As I pressed through the crowd of energetic students that had attended the very large gathering that our church hosts monthly I had one agenda. That was to find a seat as far removed from it all as possible so I could rest a few moments until my three teen-aged children joined me and we could head home. It had been a wonderful night and I had enjoyed it but, it was late and I was weary. I soon spotted the perfect cushioned bench in a corner and it was only occupied by one other person. I sat down and likely sighed while doing so.
I offered a hello to the lady and we fell into an easy chat. She offered her name and I told her mine. She said my name sounded familiar. As we continued to talk she asked me if I was there with my children. I told her my three middles were there but I had two older and two younger.
“Seven!” She exclaimed. I smiled. I pulled up a family picture on my iPhone as I am so quick to do. “I know why your name sounded familiar. I worked at DHR years ago.” Boom, just like that a connection was made.
She shared with me that she now worked at a group home and was there with ‘her girls’. After a while they arrived and she introduced me to them. All teens. All girls. All living in a group home because somehow family wasn’t either willing or able to care for them. My heart squeezed just like it does every time I meet such children.
One of the girls was named Hannah. The reason I was waiting there for my children was my daughters had gone to find one of their friends in the crowded gathering. Her name was Hannah too. When my crew arrived I also introduced them. “This is another Hannah.” I told them.
Another Hannah. As I drove home and even as I prepared for the respite of sleep I thought of this other Hannah. Who would cover her in prayer as she slept tonight? What crisis or tragedy had brought her to such a place as a group home at such a tender age? Did she understand that she was valuable? Did she feel cared for? Did she struggle like most teen girls with self-image? Had anyone told her that she could be anything she wanted to be? Did she view the future with anticipation or dread?
One of my all time favorite human beings to have lived on this earth will always be my grandma. Although I can no longer call her for a chat, I often recall our chats from days gone by. When we started fostering and then later adopting, she was concerned that I would overdo and wear myself out. One day after I told her how compassion had gripped my heart for yet another child (we would eventually foster a total of forty-five children), she said, “You can’t save them all.”
“I know Grandma,” I answered. “But, those who cross my path, who I have the chance to make a deposit, to make a difference, I’ve got to try.”
My days of fostering are over as we focus our energies and efforts on the seven we adopted out of the system. But, my heart is just as filled with compassion as it was twenty years ago as we prepared to start that journey.
Tonight, when you tuck in your Hannah, your beloved child, say an extra prayer for another Hannah. When you shop for new shoes for your Jonathan, consider that there may be another boy, just like yours that needs shoes as well. When homework time is trying your patience, keep in mind that there is another child who has no help with homework. When you discuss college plans with your teen, don’t forget there is another Joel, another Carlos, another Aisha, another Breana, another Crystal, another Peggy, another Gary, another Joseph, another Trey, another Brittany, another child who may not have such opportunities.
And then, once you remember, don’t you dare turn away. Once you are aware, don’t divert your eyes from the need before you. If you can adopt, adopt. If you can foster, foster. If you can mentor, mentor. If you can give money or time or shoes, then give. If you can pray, then for the sake of the children, pray.