Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Unexpected Reaction

Julia and I were watching the dress rehearsal for my son's school musical last week. It was phenomenal! He goes to an academy of the arts, and they know how to put on a show!  The performance, featuring different books and Broadway musicals, moved seamlessly from Beauty and the Beast, to The Jungle Book, to Mary Poppins, to The Music Man. The next group  included a few little girls, one with red hair- Annie!  I just knew Julia and I would enjoy this song and dance as much as we had the others. 

And then they started singing, and my eyes immediately filled up with tears. 

Wait. What? This was Annie, a delightful musical! Why was I fighting off the ugly cry like nobody's business?

These were the words that I heard, really heard, with my heart-

      "'Steada treated, we get tricked,
        'Steada kisses, we get kicked..."

      "Empty bellies, 'steada full
        It's the hard-knock life."

And I sat there holding my daughter, who came to us at four years old weighing a whopping 19lbs., who talks of the man with the stick who hits children and uses black markers to color on their limb differences, who tells of how scared she was to go to bed at night. And the tears kept filling up my eyes as the children on stage sang and danced to the words-


    "No one's there when your dreams at night get creepy!
      No one cares if you grow... or if you shrink
      No one dries if your eyes get wet and weepy!"

I told myself, "It's just a song. Look at those cute kids! Look at their dance moves! They're really in sync. What cute choreography!" But the tears would not leave my eyes and the lump in my throat threatened to burst into a sob. For my daughter, before June 11, 2012, THIS WAS HER STORY. For so many children, THIS IS REALITY. THIS IS THEIR LIFE.  

       Empty belly life
       Rotten smelly life
       Full of sorrow life
       No tomorrow life"

The song just kept going on and on, sung by beautiful children with dazzling smiles, and I held onto my daughter a little more tightly and willed the tears not to overflow onto my cheeks. 

I could picture the faces of the many parentless children who are being advocated for daily by other adoptive moms and their adoption agencies. I kept seeing the soulful eyes of children who had no reason to hope for a better tomorrow. And I heard the words,

      "No one cares for you a smidge,
       When you're in an orphanage."

And I wanted to say, "I care! I care that you're hungry and scared and lonely! I care that you don't have toys to play with or enough food to fill your tummy. I care that you are mistreated and neglected."

I care enough to cry for you, but do I care enough to do more? Will I advocate for you so that your family can find you? Will I sponsor you so that you can have your needs met? Will I donate to organizations who give grants to adoptive families so that your parents can get to you more quickly? Will I bring you home and be your mom? 

Will I play a part in your tomorrow?

The song ended, the audience clapped, I blinked away my tears and my daughter was none the wiser. For her, that life is over. She has so many people who love her profoundly! Her needs are met, her heart is healing, her future looks bright. The smile that reaches her eyes speaks volumes!

But what about the others?  It's not my intention to ruin "Annie" for anyone, but if you're anything like me, this song will be running through your mind for the next several days. While you fold laundry, when you're washing dishes, as you're unlocking your car and pulling out of your driveway, you'll be mentally dancing to the tune of "It's the Hard-Knock Life." Then you'll catch yourself and the words might hold new meaning.  I know. I've been humming, whistling, and singing it since last week! It's one of those things that can't be helped. But when you hear the words, "Santa Clause, we never see, Santa Clause, what's that, who's he?" leaving your lips, would you use that moment as an opportunity? 

If you'd like to learn more about how you can bring hope to a child who desperately needs it, here are a few links to check out:

If you're not quite to that point yet, here are some books that I read that opened my eyes to the plight of the orphan:

Daughter of a Thousand Pieces of Gold by Peg Helminski
Silent Tears by Kay Bratt
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

And if transfomations inspire you, here are a couple links to movies that we've made to chronicle our daughter's Gotcha Day and her first year home.


  1. Karen, your advocating and love for orphans increased our family yet again. You brought the file of a 13 year old girl to our attention just one year ago. That child is now our beloved daughter thanks to you!

  2. Half the Sky is another great organization to support. I love this posts. I understand every word. Opened eyes can cause wounded hearts.