Amy Eldridge was already the mother of five kids when she decided to look into adopting children from China. “I look at my son and daughter from China and I am still in awe that I somehow got the honor to be their mom,” she confides. “ I am so glad all of my children now understand that family has nothing to do with simple genetics, but instead everything to do with the heart.”
A Life-Changing Experience
Amy first visited an orphanage in China in 2003—an experience she says changed her life forever. “I walked through room after room of abandoned babies lying in cribs all day, and my heart honestly broke in two,” she explains. “One of the babies was extremely blue and struggling for breath. The orphanage told me that he was dying of heart disease and was not going to receive surgery due to a lack of funds. I came home from China and knew I had to do something to try and save his life.”
It was through helping that child receive a life-saving surgery that Amy developed the idea of forming a charity dedicated to providing hope and healing for orphaned children in China. Love Without Boundaries (www.lovewithoutboundaries.com) was born that same year and began providing foster care, educational opportunities for orphaned children, healing homes for children born with medical needs that cannot be met in an institutional setting, surgeries and other needed medical services, nutritional support and assistance for orphanages in locations across China.
“Of course, I was not a corporate leader. I had no formal project proposals, no knowledge of international business laws, no experience at all in setting up a new business,” Amy explains. “But I did have a passion to help children who were orphaned, and so I gave it everything I had. The beautiful thing is that as word spread about what we were trying to do, more and more people came alongside us to help.” Love Without Boundaries just celebrated its tenth year of working with orphaned children, and Amy reports that the organization impacts approximately 1,500 children each year—many of which are now in permanent homes around the world
Amy is now a happy mother of seven children, ranging in age from 9 to 26. “My oldest four have moved on to college and careers, and I am so proud of them while also feeling bittersweet that they no longer live under my roof,” she says. “Without a doubt, being a mom has been the absolute greatest blessing of my life. And since I had both boys and girls, introverts and extroverts, athletes and artists—it has been a very rich experience to get to parent each of them.”
For Amy, the experience of family is what makes life so worthwhile. She credits her nonprofit work and personal adoption story in opening her eyes to the enormous number of children around the world who are growing up without parents. “Every child born has the right to be raised in a loving family, and I believe all of us should do more to ensure they get that chance,” she concludes. “I think a lot of us wonder if one person’s efforts really matter in the grand scheme of things, but the reality is that all of us have the ability to completely transform someone’s life. We just have to take that first step in faith, and then incredible things can happen.”
Here’s more about how this 48-year-old mother of seven is working to make a difference for children in need around the world:
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about kindness and respecting people for the unique individuals they are. My kids know that one of my #1 rules comes from the famous quote: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
How do you banish stress?
I am the queen of deep cleansing breaths (thank you, childbirth!), and I also walk as much as I can when I need to clear my mind. Chocolate has been known to help as well!
What inspires you?
The abandoned children I work with every day are my inspiration for everything. These children have absolute nothing and no one, and many are facing such severe medical issues, and they fight so hard to survive every single day. How can anything in my life be as hard as what they are going through? It puts everything in perspective and makes me work that much harder to help them.
What is on your wish list?
I wish every child could grow up in a loving family. I wish adults would realize the power they hold over little people and do everything possible to be worthy of that. I wish more people would open their hearts to adoption. I wish our legislators would pass laws that put children first, rather than the parents who often neglect and abuse them
What are you most proud of?
I am completely humbled that God has allowed me to do this work. When an abandoned child who is near death comes into our hands, and I get to watch him or her get a second chance at life, I feel amazed that I am allowed to play a part in their stories.
What motivates you?
Ten years ago I drove out in the country and told God that He could have my whole life for the orphaned if that was His will. My job is extremely hard emotionally. Children die and are hurting every day. So whenever I need motivation to keep going, I think about that morning out in the country and know I can’t give up.
How do you find balance in your life?
I can’t just clock out of work at 5:00pm, since babies come urgently into our care at all hours. I know I work too much, but I talk to my kids about how I want as many children as possible to have what they have: a loving home, a mom who adores them and an unlimited future.
Advice for other moms?
Live in the moment and be present for your kids, as the short time you have with them goes by so quickly. My other piece of advice is to trust your gut. A mom’s inner heart is rarely wrong.|
What is your parenting style?
I believe learning from our mistakes is what makes us all much better people, and so I don’t try to save my kids when they make their own. I am a listener, and feel very blessed that my kids feel very comfortable sharing their life concerns with me.
Favorite quote or advice about motherhood?
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” ~Anonymous