I just woke up this morning and came downstairs. Its early and I am the only one up, I need to get ready to leave, because I am going to be spending the day with the dentist team, helping out with their temporary clinic that is being set up in Kora today. I just stumbled down the stairs and put some coffee on, outside I can hear the eerie sounds of a muslim temple blaring the morning prayers. I wanted to sit down real quick and write something for you before I got on my way, I wanted to say a little about where things are at, but then I opened up my messages and saw this. A message from Jamie Glandon about why she is working to help Bring Love In. What Jamie wrote here is exactly what we need to hear today. Its powerful stuff. I wanted to share this with you.
Here it is.
As I continue to support the organization Bring Love In I have started researching orphan care systems. The research is showing me cold hard facts about orphanages, the short and long term effects of institutionalization and the detriment it is to an already vulnerable population. It’s big words, lots of numbers, and cold reviews of unfavorable outcomes. That is research doing its job …subjects, testing, reviews. It is further solidifying many concerns that I have.
“The Stockholm declaration of the Second International Conference on Children and Residential Care reported “indisputable evidence that institutional care has negative consequences for both individual children and society at large.”
When I first started going to orphanages the entire concept was so foreign to me it was breathtaking and intriguing at the same time. It took time to understand the inter-workings and by far I still have a lot to learn. Overtime I have became frustrated and broken about my visits. I found myself hearing the gates shut behind me thinking, have my actions really done any good Questioning so much. I knew our presence, love, affection, attention, toys, kisses, cuddles, were so short term. . For a small moment in time someone looked at them like they are the light of their life, but still not loved enough not to leave them.
An image that will forever be stretched in my mind is when we were playing in the courtyard of an orphanage and all the children wanted was for my husband and son to put them on their shoulders so they could see outside, get a small glimpse of their world beyond orphanage walls. As they looked over that gate they saw children walking to school, parents holding their kids’ hand going to the market, cars, trucks, animals. All the things they haven’t seen in months or maybe never. I can image how they internalize the seclusion they live in. They are the ones behind the wall. They don’t interact with their community. They don’t travel to church or walk to the supermarket. They live within the confines of a compound and wait,,,,,wait for what? an adoptive parents? when the number of orphans is rising daily and adoptions are getting more difficult. Or…maybe there waiting for people like me,,,to come visit for a few days, to play, interact, but leave so they return to waiting. It makes me sick to type these words knowing that a child saw me thinking maybe, just maybe, she will take me home if only I’m good enough.
In June, when I sat in the Addis Ababa airport waiting for departure I knew that this trip was pivotal. I couldn’t return continuing to go from one orphanage to another, passing out donations, loving on children, and walking out. I wasn’t leaving these children in any better condition.
I was faced with some big questions….what next???….my head was spinning for awhile…..Dig deeper….. .Its not in my cards to take a small trip, kiss heads, pass out candy and return to statuesque. DIG DEEPER learn more figure this out…..DIG DEEPER….BEND LOWER….. is it you that you are making feel better or the orphan?
Shortly after I returned I got plugged into what Jessie and Levi were doing and POW….there it was….one on one care from a woman, sibling group feel, a HOME (for heavens sake a home!!), stability, consistency, love. This is something I can sink my heart and soul into and KNOW that this is meeting their short term and long term needs.
I am not saying visiting orphanages is useless. But I will say that visiting orphanages, letting the gate shut behind you and never giving the children another thought is useless. The orphanage setting can not be the end for them. I wish it were true, but its not possible for adoption to be the answer for all of them. I guess I’ll get real honest with you and say that even going to the orphan and singing, “Jesus Loves You” in their ear, still isn’t enough. What is good enough is holding the expectation for their care as high as your children or even the children within the country you have decision making power in.