April 11, 2014
We’re not sure if you’ve noticed, but you see a lot of shoes on our social media posts. Our website is filled with side profiles and “behind the head” shots. Sometimes we’ll blur out the faces, show you some knees, or have a lot of distance between the camera and the children. While we’re fairly confident that the children living in our Forever Homes just might be the most adorable, beautiful, and handsome kids you’ll ever meet, you won’t see their faces online for a few reasons.
First, our kids don’t want to be the face of “orphan care.” Our children are not a cause. And, for the record, once a child comes into an Acres of Love Forever Family, he or she is no longer an orphan. He has a family. She has parents. They have hope. They are human beings who have already endured and survived tragic loss. They deserve the dignity, respect, and honor of living their lives without being labeled as orphans. When our children go to school, they deserve to live a life of normalcy. Children who arrived in the very beginning of Acres of Love are now teens who can google. We want to respect their privacy and their stories.
Second, our work is in South Africa, a country filled with contrasts. While many people live in deplorable, third world conditions here, there is also first-world infrastructure. South Africa has many child-welfare laws including the Children’s Act, which we seek to abide by. Our integrity as an organization does not allow us to post “full face” photos of our children.
So, we walk a fine line. We want to share stories of God’s healing with you. We want you to understand where our children have come from. We want to brag about the amazing things our children are accomplishing. We feel passionately about advocating for the rights of children who have been orphaned in South Africa. But we have to be creative about the way we do so. To label our children as only “orphans” would be to miss out on the larger story. They are also fighters, survivors, students, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends. Their status as someone who was orphaned minimizes all of the other things that make each of them who they are. Losing their parents will be an important part of each of their journeys, but it is not the whole of who they are.
Thank you for putting up with our creative photos… our children are beautiful and their stories are sacred. Since Acres of Love began, our mandate has been to care for each child as we would our own. And in the process, these children have become OUR FAMILY. We will fight for them, advocate for them, protect them, and love them. Part of that love and protection means guarding their hearts as well as their stories, in this vast online world.