“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” ― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa
Most pediatric training programs (mine included) provide care primarily to children covered by Medicaid, whether because of lower income or the need for special medical care. For many doctors–most of whom grew up in relatively affluent families, this is something of a foreign experience. During this experience, I have been amazed by the number of children who are cared for by people other than their biological parents (whether they are adopted, cared for by foster families, or raised primarily by a grandparent/other family member); at the same time, I am dismayed by the number of parents who are unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility of taking care of their own children. I am amazed by the willingness of so many people to knowingly shoulder the burden of caring for children with severe chronic medical problems; and discouraged by parents who fail to provide for the basic needs of their children (despite having the resources to do so).
So, to those children who have a family that loves you, be thankful. To the parents out there who are giving it your all, keep it up. To those who aren’t, get it together. And to those who are showering love upon children that at some point belonged to someone else, thanks for making them your own.