A few weeks before my first trip to work with orphans in Haiti, I had an encounter that would mark my heart forever.
We were celebrating my daughter’s birthday dinner at her restaurant of choice, Red Robin. When they saw our party of five they quickly ushered us into the family zone (the place where your kids are free to scream and throw food and only other families are around to take notice). Surrounded by tables with small kids, my
crazy boy energetic son Jack and the rest of us were drowned out.
We were all chatting it up and laughing and opening presents. She got a digital camera of her own and quickly started snapping photos. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the girl at the table next to us.
She was about three and had the most beautiful golden brown skin, big brown eyes, and fantastic smile. I could feel her eyes on me, so I turned and gave her a big smile and waved. I had noticed her when we walked in. She sat at a table with a middle aged man and much younger baby, probably 6 months old. They sat pretty quietly- his mind seemed to be a million miles away.
She and I exchanged glances and she started to talk to me and tell me about her chicken strips and the balloon they had given her. Her cuteness was getting ridiculous, so I decided to turn my attention back to my own family.
Just then, her little voice piped up, “Daddy, when do I get to have a real mommy?”
The dad seemed kind of caught up in his own thoughts and didn’t respond. So she asked again, “Daddy, when do I get to have a REAL mommy?!”
He looked up kind of confused and said something to her that I didn’t quite hear.
Maybe because the sound of my heart breaking into a million pieces was too loud.
My stomach began to ache and a lump rose to my throat. I smiled at my own little girl as she was snapping away with her new camera. I looked at the faces of my little boys.
I know I don’t know this little girl’s story. She may have a mom. Maybe not.
But I do know that there are millions of children who until that moment have never had faces in my mind.
Somehow that made it just a little easier to handle.
But I don’t think we were meant to “handle” it at all. I think we were meant to change it.
I landed in Haiti just a few weeks after this night, and a huge piece of my heart has been there ever since.
There are many ways to care for these forgotten ones, for orphans across the globe. Adoption isn’t THE way, but it is A WAY, an incredible, beautiful way to bring families together. There isn’t necessarily a shortage of families who want to make a difference, there are many wanting, hoping, praying for a way to bring children home, but the red tape, high price, long wait– the broken adoption system makes this wildly difficult.
When you look into the eyes of these faces- there is the instinctive nature of a mother’s heart that comes alive. It calls us to action.
Every child deserves a family.
What can we do? How can we fix this?
One simple way is to watch this trailer and then join us, this Friday, March 22nd for the Phoenix viewing of this incredible documentary.
Both Ends Burning is an organization that I am deeply passionate about. My husband serves on the board, and let me tell you first hand this movie has been a labor of undying commitment and love by a team of people who stand as a voice for the orphans of the world. They have laid the groundwork to see global change and literally create a culture where orphans are cared for, families are united and love wins. But they cannot do it on their own.
It requires the power far stronger than a movie, the momentum that can come from the voices of many, speaking as one, demanding change. Sound familiar? It should! It’s the same voice you use at the grocery store, when your little ones are wandering off tearing into the junk cereal on the bottom shelf, the same voice that calls your kids home for dinner, the voice that reminds them that you mean business. The MOM voice. If we stand together to support this film by attending, by spreading the word, by talking about it on our social media channels, at schools, at the park…we become a force to be reckoned with.
I’d put my money on us every time.
Noelle Larson is a mom still searching to find the “balance” between her spiritual journey, family, ambition, inner peace, world peace…all while trying not to blink so she doesn’t miss one minute of her beautiful, messy life. Noelle writes at metromom.org where she journals her crazy days chasing after her kids and husband, deep thoughts, and captures her latest adventures.