The article linked above has been floating all over my Facebook newsfeed. My adoptive Momma friends are sharing it, wondering if they should wear their adoption related shirts. Some are parenting children who were adopted, some are currently fundraising with t-shirts and some are waiting families. I think it's absolutely important to read with an open mind and I must say that I paused too, read the post and let it sink in for some time. These are the stories in the adoption triad that we want to listen to, and I do. This time, I am just not sure it's the way I choose to go personally.
The fact is, I have many orphan care, adoption and other awareness shirts and I am not ready to toss them aside just yet. Not because of my sense of fashion, but because of those who are left behind. The children who will never be adopted but who will need a lifetime of sponsorship and advocacy. Children with special needs who do not have a voice while hidden in cribs in orphanages.
I am also not willing to subscribe to the thought that awareness shirts immediate reveal something about my family. If I wear a domestic violence shirt, do people assume that my husband abuses me? I must have breast cancer when I wear a pink ribbon? My children must have HIV since I wear those shirts too? No, that has not been my experience.
I do choose the shirts I wear with sensitivity to my children. My children are NOT orphans, they are sons and daughters. So the word orphan does not apply to them. My son is old enough to have an opinion and he wants to wear shirts that raise funds for people in his country, he feels empowered to be an advocate. Our family does not use the terms "rescue" and "saving" our children, because that would make me their savior (which I'm not, I'm their mom). So those t-shirts are not ones I would wear. But I respect other viewpoints on this and realize that most people are willing to reconsider terminology once they are lovingly educated about it.
One day while waiting for my kids in taekwondo, I was stopped by a woman who noticed my t-shirt. It said something about feeding children and she asked more about it. We talked about different ways to help that are sensitive to children, that truly bring change to communities and she wrote the website off my shirt. Months later she came to talk to me and to me how her family sponsored a woman to go to sewing school through an organization. A mother now has a real chance at parenting her children and providing them with an education. All prompted by a t-shirt.
Afua at her orphanage in 2012. I wore my awareness t-shirt that says Go.Be.Love.
We went, we were and we loved :)