HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 12, 2007, Herald Journal

Ordinary people do extraordinary things


I don’t know if any of you have seen, read or heard about the story of the North Carolina families who adopted orphaned children from Liberia.

The story is the shining example of how “ordinary” people, as they call themselves, can truly make a difference in the life, and in this case, the lives of over 30 children who were without homes and families.

The story began when one mother and her two daughters went to listen to a choir of boys from Liberia who were singing in her community.

This choir consisted of boys who were orphans living in an orphanage in Liberia. The orphanage was destroyed leaving the boys without any type of home and “family” again.

The particular mother, who had heard of the situation, shared that her heart “told” her that two of the boys in the choir “belonged to her.”

After a conversation with her husband and daughters, the family adopted two of the choristers.

Other families in the community openly questioned the family of their decision on the matter of adopting the boys.

The particular mother invited other parents to attend a performance by this boys’ choir, and many parents did. This changed the hearts of these other parents, namely 14 families in all.

Fourteen families from North Carolina adopted over thirty children who had been living in this destroyed orphanage in Liberia.

One family, who were empty nesters to two grown children, adopted six children in all from this orphanage.

Was the process easy and not full of some bumps along the way? All of the parents admitted,, absolutely not.

Would they do it again? They all said, absolutely yes.

Each family and child had and continues to have a lot to learn about each other and one another’s cultures, but as it was said, “Love knows no color…”

One of the boys who was adopted said that each night that he went to bed in the orphanage he prayed that someday he would be blessed with a mother and a father, a family.

His prayers were answered. He voiced his appreciation to his new family for the gift of “family.”

The mother, who started this amazing and priceless gift of giving, most honestly stated that prior to this experience, she had seen and heard about the devastation and the inhumane living conditions that children and adults experience in Africa and other remote countries.

She had thought, though, it was such a “distant” problem, one that she acknowledged but felt that she really could not do anything about.

When she actually saw these children in front of her, however, children with feelings and voices, she knew that she could make a difference, and she most certainly did.

The mother said with genuine sincerity that she is just an ordinary person, but an ordinary person, who did an extraordinary thing for two boys, and then two more children, and then one more child, and then six more children…..until more than 30 children were adopted by just “ordinary” people in North Carolina doing extraordinary things and making a difference.

Below is a paraphrased and condensed version of a popular story, “The Star Thrower” by the late author Loren Eisely.

It tells the “story” that great accomplishments do not require grandeur and that one person can always make a difference.

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.

If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”