Friday, February 19, 2010

My Heart Breaks for Orphans

I wrote this when I was in Ukraine and our adoption blog was private. I want to share this again, as some of you celebrate Lent, maybe you can keep the orphans in your prayers.

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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.


  1. Hi Ellen ~ I went to Mayo for my Pulmonary appt. on Thur.. Once I arrived and TRIED to check in, I was informed that it was the next day, on the 19th! Goofy me..I was thinking that Thur. WAS the 19th! Oh well...But, I DID remember that you said you had an appt. for Nina on the 18th, SO I asked where PEDS was and rolled myself up to the 16th floor to see if I could find you. They did look up her name, but said she had no appt.'s until March. Well, I tried! : )

    I hope that things are going well with Nina's bonding and her PT. Is she getting better with playing with the baby? I was SO happy when you wrote that she and your older daughter were finally becoming Buddies after she had been pulling away from her in the beginning. They are ALL so beautiful. Are you planning to have any professional photos done of Nina? And, a new Family picture? I would love to have a picture of the girls. I Pray for EACH of your family every day.

    Okay, my Friend, keep in touch and let me know when you'll be in Rochester again. Hopefully we can finally meet! (If I can just NOT show up for my appt. 24 hours early!) : )

    Love to you all! Jo

  2. Reading your post left me speechless and with tears in my eyes. Wow. Lucky Nina. All three of your kids are so lucky to have you as a mother! I hope many others are inspired by your post and by your love for your girls!


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