Sunday, January 29

Beyond Borders

Friday evening it wasn't quite movie-time bedtime for the kids yet and they were running around burning off their last energy. So hubby and I went on looking at living room furniture. Our old couch is really starting to fall apart and we're short on seating, so we're looking at possibly spending part of our tax refund on a couple of new couches. Found a gorgeous leather set that we both liked, which I bookmarked, happily imagining it someday in our home. Then we put the kids to bed and sat down to watch the movie.

The cover of the "Beyond Borders" said it was about foreign aid workers. Moments into the movie, I discovered part of it is set in Ethiopia, where my girls are from. Wow. I was suddenly even more glad I had impulsively picked it up in the grocery store.

The first scene was set in 1984--a gala fundraiser in London for African orphans. Into the lavish party strode an aid worker, with a scrawny orphan in tow. The angry worker blasted the assembled big-wigs for pulling funding from Ethiopia. A famine was on, hundreds of people were dying every day, and these posh and pampered people were spending money on plastic surgery and expensive champagne, then fooling themselves into thinking that they were great humanitarians.

A wealthy woman at the gala is moved by this man's appeal to travel to Ethiopia to bring food to the starving people. Along the way to the feeding camp, she sees a starving baby lying at the side of the road next to his dying mother. The woman makes the driver stop, and snatches the baby from certain death to bring with her to the feeding station. The scene was even more horrific to me because I knew it was not a Hollywood over-dramatization. It is real. It happens day after day after day, all over Africa.

In fact, this could have been one of MY babies. I don't know my children's pasts. But I do know that something awful happened in their lives to cause their birthmothers to relinquish them. It makes me cry to think of, and it makes me desperate to keep other babies, other mothers, from such horrific circumstances.

The movie following the life of the aid worker and the woman beyond Ethiopia, to Cambodia and then Chechnia (sp?). Suffering, sickness, and violence everywhere. People everywhere in desperate need of anyone willing to reach out a hand. It wasn't a feel-good movie. There were parts of it I did not care for. But it was an important movie to me because it was an impassioned cry for action. I am convinced that this movie is part of what moved Jolie to later adopt a baby from Ethiopia. It is hard to look need in the face. But once you do, how can you not be moved to action?

After the movie, my gaze wandered to the nearby computer screen, still displaying 'my' leather couch. Suddenly the $1200 per couch price tag seemed obscene. How many people could be fed with the $2400 we were so casually considering spending on two couches? Suddenly I wasn't so sure those couches were all that important. That $2400 would even be a start on the adoption of one more child. Yeah, there are always more kids. Yeah, we can't help everyone. Yeah, we'll truly need a new couch some day. But is that the right use for our money right now? I am not sure.

I look around and see the life I lead. Not rich-- by American standards, anyway. But I've never had a day where I couldn't feed my children. I've never been homeless. My husband and I have always had TWO cars to drive, for pity's sake! It really got both us us thinking about how spoiled we are and about what more we might be able to do.

We're still talking about what else we might do. There are many ways, large and small, to make a difference in the world. Sponsor a child through Compassion International. Donate to UNICEF. Volunteer for UNHCR. Or even-- my favorite-- adoption. I have a hard time adequately describing the blessing adoption has been to our family. Yeah, we've made a difference in the lives of our kids. But THEY are making an even bigger difference in our lives. Holding their little hands each day is a priceless gift from God.

In the bonus material for Beyond Borders, Angelina Jolie talks about the great need in the world and says, "Everyone can do something." That is the truth. My heart is with Ethiopian children. Your cause may be something different. Think about. There are hurting people everywhere.
What moves you?


At 4:25 PM, Blogger bogus said...

Mary, thank you so much for that post. Everything you said was so true. Everybody can do something. We sponsor 3 kids through Compassion, but there are times (many, many times) lately that I am overwhelmed by the realization that there is only so far money can go for many children...they need loving homes desperately. I'm hoping and praying that ours is one of those homes someday (soon).

At 7:28 PM, Blogger shell said...

I found your blog off Brianna's-Thank you for share your heart. By husband and I feel very much the same way. We were just laying in bed last night, debating the $5 shirt I had purchased-yeah it was cheap, but did I need it? It is fun how God continues to work on our hearts everyday and never leaves us unchanged!

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love your family, Mary. I look forward to picking up Beyond Borders soon. This post gave me a lot to think about, and I know the movie will, too!

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Perri said...

The couch is beautiful, but so are those babies you keep bringing home.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Daneille said...

