Nineteen years ago I fell in love with a picture.
Nineteen years ago, after months of waiting and praying and filling out forms, my husband and I couldn’t wait to meet our son. Our social worker handed us a picture of a boy, taken in the nursery of a children’s home on an island on the other side of the globe. As we held the picture of this little guy with skinny legs dangling from a swing, my husband and I fell in love with the boy who was to become our son
It would be several months before we could travel to the Philippines to meet him; to gather him up in our arms, hold him close, and introduce ourselves as Mom and Dad. We missed his first Christmas. We sent a small Winnie-the-Pooh bear and a board book along with some friends who were traveling to the Philippines to bring home their daughter. We bought plane tickets; got our passport photos taken, and waited for the day we would meet our son.
One day, before we were able to travel, I received a call from our social worker. She told me that our son was in a hospital in Manila. He’d needed a physical as a final step toward being released for adoption, and the doctor evaluating him found him to be dehydrated from a recent illness.
Until I received that phone call, I’d had no idea how deeply I’d fallen in love with a picture. Although one of the staff from the children’s home had accompanied him to Manila and was staying by his side at the hospital, I knew that this little boy—my little boy—was there without his mommy by his side.
And it broke my heart.
According to Compassion International, there are more than 9 million children, under the age of 5, who die each year, and two-thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Our son received the medical care he needed. He recovered and was cleared to travel home with us from the Philippines. Over the past nineteen years, his father and I have watched him grow from a sweet, loving boy to a thoughtful, gifted young man.
At four years of age, our son sat down at the piano and began picking out the tunes of the hymns we’d sung during worship on Sunday mornings. I can hardly breathe, allowing myself to imagine the possibility of him growing up half a world away without access to a piano, unable to use the gift God has given him.
“All mothers want the same things for their children,” said singer and Compassion International advocate Shaun Groves, speaking at the 2011 Relevant Conference (now Allume). As soon as I held a picture of my son, I knew what I wanted for him. I wanted him to be healthy and happy and loved. I wanted him to learn and play and know that Jesus loved him. I wanted him to grow up strong and confident and have opportunities to develop his gifts and pursue his dreams. I wanted him to grow into the man God created him to be.
Several months ago I fell in love with another picture. I fell in love with David, a five year-old boy from the Philippines whose picture I found on the Compassion website. Becoming the mother, all those years ago, of that little Filipino boy whose skinny legs dangled from a swing was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. For a mere $38 a month, I can give a similar gift to another mother in the Philippines.
I know what David’s mother wants. She wants her son to have all the opportunities which Compassion International provides: the opportunity to receive an education, to be healthy, to develop self-confidence and social skills, and to learn about Jesus.
David likes to play basketball and he likes to sing. While sponsoring him through Compassion International, I’m praying he will have opportunities to develop his gifts, pursue his dreams, and grow into the man God created him to be.
Go ahead. Take a look at the children on the Compassion International website who are still waiting for sponsors. Give a gift to a mother who wants for her child the good things Compassion provides.
I dare you not to fall in love.
September is Blog Month at Compassion International. Compassion has asked bloggers to assist them in changing the lives of 3,108 children by the end of the month. Wouldn’t you like to be a part of that effort?
Linking my story with emily and the imperfect prose community: