Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When no choice becomes your only choice.

For as long as I can remember I have had a choice.
Weetabix or toast for breakfast?
Would you like promite or honey on it?
This school bag or that one or even that one?
Music or sport?
Art or music or legal studies or history or geography?
This boyfriend or that one?
Stay in my home town or move away to study?
Will you marry me?
Kids now or later?
I can't say I ever really thought about having a choice. It was just always there.
My inalienable right. 
I need to tell you something blush worthy - more than blush worthy really - tomato red stained shame.
I didn't have much of an outward focus for a long time. 
I was that person who would watch the news and see people living in poverty and think to myself, poor things, then forget all about them. I'd see a photo of a teenage girl begging on the street holding a tiny infant in a dirty ripped singlet and no pants and admire the impact of the image rather than wonder about the girl. 
Well, it's not like I could save them all right?!
But then something happened. I traveled overseas. First to India. Then to the Philippines.
Fair across my left cheek then back across my right. 
I have seen a family living under a single sheet of rusted corrugated iron on the side of the road. I met their son. He was healthy when I met him. Chubby, happy and going to live with his forever family in Sweden. When he originally left his corrugated iron shelter he was malnourished. Skin, bones and sores. 
Come on people - get a job, feed your son something decent.
Because there is no work where they live. Not a lack of choice between jobs. No job at all.
no job means no food.
No food means feed your baby son the water drained from the family's tiny portion of rice. Rice water in place of milk means no nourishment.
Well, why didn't you breastfeed your baby son?? Breast is best!
No job means no food which means no nourishment which means no breast milk which leaves no choice but to give him rice water.
Skinnier and skinnier he grows until there becomes only one choice.
Lack of choice became that families only choice for their son.
Sign a voluntary deed of commitment so that he can be raised by a family with plenty.
I could never give my child away.
What if you had no choice and that became your only choice?
I was taken into a small concrete hut  less than two months ago.
We didn't know why we were going in there - just that someone thought we may be able to help.
A ten year old girl lying on a bed. Emaciated. Eyes rolling rhythmically in her head. The photo on the wall showed her five months earlier - healthy and smiling - part of the family photo. 
She knew we were there as she would look for us when her eyes were forward. She squeezed Pauline's hand as we talked with her mother.
She had been tested for meningitis but that came back negative. The mothers choice? Well, have her hospitalised, keep testing and trying to get an answer and bring her back to health - no expense spared - except - the family is poor
and their only choice became no choice and so she lays at home dying.
I urge you 
don't leave it to the do -gooders
or say 'that's not my thing'
because you have got a choice.



  1. Powerful stuff, Nicki. Thanks! I guess it puts things in perspective for many of us!

  2. Thanks Siggy! For anyone who would like to read more my blog 'Coming Home' centres around our journey post adoption but also includes the occasional humorous piece on teenagers and parenting.