When we were in the process of deciding from where to adopt and when we should do it, the information I received from one of the agencies had a sheet in it that said in about 26-point type, "If not you, who? If not now, when?" That's what did it for me. I knew I wanted to adopt. I knew we were blessed with more than most in the world (even though we are decidedly lower-middle-class by American standards). I could think of a million reasons why now was not the time. But now wasn't the time when I suddenly found out I was pregnant with my first child, either, and I said to myself, "Look how spectacularly THAT has turned out." The more I thought about it, the more my good, solid, practical reasons for now NOT being the right time to adopt seemed rather paltry and pathetic. And guess what? A year later we had our Ethiopian son in our home. Four-and-a-half months later was NOT the right time to start the process of adopting our daughter, but we're doing it anyway, because when would be a better time?

Thanks for the info about the movie. I'll be skipping over to the library website now to see whether they have it.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Wendy said...

Well said Mary. While we never adopted for humanitarian reasons, international adoption has changed who I am and how I view things. We, too are always wondering what more we can do. I'd love to adopt again, but my husband feels maxed out. We sponsor 3 kids through Christian Children's Fund and that has been a good experience. We're hoping to do more, too.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger owlhaven said...

Hi Wendy, Actually, each of our adoptions has begun with a longing for another child, plain and simple. We have become increasingly more aware of the need in the world since then, and now see adoption as a wonderful way to help in the world. But first and foremost, anyone going into adoption should have a longing for a child.

I know you understand that, but I just wanted to clarify that as our biggest motivation, since that maybe did not come through clearly enough in my post, despite what I wrote in the second-to-last paragraph...
Hugs, Mary

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Brianna Heldt said...

Oh Mary what a wonderful post! It TOTALLY speaks to the way God has changed my husband's and my hearts. Our eyes have been opened to the situation in so many parts of the world, and also opened to our own selfishness and relative wealth living here in the US. We will never be the same and I know very well that our trip to Ethiopia will only reinforce that.

I am hoping (been praying about it for awhile) to start up some sort of orphans/adoption ministry at our church. What I have found is that many people are generous and care, but aren't motivated or don't know how to help. And it's not hard to understand why. For most of us here in the US, we worry about what to wear and where to go on vacation and what kind of car to drive and how should we get our hair cut...we are EXTREMELY isolated from the reality of the world we live in. But once you start talking to people about the realities, seems like people do care, I think we just tend towards feeling helpless (which leads to being unmotivated.)

One really neat way to help that I have thought of is for Christmas gifts for people, to buy an animal/make a donation in their name. This year World Vision put out a catalogue at Christmastime where you could buy newborn baby kits for moms in Africa, livestock, etc., really specific stuff, in someone's name and they get a neat card that tells about what the gift was. We didn't do it this year but I think next year we will.

I haven't picked up the movie yet but hope to soon. I'll let you know after we watch it! (Did you see "Hotel Rwanda?" I cried so much during that movie, it was so hard to also served to move and change my heart.)

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Karina said...

Wendy directed me here, and I'm so glad she did. What a beautiful post! I too have always wanted to make a difference in the world, and adoption has always been one of my goals. As a single woman, with some financial difficulty, I'm just not capable yet, but it is part of my "plan", and Africa (because I was born there) has always held a special place in my heart as a place to adopt from. In the meantime, I'm a big sister through "Big Brother Big Sister", and have received an incredible gift by helping my "little sister" grow up. We've been together five years now, and what a blessing that has been for me.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

Oh Mary...I certainly wasn't saying that *you* adopt for humanitarian reasons. I wrote what I said for the benefit of any readers who weren't adoptive parents. It seems to be the common thought (at least that I have personally encountered) among people when they meet us: we must be such angels to adopt--what humanitarians we must be! Ack! I hate it. I also wanted to say that we didn't adopt to help, BUT it still turns out to be a helpful thing.

I definitely think you guys adopted because you wanted more children. And, you're right, that is the *only* way to go into an adoption. It can't be about charity, right?!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger owlhaven said...

Wendy, Right, that charitable aspect is just a really nice side-benefit. We are so blessed by these kids-- that is the heart of the matter, and I can't stress that enough. Adoption is a true-blue miracle!

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Brianna Heldt said...

It's an interesting thing to talk about. While anyone adopting certainly ought to be wanting more children (and not be thinking of it as some charity case), I think a lot of non-adopting people out there think of it ONLY as wanting more kids (therefore why would they adopt, as they already have enough bio kids) and don't at all consider the fact that thousands of children are living today without moms and dads. Seems like that's the other extreme, which is a bummer as well.

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Daneille said...

I think there certainly was an element of humanitarianism in our deciding to adopt. As far as I know, we could have more bio kids. And we did/do want more kids. And there are so many kids out there who want/need families. So yes, we chose to adopt so that we could give a home to a child who needs one. But had we not wanted more kids, we wouldn't have adopted just to be noble or something. I don't think there is anything wrong with acknowledging humanitarian motives for adopting.


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