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June 26, 2012 – A Prayer for a Decision on Caring for a Child Burn Survivor

June 26, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Please take a moment to pray.

My wife Sue and I have served as a “host family” for children from the third world needing medical treatment in the United States, which is unavailable to them in their homelands.  Because we live in Cincinnati, Ohio where Shriners Burns Hospital is located, the children that come to Cincinnati are predominantly burn survivors.  The goal of such programs is to bring the child here for treatment, and when they are healed, they return to their families in their home countries.

It was never our intention to adopt children at this point in our lives, having raised a family of six adopted children.  But Johnny came at age six months from Bolivia.  When it was time for him to return, his family had disappeared from La Paz.  He stayed while the contact persons in Bolivia continued to search for him.  When he turned three, we gave up hope that Johnny’s family would be found, and so proceeded to adopt him.  In 2006, we again served as a host family for another child.  Joy came to us from China at age four years with severe contractures from burns to her fingers, hands, arms, and legs.  Her circumstances were different in that she had been abandoned in her city, and been under the care of an orphanage.  We fell in love with her, and will finally be able to adopt her later this year.

We have been presented with the possibility of “hosting” another child with burns.  She is a Chinese toddler and has significant disfiguring burns to her face, head, and hands.  The pictures which I have seen of her have been emotionally disturbing.  I find it hard to look at them.  My wife wants to move ahead with this, and I am fearful.  I can come up with logical reasons why we should not do this.  “Her care will take time away from Johnny and Joy.”  “It is the wrong time, when we have the marriage of a good friend (a daughter of our hearts) this Fall.”  The list could go on.

The decision is turning me upside-down.  I am full of guilt for saying “No”, although we haven’t made a final decision.  I look at the decision and think that if her face had not been burned, I would have been more open to the idea of providing care to her.  This is troubling for so many reasons.  Would I deny care to some little one, because she had the misfortune of being burned?  How would I feel, if my medical treatment depended on someone caring for me?  What if physical appearance determined whether medical care would be received?  This would be morally wrong on so many levels, and yet, I am stuck in trying to move from my position of fear.

A Prayer for a Decision on Caring for a Child Burn Survivor

Mother-Father,

I try to walk
In the ways of Jesus.
True charity and compassion
Would respond to this invitation
With a vigorous “Yes”
To accept this child into our care.
Fear and revulsion strangle me.
Will I be able to look at her
Through the eyes of Christ?
Will I be able to see the child within
Beyond that place of scars, skin grafts,
Bandages and pain?
Will I forgive myself if I succumb to fear?
Will I let myself be free to say “No”
Without guilt,
If it is not the best decision for our family?

Is this struggle a gift,
A sin,
A detour along the journey to You?
Am I just one, screwed-up human being,
Who takes things way too seriously?

These are my heartfelt thoughts.
These are my fears laid open.
May Your wisdom and guidance
Fill my soul,
Leading me in all ways.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Peace,

Tom

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