When you hold a statistic it becomes real.
We knew when we moved to Haiti that there were over 500,000 orphans in this country prior to the earthquake. God is literally the only one who knows what that number is today.
When we toss around that statistic, it seems big, but numbers are cold. In lots of ways they are dead. They are impersonal and lifeless. Black and white with rough edges.
We forget that inside that figure are fingers and toes. A little soul. Two sad eyes. A tiny mouth. A heart longing to be rescued and loved.
We held a statistic this weekend.
We sat with one piece of that number in our arms.
A stiff, stoic number all of sudden became soft, warm, weak, and needy.
Like the Velveteen Rabbit, that statistic came alive in our arms this weekend and we have wept over it.
A four week old baby girl from an orphanage nearby.
Her mother died at birth.
A lot of orphans in Haiti are not true orphans. Many have parents. Those parents simply can’t take care of their babies.
This baby is a true orphan.
All we’d have to do is say the words, and she could stay here with us. We could take care of her and possibly adopt her one day.
And yet I’m terrified.
Adoption in Haiti is a nightmare.
It can take a very long time, especially if you do everything legally.
To say yes to this baby would mean probably saying no to going home to the US for Christmas and the summer. It would mean staying here for much longer than I am prepared to commit to at this time.
It’s been an emotional weekend.
A few months ago I lived far away from this country. Crazy how you can live far away from a country you don't actually live very far away from. I lived far away from statistics like “500,000.” I could almost pretend that fatherless children did not exist in real life. I could walk around with my eyes closed tricking myself into believing that everyone around the world lived just like me.
I said “No” to the world's helpless babies every day when I lived in the States. I said, “Who cares.” I said “Not my problem.” I said, “I love my own comfort and safety more than I care that unheard of numbers of children…living numbers…are suffering every single day.” “It’s sad, but I’m not giving up my life to do something about it.”
I did not say those things out loud. But with my actions…with my life…I was screaming those words.
Things change once you hold a statistic in your arms, look her in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry. No one wants you.”
There are a million and a half reasons why it’s not smart to say “yes” to a baby in Haiti.
There are a million and a half questions that I wish could be answered.
Like at what point do you have to say no? At what point is your home full? At what point is enough, enough? How long would this really take? How long Oh Lord? How long?
And yet we are literally grieving over this baby.
Aaron held this tiny girl in his arms. Blinking back the tears he said, “I know there are a million reasons not to do this, and maybe we shouldn’t. But here is a tiny baby girl with no parents. She doesn’t have parents. How do we say no to her?”
For now she is back at the orphanage with 43 other kids.
We’re praying, asking God for wisdom.
Asking for faith.
This has been so painful this weekend. What I want to do is close my eyes and pretend it all away. I didn’t want to have to deal with the orphan issue so quickly in this country. But Haiti has a way of not letting you ease into anything. Haiti throws you in the deep end and forces you to swim.
Aaron and I know that no matter if God wants this baby in our home or not, it is time for us to hold that giant statistic in our lap…it’s time to face it…to talk about it.
I know many of you are going to be moved by this baby’s story. I love you guys for that. I know you will read this and pray with us and hurt for us, but here’s what I need you to not do…
Please do not say, “Oh…I’d take her in a second. I want her. I would take in all those babies in Haiti.”
Because what we mean when we say something like that is, “If they could all come to the US, I’d take them. If I could stay here near Target, in a house with AC and hot water…then I’d do something about the orphan crisis in Haiti.”
Well that’s not an option. Most of these kids can’t come to the US. None of them can come to the US any time soon. Not in time to save their lives. Adoption is great. We love adoption. But adoption is not a viable option for a large number of the orphans in Haiti.
It is easy to read a post like this, see the picture of that sweet baby girl and say, "I'll take her. I want her."
But that’s where things get tricky right?
Tricky because to have her, you may have to move here. To keep her, I'd have to stay here in Haiti for a lot longer than I was planning to stay. Tricky because the hard, terrible truth is there are 500,000 kids like the one in the picture who are helpless and hurting, but to care for them you'd have to come to them instead of them coming to you. In no time at all, you could fill up a house in Haiti with children who need a mom and a dad. You'd probably have to leave your home to make a dent in the orphan issue in Haiti. You'd have to leave the US. I'd have to stay in Haiti.
To care for the orphan in places like Haiti the church is going to have to get dirty and hot.
That’s when we’d have to really be living for a Kingdom we can’t see, because caring for the orphan…rescuing children like this baby in this picture will take more than words or even money.
It would take our very life or at least a huge chunk of it. It would take a life long fast from the things of this earth.
I wish the answers were simple, pretty, and easy. Haiti is teaching me that following Jesus is rarely any of those things.
As I held that sweet baby this weekend there was a moment when I was so grieved that tears were dropping from my eyes onto her little onesie I was hurting for her...ashamed of all the excuses I was making...mourning this world that is so incredibly broken. Coming to grips with the fact that I live in a country where a baby is handed to me and someone says, "Do you want her?" It was hard to admit that I've always lived a few hours from this country, from babies just like this one and yet I managed to ignore them. As I cried over this baby the only words I could think to say were, "Please Jesus. Please hurry up and come back. Please fix this."
And so we continue to hurt today. Our arms are sore. We held "500,000" this weekend. That number is awfully heavy.
"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29)."