Ten years ago (give or take), I decided to sponsor a child through Children International.  The first child they assigned me was an 11 year old girl from the Phillipines.

For the past ten years (give or take) I have watched this girl, and several others, grow from being a, well, young girl, into being a beautiful young woman.  We have exchanged a few letters.  I gave her a little life advice.  She told me some of her hopes and dreams.

I received a letter today that told me she has graduated from the program, at 20, and to be quite frank, I couldn’t be prouder.

I don’t think I’m giving out too much information when I say I have never had children – and it’s looking like I may never have children.  Even if I end up with someone soon, having a baby at my age is somewhat risky, and maybe adoption is the more responsible choice.  I don’t know.  But what I do know is that somewhere between then and now, I began to think of her, in some ways, as a kind of daughter.  She’s not my daughter, obviously.  She has parents and a family that are not me.  But, and I’ve told her this, I couldn’t be any prouder of her than if she were my own.

She sent me a very sweet letter, very grateful for the assistance I’ve provided over the years.  Maybe I did have a huge impact on her life.  But, and I’ve told her this too, it was my honor to do so.  I hope someday to meet her, and there is little I wouldn’t do for her if she truly needed it.

I sponsor several other children, and I feel much the same about them, though the relationship is different.  I began sponsoring them even before they could write – they were toddlers.  It’s different, but the thought occurred to me that they may not remember a time in their life where I was not, in some ways, involved.  That’s a very different feeling.  With the older girl, she knew when I sponsored her.  With the others, I..  am just there.  I’m a fact of life, like maybe their mother and father.  Their mother, father, and overseas sponsor.

And I couldn’t be prouder of them, either.

I’ve been assigned a new child, now that the first one has graduated.  She is about the same age as the first one was when I sponsored her, and I hope I see her graduate as well.  If this is the only impact I have on the world, well, it’s enough, I think.  Or, at least, it’s something.

I am a misanthrope.  I really don’t like people.  I’ve made no secret of that.  But, I must say, I think I love my overseas children, just as I would my own.  And what a gift that is.  For them, yes.  And for me, as well.

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