November 8, 2012

to love the wounded child

Our car pulled up in front of the large metal gates. Those overpowering gates kept under lock and key and the watchful eye of a guard.

I sat in the backseat. Not knowing what in the world to expect. Or what lay beyond those gates.

My heart raced as the words “institution” and “mental asylum” flashed through my mind. I had heard and seen so much over the years about the reality of life behind those imposing metal gates. I had wept for the children who end up in these places—their reality a life of unimaginable misery.

And here I was now, anxiously awaiting the moment when I would finally be able to hold my sweet little son-to-be in my arms. My precious Kael—the one whom God surprised us with. The son who calls this gloomy place his home.

I leaned forward and unclipped my seat belt with sweaty hands—a combination of the hot August sun and anticipation for what was to come.

As the gates flung open, my eyes were drawn like magnets to a handful of people.

One playing in the dirt.

Another sitting on the edge of a small wall…rocking, rocking, rocking.

Back and forth.

Back and forth he robotically swayed.

And an older boy making patterns in the sand with a stick.

Rags! They were clothed in filthy rags--some which barely covered their bodies!

The scene was all too familiar. I had seen precious ones just like these now before my very eyes in this documentary. They were the same scenes that brought Anthony and I to our knees—begging the God of the universe for it NOT to be true!

But right here. Right now. Reality.

Truth.

Tears welled up and threatened to spill over. I choked them back.

For a moment I wondered if my heart could survive this. Would I ever be the same again? No sooner had the thought crossed my mind, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw her.

A picture forever etched in my memory. I still lie in my bed at night, and I see her sweet face.

It’s a solemn picture of a humanitarian crisis which is, very sadly, so seldom spoken about.

Because we don’t want to think about the fact that children suffer at the hands of those who are meant to care for them. We don’t want to believe that precious little human beings are restrained daily—their hands tied behind their backs. Sometimes it is so much easier not knowing.

In the backseat of that car, my heart almost stopped as she hobbled toward us, restrained hands tied behind her back and her pitifully thin body covered by a shirt five sizes too large (because does it really matter?).

A sweet, precious and darling little love who probably knew no other life than the one she had here…

With tiny arms in restraints because…

Well, who really knows why they do this to a child?

She was hurriedly escorted to a different direction by someone assigned to her care.

I ached until my whole body literally hurt. It took every ounce of my being to not jump out of that car and set the little lovie free from her chains.

Free forever!

As our car rolled into the grounds, the first impression I had was a prison.

Metal bars on every widow.



Grey.

Gloomy.

Depressing.

A prison for the most innocent, most vulnerable of human beings.

In chains.

It’s a life few of our hearts can fathom. This place, this mental asylum which is home to some seventy children and young adults, is literally a death sentence. Before I traveled to meet our children last August, I had heard many things about places such as these—ones where the most profound of special-needs children are doomed to be transferred to around their seventh birthday. I had read the accounts of others and cried my heart out through documentaries.

But being there and seeing with my own eyes was completely and utterly life-changing!

It’s a dark place! One where the basic rights of human beings mean nothing.

It’s a place where children (like our Kael) are caged in cribs for as long as possible.

It’s a place where the weakest of Father God’s flock are treated like animals…and therefore begin to behave like them.

These precious children learn at an early age that in order to survive the unfathomable conditions in which they are forced to live, a survival of the fittest mentality is necessary. As a result, they learn to cope by scrounging for morsels of food off the ground, and they become tough beyond their years.

It’s a place where children are referred to as “animals,” not precious people.

It’s a place where management is anti-adoption because “they will be without a job if the children leave.”

It’s a place where the unthinkable happens behind closed doors.

It’s a place where precious children are denied love, nurturing, and the basic rights of human life.
And sadly, they become a product of their environment.

A few children from this orphanage have been available for adoption since this country’s international adoption began in 2007.  Kael was one of the first children to be registered for adoption way back then (he was the third child to ever be listed!). Sadly, only three children have successfully been adopted from this mental asylum.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. My attorney and I sat in a tiny room last August—the one room clearly decorated for visitors. With my darling Kael nestled in my arms, I knew there was nothing in the world I would not do to run out of there with him at that very moment. In the eery silence of those four walls, my attorney, through teary eyes, declared that she would fight with everything she had for the other children who lived there and were still registered for adoption.

We both knew it would take a miracle.

Not only to get three children re-listed (as they ran out of time to be adopted a very long time ago)…

But also to find families for them.

You see, two of the children who live with Kael were once chosen to be adopted. Unfortunately, it was never to be. The families who worked hard to bring them home made the very painful decision after meeting them that they just could not bring these children into their families. They had no way of knowing that the children they so desperately wanted to rescue required so much more than they could give them.

And so they had to walk away and leave these two behind.

That was several years ago. By the grace of God, my attorney has recently managed to get the three children who are eligible for adoption re-listed. That’s huge for these precious ones. It means that they have been given HOPE again.

