Monday, December 7, 2009

My Heart Breaks for Orphans

Let me start by saying that Nina's orphanage is a good one. From what we have been told, it is one of the best orphanages here in Ukraine. The doctor at their orphanage is wonderful, she really cares about the children, and the workers are also all very caring. At least in the small ways they can and know.

Nina's house (this orphanage is made up of several houses) is getting remodeled. So as I walked inside, neither the doctor's office nor the room where we visited before were available. As a matter of fact, as I walked in I wondered where in the world I would visit her. So I walked straight to her room, as far as I could tell, it was the only one with children. My guess is that the other kids have been moved temporarily to the other houses.

I walked in, and all the children in Nina's groupa were playing in the big playpen. Some of the kids saw me and tried to get my attention. A little girl with CP saw me and started to cry, reaching out to me and calling me "mama." Talk about heart wrenching.

The workers found themselves in a predicament, so what was their solution? They brought a little table and a chair with a stool for me. I realized then, they were going to have me visit with Nina right there, in that room, and please ignore the other children because any attention I give them makes them very agitated.

When I visit Nina I bring toys for her in a bag, along with candy and snacks. Nina knows this, and of course wants to play. Imagine doing this in front of the other children. Do you see my dilema? I can't give her candy and not the other kids! I can't give her a snack and not them! The little girl, Oskana, kept crying for me, or for a mama, and even though it was Russian I underestood what she was saying, "I want a mama! I want a mama!" And I know the workers were telling her to stop, that I was Nina's mama. So she cried some more, "I want a mama too!"

I wanted to scoop her up, to give her a big hug. And how I wished I could have found her a mama, and tell her, "See! Here is your mama!" I decided maybe it would be a good idea to blow bubbles for all the kids. Oskana stopped crying and loved the bubbles. So did the other kids, and Nina. I realized Nina was confused, why was I not playing with her? And I really did not want this to become a question in her heart, "Is she here for me or for them?" Her little face was really confused. Not jealous, not throwing a fit, but I could tell she did not understand. Bubbles were great, but with the children so spread out it was taking me a while to go around the room and get enough bubbles for all of them.

A little girl rocked and rocked herself. Okay, I just don't know how to describe this, she violently rocked herself against the playpen. She was hitting it hard. The workers kept asking her to stop. Obviously having me there was causing her some distress. Rock, rock, rock. She wouldn't stop.

I had to leave the room, me being there was too much for these children. These children who desperately want a mama. They do not understand "She is Nina's mama." All they know, is that I am someone's mama, and why in the world won't I get them and pick them up.

I called the translator and asked her to tell one of the workers that I wanted to take Nina for a walk. They tried to explain to me it would not work, because she can't walk. I know! I will carry her! So they agreed, they were hesitant, but they agreed.

Oh if you had seen Nina's face as they were getting her ready! She knew, she knew! And she was as excited as can be! They got me a stroller, and so we went outside. There were the other children out there, walking, they came over to say hi to Nina. These were the kids form Kellsey's groupa (Frank and Renees little girl). My first thought was of Kellsey, home with her brothers and sisters. In a loving home, with a future before her. My heart broke for the sweet faces in front of me. Will they ever have that?

I then took Nina out of the stroller, it was impossible to maneuver in the uneven ground. I decided she could point and tell me where she wanted to go. So we did. As we walked around, as she smiled at me, as she tried to be away from the other children it hit me: her world is so limited, not only because she is an orphan, but because of her CP. Her world is limited to the places she can go, and those places are all found in one room, ONE room. Nobody is there to open her world. Nobody ever has stood before a road to be her legs, to walk up and down, to explore trails. Nobody ever has, and in this place, nobody ever will. In that moment I was her legs, so what did I do? I took off running, with Nina on my hip, we ran! We ran as fast as I could and for as long as I could. Joy, there was pure joy in my daughter's face! In that moment, she could run!

I need to get in good shape. I could only do that for so long. I need to do it for her, at times, I will have to be her legs.

She motioned she wanted to get down, she took my hands and looked up at me. I got it. Now she wanted to try, she wanted to run. So we took off! We ran! I basically carried her, but I could feel her little legs trying to move. It was pure bliss! A worker shook her head at us. She wore disapproval on her face from the moment we had stepped outside, Nina just does not get to go out. But not today, today, disapproval would be tossed away, and a child would feel the cold wind on her face and run! Run with her mama!

It was cold, Nina was ready to go inside.

All the kids were crying, all except Marshall, a little boy with Down syndrome who played quietly on his own. He is a sweet little angel. Actually, all kids play on their own. Even though they are together, they do not play with each other.

