Us Versus Them

This morning I had a phone call from someone who had read that we were helping children in China. What I thought was going to be a pleasant call actually gave me great pause when the woman asked me, “But why should WE help THEM?”

It probably didn’t help my mood that I had just finished reading Sarah’s Key, a book that took place during World War II. This book made me wonder how people can ever reach a point where they don’t see each other as fellow humans, but instead as “others,” somehow lesser and not worthy of help. My caller’s use of the word “them” cut through my heart like a knife, bringing images of tiny babies abandoned in cardboard boxes and toddlers shut down and in shock at suddenly finding themselves in an orphanage without their parents. As she continued to try to shove home her point on why what I was doing was somehow “wrong” and un-American, I closed my eyes and gave thanks that I get to work each day with hundreds of volunteers who understand that there are no politics involved when a child is hurting.

Needless to say, I didn’t end the call with a donation to help the orphaned. (Darn.) But the woman’s call definitely made me feel that anyone who lives in an “us versus them” world is missing out on one of the true wonders of the human experience. Just yesterday I said to one of my sons home from college that I still can’t believe that I get to meet people all around the world because of my job. My life has been enriched in countless ways because I get to keep learning every day about cultures and customs all over this amazing, incredible earth. When I think that supporters in the U.S. or Spain or Ireland can all give their own small part TOGETHER — to help a tiny baby girl in Asia receive a second chance at life through heart surgery –- well, that is just miraculous to me. The internet has made our world so very small, and it has brought us together in astonishing ways to share gestures of compassion and love with those who need our help the most.

As we head into 2012, I am hoping that with each passing year we as adults realize that regardless of where a child lives, they are so deserving of love. I like to think that when we help children around the world, we are not only helping that child have a better life, but we are also spreading seeds of empathy and understanding to those surrounding them.

When we chose the name of our charity, “Love Without Boundaries,” we truly believed that love makes no boundaries between countries. Instead, love is the one thing that can unite us into a beautiful humanity. So until every child born is safe, warm, and fed……today I give thanks for those around the world who realize that we are one human race – and that this life is infinitely better when shared.

~Amy Eldridge, Executive Director

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19 Comments to “Us Versus Them”

  1. Amy Murphy 30 December 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Should we be patriotic and loyal to America? Yes. To the exclusion of the rest of humanity all created in the image of God? NO! Thank you for all you do, and I’m so sorry you had to have that experience.

  2. The Gang's Momma 30 December 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Beautiful. Thank you so much for such an eloquent response to that “us v. them” conversation. May the Lord continue to prosper your work and your investment in those who need it the most. We are so thankful for the place that LWB has played in our lives and how adoption has changed us all. Happy New Year to you all!!!!!!

  3. Vea 30 December 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I’m really sad you had that experience. But I’m grateful for this organization and all the wonderful love it provides-in whatever shape it takes. :) Bless you all in the fight!

  4. ktwags 30 December 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Beautiful post Amy!

  5. annahayes 30 December 2011 at 9:43 am #

    This article brought tears to my eyes. How very sorry we must feel for this person, for she is in a dark and egocentric place. My heart and mind tell me people such as this are few and far between…thank goodness! The internet is amazing and LWB has made fantastic use of it! Thanks for all you do, and for bringing those little faces home for so many of us. Although such a small part of the equation, we will eventually bringing one of these little people literally to our home. Thanks for bringing this possibility to the forefront of my brain…and I suspect to many others. The good you do definitely has a ripple effect! Thank you!

  6. familynook 30 December 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Thank you for this post. I will most definitely share it, as we have run in to this very mentality. Right after we got off the plane in the U.S. and were going through customs with our first little baby girl from China, a lady said to me, “Why didn’t you get one of ours?” You have to understand that I was the proudest mother right then and there, and when she said that, it cut me to the core. The only think I mustered up to say at the moment was, “Because she is ours”, but I have thought of many other polite things I could have said since then. I have had similar comments since which have bewildered me, but we are all God’s children and there truly are no boundaries. I’m not sure if it is something that can be taught or just something that each person needs to learn in their own heart. I know there are many who understand this though. I do most definitely believe any form of helping a child is beautiful. Usually the people who make the comment, haven’t walked the road of helping an orphan themselves (no matter where they are from), otherwise their heart would understand.

  7. KateF 30 December 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Question: ‘Why should WE help THEM?’
    Answer: Because they need help, it’s that simple.

  8. LockwoodsAdopt 30 December 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Having four adopted children from Asia, we find ourselves explaining this to many others on a regular basis. We finally wrote a blog post about our own feelings and beliefs regarding the subject, hoping that friends and family would finally understand (www.thelockwoodhome.com/blog/12.07.11.htm). When it comes down to it, I think most people who are critical about being charitable overseas are the same people who have never set foot outside a developed nation to see the suffering and lack of basic necessities that others experience every day… especially the orphaned and the disabled members of most other societies.

  9. gmbackus 30 December 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    A friend sent me this article – perfect timing. I recieved a hand written Christmas card from a “friend” this year – outlining her disappointment in my family for adopting from “them” or Ethiopia. And why we can’t adopt from the US. They need our help more. And in a nut shell told us “good luck anyway”. Needless to say this person is no long on our card list for 2012. I’m praying for them, but they just don’t get it. This article is good. I will share on my FAcebook page as well.

  10. Ann Ozawa 30 December 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    I think it is far better for people to approach each other with compasison and understanding. Giving what we can, and everyone has something to give. Even the most unfortunate child offers a smile, a hug a warm hand.

