When we went to China we only saw Isac's orphanage-the one he spent less than half his young life in, and when we were there, despite them telling us we could have a tour, the tour began and ended with our trip down a dark hallway to get Isac. We saw no faces of children, no class rooms, no cribs, nothing. I have heard of many friends touring their own children's orphanages. They say the silence in some orphanages is eerie, a sign of children who know there is no purpose to crying for a need, a hungry belly, a dirty diaper or purely out of a need for comfort, because they learn quickly- no one is coming. They tell of crib after crib after crib of two or three children staring blankly at the ceiling, having no one to smile at, no one to engage them. Toddlers lined up on the floor, with toys all around them, but no one to teach them what to do with them, and all they do it rock, or bang their sweet heads on the floor, for any sense of feeling. They say the smell is strong, a mixture of soggy clothes and dirt, some orphanages with a lingering scent, some that would knock you over. The air is thick. And the children that are old enough to engage, are attaching themselves to your legs, wrapping their fingers around your legs looking at you with eyes pleading for you to see them, to love them, and choose them to take home. Some have seen enough prospective families or foreigners to know how to get their attention, how to be perfect and sweet enough to prove they are worthy of you taking them home. But some, some sit off in a room alone, away from the people who come to take someone else. They have seen enough to know this isn't their time. Some simply have been told Americans only want to make them be slaves so they truly do not want to be adopted. If you asked them they would say so, and if you took them to court to be adopted they would tell the judge no.This is their reality-for all of them. They fight to be stronger, they lie to keep safe, they manipulate to be loves, they steal to eat and inside they cry...to survive another day.
I did not see all of that. Part of me wanted to, to have some idea of the life Nina did grow up in, another part of me is happy with my naive version of the beautiful first floor of the orphanage they allow the adoptive families to see.
But truth be told...I see it everyday. I do not dwell on it, I do not look for it, and I wish with my whole heart I could forget it. But I still see it. Every moment someone tries to play with Nina and her immediate reaction is to pull away. Even Josh and I, have to be slow to coax anything from her fingers. We were told Nina was picked on a lot in the orphanage, so my guess is anything she had, she probably did not get to hold to for very long before someone older or bigger wanted it. Nina fights meals a lot. She ALWAYS wants to eat, if your in the kitchen, she is in the kitchen at your toes, but at the same time we are pretty sure she only had two meals a day, making one of those meals a fight. And if ANYONE gets too close when she is eating food, you better be ready to put up a fight because she is not playing when it comes to food. Like I said, she was picked on, probably had food taken often. There are still days when Isac has woken up in the middle of the night screaming his poor lungs out. I don't mean a sad, scared scream like any of our children. Like a scream you would hear coming from someone fighting for their lives! It breaks my heart that our son has 2 1/2 years of history I know nothing about. So when I hold him after he cries like that, I simply do not know how to make it better...because I can't. There are moments when Nina is in "time in" that she still rocks-her way of self soothing herself from years of having no one there to teach her she is loved, she does not have to face anything alone and she is safe. Nina HATES to have any one upset at her! The more upset any one is at her, even when it is simply a stern look, she is very very sad! She still fights for attention. While Nina doesn't do many things in extreme, we still see so many signs of wanting and longing for attention. If she sees her brother crying because he got hurt and getting a hug and kiss, she will start crying, if she sees mommy or daddy laughing at her sister because she is dancing funny, she will start dancing and laughing to get the same attention. She craves it and soaks it up! Those moments when I am rocking and cradling her to make up for our lost baby years-I see her look up at me with eyes that seem to have an under lining sadness of loss. The same is true for Isac, though I am sure he doesn't understand his loss, when he feels wronged or just really sad about something, sometimes it is hard to consul him, and the crying is different, as if there is an underlining sense of loss. All of these things have shown me what being abandoned and living life in an orphanage look like...and I see it daily!
And because of those things...I will NEVER be the same! I struggle daily for the children who are still left behind. In Ukraine, in China, in America, in Uganda and Ethiopia and India and all around the world!. My heart is always aching, always asking, when and if we should go back?! I know as long as I am able I will always say yes to God when it comes to bringing children into our homes.
I hear the excuses the world throws at us...how messy my house must be, how can you possibly hear yourself think. Isn't it too wild?! It is, there are times when I have to step outside and breath in and out, but I know parents with ONE who need that very same moment! My children LOVE each other! They play together! They accept each other! It doesn't matter if you have two or 20, your children must learn that of their siblings if they are going to show that to the world! It isn't always perfect love, but then I am still learning that myself! And depending on the children you are bringing into your family, it may take them some time to learn of this love and acceptance, it isn't always a perfect formula, but it is love. I know in America we have set rules as to how many children we should have in our home. I mean you just HAVE to pay for their college. And their weddings, FAR more important than any child lost without a future rotting in an orphanage right? And every child MUST have the childhood we never had-toys and trips-their own room and a full ride to college, and working through high school-now what kind of life is that for a child! I refuse to live by these rules. They are man made, NOT God made. HE wants a future of love hope and salvation for each one of His children. WE are His hands and feet! I no longer want to hear, "if God really loves them then why are they orphaned." Short and simple, we live in a fallen world where He gave us each free will, to not be puppets. To love Him freely of our own will. And many of us choose to not love Him. Many choose to kill their babies. some forced to abandoned because of others cruelty. But it is up to US to love on His children!
To get past our excuses and SEE Him moving in our lives through the lives of these children all over the world!