Two Mothers. Two Stories.

He asked her, “Mama, do you want one of my chicken nuggets?”

She responded, “No, honey, I have plenty of food here.”

Then, his brother stopped at her table, put his arm around her, and said, “Mama, do you want some of my ice cream?”

She held his hand, “No, son, I am sharing my cone with your little sister.  Thank you, though.”

Then the birthday girl stopped over, “Mama, will you hold my toy from my Happy Meal?  I don’t want to lose it.”

She looked into her eyes, never even glancing another way for a moment, “Yes, 
sweetheart, I will hold it right here.  It will be safe with me”

It’s hard to believe that this same loving, patient, gentle mother lived without her kids for most of last year.   I watch them now, and I actually am a little in awe sometimes at the way she mothers her children.  She never takes her eyes of them.  She participates in the adult conversation but she is always fully aware of what each of her kids are doing.  She never has to reprimand them.  With only a nod or a shake of the finger, they understand what she is trying to say.  Only once she had to remind her daughter to not run inside the restaurant, but even when she did that, there was no sign of anger or impatience in her voice. 

Her kids as well were nothing but angels.  They were considerate and gracious…quick to say please and thank you.  They made eye contact with me any time they asked me a question or answered something I had asked of them.  The three oldest boys were more concerned with taking care of their youngest sister than playing themselves.  They wanted to share with their mother even though they knew she also had food. 

But, a year ago, this family was not together.  A year ago this family had four kids in an orphanage and a mother with a young baby daughter, frantically trying to figure out a way to earn more money so she could have her kids back. 
The family is back together.  The family is still very poor but they are together.  They are happy.  And, I don’t mean just kind of day to day living happy.  They are joyous…content…happy…full of life.  They know what is important, and that is enough for them. 


Orphan care is an interesting thing.  Most people look at those taking care of orphans as saints and at the orphans as poor, helpless, starving children.  Neither of these statements is true.  

For my part, at least, most of the kids I care for aren’t actually “orphans” at all.   Most of the kids I care for have at least one living parent if not both parents still living.  For many of these kids, abuse is the main reason why they are in our care…physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse.  This is an unfortunate statistic and one of the hardest parts of doing what I do.  I never want my heart to get hard, so I try to stay sensitive but it hurts oh so bad hearing some of what these beautiful babes have been through.  It’s not fair.  It’s not right. 

But for some of our other kids, it has just been circumstances and poverty that have brought them to us.  Their parents/grandparents/relatives could no longer afford to care for them, so they were sent to the streets to look for food or work and were caught by a social worker or some other government agent….and then in turn sent to us.  Sadly, too many times, I have seen families who have grown accustomed to having their kids with us and look to it really as more of a relief than anything.  They know their kids are safe and are getting an education and learning about Jesus, so they don’t feel any real need to try and change their circumstances and regain custody of their children.  Of course, there are others, like the mother I was spending time with yesterday that did everything she could do to try and get her kids back.  She knew her life would never be full without them.  

Yesterday, though, she told me that some of the teachers at her kids’ school have asked her and her children why they couldn’t just stay at the orphanage.  They tell them that they would have had more opportunities or more “things” at the orphanage.  One of them even said, “If you had stayed, you probably could have been adopted by some American someday and then gone to the states.  That would have been way better than living like you do now.”

Tears sting my eyes even as I write that last statement.  What?! They would have been better adopted by some American than with their OWN MOTHER?! NO! NO! NO! I saw them with their mother.  I saw the love. I saw the joy. I saw the laughter.  NO teacher…they would not have been better off.  


Last night my daughter was giggling to the point of crying because one of the batteries inside a talking toy is almost dead so it sounds like the little girl inside the toy sucked all the air out of a helium balloon.  She was giggling and giggling to the point that I had to hold on to her stool because I thought she would fall off.  I, of course, then started laughing because really her giggle is one of the best sounds ever.  When I went to bed, I even started giggling a little again just thinking about it.  It was one of those “I wish I could stop time right here” kinds of moments.

But, then I started thinking about that other mama…the one who spent all of last year with her kids in an orphanage…our orphanage.  And, I thought about all the giggles we heard and experienced with her daughter (as her daughter was my sweet girl’s best friend), and it made me so sad.
Because here is the truth…that other mama, the one who lost custody of her kids for a year, yeah her…well she really loves her kids too.  She loves them just as much as I love mine.  But life hasn’t been as good to her as it has to me.  And I don’t why.  

Sure, maybe she has made poor decisions in the past.  I don’t know.  

Maybe she wasn’t very good with money and squandered it.  I don’t know

Maybe she was involved with bad people at some point. I don’t know.

But, maybe…maybe, she was born into poverty just like her kids were.  Maybe she never had a chance to go to school.  Maybe she never had parents that loved her and took care of her and taught her things.  Maybe she didn’t have opportunities.  Maybe the only reason her kids were taken away was because life has been hard. Maybe it wasn’t her fault at all.

I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that moment with my daughter in my kitchen last night for anything in this world.  My hubby, my kids, my family…they mean more to me than anything on this earth.  I savor every day I get to be wife to my husband and mama to my kids. 
But guess what? I also had parents that loved me. They took care of me.  They had good jobs.  We had a beautiful home. We had food to eat.  I went to school. I graduated from college.  I had opportunities.  I came to Guatemala because God called me and ultimately I also wanted to.  I had choices.  And now Hubby and I get to provide all those things for our kids. And then someday hopefully they will for their kids.  

The cycle will continue.

For so many though their cycle just includes poverty to more poverty.  But we, as a society, judge them.  We take away their rights.  We grade their parenting skills.  We continue to perpetuate the idea that everything in America is better…that being adopted into a North American family is always better than staying in their own poverty stricken one.

Now please don’t misunderstand me.  I am FOR adoption.  I love adoption. I think it is beautiful.  I thank Jesus EVERY SINGLE DAY that I get to call my oldest, son.  I cannot imagine my life or my family without his infectious smile and joy.  He is my bright, shiny star.  

BUT…but…hear me say this…

Adoption is not always the answer.  Helping families is.  Mamas and daddies should get to experience laughing until you cry moments with their kids.  They should not be punished for being born with nothing.  This is not their fault. Why do we treat them like it is?  


I am thankful for the privilege of working with an organization that is committed to orphan care but also committed to restoring families.  I pray that you too wherever you live…wherever you are…whatever you do…that you too will commit to helping restore families and giving these families a chance to be together.  TOGETHER. We cannot take ownership over kids that are not ours and were never meant to be ours.  We must fight for something better for them…YES.  But, fight for that right for the WHOLE family.  

Wouldn’t you have wanted someone to do the same for you if you had been that mama? 


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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