In this world of mom blogs, parenting articles, and social media, it has become clear that there are a million different ways to raise kids. Some moms breastfeed, some bottle feed. Some babies are born in hospitals, some are born at home. Some kids attend public school, some attend private school, and some are homeschooled. Some moms throw elaborate birthday parties straight from Pinterest, and some have a small family gathering at home. Some kids eat sugar and gluten, some do not. Some moms co-sleep, some moms kick that baby out of the bedroom from day one. Some moms spank, some would never dream of it.
But you know what has also become clear? At the root of every decision a mom makes is the immeasurable love she has for her child. Moms don’t decide on a discipline strategy because they want their children to be harmed. They choose what works best for the child because they love them and want them to learn something. Moms don’t apathetically make a schooling decision. They painstakingly research every possible option because they love their baby so much and they want them to have an amazing school experience. Pretty much every decision we make as a mom is motivated by our love for our children.
But what about the kids who are not as blessed?
But have you ever stopped to think about all the children in this world who, for some reason or another, do not have a mom that loves them like that? Or do not have a mom at all? Their basic survival needs might be met, but there is no one out there fighting for them. There is no one agonizing over where to send them to school, no one planning a birthday celebration, no one packing them a healthy lunch, and no one tucking them in at night. Many kids do not even have a place that they can call home.
Yes, I’m sure that intellectually we all know there are millions of kids in orphanages and in foster care and even living on the streets. But I would venture to say that most of us lack this knowledge in our hearts. Because if we did, if we really let ourselves think about the kids who are hurting and lonely and feeling unloved, we would do something about it. I will be the first to admit that I have been and still continue to be in that place of indifference and avoidance. It hurts to think about kids who are hurting. It’s uncomfortable, and honestly it’s quite overwhelming. What can I possibly do to help?
Adoption is a great way to step in.
I know you are probably thinking that I am going to tell you to adopt. Well, I am. Mainly because I have done it twice and cannot imagine life without my two adopted babies. It was one of the hardest things our family has ever done, but it is also the thing I am most thankful for. (See Why We Are Thankful for Adoption.) It didn’t make sense on paper, it was an emotional roller coaster, it tested all of my parenting chops, and I flew on a plane to China with all of my kids – twice! Talk about a struggle! On the other hand, I got to teach two lonely, hurting children about what it means to be loved, and then watch them learn to feel safe and give love in return.
Yes, adoption is awesome.
But there are other ways to do something too, like becoming foster parents.
I have many local friends who are foster parents. Some of those foster children have been adopted by their foster family, and some have been reunited with their biological families. But all of them got to experience the love of a mom and the safety of a home for a period of time.
You might say that being a foster parent is too hard. The kids may not behave, you might become attached and it will be too hard to let go, you really don’t have enough resources or space. Yes. You’re right. All of that is true. But all of that is probably also true of your biological children, and you still have them! I know that my kids don’t behave many times a day. I never feel like I have enough space for my four and their belongings, since I step on a Lego or a Barbie every single day! And one day I will have to let them go. They will grow up and move out and it will be really hard. But I am willing to go through all of that because I love them with an immeasurable love. There is nothing they did to deserve that love, except be my kids! And in the same way, there is nothing that hurting and lonely kids did to deserve not having that love. As moms, we can stand in the gap and provide that love.
If anything, you can still provide support.
Now if you really do not feel like adoption or foster care are options for you, and they honestly are not options for everyone, don’t think you are off the hook! Find the families in your community who are fostering and adopting, and support them. Bring them dinner, offer to babysit, clean their house, pick up some groceries, or donate to their adoption fund. Get to know the kids they are fostering and adopting, and be another adult role model for them. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in making a family feel loved and supported, and shows those lonely and hurting kids what love looks like.
Share the love.
As I wrap up this post, I feel a little bit like I might have yelled at you. And maybe I did. But please don’t mistake my passion for judgment. Caring for the orphan is something God has put on my heart, and it is because I have seen the beauty in that journey that I want others to experience it too. This was a parenting decision we made in our family, and it was also motivated by love.
Let love motivate your parenting decisions. Love your children well, and make sure they know without a shadow of a doubt what it feels like to be loved with an immeasurable love. But don’t forget about those babies that are in need of that love. Figure out a way you can share your love, and take the first step today. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but we do it anyway because we know it’s worth it. Every kid is worth it.