I volunteered to write an adoption profile of a teenager in need of an adoptive home for the Heart Gallery exhibit in Missouri. Eager to write it, I read the information sent to me about this youth.
As I started to write, the words just would not come. I sat there, my fingertips on the keyboard, notes by my side, his picture staring back at me, and I was profoundly moved. Athletic, loving, determined, compassionate…these are the words used to describe this child, and yet, he does not have a family to call home.
My heart broke a little. The tears started to well-up, and I was lost in the thoughts about what he must be thinking.
Is he wondering if his moment will come?
Does he lay in bed at night, staring at the stars, and think about his family?
Does he fear a future without a father, or a moment without a mother?
As I stared at his picture, I prayed for him. I prayed that a family, HIS family, would be found. I prayed that the words I eventually would type would prick the hearts of families reading them. I prayed that God would surround this young man with His love throughout life. I also prayed that even if he never finds Earthly parents, his heart will be held captive by his Heavenly Father.
This is where heartbreak and hope meet. These are the moments that child welfare gets very, very hard. We go about our days completing assignments, checking up on people, returning phone calls, and attending meetings, but at the end of it all, we return home to our own families.
It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of the system. Difficult situations, too much work with too little time, and a lack of appreciation for the incredibly hard job child welfare workers do, are all just a part of the game. We go to work. We do our jobs, and then we leave.
…But then…as I stared at his picture and looked at his eyes, I remembered that I was once a child his age. I was once a teenager with hopes, dreams, and concerns about the future. I was once a girl who had goals. I wanted to achieve things in life.
I was not that much different from him, except for one major thing:
I had a family. I had the same home to return to every night. I had a mom who convicted me to achieve goals, and a father who came home every night.
I had the soil to which my roots would grow.
For this teenager whose feet have walked the earth just fifteen years, I pray that the same determination that has kept him alive through the years will wrap itself around him as he grows up. I pray that the family meant to be his forever home will be captured by his image and his spirit.
I may never meet this child, but I’m so thankful that I can play a part (however small it may be) in finding him what every child deserves:
A soft place to land,
a vessel to grow in,
soil rich in wisdom for roots to grow,
and the warm embrace of a family.
*Please consider visiting the traveling Heart Gallery Photography Exhibits in your own state (United States). The gallery has portraits and information about the children in foster care who are in need of adoptive families.
You can also visit: www.heartgalleryofamerica.org