Horribly Broken Places

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.

Finalizing the adoption - a  new beginning for our boy

Finalizing the adoption – a new beginning for our boy

His first night with us - sleeping soundly in clean dry pajamas and covers, snuggling his new doggie and blankie

His first night with us – sleeping soundly in clean dry pajamas and covers, snuggling his new doggie and blankie

Laughing with his new Mommy at the zoo in his birth country

Laughing with his new Mommy at the zoo in his birth country

Finally home, and meeting his new siblings at the airport.

Finally home, and meeting his new siblings at the airport.

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.

Celebrating his most recent birthday, trying valiantly to overcome the many scars that plague his heart and mind

Celebrating his most recent birthday, trying valiantly to overcome the many scars that plague his heart and mind

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.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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.”
Isaiah 40:11

“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.”
Isaiah 40:29

“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.”
Psalm 147:3

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted . . .
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Luke 4:18










27 thoughts on “Horribly Broken Places

  1. Wow!!!! As I live in my sheltered world ignorant of ALL that is happening around me!
    Forgive me Father for my sin of neglect to the innocent children. I pray I may be more open to your leading in my life.

    Thank you Kathy for sharing!

    • You have such a huge heart, Iris. God is using you continually to touch the lives of children. This we know from personal experience. And if He has more for you to do – in other ways – other children’s lives, He will certainly show that to you.

  2. thank you for being a an advocate and an active participant in rescue missions. Rescue missions are what God is IS about, right? well done and thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you for taking time to comment. I just popped over and took a quick look at your blog. Love the name, and enjoyed several of your posts. And, yes, where would I be if God hadn’t rescued ME?? I see so many parallels between my salvation and our children’s homecomings as we complete their adoptions and watch what God does in their hearts and lives.

  3. You left me crying. Mine came from America, yes the horror is here too. 4 of mine are significantly disabled and have been abused and neglected from a very early age. We too are dealing with the lying, and stealing especially food, the behaviors that sometimes I ask God “Are you sure I am strong enough, I feel so weak and helpless,” Yet the answer in my heart is He knows the end of the story. People don’t realize that the brokenness changes everything about how life is lived. We don’t look too far ahead, today is enough and on a really good day tomorrow too. We think about or dream about normal things; summer, Christmas. But for mine that are all autistic plus other things the thought and reality may be different. I look at my little faces and my heart bursts with love and the possessiveness of a mother grisly The pride I feel in their accomplishments is the same as any mother but…. Some days I am tired, some days I am sad, some days I am angry that some of my children were broken and battered and abused in our foster care system. That RAD is not a result of being removed from a disabled birth mother but a foster mother who was being paid to love and care for my babies under our stars and stripes. Yet when the sun sets and the house quiets and i have my time with God he reminds me of the little things I missed during the day in all the craziness of so many needy children and I know the sun will come again tomorrow and I know I am blessed beyond compare. Your story was just what I needed today after a very difficult day for one of my guys yesterday with his therapists. God bless your family..

    • Yes. So many ways for brokenness to happen. And, “don’t look too far ahead, today is enough” is definitely a critical lesson to learn during any healing process. May God bless your family. Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

  4. Ahhh… I pray every day for the little girl waiting for us to come and get her. My heart hurts for the things that she will experience before we have her. And yet, when I pray I always am reminded that she was HIS before she was OURS. Love this post.

  5. My prayers are with you and your beautiful family. Thank you for your bravery in sharing what many of us can only imagine. May God continue to provide us with the strength and knowledge we need to help these innocent lives! God Bless You and Yours!

  6. What a testimony of God’s healing grace!! You have really encouraged me. We are about to bring home our 4th adopted child and then ready to begin a 5th already for an older boy that we hosted in which we had not planned to adopt, but rather advocate for. However, the way you described feeling for your son, is what I feel for him. He is returning this summer for hosting again and then we are pushing our way to adopt him. We have already had opposition from the enemy, the deceiver and father of lies. Thank you for sharing!! WHat a precious boy you have.

  7. Hi Kathy,
    Thank you for writing your sons story, he is so brave! I live in china, have done for 13 years doing orphan care. Eight years ago I started a project at an orphanage and saw all the things your son mentioned, and some more. I am still at that orphanage, and we no longer see that terror here, but I imagine it is still real elsewhere. Your blog made me so emotional as your son seems braver than me even to face it and talk about it. God bless you, and Him, and may we keep on so that one day no child will ever experience that again!

    • Thank you so much for writing, Kyla. Wow. Your comment made me cry. May God bless your work there abundantly as you seek to serve as His hands and feet for his precious ones there in China.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this – we have one who we knew was within months of starvation, had severe tie marks and bruises, screamed at the plants in terrible fright and was literally like the wild child videos I had seen years before. Most people are absolutely shocked to find out he came from China in this condition – usually expecting this treatment from eastern european countries. His history is heartbreaking – and we often tell people his Sn is not his legs (amputee) his special need is his soul and his early years.

    • Oh, so sad. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. 😦 Yes, sadly, these stories are somewhat accepted as real possibilities concerning children from the world of orphans in Eastern European countries, and much more of a surprise from other countries – especially Asian. Sometimes the work seems so huge and we workers so small. Thankfully, we serve a very big God indeed. We can’t let ourselves lose sight of that whenever we find ourselves battling in the trenches.

  9. He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
    Keeping you, Kathy and your beautiful family in prayer on this day we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday+

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