It was an ordinary October day. I was driving my son to preschool, watching the golden sun flicker through the autumn leaves. The director of our adoption agency called. I could tell she was excited: “I have good news,” she said. “I just heard from the orphanage and they have a fifteen month old girl.” She went on to tell me what she knew about this little girl. She had only been at the orphanage for a month or two. She had been placed by her mom who was dying of AIDS. She was HIV+.

I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I listened to the story. I cried. I wanted to fly to Uganda and hug this baby girl’s mama and tell her everything was going to be fine. I did not think we could adopt her, but I began to pray.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

As I prayed the words for the little girl, I flicker of hope grew in my heart. My husband and I learned about HIV+ adoption and opened our hearts. My hope grew into love for this girl who, I thought, might be my daughter. After six weeks, my husband and I made the decision to ask for her photo and her medical information.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

The little girl was beautiful. She looked tiny and fragile like a scared bird. She had huge brown eyes. For two weeks I looked at her picture dozens of time each day. I prayed. I dreamed. I imagined her as my daughter. I ran eight or so miles on the beach in California, humbled by God’s glorious creation and cried for this little girl. I prayed that my husband and I would have the courage to do what God was calling us to do.

We never had the opportunity to say yes to this little girl.

Yesterday I got a phone call from our agency. When I heard the director’s voice, I knew something was wrong: “I have hard news.” She went on to tell me that the little girl had died. She had put her hand in hot tea and the burn had become infected. Something that could have easily been treated her with access to medical care was too much for this sweet little girl. Her immune system had been weakened by HIV and malnutrition. The staff from the orphanage took her to the hospital, but she was too weak.

She died.

As the story continued, I felt like I was looking into the face of evil. The child’s mother, who was just 19, had been gang raped. She got pregnant and was infected with HIV. She lived in a poor slum outside Kampala, Uganda. She had nothing. After her daughter was born, the doctors told her not to breastfeed, so that she would not infect her daughter with HIV. But she had no hope. She chose to breastfeed her daughter. She could not afford formula. She did not have access to medication that could save her life or her daughter. She did not have access to resources.

She was without hope.

It feels like evil won this round. Poverty, disease, rape, violence, pain, death. In this slum in Kampala, evil and shame and despair and death won. The brokeness in this world overwhelms me.  I am just broken. My heart is completely broken. I’ve known the statistics about children dying in Africa. But never before was one of these children like my child.

This sweet, beautiful baby girl has gone home to be with her heavenly father. We are sad because we never got to hold her. We are thankful that we had two months to love her, to pray for her. We’re sad that there wasn’t more we could do. We’re angry and frustrated. And we are broken at the feet of Jesus, longing for the end of this, longing for the end of sin and suffering.

For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

This beautiful little girl’s names meant Song and Diamond. I don’t understand why God allowed so much pain and suffering in little Song’s life. But I am utterly thankful for what God has done in my heart through her life.

As we’re grieving, my children have reminded of how simple it is to love.

My two year old keeps looking at the picture of the the little girl we hoped to adopt and saying, “Baby. Sad.”

My three year old, after hearing that this little girl had died, climbed up into my lap and said, “Mama, why didn’t we hurry?”

My five year old went and found his wallet and took out all his money so we could give it to the orphanage so no more babies would die.

Family and friends, I implore you: let your hearts be broken by the things that break God’s heart. Do not be sad for our family. Pray that we would have courage to follow God’s call. Pray that we would be comforted thinking of little Diamond Song at home with her heavenly Father. Rejoice that she is now free from pain, that she now has hope and a glorious future. But please, please, let her story move you. Let her story change you.

Be sad. Be broken. Feel the weight of the evil, suffering and injustice in the world.

Feel the urgency of love. Hurry. Seek what God would have you do.

Give. Give everything you have because it is not your’s to keep. Use whatever God has given you to be his hands in this world.

Little Diamond Song, I am so sad I never got to hold you. Little baby, I wanted so much to be your mama. I wanted to look you in the eyes and read God’s promise over you. Oh sweet little girl, I am sad because I will never get to kiss your sweet head. But I am thankful you are with your Father in Heaven.

