We’re the first to admit that it’s somewhat unusual for a family to be celebrating the impending birth of their 13th child, especially in this day and age.
Yet, the novelty never wears off.
We still wonder what whether it will be a boy or a girl, what (or who) it will look like, what his or her character will be like, how they will grow and learn and live in the years to come. It’s always exciting and always very special, and to welcome a new child into our family is always, always an honour.
Back in 2008 we made the decision to sponsor a child, and began sponsoring a then eight-year-old named Doreen from Uganda. Doreen could not write at all, having had no education, and instead spent her days working with her grandmother. The two of them lived with Doreen’s father in a shack. Her mother had passed away.
Doreen is now a teenager and is thriving at school. In every letter she writes she asks, ‘When will you come and see me?’ and she always thanks us for the difference we made in her life.
Shortly after sponsoring Doreen we found out we were expecting. Tragically, we lost the baby. A few months later we found out we were expecting again, but to our dismay I began to bleed. We went to the early pregnancy unit who told us to prepare for the worst and to return the following week to make sure ‘everything was clear’. I was devastated.
In my grief, while waiting for the pregnancy to end, I decided to sponsor another child. This time we chose a two-year-old boy called Hilario from Honduras. His photograph showed him sombre and serious, dressed in his wellington boots and shorts. His birthday was June 3rd.
We returned to hospital the following week and much to our shock there was a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat. The baby was overdue by a week. His birthday, he decided, would be June 3rd. That baby is now four-year-old Oliver.
In those almost five years, Hilario is also thriving. He had the opportunity to attend school from a young age, and he and his community benefit from the small amount we send to sponsor him each month. Again every letter we receive comes with so much genuine gratitude and thanks for the difference the tiny amount makes. And a photograph of Hilario with a sombre, serious expression… and wellington boots.
We have suffered losses, but we have been incredibily lucky to have 12 healthy, strong children too. Children who don’t know hunger, or homelessness, or abuse or neglect. And this time next week we will (oh please let all go well), be holding our 13th child safely in our arms, no less precious as its siblings.
We wanted to celebrate Baby 13’s birth with something really special. He or she will come into the world and turn our lives upside down for the better. Why couldn’t we make a difference to another child, equally as precious as our own, yet with only the luck of where it is born to map out its destiny.
But we know destiny can be changed. We can change it.
So, to celebrate Baby 13’s birth day next week, we decided to sponsor another child.
The amount to sponsor a child is only £15 a month. It’s a teeny amount which makes a huge difference.
We decided to sponsor through Plan UK who are encouraging people to Give Up to Give Back (#GiveUp2GiveBack), showing just how the smallest changes to your spending can make a big difference to a child’s life.
Yes, I know. Times are hard, money is tight, bills are always dropping through the letterbox but… we’re still fortunate. We’re still so, very wealthy in comparison. And £15 is only just over £3.50 a week.
The children came up with so many creative ways that we could save that money elsewhere. Cutting back on treats was one. And someone pointed out that as we work and home educate, we don’t commute to work or school so save a lot on fuel, and another suggestion included not buying apps we didn’t need, ‘even if they seemed really cheap, as it all adds up’.
Another idea was that we should keep a designated money box aside for loose change. This, they said, would build up probably more than we realise, and without us really missing it at all as it would be change we’d have received from shopping for things we already needed (or maybe even just wanted).
They quickly realised that it doesn’t take grand gestures to make a difference to someone. The smallest steps can make just as big of a mark on someone’s life.
What could you give up to give back to change the life of a child and the community they live in too?
Trust us. We know it makes a difference. Will you think about it too?
We aren’t sure where our sponsor child will be from, what they will look like or even if they will be a boy or a girl. We’ll find out in the next few days.
That’s two new child surprises in one week.
What a way to celebrate!