On this Father’s Day, I am reflecting on children. In my view the world seems to have three categories of children; biological children in some familial constellation, children of the heart, and children that have been orphaned or abandoned. I believe there should only be two categories. I will explain.
To have biological children is a natural outcome of humanhood. What happens after conception looks very different depending upon culture, edification, and circumstance. In Guatemala, where I reside, blood ties have a great importance to the degree that a man often will not accept another man’s children with a widow he wishes to marry. She, in some cases, will abandon those children to marry the man. A disturbing cultural practice that has the orphan population here bursting beyond any capacity for proper care and attention. I must also add that in Guatemala, most fathers do lovingly care for their offspring to the best of their ability.
A child of the heart is born of love in oneself and children can be quite lovable, so the heart naturally inclines in that direction. What happens after that alchemic conception in oneself also can vary. Sometimes it can be a circumstantial occurrence and no lasting relationship ensues. In other cases one can embrace a non-biological relationship with a child as much as any biological one and it continues for a lifetime. This can be in a formal or informal framework. I am sure most, if not all, adoptive parents can attest to this incredible love and responsibility they feel.
Unfortunately, there is a third category, which I believe needs to be erradicated. There are millions of orphaned children who have no real heart or ongoing biological relationship to anyone except the street or an institution. This is truly tragic. For a child to have a chance to develop into a fully functioning adult, attaching to someone is very important. We can see the dark side of this not happening in the violent youth gangs that are prevalent everywhere.
For me Father’s Day is bittersweet. I am grateful to have biological children whom I love, and I have many children in my life that I love and care for that are not my blood offspring. I am fortunate. However, I do lament the many thousands of children, just here in Guatemala, with no one to love and care for them. It is a painful situation with many daily reminders here in Guatemala.
As much as we are doing what we can with Project Somos, I encourage everyone reading this to take a moment and consider if you have any time or resources in your life to build a relationship of heart with a child somewhere or renew a fractured relationship. We may not be able to resolve all the world’s problems, but we may have the ability to change a child’s world with your love and care. Please think about it…