My involvement with issues surrounding maternal and child health began in 1997 when our oldest daughter, Emily, and I traveled to Haiti. It was my first time to visit a developing nation; I was heartbroken and challenged by what I saw and experienced. I will never forget walking the streets of Port-au-Prince, hand-in-hand with my daughter, and being approached by a Haitian mother with a young child on her hip. “Please, please, oh please,” she begged me, “Please, take my child with you.”
I believe her plea was one of loving desperation. Reflecting on the sacrifice his son’s birthmother made in choosing to place her child for adoption, theologian Miroslav Volf writes, “She loved [my son] for his own sake, and therefore would rather suffer his absence if he flourished than enjoy his presence if he languished.”
Mothers and their children should be able to remain together. It is a bond and relationship that is not easily broken. A mother wants to provide the very best for her child, and she will go to great lengths to do so. But, often due to circumstances beyond a woman’s control, mothers around the world feel forced to make a decision between her child’s wellbeing and her familial integrity. I can’t imagine the anguish and heartbreak these women experience feeling incapable of fulfilling their desire to nurture and protect their own. I think of the women who birthed our three youngest daughters; I can’t imagine feeling coerced, whether it be because of extreme poverty, oppressive sexism, or government regulations, to forever separate myself from my child.
Until that moment in 1997, paralyzing poverty and the subsequent issues rooted within were stories I heard about in the news. But on the streets of Port-au-Prince, I looked into the eyes of another mother, her narrative of anguish and helplessness abruptly interrupting mine. As a result of our trip to Haiti, a seed was planted in my heart that eventually grew into the non-profit we now call Show Hope.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post