The hours each week I spend with some of these precious children leave me with mixed emotions that range from sadness and frustration to delight and true joy. Sometimes, I am frustrated with the legal guardians - mostly moms - who I see from time to time as they come to visit their kids in the orphanage where they live. I wonder why they haven't gotten their lives together to provide for their kids. I've accused them of choosing a boyfriend over their children. Sometimes I feel as if I am being punished and is if I'm some kind of victim as well because I have to care for 10 of them at once when their moms are nowhere to be found - don't know how they are behaving or struggling or if they are sick and throwing up or won't go down for a nap. And yet I absolutely melt inside when one of them sees their mom in the distance and runs to her and jumps into her arms and just smiles and feels safe and loved and wanted and valued. That image of their reunion will be forever with me. As well as the image of the child screaming and crying as that same mom walks away to catch a bus leaving her child all over again.
Or on the days when their child is scared and feels alone and abandoned and just cries for hours about how they want their mommy. If I honest, I often think of their mom in those moments and I'm frustrated that all this kid has is me.
There are moments in these children's lives where you know that their parents would do anything to witness - when they learn how to read, ride a bike, write their name, participate in a school play, graduate from school, loose their first tooth, learn how to play an instrument or enjoy their birthday present. But their parent isn't there and most of the time, they don't even know these milestones are occurring.
This past week however I have realized that I've been wrong. As I talk more with their parents when they come to visit or listen to my boys tell me about their pasts, I am starting to see a whole need side to their "abandonment." Sometimes, living in a children's home is the best place for a kid. Sometimes, to prevent their father from beating them or attempting to murder his own children again, a mom "hides" her children in an orphanage so he can't hurt them anymore.
I listened to one of my boys after he returned to the dorm from doing his homework his understanding of his life story. When I hear these devastating memories, I am often completely speechless. I have no idea what to say in response to some of the things they tell me. But I was reminded and so was he, that living in an orphanage is actually a good place to be sometimes. He told me that. He said he was thankful to live at Casa Hogar Douglas and that he feels safe there.
And so I immediately thought again about his mom and all the ways I've been wrong in my judgement of her. All along I've thought that she chose her new boyfriend over her children. I could not have been more wrong. You see, she loves her children and it's obvious when you see her interact with them. She NEVER misses a visitation day. She buses for 2 to 3 hours ONE WAY just to see her kids on sundays and then turns around and does it again for another 2 to 3 hours to get home. She works 6 days a week at a factory and works 12 hour shifts. She is just trying to protect her children. And in an average week I spend between 40 and 60 hours with her children and she gets maybe 2 hours with them on Sundays. It's not fair. It's not fair for her kids, for her or for me. And yet that's just how it is. So we've got to make the best out of a bad situation.
Beth likes to say that "the story isn't over yet." I know it isn't. Isaiah 43:19 that He "will make a way in the wilderness." Make a way Jesus. Make a way.