A Mother’s Love
August 4, 2011, 6:30 am
Filed under: africa, liberia, love, Parenting, social justice, travel | Tags: , ,

Her name is Esther; she is from Liberia, Africa. She is a small woman with a big smile and a mother of five. She lives in a slum of the city Monrovia, once a booming metropolis now a war torn, bombed out disaster. In a tiny shack she calls home, there is little food, no running water, and no electricity. It is built with corrugated tin; there is a dirt floor, one bench and two beds with a sheet separating the rooms for “privacy”. Her small table of two buckets with a piece of wood over it hold the few plastic dishes and one pan she owns. There are “houses” lining every alley throughout the city. Esther rents this dwelling, and considers herself blessed to have shelter when so many do not.

Her husband Siafa was a mason builder, but he contracted typhoid fever in the summer of 2000 and died. Leaving Esther with her five children and no way to make any money. Her children were three, four, ten, eleven and fifteen. The future looked bleak. Daunted, but full of courage and hope she prayed for her children and their survival. At church she heard a man speak about an adoption agency that was trying to help the children of Liberia by getting them adopted into American and Canadian homes. Was this the answer she was looking for? Could she give up her children?

As mothers it is hard to explain the love we have for our children, it is so intense we struggle to put into words the depth of feeling our hearts carry. As parents in a privileged society, we feel confident we can provide all their needs and most of their wants. Esther loved her children but was not confident that she could provide the basic things they needed. Is love enough when there is no food, no medicine and no future? Could she love her children and watch them die? Was her love big enough, strong enough, generous enough, to let them go to a place where she would probably never see them again?

I am so thankful that I will never be faced with these kinds of life altering decisions. I complain about not being able to pay the bills as I sit in a beautiful home with a pantry full of food. I am so blessed. I joke about what my kids will choose for careers, never doubting that there will be a choice. John and Christian my two beautiful boys have another mother, Esther. They do not talk about her much and their memory is starting to fade but when they ask me I will tell them the story of one mothers love of how when I met her and talked to her I asked how she could let go and she said, “I cried once, now I choose joy.”

A mother’s love knows no boundaries, no color and no language. My husband and. I have been given the awesome privilege of raising our children in a Western society. Will you join me in committing to pray for those mothers who are not as blessed?


15 Comments so far
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no words…just tears of joy. Amazing…..

Comment by Anonymous

she is a hero for sure, I am so honored to be a part of the circle

Comment by Kari

Kari, I loved reading this and I agree it is beyond me how she gave up the two boys that are now your sons. I love the picture, seeing them so young and then seeing what opportunities they’ve been given because of your love and generousity.

Comment by Melissa

Thanks Melissa, I am not sure what Melissa this is so please let me know!

Comment by Kari

Please pass the tissues…..My heart is so heavy and so light at the same time! Sounds to me as if God has granted the wishes for all involved in this beautiful extended family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Esther and those mothers in her same shoes, having to make these kinds of decisions daily…..True love has no barriers, just obstacles to overcome…

Comment by Anonymous

Thank you, perspective is always a wonderful thing. thanks for reading and caring

Comment by Kari

This story makes my heart ache. The agony of Esther’s situation takes my breath away. That she had that much courage and love for her boys is amazing. Are you able to keep in touch with her? Does she know how her boys are doing?

Comment by kristen


First, thanks for reading my blog. We do try to keep in touch with Ma Esther as we refer to her. She is aware of how well they are doing and has remarried.

Comment by Kari

I’d never seen Esther’s picture before — goodness, the boys sure look like her!

Love your blog, Kari.

Comment by Barb Stoefen

Wow, what an amazing story. The selflessness on both sides is unbelievable. Kari, as I read I tried to imagine being in a situation where I would have to part ways with Alexis & Keegan and I just can’t imagine. The strength Esther had was truly amazing & the Johnson family was offering an amazing gift…an opportunity for a wonderful life. :0)

Comment by Anonymous

I am also not anonymous..it’s Cathy Walther

Comment by Anonymous

Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment Cathy,
I am thankful neither of us will ever be in that situation. You are beautiful my friend, have a great day

Comment by Kari

Thanks for creating this. There is a lot happening in ministry in Liberia. Look up our website under development. http://www.crcaliberia.org

Comment by Anonymous

beautifully written, Kari, and beautiful how God has done a beauty-from-ashes work with Esther’s & your sons, bringing them from what could have been death to life in the Johnson family. We’re blessed to know you guys and continue to be encouraged by your family.

Comment by Nicole

Hey Nicole! Thanks for reading and commenting when I know life with three is a bit crazy. I added your blog to mine and would love to be added to yours if you think anyone else would enjoy it. I look forward to meeting the rest of your family in the months to come!

Comment by Kari

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