Choices, God

Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Tears welled in my eyes and my nose filled as I read the story.

Of a father in China whose 6-day old baby was in dire need of heart surgery. But he had no money to pay for the procedure that would save his baby boy’s life.

What’s a parent to do in the midst of such terrible choices? Bring the child home to die, or abandon them in the hopes that someone would take and care for them?

In a world where poverty has too much say in what happens to families, I never viewed orphans through the lens of a parent who wants to care for their child but simply can’t.

The deep the agony must cut when the choice is to either watch your child die because you didn’t have the money to help them, or to leave them—near a hospital, a church, an orphanage, somewhere—hoping someone would care and have the resources needed to give your child a chance at living a full life.

Honestly? I’ve heard about the babies in orphanages, in Russia, Ukraine, China, Guatemala. Elsewhere. The toddlers dealing with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome because their mama drank through her pregnancy.

I’ve heard the stories of children left in the care of others. It happens around the world, as well as in our country.

This is the first time I’ve considered seriously that maybe some children were left because their parents loved them too much to watch them die.

Their parents wanted life for them, even if it meant letting someone else raise their child.

When I consider the abject poverty that forces a father, a mother, to choose abandonment so their baby can live? That breaks my heart.

And, I suspect, it breaks God’s too.

Poverty has a wicked way of destroying families.

Abandonment becomes part of the fabric of that child, and of the family that chose a deeper love for their child. Only God can fully heal that wound.

When I read a story like this, I feel so helpless. Poverty is so much bigger than one person. But, God has ways of uniting hearts to do great things.

I don’t normally do this (as my regular readers will attest), but this story impacted me deeply. I’m sharing the link for a ministry that is trying to help families in positions where they are forced to choose between death for their child or abandoning them with the hope that someone else might give them life.

If this plight moves you, consider checking out A Love Project, where they offer ways you can help. Yes, they accept donations, but they also share other things we can do to come alongside them as they work to help families faced with a terrible choice.

What about you? What is the hardest choice you’ve ever had to make? What are some ways you have found to help families in poverty?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes none of the choices are easy

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkUp, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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28 thoughts on “Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose”

  1. That must be such a heart-breaking choice to have to make. Thanks for sharing about this charity. It’s not one I’ve heard of before- I’ll have to check it out.

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    1. Lesley, I had never considered this kind of choice before. Our family knows adoption…it’s a part of our story. But to think of the wrenching heartache some parents have gone through for the love of their children—releasing them to hopefully have a chance at life? I can hardly imagine the incredible pain of that decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jeanne. We need to be reminded of these things. If we’re not in it, we can live in such protected little bubbles, can’t we? My nephew works for Children of the Promise. He has seen some parents giving up their children in order for him/her to have a better life. It can be such a heart-wrenching sacrifice. He and his wife have three children adopted from Haiti and are in the process of adopting a girl with cerebral palsy from there. If at all possible, they try to keep communication with their children’s birth families. Love and hugs!

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    1. Trudy, it’s true. When we aren’t close to a situation, it’s hard to really see it and have compassion. It’s a beautiful thing that your nephew and his wife have done and are doing. It’s so important to keep lines of communication open with the biological families when possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot imagine. What heartbreak. Thanks for sharing this wonderful opportunity to help bring hope to the hurting. Even if in a small way. Blessings!

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  4. This breaks my heart. I have never thought that the hardest choice for these parents is to love their child so much they give him up. I can see how this story impacted you. I’m to sure what the hardest choice has been for me but I know that it doesn’t even compare with these children and their stories.

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  5. I have worked with mothers – recovering addicts – who lost their children because of their bad choices. Their hearts ache. They wish they could do it over. At the same time, more than one has testified that she is indescribably thankful for the people who took in their children. They know that it was for the best. And it was the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

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    1. Marie, I can only imagine how very painful this particular regret would be for mothers who lost their children because of their own choices. It’s reassuring to me to hear that they are thankful for those who took in their children. I can well imagine this would be the hardest thing they have ever done.

