Sunday, July 3, 2011
Thank You, Woman's Day Magazine! And Why I Do What I Do...
I must send out a HUGE THANK YOU to Woman's Day magazine and Senior Editor, Brian Underwood, for featuring me in an article in this month's August issue. This article helps bring awareness to Ordinary Hero and explains what led me to start this organization. Wow!! What an honor!! I'm thrilled about this wonderful opportunity, but mostly thrilled that it will have many of you considering adoption or helping a child in need, when you may not have considered it before. I love what I do! I'm always so humbled and amazed when I travel to the other end of the world, to find precious children living in conditions that most of us can't even imagine. I find them without proper clothes, no shoes, looking very malnourished, but yet I am greeted by the sweetest smile and warmest hugs wrapped in love beyond anything I have seen. They are so thankful to see someone show up to visit, because visitors are sparse in a remote orphanage 7 hours outside of the capitol city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We travel that far not only to show them love and give them clothes and food, but for those who are waiting for a forever family to find them, we walk in bringing hope for their future. I look at this precious child I have seen sitting on a waiting list for months and months, whom I am finally getting to meet in person. I automatically realize how this child's picture on the wait list does not even do her justice. I am amazed by her sweetness, her smile, her personality, and the fact that she holds my hand as if I have come for her and she does not want to let go. She looks at me with wonder in her eyes and says the words, "Mother?" With sadness I look at her and give her a big hug and kiss and shake my head, trying to explain that I am not her mother, but I will help her find a mother, as best I can, knowing that she probably doesn't understand me. One thing they all understand is love. I let her walk around holding my hand, while I interact with the other children. Every time I glance down and see her just staring up at me with that sweet smile, I give her hugs of encouragement in between taking the other children's pictures. I realize that at just 4 years old, this little girl understands completely what is going on in her life. She knows she does not have a mother or a father, yet she waits daily for one. She has seen other children come and go and now I have shown up and she wonders if just maybe it is her turn. I take much time capturing the children's sweet personalities in new pictures and video, praying the whole time that their forever families will see something in these pictures that make their hearts jump at this awesome calling of welcoming a child into their family, and ultimately changing the world for this precious child who has just as many dreams for their future as our own biological children do. I finally give lots of kisses and hugs and hand this sweet little girl a new toy to distract her from me having to leave. I load up in the van just outside the gate of the orphanage and begin to pull away as I look at the gate and see that one little girl just standing there, one hand on the rail of the gate and the other hand holding her toy, dangling at her side, just watching us drive away. I see that the other children in the background are laughing and thrilled to be playing with their new toys, but I realize this little girl, whom I had connected with so strongly, only wanted one thing in the whole wide world..... a mother. She felt a mother's love coming from me and that is why it was so hard for her to watch me go. I tear up just watching her standing there, looking as if she was going to cry. I pray that me being there will have some impact on her life. I make it my duty to find her a home. That is the only thing that brings me any comfort in the fact that I can't just adopt her and all the children just like her, myself. I think about what a blessing she is going to be to a family out there who doesn't even know she exists. I come home with a heavy heart and many children's faces dancing in my mind, knowing that they all deserve a family. Some of them are adoptable and some of them are not and simply need a sponsor to support them to make sure they will have a chance in life, living in Africa. I come home and watch in amazement as I see so many of you step up to the call to welcome one of these little ones into your home. As I try to give you a glimpse of the same sweetness that I have seen, your hearts jump as much as mine do. Many of you have stepped up to adopt, support and sponsor these amazing children. Lives are being changed.....and yes, that sweet little girl that I had to leave standing at the gate, is now home with her forever family with the biggest grin you have ever seen. And even sweeter that I got to watch her personally walk out of the airport gate, holding the hand that replaced mine....her mothers. Her face lit up when she saw me and I had one more kiss waiting for her :)
Whether it is a child in Africa, across the other end of the world, or it is a child in a homeless shelter, or foster care system here in America, there is no difference. These children in need, through no fault of their own, need the ORDINARY people in this world, like me and like you, to give them help to change their world for the better. We can't change the whole world by helping just one, but the whole world for that one......CHANGES. I've seen the world change for my own adopted son whom we found living as a five year old on the other side of the world in Africa. There are so many more just like him. In case you wondered.....that is why I do what I do :)
Thank you, Woman's Day, for taking the time to feature Ordinary Hero in your August issue!!