147 million orphans. That number can look almost impenetrable.
I love this little story. I’m sure I’ve heard this story before, but I recently read it in the book “Fields of the Fatherless”. I just wanted to share it, but as you read it, read it with this in mind: There are 147-210 million orphans globally. There are about 120-180 children in Foster Care in this county. There are about 500 children up for adoption in Alabama.
A young man collecting seashells noticed an aged fellow walking along the beach. He saw this old man walk a few steps, bend over, pick something up, and fling it into the sea. He repeated this over and over. Filled with curiosity, the young man moved closer until he realized what the old man was doing. He was picking up one of the many starfish that lay dying on the beach and throwing them far into the water. The young man thought this task was an incredible waste of time. He asked, “Sir, why are you taking the time to try to save one starfish when there are thousands lying on the beach? You can’t possibly make any difference!” The older man smiled, bent over, picked up another starfish, and flung it into the ocean. Then he said, “it made a difference to that one!”
At an Orphan Advocate meeting tonight, I thought back to this story. It was mentioned how sometimes statistics can seem overwhelming and paralyze us from doing anything. That can be so true. We begin to wonder how we can ever put a dent in 147 million orphans, the 500 children who are up for adoption in Alabama, or the 180 or so in foster care in our county, but you have to come back a micro-level view. I thought about how many children have come through our OA group in the last 2 years and how it mattered to these children- to each one. It mattered to the child that is about to be officially adopted. It mattered to the children who have come and gone back to their birth parents or relatives. It will matter to the child we adopt overseas.
It matters to each child. Across the pages of their life, their whole story can be rewritten with joy, hope, and love. It mattered to these children that these parents became Foster Parents. And it matters if you become a Foster Parent too. It’s not so much about wondering how you will impact 180 or so children in foster care, but it’s about the one child that will come into your home who has never known what it feels like to be loved, who has never had a warm, home cooked meal, who doesn’t know what it’s like not to have to be afraid of being spanked with an electrical cord or being punched, or what it’s like to be able to feel safe. It matters to each child who comes through your home whether by foster care or adoption. It matters.