Oksana was being made to lay down while a boy threw himself on the ground repeatedly, banging his head hard each time. Finally a worker took him out of the playpen and sat him on a chair. The one little girl rocked herself against the bars of her house, her jail.

Nina wanted nothing to do with the workers. She only wanted me, and her favorite worker was not there today. Finally she went to them, I believe they told her she needed to eat, and I could tell she was hungry.

I left, as quickly as I could. I couldn't stand watching those children, wasting away behind the wooden bars of the playpen. They are so little, so young, so innocent! Who will hold them? Who will love them? Who will be their mama and their papa? Who will give up a brand new car, or a vacation so that one of these will have a family of their own, a hope, and a future?

I cannot save them all, I cannot take them all. But I can save one, my daughter, Nina.

I changed my mind, as soon as we apply for her tax code I am getting her out of there, hopefully next Tuesday, I can do the rest of the paperwork with her on my hip even if it means hours of waiting, and an tired and crabby child.

We will walk out, with me as her legs, and we are not going back. She will come to a family, to a papa, a mama, and 2 sisters. To an extended family that will adore her, to a church family that will embrace her, to a hope and a future.

Most of all, she will know about the One who loves her. The One who called us to get her out of that place. She will know about Jesus.


Jaime said...

ellen you are amazing. and i practically balled through this entire post! i cant wait for you to come home with your sweet, sweet little girl!!

Cline Family said...

Praise God Ellen that you and Andy are obedient to His call. My heart aches for what you described. I cannot even begin to imagine those childrens' hearts. Can't wait to love on Nina when you get home. At least we can make a difference for one!

Lyndi said...

That was such a beautifully writen post Ellen. Thank you for that reminder!!

Gayle said...

My heart aches with yours, Ellen. These precious children that still wait will be etched on your heart forever--you may not be able to take them all home, but you can lift them to the Father of the fatherless! Thanks for sharing your heart today. Praying for you, my friend!

Karien Prinlsoo said...

I'm with Jayme! You're gonna make me cry buckets full. sad to me, is that I will possibly never have the chance to meet you personally.....on earth that is!

Bethany said...

Great post Ellen ... it is all too true. Can't wait for you guys to get her home!

Nan and Dan said...

omg! that is absolutely amazing! I can not wait to be our daughter's legs too! Gotta go get a hanky :)

Shea said...

We took Oskar the day we had court, the very second they let us have him, though we had him alone for 7 hours the day before. We took him to every government office and did all the paperwork stuff with him right beside us. It was tough because he was so active, BUT I would not have had it any other way. It was wonderful for bonding and time for just us to be together. I wanted my little boy along for the ride!!!

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

Oh you have me in a pool of tears.

You know the video you sent to me of Zhenya, I only had the courage to post that last night. I have gone over that video a thousand times, watched his lack on interest when the mum was touching the other boy in the play pen. It kills me that at 3yrs he already doesn’t react, does want for, is shutting down. My heart is screaming for these children, screaming for Zhenya.

gillian said...

Oh, Ellen. I know those faces and felt that way too when I went to visit Evie. Only then, Nina was part of the group who desperately wanted a mother, veying for my attention, asking to be picked up.

And now she has you.

I'm praying for the other children in Nina and Evie's groupa. Please say hello to the workers there from Veronica's mom.

Pure Mommy Extract said...

The timing of my reading this post was great. Today was a hard day with just this issue. We got to play outside today...but it's with the other children. It's hard when we come to get Ana because they all rush to the door and say Mama, Mama! But then we go into another room and the kids don't see us play with her and hug on her.

When we are outside they children just cling to us (cling to the workers too, because we also have an amazing is as close to normal behavior and family as I could imagine in such a place). They try to climb up on us (and I can't lift any of them due to the weight and being pregnant), and fight for the right to cling to our legs. It's like we are raw meat in a pool of sharks...sharks that only want to eat up love. And that's how desperately they want love! Like a shark, they do anything to be the ONE that will get to fit on my lap while Ana is with her Daddy.

The workers try to keep them occupied, but also allow us to interact some...I think hoping that we will try to find them families as well...just like Tonya. It's one of the most difficult things I have done. To be part of that. To know that I am going to leave them all behind, not knowing if someone will come for them before they are sent off to live in a place that can't even be considered living. It's just...well, there are no words.

So, I understand your feelings and feel them with you. I'm sorry that we have to see it...and even more sorry that they have to live it. I don't ever want to forget. I don't want to forget that no matter how many leave with families, there are still many more waiting. This is real life for them. It's so real. =(