Today has been one of those days. The kind when my heart feels so heavy. Not because of anything in my own life. I am blessed. I have a beautiful family, a home, a car to drive, food to eat, and a God who loves me more than my heart can comprehend. All is well.
No, I ache for something else today. Someone else.
I have photos that bring me to tears each and every time I look at them. I struggle to look at them. They take me back to my time in the Ukraine. They take me back just a few short weeks to the days when I walked into my daughter's orphanage to spend time with them. Those were long weeks. Now it all feels like a distant memory.
Except for one thing. There is one thing that is still so fresh in my memory--pictures that haunt me day and night. I cannot get away from them--no matter how hard I try. They follow me everywhere. They are etched in my memory forever. These images are my constant reminder of where my Hailee came from...and what she has left behind. What I have left behind.
Their faces. Their sweet little faces.
I have put off posting this for a long time. Mainly because it stirs up so many feelings and emotions in me. It is hard for me to go back to that room. It rips my heart out to even think about the other children that still lie there day and night. But so many of you have asked me to share about that room. And so I must.
I'm not sure how it all works. There surely must be a time in an orphans life when they are separated into groups of healthy children, those with special needs, and the few with profound needs. Even if you have never been into a third world country orphanage, it goes without saying that NO child deserves to live in a place like that. But, it is [very sadly] a fact of life. We live in a fallen world and until Jesus returns to take us home, places like these will exist.
I have noticed that sometimes children with special needs are in the same rooms as healthy children. Like our Harper--she was in a room with one or two kiddos who had 'needs', but the others were all typically developing children. Harper got a good deal. My guess is that the orphanage workers saw that she was developing fairly well, and she got put with the mixed group of children.
Hailee on the other hand was not so fortunate. I'm sure her development as an infant must have been lagging--a definite red flag for those who make decisions as to which room the children will live in. The result being that our sweet girl ended up in the place I refer to as that room. The room for the precious children who have more profound needs--those who struggle more than others.
It's a heartbreaking place. I cannot even begin to describe the feelings and emotions that overcame me each day I walked into that horrible room to take my Hailee out of her crib.
Hailee was one of just six children. It's hard to tell whether the others are boys or girls. The children there are dressed in whatever is available on the day, and their hair is kept ultra short for convenience. Most of you who have journeyed with me throughout this adoption know that Hailee was drugged--day and night. On the day I met Hailee I was given all her medical information (which was all of two lines), and told that she was on medication for "best sleep". Um, yeah, the kind that kept her so sedated that she could barely function. A strong tranquilizer for ADULTS. All in the name of "best sleep". Unfortunately, I am sad to tell you that Hailee was not just an isolated case, a child who had behavior problems that justified the drug. The drug was required for every single child in that room.
The children there cannot function. They sleep most of their lives away. They are so sedated that they can barely keep their eyes open, even when they are awake. They merely exist from day to day.
I cried like I have never wept. Looking at their sweet faces just about killed me. I was not allowed to pick the children up out of the cribs. But each day I walked around to each one of those precious souls lying there and gently stroked their faces and rubbed their frail, malnourished bodies. I longed for them to know the joy of a tender touch. It was something they knew absolutely nothing about. Not once in all my weeks of visiting did I see any of these children picked up and loved. Never! Even crying children, longing for arms to hold them, never got picked up and loved. They were taken out of the crib ONLY to be fed and changed. How do I know these things? Because the Lord gave me a window to see the things He needed me to see. He allowed my heart to break for the things that break His. Images I cannot escape.
Many, many of you have written to me and asked me about what happened to Hailee here. I could not say anything at the time--our adoption could have been threatened. I still need to be cautious for the sake of other adopting families. I will say that I inquired about what happened. I wept as I held my daughter that day--in my heart I knew that she had suffered at the hands of those who were meant to care for her, those who were meant to love and protect her.
