Monday, February 4, 2013

"mommy, why is she so bad?" (and daring to dream)

Six little words that crushed my heart yesterday.  Said by one of our little girls about one of her sisters.

One of our girls is struggling.  And has been struggling for a long time.  About one year ago, my husband and I finally acknowledged that everything wasn't okay and we reached out and asked for help.  The reaching out part wasn't hard given we live in the states and there are people that can help us and our daughter, but the acknowledgement of it was the hardest part.  Acknowledging that our little one didn't escape unscathed.  That 2 1/2 years after her adoption, she is struggling, and probably will struggle for many years ahead.  That she is still hurting and that her heart has not healed.

You are loved, you are good, you are wanted.  You are loved, you are good, you are wanted. 

Our girls came home to live with us at 8 months old.  They moved out of the orphanage into foster care at 5 months old.  It was a very good foster care situation with the director of the orphanage.  But the first 5 months of their lives were not good at all.  I've posted about it on here a lot.  Way too many children, lots of babies needing formula, and not enough funding for formula and mamas.  They were left in their cribs all day long and rarely held or touched.  Three times a day they were given very watered down formula.  The mamas did they best they could to keep those babies alive.  Things have changed a lot at the orphanage since then (thanks to all of you), but when I first walked into the orphanage almost three years ago, it was heartbreaking.  When I look at them and how well they are doing, despite the neglect and severe malnourishment they experienced at a critical age, I see little miracles.

You are loved, you are good, you are wanted.  You are loved, you are good, you are wanted. 

Our girls are twins, fraternal, not identical.  They responded differently to the deprivation they experienced.  One was more resilient and one more vulnerable.  I saw the difference in so many of the children the first day I walked into the orphanage.  Some were doing amazingly well and others were really struggling.  Some one year old were sitting and interacting with their surroundings, other one year olds were laying in their cribs rocking back and forth back and forth with vacant looks in their eyes and completely broken hearts. They couldn't sit or even hold their heads up.  Those little ones shuddered when touched.   Orphanages harm children.  An orphanage harmed my child.  That is the reality I face when I look in her broken little heart.  And it wasn't just the orphanage.  It was the trauma of her mother dying and being left in an orphanage as a newborn.  The pain and loss of losing her mother, the most important person in her life at that point.  The trauma of a family splintered apart.

You are loved, you are good, you are wanted.  You are loved, you are good, you are wanted. 

The three little girls are young.  They don't understand all of this, the effects of trauma on her young fragile heart.  They only see that she can't figure out how to play with them, that she destroys their games, that sometimes they get hurt when she comes around.  And they see it as being "bad".  Oh, little hearts!  How I wish I could take all this pain and make it go away.  How I wish I could make it all just disappear.  But I can't, and it is just enough to break my heart some days.  Because, it's just not fair (to speak like my little ones).  It's just not fair, baby.  And it's hard for all of them.   But, most of all it's hard for the hurting little one who doesn't even understand any of it, who doesn't understand that she isn't "bad", that instead she is very wanted and loved, and that she is good, beautiful, brave, courageous, and strong.  I pray that someday, she will know it deeply and truly.

You are loved, you are good, you are wanted.  You are loved, you are good, you are wanted.  

I have certain dreams.  Dreams of showing children they are loved, wanted and good.  One of my dreams is to work with the staff at the orphanage to get the babies back home with their families quickly, and then to look for alternative care if reunification isn't possible.  I dream of hiring and training a social worker, to move to supporting more family reunification, preservation and support.  Because these little ones have families.  Most are simply poor farmers or maybe they work in mines, or maybe they don't even have a job.  Their wives died, and their babies were close to follow, but for the orphanage.  But I don't want them to linger in the orphanage.   I believe this dream is possible.  Here is a wonderful example.  And this home provides quality social work and quality baby care while children are in the their care.

Things can change.  I am still hopeful they can change for the orphanage we work at in eastern DRC.   Babies don't need to linger in orphanages so long.  These babies are cared for deeply.  I was reminded of this the other day when I was going through old photos.  And I came across these, of the new babies all being dedicated at the local church.  The church coming together, praying over them, setting them apart.  The community cares for their children.

And I remembered so many early talks with the director of the orphanage three years ago.  His dreams of creating a guest house on the orphanage campus so that families could come and stay and visit their children.  A room to do job training/skills training for older orphans and for families.  Dreams of sustainability at the orphanage so that they don't have to forever rely on outside donations.  Building up congolese families and their abilities to care for their children.  Dreams I want to support.  Dreams that I hope still remain, that haven't faded away with time and other priorities.  

There are many challenges with change.  There is so much hard work ahead.  Please be praying that all those involved with the work at the orphanage would also feel compelled to work together to make these changes happen.

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