It’s amazing the heaviness that can weigh on your heart in the middle of a Heart Gallery photo shoot. As I’ve said before, these days are always hard. There is a conflict of emotions that bubbles to the surface of my being and vacillates back and forth between hope and despair as I look into the faces of children who have lost everything; children who are hoping, longing and waiting for a second chance at family.
A couple of weeks ago, as I stood in the middle of one of our shoots, I watched as a foster dad told a young boy that something was not going to go as planned. It sounded like he was not going to make it back to his summer program in time to go on a field trip or perhaps he didn’t want to go back to the program, but instead spend some time with his brother that was being photographed with him. At any rate, tears welled up in this boy’s eyes and he quickly turned his head to insure that no one saw them.
I saw them. And in a split second, my mind went to my own young son and what this picture would have looked like if he had heard the same news this boy had heard, if tears had welled up in his eyes. It was so clear to me- he would have run straightway into my arms and buried his head in my chest. He would have had the freedom to let the tears spill and let his sadness melt into a momma who loves him deeply. His pain, no matter how insignificant it might seem, is my pain, his hurt; my hurt.
And yet this boy, this child from whom everything has been taken, had no freedom to share his hurt, his sadness, his disappointment. He had to suck it up and get on with it. He had to take it upon himself to ‘man-up’ and tough it out. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time (and won’t be the last) that he was forced to bury his feelings and move on. My heart broke for him and my righteous indignation rose to the surface once again. We have got to do more. Waiting children need a voice, a light at the end of the dark tunnel, a compassionate unconditional-loving family who understands their heartaches. They need and deserve a soft place to land.