Compassion and Empathy

Jill Robbins essays

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Adoption is part of my life. It has been a source of joy and a source of frustration. It has been a rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows and “Oh shit” moments that has shaped me in to the person I am.

Adoption has done so much more for me beyond adding people to my dinner table.  It has taught me empathy, tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

The Starfish Story, by Loren Eiseley*

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”

*Reproduced with permission

I am not in the “save a child” camp when it comes to adoption. My husband and I adopted two children from China because we wanted to be parents. Our adoption motives were selfish. Through our two adoptions we met a lot of different people with a lot of different motives for adopting, with a lot of different adoption stories. This experience taught me to celebrate commonalities instead of leaping to point out differences.

Acceptance and empathy breed compassion. Compassion breeds understanding. Understanding fosters peace.

The two children asleep in the room down the hall from where I sit know a vastly different life because someone on the other side of the world said “I can.”

I made a difference for them. And they made a difference for me.

I am a much more compassionate, empathetic and tolerant human because of the rocky road my family traveled to bring these children in to our fold. Adoption and compassion are intertwined: I didn't adopt because I am a compassionate person…I am a compassionate person because my life has been touched by adoption.

Be enriched today…be a little more tolerant of something you don't agree with or maybe don't understand. Because compassion.

Because compassion.

Click here to read more about adoption by Jill Robbins.


About the Author

Jill Robbins

Jill Robbins writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, . She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children but it hasn't really helped so far. Her work has been featured on The Washington Post, Babble, Blunt Moms, In the Powder Room, The Huffington Post and others. You can also find her in the December '14 print issue of Mamalode. Hang out with Jill on and .

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