my friend Esther

It was a good weekend.

Busy.

Exhausting…but the good kind of exhausting.

This weekend I attended a conference regarding foster care, adoption, orphan care and so many other things associated with those topics. It was so good. I am still processing what Dr. Barbara Sorrells shared. I am confident I’ll post more on that in the coming weeks, but today I wanted to share about one of the topics discussed. Orphan Prevention….kind of. (I know an ‘orphan’ is a child that has lost parents due to death, so I use that term loosely here)

If you read this blog over the last year, you know I tried to share our adoption story very authentically. You also know I’ve mentioned that adoption is not THE answer in regards to the worldwide ‘orphan’ crisis. I’ve mentioned community development, fighting poverty, advocating for children and families…ways to be a voice for those that have none.  Jen Hatmaker so honestly shared this weekend on that very topic. And so many adoptive parents I know often talk about that common theme – how do we prevent kids from becoming orphans? How do we help families that want to stay together, stay together? I will ALWAYS be an adoption advocate. However, I am completely confident that adoption is not the only answer regarding kids in crises…kids without family. I do believe that for many kids, both in the US and internationally, the need for adoption can be prevented.

The whole concept of preventing kids from entering the system (whether US foster care or overseas orphanages) is so huge.  And it comes with countless issues and challenges. Poverty and lack of education are often driving forces behind families being broken. So many challenges arise when you speak of global hunger and education issues – it often causes us to give up before we even try.  Because I mean, really, in a practical sense how do we do that?

There are a million answers to that question.

A million ways to make a difference.

A million more than that.

Today I want to share one.

I want to share about my sweet friend. I’ll call her “Esther” for privacy purposes.

Esther and her husband have three young kids – the oldest just barely in elementary school. Last year they became respite care for DHS, that turned into foster care. Not that long ago Esther became a foster mom to two kids wrought with potential, but chained by the consequences of neglect. I watched my sweet friend love those kids. Serve those kids. She gave up coffee dates with friends. She was inconvenienced. She was exhausted. She was uncomfortable. She gave despite all it cost her. She loved regardless how much it hurt her. She wrestled with hard questions. She faced hard realities. And she loved. She watched the kids blossom and make strides. She watched them excel and grow. She got a glimpse into the beauty of those kids that had been tucked away under layers of stuff.

And then the day came that the kids returned home. This is where most people would walk away. Most would quickly pass judgement on the kids’ parents and complain about a broken system. Esther chose to love and to keep fighting for those kids. She chose to love their mom and teach her. She took that young mom under her wing. She taught her how to mother. How to shop. How to make healthy meals. How to make a safe home. Esther has spent countless hours on the phone and in doctors offices getting the kids all the help they need. And she has been teaching their mom all along the way.

Tonight Esther rallied her friends to give the family a clean slate. To clean their apartment. To decorate. To give life and light where things once felt hopeless.

And though there is always a risk that things may not go as Esther hopes. As I hope. As my friends hope. Esther used her voice and influence to fight for those kids. She has given past the point of hurting to help that family have all the tools they need to be able to stay together. She has poured herself out in hope that those kids will not enter the system again.

Tonight I stood in a circle with my friends as we waited for the family to return to their newly updated home. I listened to Esther pray for that family. She wept tears of love and mercy. I looked at Esther and my friends and thought maybe this whole idea of ‘orphan prevention’ isn’t such an impossible challenge….because there are everyday heroes, like Esther, that are painfully fighting for at risk kids and their families.

Esther bears the scars of a battle well fought. Tonight 4 kids will go to sleep with their parents down the hall instead of in the home a stranger because Esther chose to give up personal comforts to be an advocate for kids at risk. Esther – she’s a world changer.

 

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