20 Boxed Children and 163 Million Orphans

            Most children do not come in boxes, but all of mine have.
            Christmas morning, 1991, with small presents unwrapped and already enjoyed, the more greatly anticipated gift awaited exposure.  As I slowly ripped off the bright red paper with colorful Christmas print, my heart danced inside my chest like a lightning bug inside a glass jar.  I had just unwrapped my very first child, and he was already waiting to be loved on! As my dad assisted with cutting the tape that secured the oddly shaped box closed and untwisted the ties that held my child in an upright position with arms open, my patience wore thin.
            Once out of the box and in my arms, my grandmother inquired, “What is his name?”
            I simply replied, “Eddie.”
            No one knew where I had heard the name before, but that is what he was called.
            About two and a half years later, while shopping with my mother and siblings, I wandered to the back of the store to look around.  While browsing the shelves that seemed to stretch higher than the ceiling, something—rather, someone—caught my eye.  There she was: a little girl, still in her box.  She was so cute with her red and white patterned shirt and matching bloomers! The simple shapes on her shirt led me to believe she must be in preschool, learning what a circle, square, and triangle are.
            “Momma! Momma! I found one I want!” I cried enthusiastically.
            “Which one?” she asked.
            “Her,” I stated, pointing to the little girl with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.
            My mother quietly denied my plea, “No, I don’t think you should get her today.”
            With a broken heart, I walked away with my mother to meet my siblings before going home…and leaving behind a little girl I wanted to be mine.  Once home, I prayed that somehow that she could still belong to me.
            A few months later when November 22, 1994 came around, my sixth birthday, to my delight the little girl in a box became mine.  Rather than ripping through the box with excitement and discarding everything except her body, I carefully peeled away the tape and unfastened the ties that locked her inside.  I then picked up my “Madeline” and embraced her with long awaiting arms.
            Once Madeline was settled in my lap, I removed what remained in her box.  As I pulled the white papers with green ink out of the small plastic bag, I grew more curious as to what the papers meant.  Not yet able to read big words, I sought out my mother.
            “Momma, what are these for?” I inquired.
            “Well, let’s read them and find out,” she gently replied.
            With careful memory of all the phonics rules I had learned thus far, I struggled through reading the two bold words centered at the top of the first paper, “Adoption Certificate.”
            “What’s ‘adoption’ mean?” I asked my mother.
            “Well, adoption is when a mommy and daddy can’t take care of their child, or sometimes a mommy and daddy might die and their child is left an orphan, and a new mommy and daddy have to take care of the little boy or girl.”
            Stunned that such a scenario was even within the realms of possibility, I walked away to embrace Madeline more tightly, since she must have been left an orphan and was in desperate need of more love.
            The very next time I set foot in a large building that held boxed children captive, I made it my silent mission to somehow bring them all home so they could be loved.  There was no reason not to work hard and complete all my chores every day and do my school work diligently when these kids need to be taken care of!
            So work I did, earning as much money as I could to adopt child after child who was destined to remain in a box unless I did something.  By the time I had adopted all twenty of my Cabbage Patch Kids, I became aware of a bigger mission: there are real kids all over the world waiting to be adopted and loved by a family.
            It is currently estimated that there are 163 million orphans in the world.  To better grasp how big that number is, naming each one of those children at the rate of one per second would take more than five years.  In my understanding, there is no reason that families should delay action in changing the reality for at least one of 163 million.  I’m not waiting, and I’m currently a family of one...or twenty-one, depending on how you look at it.

**This was a short, non-fiction story written in class for English 112, though it may someday serve as the first rough draft for the prologue of a book.**