Second Best At Best

“What do you think of birth parents?” Kim asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Interpret the question any way you want,” she said.

This was just one of dozens of questions Kim, our case worker, asked me during the interview portion of the adoption process. Just before the swimsuit competition but just after the evening gown segment.

Like a pageant contestant’s plea for world peace, I felt like any answer I gave – outside of the truth caught in my throat – would be cheesy and naive. But could I speak the truth?

I swallowed. Turned in my seat. Long pause. And then, staring at the ground, I told the truth.

“I’ll always be second best…at best. And that makes me very sad.”

Sad for birth parents who couldn’t afford to feed their child, take them to a doctor, send them to school.

How brave. How sacrificial to let go of your flesh and blood so that she may have life. No greater love.

But how sickeningly sad that any parent faces this choice.

As many of you know, I’m an advocate for Compassion International, an organization that seeks to meet the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. I sing and speak and blog on their behalf. More than 20,000 children have been “sponsored” because of generous people like you who have read my posts, come to concerts, or listened from a church pew some Sunday morning, and then signed up to sponsor a child.

My family’s adoption adventure has changed my perspective on what it is Compassion and you and I are doing together. This isn’t just “holistic child development.” This is orphan prevention.

Lightening the financial burden a family feels by paying a child’s school fees. Educating a child so that she may be better employed than her parents, so that her own children will not live in extreme poverty. Providing proper nutrition for children so that they do not develop costly medical conditions. How many children have been able to stay with biological parents because of child sponsorship? This is giving children the best we can.

The best for a child is to be raised by a loving mom and dad. In their culture. Their language. Their family.

I am second best…at best.