Love is in the air. On February 14 we will celebrate a western holiday, Valentine’s Day, a historical day in which a few religious saints made sacrifices for love, and were martyred as a result. Though they ended in tragedy, this day is remembered for romantic love – celebrated in the west by a huge display of love with flowers, teddy bears, chocolate and heart shaped sweet tarts. In my childhood, I recall giving valentine cards covered with strawberry shortcake, rainbow lite, and care bears to classmates, covered in heart stickers, and those god-awful quotes, “Be Mine” “Love always” “Yours truly” Yuck.
In my dating years, this one day caused anxiety and turmoil, as women all over the country waited for their man to proclaim his undying love. Conversely, men probably shook in their boots, hoping they could outdo the massive mountain of marketing expectations, fearing failure by shattering the love of their life. But real love is so much more than chocolates and flowers – it runs deeper than the superficial expression we were purposely misled into perceiving as love.
Take, for example, the journey each child at Baby Home has been through in their short life. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, it takes a village to love a child and contribute to their life saving story. Each person is strategically placed in the child’s life journey, and their individual decisions to take charge of a single moment in time is what helps weave the path to a future.
From the time a child is abandoned – the rescuer who transfers him or her to the hospital or orphanage, the orphanage worker who makes a decision to fight for the child’s life, the initial doctors and nurses who intervene in the first or only life saving surgery, to the short or long term foster families, the financial donors and nannies, and finally until their path leads them home, to their adoptive families.
These journeys are amazing and beautiful, their lives touched by so many hearts and hands, like a stack of dominos falling, handing off the child from one unto the other. It represents the type of love that I’d like to celebrate this holiday. A sacrificial love that is displayed in the selflessness of all those who have contributed, no matter how big or small, because it’s sum of all the moments that contribute to the significance of a child’s survival. If you have been on the giving end of a child’s journey, perhaps you feel as I do – that the child’s face and his life is forever branded into your heart and mind, leaving an unforgettable image.
On the flipside, let us not forget the lost love, the mourning which comes with each child in this circumstance. I was recently reminded of that a few weeks ago, as I stared at a father who had tears in his eyes. He was suffering the loss of what could be, his eyes focused on the child whom he loved deeply, yet felt unprepared and unable to provide in a way that he wanted. Giving her up would be a form of sacrifice, giving her up for what he believes is her best chance. In that moment, I wanted to cry out – to prevent him from making a decision which would forever change the course of not only his life, but hers.
And so whenever I look at the unforgettable face of a child in a successful adoption, I see the pieces of their life that needed to be so intricately woven together to form the person and the life they now
I see the beauty of their life story, the strength and courage not only of the child, but of all the lives they touched. My heart gets that familiar and uncomfortable twinge of pain, the feeling which is only produced from the depths of my heart, a feeling which is physically painful. I recall their past, thinking of where they were, how far they have come and who they will become. My imagination can’t contain itself as I fantasize their future; perhaps he or she will become the ambassador for the voices of all orphans one day, and make history by revolutionizing orphan care. One can dream, right?
Until then, for those of you who would like to know more about how you can lend a helping hand, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or scan our QR code and follow along to hear the real life stories of children in China. Happy Valentine’s Day!