Friday, April 9, 2010

We Couldn't Be There

We are not sure how much Nina understands the English language. Sometimes it seems like she has a great grasp, while other times we wonder if she understands what we are asking or saying to her.

We are still puzzled by her behaviors at times. What seems a normal situation, can send her into her own world, where she can easily be irritated or upset. These times are hard for all of us emotionally. It makes us wonder what exactly took place at the orphanage, and what her life was like.

I shared in a previous post, that the first time I walked into Nina's room, they were not expecting me and I was sure that a little girl was going to be tied down to the smaller wooden pen. I saw this same little girl being smacked across the face and her ear pulled as she was dragged to a chair because she was not fast enough. never mind that she too has Cerebral palsy and could not walk. The impatience and lack of love were heart breaking. Praise God Oksana has a family waiting to go get her!

I tried to teach a worker how to feed a little boy with Down syndrome by helping support his jaw. She said she had not time for that and shoved the food into his mouth. His eyes watering and gulping, gasping for air, maybe even aspirating with every spoonful going in his mouth. He too has a family ready to come get him.

I saw other children treated harshly and being punished. And I saw more. And what I saw will forever be in my heart, and it will remind me that these children live in dark and scary places, and that those with special needs are abused even more, because it is easier to hurt those that are weaker.

Nina's recent reaction to having her braces put on, along with other behaviors, made Andy wonder if Nina had been tied to her crib as punishment. We have found out that it is not the braces that make her cry, but rather having her lay down and getting them strapped on her, the noise of the Velcro, and having something that "restricts" her body. Once she is up and walking, this is not an issue.

A friend who is also adopting from Ukraine wrote on her blog, "We showed up unannounced one day at the orphanage. All the children were in the big wooden playpen. They were all tied to the slots of the playpen so they couldn't move. No wonder they didn't want us to come in the room."

So we asked Nina today about her life at the orphanage, not sure if she understands us, not sure if she knows how to communicate with us.

"Nina?" I asked, "Were you tied down on your crib? Did you have to lie down and they would tie you?" She looked at me, a sad expression, her little lip came out, and the tears started to come, she said softly, "yes." And she cried some more. I held her so close to me, wishing I could take that away from her, wishing that somehow she had not had to go through that. Andy asked her why they did that. "Nina naughty, Nina naughty." She responded.

We were not there to protect her for the first 3 years of her life. She has gone through so much in her short life, and there is nothing we can do about it. We will never be able to take that away. We can love, and we can pray, that is what we can do.

I think of how we almost allowed money to be an issue. I think of how I almost said Cerebral palsy was too much for me to handle. Those things are so insignificant now, so small.

My heart breaks for orphans around the world. My heart breaks for my daughter. And it aches, oh how it aches, that there were times where she was tied down to a crib, treated like an animal, starved of comfort or love. Never again, never again. Our loving arms will wrap her close, and whisper how much we care.

Today I was her mother, I felt it. I will protect my sweet girl as best I can.


You can find many waiting children with special needs on Reeces Rainbow. They all need a family, they all have suffered enough!


  1. Oh Ellen, I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face. How awful, I just can't believe those things actually happen and you saw it with your own eyes. Horrible, horrible, shame on those people, oh how I wish we could save them all from the hurt...

  2. I can't get there soon enough and I can't save enough children. Thank you for your honesty Ellen. I'm thankful too, that you can hug Nina every day, and she has the love of your family.

  3. Oh how that must of broke you heart hearing Nina responding to your question. I also read that little boy's blog you are referencing, and had my hubby read it. My hubby and I will be mailing out our commitment fee to Andrea for one of the little RR girls...and can only hope to bring her home before she stays there too much longer.

  4. Amazing. Such a different world from what we live in. Thanks for sharing and reminding us -- to pray, to love, to be thankful for the incredible blessing we have. I don't remember anything from when I was younger than about 4. I wonder if Nina really will remember when she is older? My heart both breaks for what she and others had/have to go through and yet my heart feels so full, knowing you and Any are pouring love into her life. Love you guys!

  5. Oh, Sweet Nina ~ I Pray that those memories will fade quickly. Hi Ellen! : ) Your girl is looking really good!! She is so pretty and has blossomed since you brought her home. And, so have You! I just feel this tenderness from you in your writing. I know that time that you spent alone with Nina in the Ukraine was very draining and testing, but it's wonderful that you can relax and love on all of your girls! The Easter pictures are so sweet. All of the girls are so beautiful. Pretty like their Mama! I think of you and your family everyday and it's always nice to come here and hear how you all are coming together as a family.
    I'm feeling bad about Nina's upcoming surgery! I was a Peds nurse and I actually HAD to transfer out of that field, because I don't like to see a sick child! It's gonna be a tough couple of days, but I know you'll be right there to comfort her! Just a suggestion...make sure you request pain meds for her. One thing I learned is that Pediatric patients don't ever get the same attention when it comes to pain relief! I always told parents to be a voice, to advocate for their child. She should get something every 4 hours, but sometimes nurses get busy and need a gentle reminder from Mom or Dad. I'm believing that she'll have a quick recovery and NO complications!
    Take Care, My Friend and hug those three little girls for me. Love ~ JO

  6. Oh, Ellen, I was sobbing so much yesterday when I read this that I couldn't even comment. I have linked this post to my homeschooling group and will probably link it on fb next week if you don't mind. There is a message in this post that needs to be heard. Hug your sweet girl for me!

  7. Wow, this post was very touching, emotional, and difficult to grasp! :( Thanks for sharing Ellen.

  8. Ellen, I check the R.R. blogs pretty often because I love adoption blogs! It seems we have some similarities in our adoption experiences. Our family adopted a 3.5 year-old little girl (from China) almost 2 years ago. She, too, was tied to her bed in her orphanage. In fact, the day my husband visited the orphanage (I didn't travel because I was pregnant), he saw lots of toddlers tied to their beds with ropes around their waists. The children adopted out of her orphanage were significantly delayed...the 15 month-olds couldn't sit up or even hold a toy for example. Our 3.5 yo was very tiny and just toddled around like a toddler just learning to walk.

    Anyway, I also wanted to let you know that it is normal to have trouble bonding to your adopted child when there are attachment issues from neglect in the orphanage. We are almost 2 years into our adoption and it is still really, really tough at times. Never did I think we'd have any bonding issues after 2 years. For now, I'll leave it at that.... I wanted to share these blog posts with you since they've really helped me:

    Hope these are helpful! These 2 women (from the above blogs)have "been there" also, they "get it", and they have been so helpful to me.

    In Christ,
    Tara (fellow adoptive mom of a severely neglected and institutionalized child, learning to love one day at a time...)

  9. My heart hurts for those children still there.I'm so glad you have your little girl with you now.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. If you do not subscribe to comments, make sure you check back for my reply to your comment.



Related Posts with Thumbnails