Where did the vision to start Our Courageous Kids begin? Our founder, Elizabeth Hagan, explains:
One boy at an orphanage looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t forget us. We need you.”
First off I need to tell you that I’m one of those people who has always believed that family is more than biology. I am who I am today because I met members of my “soul” family I’ve met along along the way encouraged me, believed in me and told me, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.” Any success I’ve had in life as an ordained minister, an author or as a wife and a mom comes on the shoulders of those who took the time to see me into being.
Then life took my husband and me to a place we didn’t expect: a place where we’d be schooled in vastness of our human family. In 2012, Kevin was recruited to become the CEO of a large international non-profit that worked in relief and development work in countries all over the world. The next three years were a whirlwind of leadership, travel, advocacy and listening to stories of children in need all over the world. We both learned so much in particular about the life of orphans– their longing to be seen, heard and have the experience of being included in family.
When a new vocational opportunity took Kevin elsewhere in 2015, my heart just couldn’t leap on over to something new.
As we were saying our goodbyes to one particular orphanage that we’d invested in over these years, one boy at the residental center in Kenya looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t forget us. We need you.”
And here’s the truth: I couldn’t ever forget him. For as much as he needed me in his life way back in America, I needed him. You see the thing that not everyone knew about me at the time was that the label “infertile” loomed over Kevin and me. As much as I wanted to birth children, I simply could not. But from him I was learning that it didn’t mean I didn’t have children. Children like him needed parents, even from far away and I needed to be one of his.
Around this time a friend directed me to the wisdom of Psalm 113: 7-9 which says: “God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. God settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.”
In the words I heard my own story. Childless, but also child full. I heard God’s heart for those abandoned as children. I heard a spiritual calling to champion their bravery.
This is what I most know: every child, you see, deserves to grow up adored as a prince and princess. Important. Known. And loved by family. And the members of our family can include children who don’t actually live in it every day, but who are members of children’s homes around the world.
Soon I realized that this type of motherhood was not my work to do alone. I needed to invite friends, churches, and other organizations to come alongside of me because the orphan children of the world were all of OUR kids.
Soon with encouragement from more friends, “Our Courageous Kids” was born.
The name was carefully selected to reflect both the communal calling of the work and the bravery of those kids growing up without parents. The tree was selected as the logo– as a way to say together we’re creating a new type of family tree. It’s a tree where we’re growing together into the beautiful human family God longs for us to be!
Our first board meeting was held in December 2015 and our 501(c)3 status was secured in July 2016. And we can’t wait to see what the future holds as this movement continues!