    I hope all people on earth find their compassion and live with grace.

    Thank you for this post and the compassion you show to the children of China.

  11. Angie 30 December 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    To me it is simple, they are all God’s children.

  12. dawn 30 December 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    I am proud to be both a mother to a beautiful girl from China and a LWB volunteer. I feel so lucky to be part of such a great organization.
    Thank you Amy for not only seeing the need but doing something about it.
    Dawn

  13. Leslie 30 December 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    I am afraid I would not have responded so well. I am feeling weary with the process of trying to bring home our baby girl who has benefited IMMENSELY from LWB’s work and volunteers.

    I will never be able to thank LWB and the volunteers and supporters. You yourself Amy blogged about the experience of finding very needy children in Guizhou, our waiting daughter being one of the most vulnerable, and I just can’t believe that this woman–if she had that experience of SEEING with her own eyes–I have to wonder if her thoughts wouldn’t change?

    It saddens me and yet it is so prevalent–the us vs. them mentality. We encounter it as well.

    For anyone reading, don’t ever wonder if the work of LWB matters or makes a difference. IT DOES. Our waiting baby girl is alive today I have no doubt b/c of LWB and ultimately God who brought a group from LWB to Guizhou province where a little baby girl was fighting against all odds to live with complex heart disease. And she is still fighting … and we will bring her home Lord willing within the next 2 months where we are praying she can receive another heart surgery that will give her a chance to live a long life. No matter this little girl is so loved by so many and she is just one of MANY.

    Keep up the GOOD WORK Amy and all of the LWB volunteers and supporters. From where I sit, there is not us vs. them just a little girl waiting for a family who desperately wants nothing more than to bring her home.

  14. Shelli Craig 30 December 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Loved the article.. but more than that.. I love that sweet face on the bottom of the page. Usually I can close the page and the face goes away, but that face is just stuck in my mind! Does she have a family!?

  15. deedo7312 31 December 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I have no problem with adopting children from anywhere in the world. It does make me curious that nobody is answering the question of why not adopt a child from the US? Is it more difficult to adopt here? Are there other issues that I should be aware of in not adopting a child from the US?

  16. laura neville 1 January 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Why foreign adoption?? As a social worker I have heard from many parents that a primary consideration in adoption is looking for where the need might be the greatest. While the child welfare system in the United States is not perfect-it does offer foster care as a viable option to care for children. And generally medicaid will cover most medical procedures for US children. Foster care is not available in many foreign countries on a consistent and regular basis in places such as India, China, Ethiopia.Additionally the medical care available for abandoned children in foreign countries is often minimal or non-existant.. In other words, the overall plight of children in many countries is far worse than in the US. I also think that many people in the US do adopt children from within this country. But often a family may weigh other factors in the decision to do foreign adoption. Quite frankly-in the 30 years that I have practiced social work there were many families who did not have a positive experience with US adoption agencies-which simply encouraged them to pursue foreign adoption.
    I think that adoption is wonderful-whether within the US or outside the country. And as for the rude questions about such a personal thing as decision to adopt…I think that a simple “It is a God thing…I take my directions from above”…that really is true and actually might shut some people up for a minute!
    Your work is wonderful!!! And needed by so many little people in China(and the families they will be meeting).
    Happy New Year
    Laura Neville
    Copperas Cove, Texas

  17. Becky 1 January 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    @deedo7312,

    Thank you for being respectful when asking that question. It’s a good one. I would love to answer it for you from our point of view.

    I have seven adopted children. We adopted four from the U.S. and then three from Ghana in West Africa. I can address, from us, why adoption from the U.S. become nearly impossible. While there are a lot of children in foster care in the U.S., the ultimate goal for these children is to reunify them with their birth families. For us, the emotional hardship of having children placed in our home and then yanked back to horrific home lives became too much to bear. Lots of times, these children would end up back in our home with many more behavioral and emotional problems than they left with. Then they would be yanked again as soon as their birth parents found a subsidized apartment and a minimum wage job. The cycle went on and on until we were left with a broken teenager that hated the idea of even having a parent because they had never really had one. The foster care system in the U.S. is broken. Abusive and neglectful birth parents are given rights while foster parents have none.

    Private adoption is a possibility in the U.S., but as adoption becomes more commonplace (YAY!), you may wait on a list for YEARS and still not end up with a child. The cost is sometimes prohibitive as well. While a special needs situation might cost less, lawyer fees, etc can still average upwards of $30K, and a birth parent can always changed their mind at the last second. While it’s their right, it can be emotionally devastating. International adoption has its challenges as well, but for the most part, you know you’re ending up with your child when all the paperwork and waiting are finished.

    Ultimately, we wanted a child who needed us as much as we needed them. A child whose birth parents wanted this as much as we did. So, when the U.S. became too hard to deal with, we turned to Ghana. We met our children’s birth parents. We traveled five times to get to know them. We have ongoing contact. They’re proud of their choice. It’s a wonderful blessing for all of us.

    For us, this is why we chose to adopt internationally. Now I volunteer for LWB to bless other children who are waiting for the same chance my three Ghanaian children had. This organization is amazing!

    Happy New Year!
    Becky Ketarkus,
    General Surgery Director
    LWB

  18. deedo7312 1 January 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Thank you for answering the question that I had, and that others might have as well. It’s a shame about the Foster-system here, even though it’s all well-meaning. But your answers give me a much better grasp on the situation that some of these families are going through.

  19. Sarah 1 February 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    A great response to the question, “Why don’t you adopt from here?”

    “When are YOU planning to adopt a child from the USA?”


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