Over the last 15 years, my mom and step dad have undertaken one of the most sacrificial but rewarding roles as parents to children that have been neglected, abused and abandoned.
When I was 18 years old, my mom started fostering a 13-year-old girl who actually lived in the community that I grew up in. I knew her to walk past in the street but I never imagined that just a few years later this girl would become part of our family. As I’m sure you can imagine that was quite a surreal time for me. Of course, my mom spoke to me about it and I thought it was a great idea. Besides, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really that bothered because as *Laura was moving in I was preparing to move away to go to university; that was in the summer/fall of 1998.
Since then my parents have welcomed into their home babies, toddlers, children and teenagers both on a short and long-term basis, who have experienced some of the worst and horrific abuse that no child should ever have to experience. I have seen the tears, teenage tantrums, fights between these kids and my parents as well as the stress this process has had on my parent’s marriage. Yet, the desire to see these children experience love, a happy home, support, security and dare I say it, discipline, has not wavered their conviction. The fact that 15 years later some of these children (that are now adults), still call my parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and show up every year for Christmas, simply speaks volumes of their resolve, consistency and never give up attitude. I could not be more proud.
Having seen, first hand, the impact that abuse and neglect has on children and then also seeing how love can truly transform a person, I know that I will at some point either foster, adopt or do both. For now I have decided to sponsor an 11-year-old girl from the Dominican Republic. Why? Because it’s what I can do, right now. Can I afford it? Not really, but I can re-arrange my budget to do so and maybe cut out the three Starbucks I have once a month lol. Like I said, I will definitely foster/adopt a child (ren) from the UK at some point but if you have read my previous blog: Fatherless Child, Fatherless Woman, you will understand why it is important to me that my future children have a constant father figure in their life. For now this is something I can do by myself.
I’m not perfect and I’ve realised a character flaw about myself which is this: If I don’t want to do something I’ll make excuses as to why I can’t so that people won’t think badly or judge me. It’s really easy to make excuses as to why we can’t do certain things: lack of money, lack of time, lack of training etc and they might all be valid reasons. However, for the most part the real reason is because we just don’t want to do it and we ought to simply be honest and say ‘I just don’t want to give my time or money to that thing/person or it’s not a priority for me right now’ (I’ve started to do this more). I truly believe if we really want to do something we will find a way to do it!
One day this girl is going to grow up to be a woman and I’m sure she already has dreams and desires of her own. If you have read my About Me page, one of my passions is to see women know how valuable and loved they are and this little girl can start to know that now, in a real and practical way. I can do my part to make that a reality for her. As a single woman, I have taken the ‘G’ in that word to stand for a core value I want to live by, generous. Therefore, because generosity is a value, I don’t need to THINK about being generous I just need to be who God created me to be.
I know I am not the only one who is sponsoring a child from another country and this post isn’t to blow my own trumpet; but it is to challenge us to look at own lives and see where we can really put our ‘money where our mouth is’ and ‘practice what we preach’. I heard Joyce Meyer say once, talking about Christian’s that: ‘We are educated beyond our level of obedience.’ The Leancia Donaldson translation: ‘Frankly, I don’t care what you know, what you say or how nice you say it. Until people actually see it worked out practically or at least attempted to be worked out, in our lives, it really has no weight or result. I want my faith and belief to look like something.
I am very excited to meet Esteisi one day very soon (maybe my next mission trip lol), until then like my mom and Jesus, I will pray, love, encourage and support her until I am needed. A special thanks to Compassion and Rejuvenate Worldwide (who I am going to Uganda with next month), in the amazing work they are doing in helping to release children from poverty and provide an education. I am more than honoured to partner with you.
*Not her real name