A few weeks ago a friend expressed some concern about the fact that I use the real names of the kids along with their real pictures in this blog. No biggie, right? Do some research, discover what best practice is, adjust accordingly, keep writing. Sadly, I don’t work that way. First, my stomach dropped a few feet. I’m a little sensitive. I mean, I need criticism. I need to hear hard things. I know it will make me better. But imunna need a significant amount of journaling time before I can get on the same page. So, if you ever feel the need to give me some constructive criticism, be prepared that I’m going to be silent, but I am taking it in. And I’m not angry. Promise.
So, I journaled for a while and realized two things.
1) I’ve got a lot of pride wrapped up in this blog. There are lots of things that I’m not good at. (i.e. speaking in front of large … or small … groups, professional writing, long term planning, anything and everything that involves manipulating images on the computer, which is the current thorn in my side.) But I do think I tell these stories well. But after a bit, I realized that this had nothing to do with whether or not the blog is good, it was about whether or not I was protecting the kids. And in everything I do, that is all that should matter.
2. I have had many, many conversations that go something like this:
Reader: I really liked your blog about that one kid! How is he doing?
Me: Which kid?
Reader: The one that used to be on the street.
Me: Hmm, most of them have been on the street as some point.
Reader: The one that’s really important to you.
And then we get into the nitty gritty of what happened in the story and eventually figure out the name of the child we’re talking about. That being said, if the stories have the same content, does it really matter if there is a different name attached to what is being told, when it is in the best interest of the child? (And the crowd says: “No!”)
Awesome. Let’s get back to blogging.
days weeks pass.
Darn it all. I just can’t do it. I’m all hung up on authenticity. It just feels that to change names and pictures is lying. I try really hard to always be honest and transparent here. I hope that what I do and what The Children’s Home Project does always feels authentic. I don’t ever want it to feel like a large organization in which the person you email with questions has to send said email down the chain to find that one obscure person who sorta kinda knows some of the kids and may be able to answer your question, but mainly relies on charts and graphs and statistics gathered the previous year. I want this to be real and attainable. And to change the name smacks of putting up a facade. And I feel like if you’re going to take the time to read all of this (which even my own mother has commented on as being a bit wordy) then I owe it to you to tell you the whole story.
BUT, I owe it to the kids to protect them. Even if it means doing something that doesn’t come naturally. What drove this home to me was that last week, a good friend of mine started going to counseling. At the end of the session, the counselor said that he would probably be sharing some of what she said with the Pastor who referred her. I was so livid I could barely form full sentences. How dare he? What makes him think that this is ok? Not to mention that sharing anything she said to him is completely illegal. (Has he never watched an episode of Law & Order? The psychologists are always very clear on this stipulation when a client is murdered. Geesh.) The incongruity of how I write this blog and how I expect a counselor to treat my friend came crashing down.
This is a work in progress. I haven’t figured out all of my new rules. I may give real names when it’s something like Valentin talking about how excited he is to be going to private school. If I’m looking for someone to sponsor a specific child, I’ll use his name. At this point, I think I’ll probably use a lot more group photos. Anyway, this will be a work in progress.
Many of you are probably wondering why I didn’t just start putting an asterisk at the bottom of the post saying that “names have been changed to protect the child’s identity.” I get that. I did just make you read a lot of babble. And roughly 98% of you would have been content with this change without an explanation. But I tried and I just couldn’t do it. It just seemed too inauthentic. =)
So here we go!
Hangin out with David*
*Names have been changed to protect the child.
Yeah, that felt really weird. This will get easier, right?
I’d love to hear your feedback on this. Are you less interested to read if there is a bit of secrecy? Do you think you’ll even notice? And if I don’t respond to your input right away, don’t be alarmed. I’m not crying in the corner with hurt feelings. Sean and I are getting out Dodge for a few days and I’m leaving my computer behind. I cannot wait…