Many of you have been very thoughtful to ask us about our
adoption lately. Although we are growing weary of waiting for something we thought would have already happened, we know in the big world of international adoption, setbacks and
prolonged waiting are the name of the game.
We do know they have hired two additional people in The Office to help with dossiers (files). The hope is that we will see results of their work soon!! We also know the Nuns at Hope of Hope orphanage are overworked and overrun with children. I ran across this post recently, by a woman who visited the orphanage. Although Andy went there in January, his account is slightly less descriptive!
This photographer who is in Kigali:
There are some moments in life where I feel so overwhelmed by an experience that I have a hard time putting it into words. I struggle to grasp all that it meant to me or all that I saw. Perhaps it's due to my visual nature and the fact that I feel more content telling my story through pictures than I do with words. However, you'll have to bare with me as I try to describe my experiences at the Home of Hope orphanage in Kigali, since I was unable to take any pictures inside the orphanage.
I thought I felt prepared before I entered the blue gates at the Home of Hope. Several families from my church have adopted children from the orphanage and they've described to me first hand the conditions these children live in. But it's one thing to hear it and another to see it yourself. We came in the afternoon, when the orphanage allows visitors to come play with the children or rock the little babies. Jana and Keli go on a regular basis to give the littlest ones massages, since they are mostly lying flat on their backs in their cribs all day long and suffer from stiffness and weak muscles. They also just need to be held and feel the touch of an actual person. It's not that the nurses do not hold them, but they are just overwhelmed. There are so many babies and only few workers to attend to their needs. It's impossible for each baby to receive the love and attention that they truly need.
The first time we came, we were bombarded by dozens of toddlers when we entered the gate. They came rushing up to us, all wanting to be held or touched. It was both adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. Here were these beautiful, precious children, all just wanting to be loved and shown attention. How could we pass them by to go hold the infants? I felt so torn. I wanted to love on each little kid in the orphanage, but we only were allowed to visit for one hour. But I couldn't resist their sweet, smiling faces so I picked up one child and more of them followed us inside. I eventually had to take the little guy back outside, because they were not allowed to come into the room with the infants. As I walked him back to the door, he started crying and my heart started ripping to shreds. I felt like the worst person in the world. But I knew that the babies were all in the other room needing just as much attention. There's just so many needs to be met and I already felt overwhelmed by it after being there less than 10 minutes.
They took us to a room with many cribs all lined up side by side. The first thing you notice when you enter is the smell. It's not quite like stepping into an outhouse but it's pretty close. Most of the children have on cloth diapers but they're not changed often enough. With 20 or so babies to a room, it's going to leave a smell. At the time we entered they were feeding the older babies and had them all either on the floor or in 2 larger cribs to the side of the room. Dinner consisted of bananas mashed up with eggs. Not exactly appealing to me but the babies didn't seem to care. They all just wanted to be fed. We waited for the nurses to bring us the littlest ones to have massages but held a few of the older ones until they did. I noticed that most all of them had flat heads and bald spots on the back of their heads. They are so accustomed to lying on their backs that their heads have conformed to that shape. Some of them had herniated belly buttons or distended stomachs due to malnourishment. The first little one they gave me was crying when they gave him to me. However, after just holding him close to me for a bit, he calmed down and became at ease with me. He wasn't eager for me to put him down after that when I tried to lay him on the table to massage his arms and legs and such. So I picked him back up and just held him until he fell asleep in my arms. It was the most precious feeling ever to know that I calmed this little guy down and he felt content enough to fall asleep as I held him. It gave my heart some peace.
Most of these children will not be adopted. The girls might grow up and come back to work there as a nurse, like many of the women working in the orphanage now. The men will be given a small plot of land to tend to once they reach a certain age. They'll have little education and little hope for a bright future. I felt this great desire to adopt 10 of them on the spot, but of course that was not possible, especially since right now adoptions are temporarily closed in Rwanda. I came back feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted from the first experience but I knew I had to go back again while I was there. I wish I could have gone back every day, but that wasn't possible. The second experience felt even more overwhelming than the first, as there was one moment where about 5-10 of the babies were all crying and I just didn't know who to hold and what to do. I can't imagine how the workers must feel on a daily basis.
I know that now, as I'm back in the states, all I can really do for these children is pray for them. I pray that their physical and emotional needs will be met. I pray they will all find a home and a family who will love and care for them. I pray they will grow up strong and receive a good education. I'm thankful for people like Jana and Keli who go there on a regular basis and do what they can to help. I'm thankful for all the families I know who have opened their homes and their hearts to adopt children from orphanages all around the world. I have a great respect and admiration for all of you. In all of this, I have to believe that God is working. It only took me a fraction of a second to fall in love with these children, but I know that God loved them before anyone else and will always love them. I put my hope in His love.
I'll never forget Home of Hope. I left a piece of my heart there."
It is hard knowing that our son, Drew, is waiting for us in one of those little blue metal cribs. Our family has a hole in it that we did not know existed until God changed our hearts, and created the hole.
On a happy note, we have our dear friend, Natalie in Rwanda right now with many, many Austinites, so we get to see pictures and hear updates. Check out her pictures of the Gorillas!!
Thank you for praying for and asking us about Drew, he'll be here in His perfect timing, until then we wait, and wait.