scrap of bread so they can survive another horrifying day.

These thoughts are so horrible that as quickly as they enter my head and nauseate my stomach, I can banish them because that just isn't the reality for me, here in America. I know that is the horrible reality for other mothers, but what can I really do about it???

But then we chose to adopt, and yes, the experiences we had and the things we saw in Ethiopia continue to haunt me and continue to stir my heart and hands to action. But that's not the main thing that compels me to action right now.

It's my two little boys, our sons that we adopted from Ethiopia. It's my 8 year old son, who could not look me in the eye when he first came home with us. I would bend down to his level to look him in the eye as I spoke to him, and his eyes would dart away. I would cup his face in my hands and turn his eyes back toward mine, and he could not, would not hold my gaze. Why was that?? Is it because he did not know his worth and his value? What a difference just 8 months later. Tonight as we sat on the sidelines for his soccer game, he glanced over about 100 times during that game to see if we were watching. "Do you see me?" he wondered as his eyes searched for ours and his face would light into a huge smile when he saw us looking back.

It's our 3 year old son, who at first responded to us with glares, and rhythmic crying and biting - and now he wraps his little arms tightly around my neck each night when I carry him up to bed. And when I tuck him in, he kisses me on each cheek and then my forehead and whispers "I lus you mommy". And when I pick him up after work, he looks into my face with delight and asks, "Home??". "Yes, we are going home" I tell him.

And the problem is, whenever I see those sad images now ... a sea of dirty faces, of skinny children desperately smiling for the camera, with flies on their eyes and the corners of their mouth, and protruding bellies, and scrawny legs, and rag clothing. I catch my breath and tears well up in my eyes and my throat chokes ... because I see Wesley's eyes in that child, or Jayden's smile in that child and I know that my sons were there. Those could be my children, my sons and my daughters, and who is going to protect them, and love them, and tell them they are valuable, and worthwhile and precious beyond measure??? Who????

Those orphaned children are no different than your son or your daughter. The one thing they want most in the world is a family - a mommy and a daddy. Someone to protect them and to love them and to teach them their immeasurable worth.

So what do YOU do with that???

Consider adopting a child or children. If you've thought about it but just haven't gotten off the fence - GET OFF THE FENCE and then look out, because your heart will never be the same! It's not as difficult or as expensive as you think! If adoption is not right for you and your family right now, consider helping one or more of those children through Children's Hopechest, World Vision, Compassion International, or AWAA's Orphan's Ticket Home campaign ( or hundreds of other worthy child advocacy organizations. There are so many opportunties to help and to make a huge difference ... but to do that, you've got to DO something.


Christa Bertram said...

Wow!! Well said.

Anonymous said...

Love your story. We sponsor several orphans (not currently adoptable) in Uganda and have been blessed to meet them. They have such worth and value and we feel blessed to be able to be part of the team of people working to raise them up as men and women of God. Blessings to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Great Karen...I can see the eye thing in Muluken. Dawit is much better at looking at me and holding gaze, but Muluken is not there yet! They are doing absolutely great however! I can still see holes, but it gets a little better every day! Thanks again for a great blog and a heart for God and His kids everywhere!

The Thomas Family, Artesia, NM said...

You just summed up in a beautiful words why my family has taken this amazing leap of faith to accept God's call to bring home our baby girl from Ethiopia!

God bless you!

Joe & Sarah McDaniel said...

We are just nearing the end of our paperchase, and so very excited to meet our Ethiopian child(ren) . . . but as you said, I know once our adoption is completed, in my heart, it will never be "enough!"

Amanda said...

Karen, thank you for this amazing story. For your readers, the link to contribute to An Orphan's Ticket Home is

Ashley said...

I know those feelings you describe and I am almost scared to go get our son in ET because of the new feelings I will experience. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! I am an orphan advocated, currently looking for sponsors for children at a new carepoint through Children's HopeChest. I hope you will visit my site and share the link with your friends.