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.