In my job, I have a strict personal policy: NEVER get emotionally involved in the stories you cover. It's easier said than done. But, over the past 20 years and after covering hundreds of stories, I have indeed put up a bit of a wall. It's thin, but it's there. And as a journalist, it keeps me from bias, helps foster compassion and non-judgement, and allows me to tell a fair story.
Then, my TV station news manager asked me to take over our adoption series, "A Place to Call Home." And suddenly, it's as if my personal policy just quietly flew out the window.
I should've known after the first shoot with this sweetheart, Courtney.
In the few days following our shoot, I found myself slightly irritable at work and at home, a little down, and sobbing when my children did something sweet.
Then, after a few days, my bad mood was over. I just chalked it up to 'that time of the month,' it was getting hot out, whatever.
But then, it happened again, when I met these precious babies.
That night and the two days that followed, I noticed I had low energy. Just sort of down. But I STILL didn't make the connection.
Not until I met three more sets of children -- did I figure it out.
Not after meeting the three siblings who hugged me...
The Wonder Place. We talked that day about what it would mean to have a family.
Not after introducing Marcus and Hailey to former NBA star Joe Kleine...
It happened after spending the day with darling Amy...
Apricot Girls Boutique hosted us, and 12-year old Amy was pampered! She had her face painted, her hair spray-painted, and her nails done. She sang karaoke, and she danced, two of her most treasured dreams. But her biggest dream: finding a mom and dad to love her for the long haul. We laughed, and we cried together as she shared her heartbreaking struggle and her unwavering faith that a mom and a dad will come for her.
For me, more of the same mildly low feeling in the days to come. But absolutely NOTHING compared to what these beautiful children have endured.
That's when I figured out that in those days that followed our shoots, our meeting these foster children, I was emotionally involved in their stories. It's impossible for me not to be, because, I, too, desperately want them to find families. I want to take away their suffering, their pain. As a mother, I want to take them in, make their struggles disappear, care for them, feed them, put a roof over their head, and most of all, love them, which is our most basic human need.
I love this Karl Menninger quote: "Love is the basic need of human nature, for without it, life is disrupted emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically."
I think for most of us, it is a natural human state to want to help and love others who cannot help themselves. So, I suppose I will relax my rule of not getting emotionally involved in my stories, but just in this case. I will cry with and for these children, and I will laugh with them, too. I will showcase their lives to the best of my ability, and tell their stories to anyone who will listen and watch.
And I will pray --and then pray some more-- that loving families open their hearts and arms and bring these children home.
This blog is dedicated to every foster child in the world, especially those in Arkansas state care.