Does it hurt too much? Really?

hosting orphansHearing some tales of heart-ache about some overseas orphans who can’t be adopted, cannot even be hosted temporarily due to paperwork issues and timing, a friend says, “They’re hostage to a bureaucracy, in a country that cannot find love in its heart and will not release them to become part of a loving home. Same happens around the world.”

Yes. I remind myself it happens all over the world. Our own government is complicit too, binding requirements and troublesome steps not because they are better for families or children but because bureaucracies must find ways to perpetuate themselves.

I think of ‘our’ two boys every day, several times a day. My heart aches. I often find myself in tears and swallowing large, hard, painful lump in my throat over all kinds of things- I found S’s scarf in the wrong place as recently as yesterday- he was supposed to take it home, but I think he let one of the littles play with it and it did not come back. I played cards with Blynken last night, the game of Blink, which I first played with S. I made pigs in the blanket and blinked back tears thinking of rascally and adorable V, who pulled all the ‘pigs’ out of their blankets and ate them, leaving the bread behind, mangled and unappetizing for others. I drive by their bikes every day in my garage, and my heart is sore and bruised, and I hear their cries of “Mama! Look! Watch me! Mama! See this!” reverberating in my head and it hurts so bad and so deep that for a moment it is hard to breathe. I still have pictures V. drew on the fridge, and Ukrainian translator apps on my phone, and an ‘S’ folder in my iTunes where I add songs I think he’ll like…. It hurts. It all hurts.

And I keep reminding myself- they are not the only ones. There are millions. They lived in an orphanage for six years without me shedding a tear or knowing they existed. Likely there are others with greater needs- because, after all, their orphanage is small (less than 20 kids) and these four brothers have each other. Other orphans have nowhere to live to call home, no beds, no siblings to thump them when they misbehave, to share food when they have it, to pester, to comfort when they need it in a way only a brother can (I now understand “oh, poor baby” in Ukrainian, and I’ve heard it in mockery, and also in tender tones of comfort). But it’s all changed now because these two special, precious, now beloved boys have given a face, a voice, even a feel, to the orphan issue. But then I look at all this I’ve written and it’s so selfish, so self-centered, all about me and how much I hurt now that I know them. Two boys in a sea of children who do not have proper parents. I feel like I shouldn’t need that connection- I should have cared this much before. But before, it was abstract. Now, it is personal.

And we’re planning, Lord willing and with funding, to do this again this summer for 8 weeks.

“I couldn’t do that,” says somebody. “It would hurt too much.”

“Hurts who?” demands my husband. “Because they are already hurting and they don’t get to choose.”

The thing is, I’ve said that, too.  “I couldn’t do foster care. It would hurt too much to give them back into the system or send them back where they came from when it’s not a good place.”  I’ve said that many times.

Orphan hosting may be just a band-aid.  But sometimes, a bandage is better than nothing.  It might be a lifeline.  Maybe it’s only a temporary bit of driftwood, holding them up for a few days before they go back into the brink.  But maybe, just maybe, it’s enough of a respite that they can continue to tread water until better options are available. We’re just giving them a break from what they already know. So what if it stings us? They are going back into the water, and we are going on with our lives.

Not unchanged, no. Not unscarred. But these are scars that do us good. I did not think I was complacent about orphans before.

I was wrong.


Does it hurt? Oh, yes. Is it too much? Good Lord above, no.

This entry was posted in charity, hospitality, religion, Who We Are and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

One Comment

  1. Elizabet
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. We are hosting an orphan this summer for the first time after hearing it here. I really appreciate your honesty – it helps to prepare mentally for this summer. 🙂

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