Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to my husband’s school about Walk for the Waiting. Lighthouse Academy has Town Hall, a bimonthly gathering of students and faculty to announce and receive updates about what’s going on at school or in their community. I was introduced as Mr. Cisar’s wife, and was welcomed with a round of applause (hubby does a great job at work and is well-liked by most of his students).
I began by telling them my story: how I was adopted when I was three days old, how I longed for closure on my identity as an adoptee, and how elated I was when I finally got to meet my birth parents. I reminded them of how small the world is – I went to high school with my full blooded little brother and had no idea; my older brother that I grew up with went to high school with my older half-brother that I would meet almost a decade later.
This is when I introduced Walk for the Waiting. I started by showing them the promo video since it summarizes the event so well. I invited all 300 of them to join us. I told them about volunteer opportunities, and ways to get involved with their friends. I encouraged the cheerleading squad to get registered as a team and compete with other school cheerleading squads to see who can raise the most money.
More important than the fundraising though… I brought adoption education into their school. For some of them, it may have been the first time they’ve heard about foster care or adoption. For others, they may have been reminded just how staggering the crisis is. My goal was to encourage these kids to make a difference by joining us on April 30th for Walk for the Waiting. I want them to engage on social media, posting videos of their friends shouting “NO MORE WAITING!” and wearing Walk for the Waiting t-shirts.
After Town Hall was adjourned, I heard a little feedback from a couple audience members.
Mr. K, Director of Teacher Learning, approached me and shook my hand. He said he felt the Holy Spirit move while I was talking and that he wanted to see Walk for the Waiting grow and spread. Mr. K is also a youth pastor at a church in central Arkansas. He looked me in the eyes and said his church would be participating and doing whatever they could. I was truly touched. Did my words seriously bring in the Holy Spirit? Praise God for being on my lips and moving throughout the room!
Later, a younger girl, maybe 10 years old, came up to me with a big grin on her face. She thanked me for coming and talking, and said she really enjoyed my adoption story. She went on to explain that she was at Walk for the Waiting last year and loved it, but had no idea what it was about. I asked her what she thought about it now that she knows what it stands for and why it exists, and her face lit up. “Oh yeah! I want to take a lot of brochures and tell my Sunday school class!”
That little girl is why I want to talk to schools about adoption. Real, long-term community change starts by educating adolescents and inspiring them to want better for their peers. I wish I had more time to tell them about what they’re missing in their history and sex-ed classes, like the orphan train and knowing about adoption if ever faced with an unplanned pregnancy (to offer another option instead of abortion). One of my main messages was to understand the importance of practicing sensitivity and empathy when they meet a classmate that has a different kind of family than they do.
After students started filtering outside and the hallway started to clear, I noticed Danny talking to a student of his named Phil*. “This is the kid that calls me dad,” Danny joked. I love seeing the teacher-student relationships my husband has made. He is truly great at what he does. Phil looked at me with a boyish grin and said, “Mrs. Cisar, I’ve been wanting to ask you this a long time. Will you go to prom with me?” I hadn’t even noticed the group of students that had gravitated over to witness this proposal. I laughed and replied, “That’s so sweet of you! Unfortunately, you’re just a little bit too late. Mr. Cisar already asked me.”
Between experiencing the Holy Spirit, teaching someone about adoption and foster care for the first time, and being asked to prom – my first school talk was something I’ll always remember! Several other students told me their eyes were really opened and that they wanted to tell friends and family about it. It fired me up to talk to more schools and introduce adoption to our education system, for the sake of our future generation.
Teaching young people about a cause they can be passionate about and really make a difference for is setting a healthy foundation for them to build on as they go to college and become contributing members of society.
Change begins at home. Movements begin with passion and unity. Lighthouse Academy showed me that it’s possible. We can do this!
Until no more are waiting,