Growing up, when I thought of family, I thought of my own. I thought of my two parents and my twin sister. As I grew up I realized family is more than that simple observation.
I remember our fridge always had pictures of our family, drawings, and good grades all over it. I always wanted to show my parents my grades or an art project I did when I came home from school. There was something about knowing it would be front and center on the fridge for my family members to see that I was so thrilled about. I think if God had a fridge our pictures would be on it, because we are His children. He would walk by the fridge looking at it so proudly, just as my parents did at home.
God’s plan for His children is to be in families and when I realized that I knew just how blessed I was to have a family because so many do not. It makes sense for children to be in families, it makes sense for you to have a parent to run to when you get hurt, it makes sense to have parents in the audience at your school play, it makes sense to have parents to look up to.
Last week Kingdom Families had the opportunity to share about family based orphan care to international students. As Brandon and Melissa spoke about the realities for vulnerable children here in Tanzania, the students and professors had intriguing questions and observations. The discussions we had were so encouraging as the students realized that family based orphan care in fact does make sense. It makes sense that “the best practice for children is families.”
Family based orphan care makes sense to me not just because I have an incredible family but because one of my closest friends spent 8 years of her life in an orphanage. It was bittersweet to hear about her experiences in an institution, how her life changed when she was placed into a family who adopted her, and how she knew she still had biological family in her home country. She learned to love her new family, and she told me how beneficial having parental guidance as she grew into adulthood was and still is. However, just before I came here to intern with Kingdom Families, my friend told me that she wished there was Kingdom Families in the country she lived. Keeping families together and strengthening them is what is needed and what really makes sense.
There’s something about being here in Tanzania and witnessing Brandon and Melissa, two individuals whose passion is advocating for family based orphan care, that has brought me to realize they both emulate in their own lives what family should look like. Of course when I think of family I think of my own but to be on the outside looking in on this family, I can’t help but look at Brandon and Melissa and know they are what parents should look like. A lot of grace and a whole lot of love. What a privilege it is to watch.