Please welcome Jenni Gustafson to the Show Hope blog. Jenni was a Summer 2012 Communications Intern at Show Hope. As we spend this month focusing on Adoption Aid, Jenni joins us to talk about how her personal experience helped her understand the plight of orphans and the need for loving forever families. Give to Show Hope’s Adoption Aid program to be a part of this life-changing transformation for waiting children around the world.
I remember my Sunday School teachers teaching lessons about orphans to tie in the story of God’s love for us as our heavenly Father, so I learned as a young child how orphans have really difficult lives because they don’t have parents who can love them. In my sociology classes in high school and college, I learned about the psychological trauma that orphans face and how they can have severe attachment issues, violent personalities, depression, anxiety, and low self esteem.
Knowing these facts about the plight of orphans has always made me feel sympathetic toward them, and it has made me want to help. However, even though I have been surrounded by these facts for almost my entire life, I have only just recently realized how very deeply the emotional and psychological impacts of orphanhood can affect a child.
I am not an orphan; however, I do understand what it feels like to grow up without parents. When I was young, my dad was almost never home because he had to travel a lot with his job to support his family. My mom was also absent, but in a different way. I was an unplanned, unwanted birth, and she treated me like the child she had never wanted. Because of this, I experienced many of the psychological problems associated with not having parents.
I never got the attention I needed from my parents, so I started to become disobedient and misbehaved in an effort to get attention from them and my teachers. In middle school I became anorexic, hoping someone would notice and care enough to talk me out of it. Later I began dating much older guys and drinking. My attachment issues also developed early, and I had trouble making and keeping friends with anyone. As soon as I was accepted by anyone, I pulled away because I was afraid that if I didn’t, they would just abandon me later anyway.
This was not only unfulfilling, but also depressing. I felt like no one cared about me, and at the same time, I was afraid to let anyone care about me. I considered suicide and developed a serious problem with anxiety, to the point I was having anxiety attacks about once every month.
Fortunately, as a current senior in college, I have been able to overcome most of these psychological problems. I have found people who love me so much that they won’t let me run away from their friendship, I am involved in student clubs and groups that provide positive support systems for me and my future, and I have overcome my anorexia and drinking problems. Most importantly, my new family of college friends has shown me the love of Jesus in a way I had never experienced before.
I am not an orphan, so I never thought that I would be able to relate to orphans in such a deep and meaningful way. However, now that I am healthy and can look back at my past in a new light, I truly understand just how important it is to care for orphans and provide them with loving families.
Recently I have become increasingly more involved with Show Hope, one of the most important ministries in orphan care. Show Hope gives Adoption Aid grants to families so that children around the world can find themselves in loving forever homes that will be there to support them for life, showing them the love of Jesus Christ and our Father.
Christians are called by God to care for orphans, and I think that Show Hope answers this call in the most beautiful way.
You can help give an orphan a loving family by donating to Show Hope’s Adoption Aid grants today.