I have a friend to whom I’m connected through Reece’s Rainbow, the organization that was such a huge help in us finding and adopting Paul. This friend has adopted four children (referred to below as E, A, Jy, and J) from orphanages . This past week, the family spent a lot of time at the hospital because one of the children (E) was having surgery. Throughout all of this, the other three children got to witness what a parent really is-seeing my friend care for their sibling with tenderness and love. You see, children who come from orphanages don’t understand what a family is. How could they, never having seen or experienced one? Each child seemed to have their own way of reacting to the stress of being in the hospital and the reality of having a mom and dad, but one of her son’s (J’s) reaction paints such a poignant picture of the perspective of an orphan and the sad understanding of life that they develop when they do not have families.
The portion below is from my friend who is the very blessed mother of these dear children. She’s describing the conversations she’s had with J this past week. Just for your reference, J had heart surgery in his country prior to being adopted.
But last night, he really talked- about how he remembers being in the hospital, of how he had his owies- pointing to his zipper scars on his chest. He also explained that he was alone, and scared, and no one stayed with him. Keep in mind- he’s FOUR. He was thankful that we’re staying with E- that she’s not alone, so she won’t ROLL OUT OF THE BED and fall and hurt!!!! FOUR years old. What has he seen? lived? experienced?
But the most heartbreaking thing of all- I was telling him that I was really sorry he was alone for his heart surgery, that it happened before I knew he was alive and saw his picture, and that if I had been his mommy then, I would have stayed there with him just like we are doing with E. His response- “Itsa ok Mommy. J (referring to himself) just a baby, so J doesn’t have mommy yet. Babies don’t have mommies, have to wait til get big!”
He then went on to explain that no babies have mommies, you have to wait until you get big for a mommy to come get you maybe. Like E, and Jy and A and some “fwiends”. He was so matter of fact, as though it’s perfectly normal that babies are hatched and sit in orphanages until they’re big enough for a family to claim them.
And it just broke me into pieces. Here’s my tiny, 25 pound 4 year old, who has solemnly accepted that he had to have open heart surgery twice, all alone, because he was a baby and babies don’t get mommies.
But last night at the hospital, while E was quietly resting, a baby down the hall started crying- that high pitched cry. All three of my littles froze, then Jy got more anxious and started spinning :( A got upset and started sympathy-crying for the baby, saying “baby cwy baby owie”, but J walked over to me and motioned for me to kneel down and pick him up. I did and he took my face in his hands and said “that’s a baby cwying do you hear?” I said yes, and he nodded sadly. “Dat babys awone? No Mommy yet.” I said, no, that the baby did have a mommy I thought, and she was going to take care of him. He looked at me in total disbelief and shook his head no. I said yes, the baby had a mommy- and she would take care of him, and right then, the baby stopped crying. He looked completely confused. (This was before the conversation where he explained that no babies have mommies and only kids get mommies later).
So he’s starting to figure out that his early life was different- he’s starting to understand what being an orphan was.
This is the view of the world that these children have. Babies don’t have mommies, they have to wait until they get bigger. Then maybe they’ll have a family. It’s all he knew. And most children will wait and wait and will never have a family.
What will we do for these kids? These ones that God has entrusted to us to take care of? It is not enough to simply let our eyes fill with tears when reading the story, and then do nothing. We can at least pray. Can we donate? Can we participate in, start or support a mission? Can we adopt?