My plan was a nice relaxing Saturday night, laying on the couch with my wife, popcorn in hand, and a good movie to entertain us. I had forgotten which movie we had waiting for us in the Blockbuster-by-mail envelope and put in God Bless the Child. I was not prepared. What I saw floored me, humbled me, and in many ways broke me and is breaking me still.
The basic story follows a single mother who struggles without a job and a home with a young child. She is forced to rely upon welfare and sleep in shelters. She is a woman who has all the desire and ability to work but due to circumstances is brought into poverty. It is often overlooked that there are many factors that lead people into poverty. We often think of it being the sole fault of the individual; their irresponsibility and abuse of drugs or alcohol. This movie introduces the viewer to the other face of poverty – that of families and children, many of whom are working as hard as they can to climb out. In one memorable scene a social worker describes poverty as a “disease” that grabs hold of folks and beats them down until they loose all hope. This movie brought to light, in a way I have never seen before, the awful downward spiral that folks find themselves in.
The most heart-breaking part of the movie though, for my wife and I, was watching this mother make the difficult choice of whether her only child whom she loved more than anything should remain with her on the streets, in rat-infested apartments, and in shelters, after friends and family can’t help them out anymore.
This brought to mind the situations that our birthmothers faced in choosing to place their children for adoption. I can’t express the emotions that I feel. I have a new respect and a new brokenness over what they went through in making that decision. We are praying for them with fresh awareness and love and respect. I am also praying more specifically about what it looks like for the church to care for mothers before they come to this place and for the poor in my community.