Sara Brinton

SARA BRINTON is a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for reforming international adoption and orphan care. She leads marketing for Noonday Collection, a business that uses fashion to create opportunity in developing countries. Sara and her husband, Mark, live in Austin, Texas with their four children, including daughter Gabrielle who was adopted from Uganda.

  • tiffani

    November 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm Reply

    sara, I am so sorry. I can’t tell you the impact this has, knowing that it happened when we were here. I never even thought of going to see your little girl, taking photos for you, holding her and loving her for you. I am so sorry. This morning as we drove to the embassy to pick up our visas so we can take our two little ones out of this place with so much beauty and joy, yet so much pain and despair, we drove through a “slum” that we have driven through countless times. Each time we have driven through, the people are going about their business, kids are running and laughing (often at us mzungus) and everyone is taken up with the daily business of survival. This morning there was a police “situation” in one of the apartments — a police woman quietly standing outside an apartment, and a motorcycle cop either coming or going from the scene, adjusting his helmet. I was reminded that any number of tragic things could have happened there, and that any number of tragic things happen in that neighborhood on any given day. We drove through a “new to us slum” today as well — a place I imagine is similar, or possibly the actual place your precious mama and baby were from. It IS crushing that the world is so unfair. I just can’t comprehend how or why the world has gotten so out of balance. all we can do is our very best to set it right in any way we can, and when you find your little girl, you will set it right for her. much love, sara, my heart breaks for you and yours. send me a private email if you think there may be anything I can do for your babymama before we leave in a day and a half…

  • Megan

    November 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm Reply

    I am so so sorry. We are praying for you family tonight.

  • Amber weiseth

    November 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm Reply

    Beautifully and powerfully written. I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you, your family, and this little girls birth mama.

  • Ursula

    November 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm Reply

    So humbled and broken for you and your family

  • Positively Orphaned

    November 12, 2010 at 11:50 pm Reply

    What a tragic and unnecessary loss. It’s so hard to fathom how a simple infection which can be treated with antibiotics and a struggling immune system which can be treated with anti-retroviral medications – a few little pills make all the difference between life and death.

    I hear your call. My heart is breaking for so many little lives – I try very hard to save them, to tell adopting parents about them, to show them the love of a family. There are many simple ways people can help a baby such as Diamond Song – even a small donation to an adopting family can help save a child.

    I am so sad for your family and your loss. So very sad and sorry that you have to lose a baby just as you started to love her.

    Please let me know if there is some way to help the birthmother get meds and counseling. I hope that she will be alright.

  • ama

    November 13, 2010 at 6:12 am Reply

    tears. lucy puppy is licking my tears.

  • Jamie

    November 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Sara, I am sorry to hear about the loss of this baby girl that you and your family grew so close to from so far away. My prayers are with you all.

  • Maria Estrada

    November 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm Reply

    Sara, dear, I’m so very sorry for your loss … it is extremely unfair … it makes no sense that things like this are happening in the world, when a handful of people in this country continue to become richer and richer … one feels so helpless …
    This angel will be part of your family for ever … I can tell from your words that you are already making an incredible legacy of her short existence … God was right to chose your family for her. Stay strong.
    Sending love and prayers,
    Maria Estrada

  • Amy Huey

    November 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Wow, I am crying as I finished reading this story. We have two sponsor kids from Uganda. We absolutely adore this country and the people in it. I think of all the little girls like this one who are hurting there. Praying for you and this little girls mommy.

  • Tasha Via

    November 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm Reply

    Oh my goodness. I can hardly see to type this through the tears. I am SO very sorry…

    I just prayed for you, your family and this little girls mommy

  • bonnie

    November 18, 2010 at 11:08 pm Reply

    Oh my friend, I so wish I were there just to give you a hug. I know how much you loved her already.
    There are no words to describe how my heart breaks right now
    I will just pray and pray that God comforts you in this time, and that He would fill your heart with His peace that passes all understanding. And I will pray that so many more will hear and be moved to help. give. pray.
    And I will continue to pray…

  • […] of this sweet little girl, whom we loved like a sister and daughter. To read more about this, click here. At the same time, we are hopeful and trusting God that he will bring the right child to our family […]

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