After gym class, my friends and I go to the girls dressing room and change from our gym clothes to our school outfits. And while doing so we always talk or have conversations about the day, weekend, or how gym went.
Today, we were talking when my friend Kassidy asked me, "So have you adopted yet?" (It's kind of funny, because I'm always thinking, Like I wouldn't tell you? But I still get this question a lot. Maybe it's because I've been telling classmates we were adopting since the 3rd grade and that I've been telling the "My family's adopting!" story for so long now that it just seems not even real anymore.)
Anyway, I said, "Nope, but I really wish!" and then I got more questions (again the same ones I always get: "Is it a boy or a girl?" "When are you getting them?" "What country are they from again?" "How old are they?"), and soon we were all talking about adoption.
I thought about Rahwah and said, "Our close family friends are adopting too! A 10 year old girl named Rahwah!" And this is what I heard:
"Oh, you do not want to adopt the older kids."
My first thought was, Excuse me? but I said, "And why not?" in a bit of a challenging tone. Yes, I'm like that. If anyone says anything about Jesus, adoption, my family (and anything I care about) in a negative way, I can get all up in your space. (LOL)
A few friends around me had the same idea and were saying things like, "Why would say that?" and "That isn't true!"
I do not want to share my friends name because I do not want to embarrass anyone, but then she said: "Because they can carry all sorts of diseases and stuff and can become bad."
I know she didn't mean to be rude or negative or anything like that, but that is what she really thought and I couldn't stand that.
I didn't really know what to say, but I had a bit of an anger in me. Rahwah's innocent face flashed in my head. And then I said:
"She's not an ANIMAL, she's a HUMAN BEING, and she does NOT carry any diseases."
To which she replied: "Uh-huh! Malaria and AIDS and stuff. And did you know if you adopt a kid who grew up in a bad home they could grow up to be drug addicts or a criminal."
A lot of us were talking, some on my friend's "side" and some on mine, so I wasn't exactly sure what to say next but I told my friend, "We care about Rahwah and she is a human like you and me and her parents DIED of disease and she is a real ORPHAN and she needs to come here."
After that it was time to go and the conversation kind of died down. At lunch I sat with my "circle of friends" that included my friend and by then the conversation seemed to be forgotten. But when I got home, I just couldn't get the situation out of my head.
Then I thought about something.
I don't even know if people realize what's going on in Africa (and really any country). I don't know if people REALIZE that people are DYING over there of completely curable diseases, but they don't have the money or medicine.
I don't think people realize that when people are starving in Africa, it doesn't mean they are hungry for lunch. It means, they are genuinely and literally STARVING so much that their stomachs begin to cave in.
I think that sometimes, statistics just seem like a number to us.
When we see pictures of people in Africa, sometimes they are just pictures to us. They don't move our hearts like they should. I don't think we always realize that the children we see in this picture below are HUMANS. They are people just like you and me. They have feelings and they are suffering.
I think we really need to get this through our heads if we really want to help people. We can't just feel sorry for them, say a quick prayer and get on with our lives. That's not the way it works. We need to live beyond statistics, beyond the pictures we see, beyond the "comfort" of knowing that there are people already helping these Africans (and Chinese, and Afghans, and Europeans, and Mexicans, and just about anywhere else you can think of in the world).
What if there's a bigger picture?