When children are adopted from developing countries, they often grow up feeling they have an obligation to give back to their countries or at least help those who are less fortunate. There is often a feeling of being “saved” from poverty or another equally dire situation and having an obligation to pay back a debt. For many adult adoptees this is seen as an unfair obligation, but for others like Magalie it is seen as a privilege.
Magalie didn’t have to look very far to find examples of service. She comes from a family who loves to serve others. She is one of eight children, including five children adopted from Haiti. She was introduced to the organization Invisible Children through her older sister who came home from college, passionate to share the message of rescuing child soldiers in Uganda abducted by Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). After having watched one of Invisible Children’s first documentaries, Rough Cut, Magalie could not continue to be comfortable in her little bubble. She knew there was more to life, and she had to go out and find it.
After an intense interview process, Magalie landed her dream job of being a Roadie or a Regional Representative for Invisible Children. Over the next few months, she joined a group of three other girls on the road, and for ten weeks they traveled to Alaska, Montana and all over Western Canada to spread the message of bringing an end to the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA. In six months, four girls organized 55 educational presentations. Four girls spoke to nearly ten thousand people. Four girls raised over $18,000 to bring awareness to the cause of Invisible Children. One of Magalie’s teammates was directly impacted by the LRA, and spoke to audiences about how her family had been destroyed. Audiences were moved by the girls’ candor and passion for a worthy cause.
Magalie’s internship concluded with an international summit in D.C. For weeks the team wrote letters, made phone calls, and petitioned global leaders from the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union to come together and strategize with the leaders of the African countries affected by Kony and the LRA. During the summit, thousands of people peacefully marched to show their support of Invisible Children and their Zero LRA campaign. That same weekend a bill to end the LRA was presented to President Obama who would later go on to sign it. To try and summarize Magalie’s six months with Invisible Children is nearly impossible. Each person on her team and each person the girls met had a different story as to why they felt led to join the fight against the LRA.
Not surprising to many, Magalie would like to become a social worker. She’s not sure what area of social work she would like to concentrate on. At first, she wanted to become an adoption coordinator. The idea of bringing people together and creating families was appealing to her, but she has realized that she wants to broaden her options.Today, she is focused on going back to school to complete her social work degree.
We all define success differently. To many it is a luxury car parked in the garage of a four bedroom house in a gated community. To most it means a family of stick figures plastered on the back of a minivan. But to few it means living a life of service. Magalie recognizes that at 21, she is far from having it all figured out, but she wants a rewarding career that pushes the boundaries and takes her out of her comfort zone.
Does she credit her adoption for her sense of compassion and empathy? Absolutely. And she sees nothing wrong with that. In fact, with pride she states she has an obligation to help others. She believes that the reason she was adopted was to help others. It is also her relationship with Christ that compels her to serve. It is a choice she gladly makes: to help others regardless of where they are from.
The question of adoptees born in developing countries feeling they must give back is sometimes complicated. But what if we reframed the question. Instead of “Why me?”, let’s ask “Why not me?” When Magalie’s adoptive parents made a decision to adopt her from Haiti 18 years ago, they probably had little clue that her words would reach over ten thousand people for the cause of Invisible Children. When you adopt, you are changing the course of one person’s life that could change a thousand more. For those adopted from a developing country, the charge of giving back to your country or anyone in need is not something to hide from, but a special mission to embrace. Indeed, if you ever doubt that you can make a difference, look what four young girls accomplished in six months.