A Mother’s Hope
I’m staring at this blank page and thinking: This is an important thing to write about.
I have up to 1,000 words to discuss an incredibly painful and complicated issue in hopes of sharing the human side of this story, free from a narrative that divides us and somehow led us to forget that we belong to one another. As an adoptive mom, social entrepreneur, and activist, I know full well the reasons behind mass migration to our southern border, where currently the situation is chaotic and heartbreaking. As I write, over 3,000 migrant children still remain separated from their parents, about 100 of whom are under the age of five. The news in recent months has made me angry, sad, and ashamed. I’m outraged by the sounds, images, and videos pouring out across social media detailing the experiences of thousands of children who have been separated from their parents. While this crisis continues to directly traumatize thousands, we sit at home and watch it all play out on the news, somehow convinced that the safety of families is a political issue. Sadly, it seems as if that’s the space we now live in – where issues that have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with humanity are up for debate. I don’t know about you, but I’m more interested in being human than being right.
As many try to painfully imagine what they might feel like if these taken children were their own, I sit across the dinner table and quietly watch my beautiful and thriving daughter, wondering how anyone could argue her right to a safe and secure life. I can’t imagine her place being anywhere but here, and often forget that three short years ago she was one of the many unaccompanied minors arriving at our border, desperately seeking a better life.
What I wish we could all agree on first is that nobody risks their own life because they want to. These families and children come from dangerous places, where basic needs such as shelter and food are very difficult to meet. It’s unbearable poverty and violence that push people to our border. My daughter came from Guatemala, a beautiful but broken country riddled with despair, hopelessness, and unimaginable crimes against women. She arrived alone at fifteen years old, eight months pregnant, and terribly afraid. She was held in one of the same detention centers we now see all over the news and shares stories of border patrol officers stealing what little money people had – she recalls “cages”, freezing cold conditions, and only being offered a peanut butter cookie over the course of days. And now, almost four years later, we sit together and watch the news while she relives the nightmare of our border. I watch in horror and hear her whisper, “Why does no one understand? We don’t come here because we want to. We come here because we have to.”
Her words remind me of “Home” by Warsan Shire:
No one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well.
And I wish that I could recite this poem over and over again to those that struggle to see this issue clearly.
I often think back to that barely 5-foot, teenage- superhero, crossing countries, walking miles, jumping on unsafe buses, and putting her own life in danger for the promise of a better life for her unborn child. I recognize my own weakness through her strength and wonder if I’ll ever possess bravery like she does, realizing quickly that I won’t. Most of us will never know the strength, selflessness, and perseverance it took for my daughter to make the journey here. And now that she’s arrived, she’s surrounded by a country full of people who tell her she’s not wanted – she’s not worthy – she’s “illegal,” and surely, she’s not American. And I look out at those on the other side of this argument and confidently say, “You’re wrong.”
While men in power debate our daughter’s rightful place in this country and in our home, we wait in fear and confusion over the state of a broken immigration process that has stood still for us for four years. And while we wait and worry, our brave one continues to study her way through school, takes on late night shifts, sets her mind to mastering a third language, single-parents a child, and inspires all whom she comes in contact with, despite unimaginable pain and loss. And what I hope for is that we recognize that my daughter’s story isn’t unique. Thousands of families and children would reach this same potential if we set aside our own selfishness, fear, and misconceptions to open up our arms for those in need of a safe place. And, if your response to my words is that these people should never have come here, I hope that you never have to flee violence or persecution or poverty. And if a day comes when you must, I hope that the whole world will see you, recognize your worth, and fight for you.
Not only is she the founder and CEO of Tribe Alive, Carly Burson is a mother and grandmother. When Carly began her adoption journey, she knew that becoming a mother would profoundly impact her life. She never imagined that it would alter the course of her life’s work. Although adoption presents an opportunity to support an individual child, Carly was struck by the desire to address the core issue of child relinquishment on a global scale: namely, the economic insecurity facing women in the developing world. Tribe Alive was born from Carly’s decision to utilize her years of experience in the fashion industry as a platform to alleviate poverty among people in the developing world. Carly has been interviewed and featured by Darling Magazine, The Good Trade, The Bump, and Pop Sugar to name a few and is admired nationally and internationally for her work and inspiring story. Carly lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband Kyle, 7 year old daughter Elie, 18 year old daughter Pricila, 3 year old granddaughter Flory, and four-legged soulmate, Remy Dog.
You can visit Carly and the Tribe Alive team at their new retail space at 1455 W. Magnolia Avenue