It was the little leg that did me in. We had received a request to take in a new baby for medical care, and as I glanced at her photo and saw her tiny leg sticking out from the blanket, I was a goner. This child needed us immediately.
When Jillian was found that morning, she was severely malnourished and extremely weak. Over the next few months, I was overjoyed to see her start to turn the corner and fill out.
You can indeed fall in love with a child through photos – and then when you meet them in person, there is this intense recognition where you understand that each picture you have viewed is a living, breathing person. It’s quite astonishing – and I can vouch for the fact that this happened the minute I met this beautiful little girl.
Another baby who worried us greatly was Carlos, born with a life-threatening infection in addition to his cleft lip. When I met him, I realized that he was smaller than a loaf of bread and looked so completely vulnerable. As I stood there and held this tiny life, this little baby who weighed just a few pounds, it hit me so strongly that this child could not survive on his own.
Babies are 100% dependent on the kindness of others, and yet sadly all around the world they are left as newborns, as infants, as toddlers...to fend for themselves, which of course is simply not possible. And so that duty must then fall to someone else, very often complete strangers. That is the harsh reality for children who are abandoned. Unless someone "takes them in," there truly is no hope. And right now in China, with a rising birth defect rate and more and more children being born with often complex medical needs, countless babies need help more than ever.
When I tell people that Love Without Boundaries helps orphaned and impoverished children in China, many ask why we feel like we should help there, since “China now has so much money.”
How to even explain the reality for so many orphans in China? I don’t think most people can even comprehend just how many babies are now entering orphanages with often serious medical needs, from heart defects and spinal tumors to cerebral palsy and prematurity. How do you fully explain that your heart is never the same when a baby like Jillian who is orphaned grabs onto your finger tightly, wanting so desperately to make a connection and memorize that feeling of being tenderly held?
The reality is that if I could place a tiny baby like any one of these in almost anyone's arms, they would get it completely. They would then understand that these children are not some nameless orphans overseas. They are priceless, wondrous children whose lives are so important. It wasn’t their fault that they were left on their own or that they now depend entirely on the kindness of others to step up and care for them.
During a long layover at an airport last year, yet another person asked me, “Why do you feel a need to help in China?” I remained quiet for a moment. This man and I had been talking for over an hour, and I knew he was a sincerely nice person who was asking me a completely legitimate question. It’s a question I hear more and more with each passing year. Rather than go into a lengthy explanation about rising pollution and birth defect rates and lack of emergency services for orphaned children, I told him to hold on for a second while I pulled out my camera. And then I showed him a photo of baby Carlos, the one who was the size of a loaf of bread, from our healing home and told him, “I do it for him. He’s worth about everything, don’t you think?” He had to agree with me on that one.
Left on sidewalks and beside temples, next to hospitals and in front of factories, each of the children who comes into our care has already been through too much in his or her short time on this earth. I know with absolute certainty, however, that their lives are better because of the involvement of dedicated and caring individuals from all around this world
May these children all have the opportunity to find a permanent home of their own someday and never feel alone. Thank you for working with us to make sure they are given that chance.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer
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