But, they are still going to need that miracle.

Today I come to you, the incredible people who read here, begging for you to join your prayers with mine and others. I am going to share with you the three children who so urgently need to be released from their hell on earth. All three of these angels have Down syndrome.

Sadly, they have lived there for way too long. They have learned how to exist in their reality by becoming hardened. They are all desperately hurting children! They have never known the feeling of arms which love them tenderly and soft voices to soothe them when they’re distressed. That is NOT their reality. These children have learned how to fight to get what they need—it is the only way they have survived. Profound mental, emotional and physical abuse has devastatingly left them very wounded little people.

It is NOT their fault! They have been let down by a society and a culture which believes that children who are born with special needs have no worth or value…and are treated as such.

Is there hope? Yes! Absolutely. There is.

I believe that every child deserves the love of a family and no child should ever, ever be forced to live like these children are forced to live. It is an absolute catastrophe which brings me to my knees—begging God to come and make everything right in the world!

But, they are going to need very special families to take them home. They each need families that are going to be willing to get their hands dirty and commit to them come what may! They need families who are possibly experienced with raising hurting children and are willing go to the ends of the earth to see them healed, whole, and restored in every way. Not all these children will be aggressive! Though we have seen videos of them, we don’t know exactly how they will do in a family. It could be that they transition very easily. But families need to be prepared for the fact that it could be difficult too. The journey may be hard and stretching (as it so often is with adoption!).

I have agonized over how to share these children with you all. I know that so many have had their hearts broken over the teeny, tiny little lovies who live in the same orphanage as Hasya. It’s easy to have our hearts shatter into a million pieces when we SEE the face of neglect and malnutrition.

These three children’s need for families is just as desperate as those wee ones who we have all read about in Hasya’s orphanage. These bigger children urgently need someone to come for them too. No, they’re not the frail little ones who need nutrition and medical attention. These are the precious older children who are so painfully wounded and also deserve the loving arms of a mother and father—someone to pull them up out of the mess that has been made of their lives and trust that God will restore EVERYTHING that has been stolen from them.

It is an absolute honor for me to introduce you all to three of God’s most precious creations.

This is Ryan. He is 11 and has spent his entire life in an institution.


Ryan is described as being able to recognize trees and animals and points to them. He dresses independently and puts his own dishes away. Ryan is very delayed in his development. He is described as being able to understand what is said to him and communicates non-verbally.


Meet Margit. She is a sweet 11-year-old girl.


Beautiful Margit is described as being able to run, jump, and climb on everything—she has excellent fine motor skills and her movements are very coordinated. Margit writes independently following dotted lines and is able to follow through with tasks given to her. She knows the names of every person, including staff, in her institution.


And lastly, this handsome young man is Kaleb. He just turned nine.  Kaleb reminds me SO much of our Kael.


Kaleb is described as being able to walk independently, but prefers to spend his days sitting in a child’s chair. He is said to be calm, serious, and rarely smiles. He does not self-harm. Kaleb does not follow directions and cannot communicate. He likes music and swinging on a swing. He is described as preferring to spend time alone.


So what would an ideal family for any of these children look like?

~~~ The ideal families for these children should be experienced in raising children who have come out of terribly difficult situations.  They should have a good understanding of parenting a hurting child.  Or they should be willing to educate and prepare themselves for what may (or may not!) lie ahead.   Resources and education will be made available through the placing agency.
 
~~~ We also feel that it would be best if only ONE child be adopted at a time.

~~~ If possible, at least one parent should be able to be home full time in the beginning to help with the initial adjustment.

~~~ It would be best if there were no young, small, or weaker siblings in the home.

~~~ THEY DESPERATELY NEED SOMEONE TO LOVE THEM!

With all that being said, I believe with all my heart that there ARE very special families out there who would be willing to give precious children such as these a chance at LIFE! Truthfully, we don’t know how they will adjust to life outside of their prison walls. We have no idea what the future looks like for these darlings…but God does! His Word promises them hope and a future. He tells us in Psalm 68:6 that He “sets the lonely IN FAMILIES” …not in orphanages.

Would you stand with us and trust and believe that God would move heaven and earth to save these three special children? All three children have just a few weeks to find committed families. That’s it! They have all been given a second chance at being FOUND! This is their last opportunity to be saved from their lives of absolute hopelessness.

Please, from someone who has been there and SEEN…PLEASE DON’T LET THEM STAY THERE! Just as I cannot, cannot imagine Kael spending one day longer than is necessary in that horrid place, so I feel the same for these children. They NEED out!

Friends, I need your help, please! Would you please, please help us by sharing their desperate need so they can find families?  Would you be a voice for these children simply by sharing their need anywhere you possibly can?  The only way they will be found is if we share their stories.

Many additional photos and video are available for seriously interested families. Please contact Shelley at shele337@gmail.com for more information.

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