The word misunderstood has never been as appropriate in my life as it is here. The day we came home from court, I flipped on the TV and found a quick blurb about Angelina Jolie’s new fight to help orphans and vulnerable children around the world. I quickly wrote down the website and found myself reading Global Action For Children. I then researched more and found myself lost on YouTube trying to locate the news conference that I had gotten the quick blurb from. Here it is.
I wanted desperately to do more homework on the subject. I wanted to read more ways I could help. But I wanted to give the post about Global Action For Children the time it deserved. I still haven’t dedicated the time I want due to the events of the past three days.
So after watching as much of this news conference I could find, I realized that I had received emails and personal messages from my friends and family wondering why I hadn’t posted anything about our final court date. So I wrote a quick little post about the day. Two less orphans in the world. That is right. It’s a great title for the post.
With all the reading, phone conversations, the truly dark places that I go to when dealing with orphans from around the world, child trafficking, and horror stories from war survivors, I was happy that my daughters would not be part of that possibility. Why? Because they are not orphans anymore. And yes, by law, they
are were considered orphans.
If you do not know what life is like for woman and children in Guatemala, you have no right to fight me on this one. NONE! When I walked off the plane and into the airport pickup area, I was attacked by little children begging me for money. I’m not talking 9-10 year olds, I’m talking 3-4 year olds. They were pleading with me to give them anything I had. “Please Miss, anything you have, my children haven’t eaten for days” is one comment that I will never get out of my head.
What about this scene?
I was walking down the streets of Guatemala City, where there are dozens of mothers on the ground, with numerous children sitting close by, selling tapestries and jewelery they had made. My new daughter was in my left arm and we were picking out tapestries to bring home. The mother asked me if I was taking this little girl back to America. I said, “Yes, we are going home tomorrow.” What she said to me will haunt me for the rest of my life. She said, “Can you take my daughter with you? She is a good girl.” I obviously couldn’t. I was overwhelmed by sadness.
The idea that this mother was willing to give up her daughter to a complete stranger, another Mother, knowing, without question, that life in America IS that much better… it was more than shocking. It changed me. My desire to help end this started at that moment.
At that moment, I understood why there are so many adoptions from Guatemala. Of course there are the stories of bad adoption practices, that is tragic as well. But when you born into a country where 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, where there is no birth control available, where the rights of women are not equal to their male counterparts, life can be horrific to say the least. I have never seen so many children in the streets. They weren’t in school, they were begging on the streets. They had no shoes, hadn’t been bathed in a very long while, but were the most beautiful children I had ever seen.
You have no right!
Because you don’t know the history, the stories of why my daughters were given up, you have no right to say to me that they would have been better off to stay there. Until Guatemala can help it’s people, raise them out of the poverty, give equal rights to all its women, get blatant prostitution off the streets, until they can recover, fully recover from their horrific civil war, my daughters are better off here. I stand by that. If you have not seen true poverty, if you are not willing to look at it in its ugly, sinister face, then you don’t belong in this conversation.
Look at this through the eyes of poverty.
We live in a country where millions of illegal aliens fight to cross it’s borders, because life in America is so much better than what they escaped from. I can not tell you how many Guatemalan women I know who have left their children behind, so they could come to America and work, get paid, and send back money to them. Some of them have not seen their children in 10 years.
Living in America, having the opportunities to equal rights as women, to an education, are the gifts that their mother gave them. That is the ultimate gift.
Aren’t our hopes as mothers are to give our children things we did not have for ourselves? Their mothers in Guatemala gave them that gift. They gave up the most precious thing they had, their child, in hope for a better life. A life they know they could not give them. And they couldn’t because of the disease that they all have – poverty.
I don’t want to go into my fight about poverty in America vs poverty in all third world countries. I have done that before. If you are interested in reading what I have to say, please read it HERE. I also explain a little about my daughters’ stories there as well.
An adoptive Mother I respect wrote a thought provoking post, called The Perfect Storm. In it she said, “For that makes it possible for us to view a woman’s relinquishment of her child as heroic act, one to be praised and repeated.”
It’s not heroic, it’s necessary.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of true poverty, the relinquishment of a child is not a heroic act, but a selfless and necessary act if the mother wants her child to live. And until we, as mankind, stand up and try to make a difference in the world, until we try to make poverty history, there are no other options right now. Unfortunately, the only option for these Mothers, that includes LIFE for their children, is relinquishment. In the harsh light of severe poverty, how can adoption be wrong? These children would die… or worse.
Do I hope that all of my children are part of the change that needs to happen in the world? Yes, I do.
Do I hope that my daughters understand the opportunities that they have been given, simply because a piece of paper says they are Americans? Yes, I do.
Do I hope that they will then help do something to change the system that put them there in the first place? Yes, I do.
Yes, I hope all of my children will be part of the generation that will finally take the stand and make the right decisions to change the face of poverty.
Poverty, child trafficking, lack of education, adoption, are all part of a vicious cycle. And poverty is the root to all of it. If poverty wasn’t an issue, I would say that the percentage of adoptions would go dramatically down. Especially, international adoptions. I know that these women did not want to give up their children, they felt that they had to. It is a horrible thing to have to go through. But they have little if any choice until the systems change in their own countries.
And that is my goal. My goal as a woman, a mother, and as a human being. The reasons why my daughters were given up for adoption are the very same reasons why I write and fight against the atrocities that happen in the world.
If you are not willing to help the cause, to help stop poverty, to help make the changes that are so necessary in the world, then with all due respect, back off.