I remember some kids dying. A man would come with a bag. When he came, I knew another orphan had died. He was kind of bald and had a little bit of a beard. He would carry the dead kids away in the bag.
Oh, dear God! Help me! He’s been home with us three-and-a-half years now and, at the age of ten, is finally beginning to feel safe enough to start sharing little snippets of the hell he lived for at least three very long, damaging years of his life.
This son of ours was found abandoned in a bus station when he was about three years old. Very little is known about the beginning of his life, but he was able to tell those who found him that someone—an older man, presumably a father or a grandfather—had left him there after his mother died; that gathering and selling empty water bottles didn’t generate enough income for this man to continue feeding and caring for a paraplegic child who also suffered from severe incontinence.
But someone had cared enough to try for at least three years in a country where babies are regularly abandoned at birth because of less severe birth defects than this. Someone had seemingly loved this little one enough to hold onto him and try to give him a life.
Then she died. And he was alone.
Soon after being found, this child whose world had been turned completely inside out, was sent to live in a place that has a reputation for being one of the worst orphanages in his birth country. It would be another four years before he was finally able to come home to us.
We’ll never know everything his innocent little heart survived during those years, but he’s finally beginning to drop a clue here and there. He seems almost ready to begin testing the waters a bit by letting us very slowly into this secret world of his.
Disobedience, lying, sneaking . . . unattractive characteristics—all of them. And they have been appearing with greater frequency over the past year or so.
Experience has taught us that sometimes this means our love is finally breaking through a layer or two of that protective armor these kids are forced to don in order to survive the lives they find themselves in—through no fault of their own.
Sometimes . . . when a layer crumbles away . . . it leaves behind raw, bleeding pain. And sometimes . . . that pain looks and sounds like nastiness: I don’t want you; go away!
But the pain is really screaming: Please don’t leave me; come and find me; don’t give up on me!
It’s hard. So very hard. This is the side of adoption that isn’t talked about so much. It’s much easier to share the happy birthday pictures; the Christmas morning stories; the physical healing after desperately-needed surgeries.
I overheard the nannies saying some things that made me think the babies were taken and burned when the man took them away in the bag. But I think the older kids were put into some kind of a truck when they died.
For a little one to witness this as a regular part of his childhood? This is inconceivable even when we read about it in an article on the Internet; when we shed a tear and place a hand to our throats while trying to process such things happening to some unknown child.
But to listen to one’s own child share such horrors—things that we mothers would sacrifice our own lives to protect our children from . . .
Hours later, my mind and heart still can’t absorb it. I can’t sleep. I keep seeing him as such a little boy. Alone. Watching this drama play out day after day right before his eyes. No one even trying to explain to him what has happened; assure him that he is safe and will be taken care of; shield him even a little bit from things that even adults couldn’t live through without deep, permanent scars.
There was another building out in back of the building where we lived. Behind us. That’s where the “out-of-control” kids were sent to live.
He was unable to explain what he meant by “out-of-control kids” so chose to give us an example.
One night after the nannies put us to bed, they went out for a walk or something, and an older, big boy came sneaking into our room to hurt the other kids. I saw him sneak into our room. But the nannies came back and caught him and he had to go live in the other building in the back—behind our building.
He told us he remembered a doctor who was nice to him sometimes. And he has at least some clear memories of the severe neglect that resulted in the horribly infected bedsores discovered when we finally got him out of this place; ulcers that left him terribly scarred all across his lower back, buttock, and upper thigh.
I was always wet, and no one changed my clothes. And I remember my blankets where we slept were always wet and didn’t get changed.
I’m confronted with my helplessness. How can one ever be prepared to do what’s needed to heal a child with places this broken inside his aching heart?
God in Heaven, what EVER gave You the idea that I was the one to be this little one’s Mommy??? Where do I begin? I love him more than words can express, but HOW do I help him?
I have actually never doubted that I am his mother. As soon as we learned about him and began discussing the possibility of adopting him, we started praying for him. Early one morning, as I sat in my bedroom praying for this little one and for clear direction about our role in his life, I was suddenly and dramatically overcome with feelings of urgency and protectiveness for this boy; very much emotions of a mother’s heart. Immediately, I just knew with such certainty that he was ours. I remember crying and praying, “God, he’s my son. I have to go and get him. We have to bring him home! This child is my son! Please bring him to us!”
And the battle was not an easy one as we fought to complete that adoption in the face of major obstacles. But he was ours. We knew that, and this certainty kept us strong for the fight.
So, as the battle for his heart and his soul rages on, I will choose to fall back on this confirmation that he is my son; I am his mother.
God doesn’t have to explain His plans to me. It’s enough to know that He brought us together.
And it’s enough to know that He has promised to be the strength in my weakness; to guide us as we pour endless gallons of love over this son of ours and petition Heaven with a continuous bombardment of prayers for his eventual healing—complete healing and freedom from the memories that haunt his thoughts and affect his actions.
I will trust the dreams I believe God placed in our hearts for this boy’s future; promises to slowly reveal to a watching world the amazing person buried under so much pain and hurt.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This son’s heart is not beyond the reach of the God of the Universe. He is capable of healing when no human hand can accomplish this. And the fact that he is beginning to share these very private places with us—this is a sign that the past three-and-a-half years have gradually been bringing about the healing so critical to his reaching his fullest potential.
And when I’m too tired or scared or weak to go on, I’ll rest in the arms that brought this child to me and wait for God’s whispered direction. This battle is His. I am merely His child, chosen to fight in obedience, and promised victory in the end—promised so many things. I can cling to these assurances from Him.
And we will fight to our dying breath to keep helping to rescue other orphans (yes, I used the very un-PC word “rescue” and I dare anyone to read this post and argue that these situations can’t be described as rescues!) and find families who are willing to enter into battle themselves to uncover the hidden treasures buried deep in the hearts of others just like our son.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you . . . the Lord will be with you.”
2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17
“He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You . . .
They go from strength to strength.”
Psalm 84:5, 7
“He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.”
“He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power . . .
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who . . .
put their hope in His unfailing love.”
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted . . .
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”