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  6. It’s important that you shared this link Jeanne. So many places we can help in this world and God uses all of us to get the word out of where our helping hands can be a beacon of hope.

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  7. As a mother, this breaks my heart. I’m thankful I’ve never had to make a choice like that, but then my heart aches for parents who are making hard choices on a daily basis. Thank you for your words of compassion and for sharing information about A Love Project.

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    1. Me too, Lisa. I cried when I read of this father’s hard choice. And you’re right. Parents make hard choices every day because of their love for their children. Thank you so much for reading and checking out A Love Project.

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  8. I’ve made several HARD choices, Jeanne. Poverty? Teach the impoverished how to do something. “Don’t bring a fish, teach them to fish.” ??? Neighbors at God-sized Dreams.

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    1. Love your thoughts here, Susan! Sorry for the delayed response. For some reason (NOT sure WHY??) your comment ended up in the spam folder. Grr. Yes, when we can, we should teach skills to those who live in poverty. May our eyes be open for those God would have us to invest in!

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  9. Sometimes none of the choices are easy…man on man , that sets heavy on the heart because it is truth all over the world. In third world countries there is little hope, I know for I have lived in two or them and watched some of the most heartbreaking stories played out before my eyes. In first world America there is heartache also, the child of a drug mother , the abused child, the street children. It’s everywhere and it seems there is never enough help to go around. I have to run to the word to gain a steady heart when I view this heartache. He said the poor would always be with us, And He did not heal everyone, but He did promises there is coming a day when all heartache will end. But for now, it’s our time to give, go, take care of, speak loving worlds, lift someone up, change a life.
    Great post…

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    1. Betty, please forgive the delayed response. for some reason, your comment ended up in the spam folder. NOT sure why. Argh. Poverty does horrible things to a person, a family. I so appreciate your words. We can’t help everyone. But maybe there are a few people God would enable us to invest in. To help and encourage. Thanks for visiting and for sharing your perspective!

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  10. Dear Jeanne … you give us a gentle, needed reminder that most of the world is hurting in ways that we can’t fully comprehend. Thank you for this eye-opener, this heart-tugger. May we be more mindful of others and less absorbed in our own small worlds.

    Blessings on you …

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    1. Thank you, Linda for stopping by. More and more, I consider the verse that says, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” May we live with eyes open to the needs around us that God would have us address.

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  11. God has loved me enough to break my heart by placing me in an urban area to serve. Abandonment has so many faces. I’ve worked with kids orphaned by dads looking for 20 minutes of pleasure. By moms who are trying desperately to reclaim the youth they surrendered to those 20 minutes. There are also parents who “orphan” their kids by working multiple minimum wage jobs to put food on the table. Others who choose temporary abandonment so they can break the cycle of poverty by getting more education. Bottom line? Whatever path brings someone into parenthood, the road is filled with tough choices.

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    1. Alice, you’re right. There are many ways children are abandoned. I am guessing you, more than most, are witness to this. Your last line sums it up well. Whatever path brings a person into parenthood holds many difficult choices. Thank you for sharing your perspective!

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  12. We have always told our kids that their birth-mothers loved them enough to give them life when they could have chosen otherwise. The birth-parents of our youngest made a difficult decision in Liberia. She had a crooked trachea, was severely malnourished and most likely hours from death (6 months old) when she was brought to the missionaries that fostered her until we brought her home a few months later. No they didn’t abandon her, but they loved her enough to let her go so she could live.
    Reminds me of the story of the 2 mothers in 1 Kings 3 The mother of the child was willing to let the other woman have her son to save his life.

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    1. We’ve shared the same words with our children, Christy. I can only imagine how difficult it was for those parents in Liberia. Such a selfless choice. Sometimes it’s those selfless choices that break a person’s heart. I never even thought about the two mothers in King Solomon’s day. You’re right. Sometimes love gives up so a child can live. Thank you for your insights!

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