A man walked along a quiet beach, every so often picking up the starfish that had found themselves stranded outside the reach of the water. He’d throw them back into the waves and carry on with his journey, repeating the rescue whenever he came across another victim. A while into his journey he was met by a stranger who questioned him about why he kept repeating this hopeless mission. The stranger explained that there were so many starfish on this beach and on every beach for that matter. He questioned what the man was trying to achieve if his actions made no difference to the greater problem. The man smiled, bent down, picked up another helpless star and threw it into the surf. With a smile he answered the stranger saying “It makes a difference to this one.”
I sometimes feel the orphan crisis is like this. Not only are their beaches filled with starfish but there are also people who come along and question why they should be thrown back. Race, culture, age, disability, finances, bureaucracy, bonding, abuse, family and the list of reasons to let those little stars lay on the beach continues to grow.
I was pointed to a story on Carte Blanche highlighting the challenge a family experienced in bringing their son home. This story thankfully has a wonderful ending, have a look: Adoption Obstacles. Yet another family finding themselves at the mercy of a magistrate who in his ill-equipped and uninformed opinion, preferred his belief over the guidance and advice of the people who actually know what they are talking about. I’m sure he/she has wonderful reasons for their decisions, most likely informed by some knowledgable graphic on a cereal box. This couple then had to deal with Home Affairs, as we all do at some point in our life. I’m still waiting for my son’s birth certificate. Mr Malusi Gigaba, perhaps you can tell me why?
I am reminded daily of the challenges, frustrations, complete stupidity of some and utter indifference of others. They are the problem, them, them, them! But in a moment of clarity, I am left with a nagging question. When it comes to things changing, when have the people with the biggest grievance ever won against the people with the loudest one?
You see the reality is, in spite of the challenges faced in the adoption process, none of these deterred me from wanting my son, none of them make me wake up in the morning and enjoy his bear-hugs less, none of them can even hold a candle to something as simple as his gummy smile. So then what is the real problem? These are problems and frustrations sure, but they aren’t deal breakers, they aren’t deterrents really.
In the past, when adoption was for people who couldn’t have children, would bureaucratic rubbish have deterred them from their dream of giggling children running through the house or wrestling competitions on the living room floor, I doubt it. Hand and tooth, these hopeful moms and dads would have taken the fight to the four corners of the globe to get what they wanted.
I wonder if because it’s no longer about children for families but families for children, if the attitude to fight has become a little damp? For many, the thought of adoption is now more about the child than it is about the parents, myself included. It seems the increased numbers of children in need of a family require that the motive be much less selfish than getting a son/daughter, because now its about giving someone a family.
The amount of children in need of homes require a much greater number of would-be-moms-and-dads whose desire is not so much to grow their family but to give one to a child. With this perhaps comes a lesser resolve, a smaller stomach to handle whatever happens and keep fighting and pushing until the process is finalised.
Perhaps we should stop complaining about our government doing exactly what most governments do or don’t do and become a people who ask ourselves what’s the real reason behind my inability to open my home and my heart. If we have approximately 1500 adoptions per year, the noise generated is minimal, but if we have 15000 per year, now we have a crowd and perhaps in this crowd we will find a new voice, a renewed resolve and a defiance that will not accept the excuses given. Perhaps in this crowd we can create a ripple that causes change.
The red tape sucks, the bureaucrats and officials should see the bigger picture, but what if they never do and these little ones continue to fall asleep each night hoping that if they wake up afraid, hungry or sore that someone will hear them over the 20 other children in the home with the same hope. I think we have a better chance of making the bigger picture bigger than getting the current one to be seen.
I think we need to make a noise, we need to fight publicly, vocally and strategically for the lives of these children without a family and I think the best way of doing this is by getting more people to realise they ARE able to open up their homes and hearts and consider adopting.
Let me know what you think, make a comment, give an opinion but please make some noise!