One day I could not take anymore. I had been there a long time, and the things I saw day after day were beginning to wear me down. I walked into the building and saw that there was a group of Americans working with many of the kids. They were staff from a clinic that works with children who have special needs here in the USA. They had taken over wheelchairs, leg braces, and many other kinds of therapeutic things for kids in a few orphanages. They did an incredible job. It was so amazing to see. I watched them as they fitted child after child with braces. The joy of seeing many of them standing on their legs for the first time was priceless. I looked for some of the children from Hailee's room--but there were none. I was later told from my translator that the clinic workers were not allowed to help those kids.
Oh God in heaven, how can it be? More than most, they need help. They need braces. They need to learn how to stand on their own two feet. They need wheelchairs. Yet, they're the one group not permitted to get the help they so desperately need. They're the children locked away and forgotten about.
Do you want to see them? The ones I had to leave behind? Would you like to see the faces I looked at one last time, turned my back on, and had to walk away from...knowing the life they lead? The angelic faces I feel so powerless, yet so desperate to help.
Please excuse the bad quality of a few of these pics, they are not the greatest. They were not happy about pictures being taken, so we had to be careful.
The first three pictures are of the same little boy. He is just as sweet as can be. I have no idea what his special need is, but of all the children in the room he is the only one who can stand up on his own, holding onto the rail of his crib. He has such a sweet smile. Loves to smile. Every time I came up to his crib, he raised his arms for me to pick him up. Oh how I would have loved to cuddle him.
These children know nothing but this life--the lonely existence inside the confines of an old crib.
They lie like this all day long. Day in, and day out. Some may have one toy which hangs from their crib, others not. If they are fortunate enough to have one, it is the only stimulation they have.
Oh my goodness, if I could have run out of that place with a third child, this would be him. This angel boy crept into my heart. Forget the pink, he is a boy. He has Down syndrome and is almost three years old. He cannot weigh more than ten pounds. He is so totally precious. He has the biggest blue eyes and is such a beautiful child.
My heart broke in two for this sweet boy. He is so frail and weak. The reality for all children with special needs in this country is that they remain in a baby house until around their fourth birthday. They are then transferred to a mental institution. Conditions there are unimaginable--absolutely horrendous. Ninety five percent of children with Down syndrome DIE in these heinous places. They cannot survive the conditions.
How will this teeny tiny angel survive a mental asylum? How? There is no way. Unless a family comes to adopt him, he will surely die. My heart cannot comprehend it all. He is just too sweet for words. He reminds me so much of Hailee. He too has the bump on his forehead from banging it against the bars of the crib.
This little guy has just been listed on Reeces Rainbow. He is "Wade" in orphanage 3.
These children wear pajamas all day long--it is all they know.
The cribs are crammed into a very little room.
They lie there longing for someone to pick them up.
This is no life for a child--any child. Whether they have 'special needs' or not, NO child deserves this.
Friends, no amount of words can express how these photos make me feel. I feel like I left a piece of my heart in that room. I ache for these children. I long, with everything that is within me, for them to be adopted. I long for them to experience the life that Hailee now has. They have to be saved from life in an institution. They deserve to be given an opportunity to learn and grow and become everything that God has created them to be. They deserve a family...just like every child. Every single child in that room can be adopted.
The sad reality is that a foreign adoption is pretty much their only hope. Children with special needs are very rarely adopted by their own people in this country. It's just the way it is.
Some days, like today, I just long to find a solution to the orphan crisis. I know that so many of you who read my blog feel the same way. It is an overwhelming problem. I just cannot even imagine how the Lord must weep over what He sees. I am often tempted to run to the Lord with all of my "why, Lord?" questions...
"Why are the so many orphans?"
"Why are there not more families rushing to adopt them?"
"Why do the children have to suffer while they wait?"
"When are things going to change?"
"Can't you just do something about it, Lord?"
But I don't ask anymore. My answer from heaven is always the same...
"What are YOU going to do about it, Adeye?"