This post was written for New Horizons for Children. They are currently matching children for the upcoming summer hosting season. To view the children, please go here.
It was a question that surprised me, coming out of my confident and poised host daughter. She is all spunk and light, and one of the greatest people-readers I’ve ever met. And yet here she was, suddenly so much younger than her self-assured 16-year-old self.
“Why you want me?”
The tilt of her head a little more insistent, the pressed line of her half-smile a little harder, her arched eyebrow a little higher. Her whole body was poised for my answer.
I wanted to scoop her into my arms and never let her go. Oh, my dear one. Why? How could I not? You are in my very soul. I love you beyond the bounds of what I ever thought possible. Want you? No, I didn’t just want you. I needed you. My whole life I have been waiting to find you.
But I know why she asked the question. She wasn’t a nine year old, like I had hosted before. She wasn’t “cute and adorable” on a photo listing. She wasn’t adoptable. She was a teenager. And who in their right mind wants a teenager, especially one with prickly hurts that sometimes peek out of a strong and confident exterior?
It sure wasn’t me six months ago.
I found out about hosting last year, after hoping to adopt for four years but having no success. Perhaps during the wait, I could use my time wisely and show a sweet child the love of a family. And maybe this was a path that would lead to adoption after all—I was open to the possibility. I hosted a nine year old boy that summer, and loved him very much—more than I expected, actually. But while he was here, I discovered that I could not adopt him even if I desired it. And I found out something even more surprising: it didn’t matter. He was a special little boy, and my love for him just poured out easily.
But what of my plans? Sure, I still wanted to adopt, but I found myself seeing a world even bigger than adoption. Love doesn’t end just because a child isn’t adopted. Family isn’t defined by legal words on a piece of paper. We were designed to be relational, to be known intimately.
Every child feels that need to belong. Every child needs to know love. Every child needs to know that they are seen, that they matter, that they are not forgotten.
Goodness…isn’t that what we ALL want? I don’t think that there is ever an age when we stop needing that. And so my heart opened a little bit more and I realized that maybe my vision had been too narrow.
I think it’s easy to see that the little ones need arms to hug them, need someone to tuck them in at night, need someone to kiss their boo-boos. And they do. But at what age does that stop? At what age do they stop needing someone to care?
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