Stories make us move (sometimes literally). They make us cry. They make us write checks and change our life plans and our perceptions and our beliefs. They make buy things we don’t need and love and hate people we don’t know.
When it comes to stories I think we often underestimate just how much power they hold over us. The stories I have heard and been told have shaped my beliefs and formed them so solidly that only another story could start to change them.
We see this in our own lives, we remember and learn more from stories then anything else. All cultures and people groups use stories to pass down traditions and belief systems.
So I guess what i’m trying to say is, the stories we tell matter. The stories we hear form us.
In the current evangelical orphan care movement there’s been a lot of focus on adoption. The story of adoption has dominated all forms of orphan care. We wrote books and preached sermons and made videos of gotcha days (that always make me cry). We told stories about individual children and families that opened their homes and God’s larger narrative of adoption.
And it was good. Those stories made more and more people adopt and the next thing we knew we had a movement.
There was only one problem.
While the stories we tell matter, the stories we don’t tell matter even more.
We didn’t tell the story of the family that took their six year old home and when she learned English she said, “they took me from my family”.
We didn’t tell the story of the mother who only needed a little help to care for her baby but no offered so now she is alone and grieving the loss of a child.
We didn’t tell the story of the 4 out of 5 children living in institutions around the world who still have biological family.
We didn’t tell the story of the families that broke into pieces because they took children in who had been so hurt by the world that they did not know how to function in a family.
We didn’t tell the story of the Ugandan women who have adopted older and special needs children. The children who we thought international adoption was their only hope.
We only told a small part of the story, and I think only telling part of a story is kind of like only telling part of the truth.
So, please don’t stop telling the stories of your beautiful adoptions. I love them, they give me hope that redemption is alive and well in our world. But as we tell and hear those stories, we need to make room for the other narratives so we can get the real story of what is going on with orphans and vulnerable children in our world. We need to hear about the children who were trafficked for adoption, and the birth moms who were coerced, and the kids still stuck in orphanages, and the families that just need some support, and the kids with special needs, and the kids who are older, and the adoptions that fail and leave broken families in their midst.
Some of these stories are hard to tell and they’re hard to hear. I know there is a temptation to cover your ears when those stories are told and to only remove your hands for the beautiful and easy stories, but if you do that it’s like only reading the first chapter of the book. If you do that you’ll never really know what this thing we call “orphan care” is all about. If you do that you’re going to miss out on the real story.
I haven’t been blogging lately because i’ve been wrapped up in the middle of one of these untold stories. A story i’m waiting and working towards a happy ending.
When we reach that finish line, all the players in this story, I will share it with you and maybe show you a glimpse of the diversity of “orphan” care.