I read this post by Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan and it so well summed up what has become of my thought processes over the past couple of years and most intensely over the past year since visiting orphanages, meeting my own child at an orphanage, adopting her, and bringing her home. Seeing with your own eyes hundreds and hundreds of orphans, learning their names, hugging them, suddenly puts so many other issues of life into perspective.
Yesterday in church there was a video about mothers and all the work they do in the backgrounds of their children's lives and all I could think while watching was, "Some kids don't have one! A mother. Some kids don't have one."
My youngest daughter didn't have one either for a while. The scars from that reality are heartbreaking.
A few weeks ago we tried to leave our daughter at the church nursery for an hour while we attended service, we waited several months to even try it because we imagined it would be a hard scenario for her. Separation anxiety is normal in kids, but for kids who have known the forever loss of their first family, being left can be truly terrifying.
The first try leaving her didn't go well, at all.
She freaked out and would not stay in her classroom, even with my husband and me sitting in the back of the room. Her behavior became really uncooperative, even her language skills regressed in those moments. I could see past the frustrating scene and recognize what we were really dealing with was fear.
She wanted to see all the rooms of the nursery area, so I walked my 3 year old past each room, holding her hand, peering in from the doorway. Even I could pick up on some similarities between that setting and the orphanage she had been in in Ethiopia. Rooms were divided by age, some of them had cribs lining the walls of the room, there were several children and about two care givers in each room.
Although she didn't verbalize it to us, I imagine that she was afraid we were going to leave her there and never come back.
So, so sad for a child to have a real reason to believe that was a possibility!
Thankfully, her little class has playtime in the gym at one point every Sunday morning. The gym wasn't scary at all to my girl. There was no gym at her orphanage! And she loves to run and play. This was a huge room where she could do just that and kick soccer balls, too. I took her in there while her class was in the gym and sat off to the side where she could easily see me, but she left my side quickly in chase after a ball. Have I mentioned Little Girl is fast? Well, she is, even in a smocked dress and sandals! And she happily tore all around that gym! Then when her class lined up to go back to their classroom she lined up too, of course checking to make sure I joined the line! But she was content to hold hands with another child and not me!
The kids had some water and heard a story for about 10 minutes and then parents started picking them up. I know I was completely obnoxious with this, but each time a parent came for a child I'd say enthusiastically to my little girl, "Look! Hannah's mommy came back! Hannah's going home! Hannah does not live here. Hannah comes here for church and then she goes home!" "Look! Ethan's dad is here! He came back! Ethan is going HOME!" And on and on I went through about nine children. I kid you not!
The two young ladies who work in my daughter's room probably think I'm nuts, but they were so sweet to my little girl and really are very gifted at working with preschool-aged children!
I counted it huge progress the next week when my daughter willingly walked in the room, after watching me take my seat on a 3-year-old sized chair in the back.
I spent the next few Sundays in the 3 year old room. A human crutch.
And at home we read the book Llama Llama Misses Mama a ton and talked over and over again about how Mama would always come back.
Then we thought she was ready and really talked it up for this past Sunday for her to stay without Mommy at church. Even getting out of the car she started some squirrely behavior and I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that, "Oh no, this is not going to go well." I prayed right then for God to, "Please calm this child. Give her peace, take away her fear."
We walked into the nursery area and she said, "Bye Mom!" Waved and ran to her room!
Seriously. She really did.
I gave the teachers my cell number, set it on vibrate, and clutched it hard the whole church service. But, it never went off. The first sermon I've heard live in 5 months!
As we hurried to the nursery to get her, I joked to my husband that maybe I'd written a number down wrong when I gave them my cell number and really she's been freaking out the whole time, they just couldn't reach us!
She was happy when we got to her room! Her teachers said she did great.
A Mother's Day miracle, for sure!
Praise God for healing, for progress! We still have a ways to go, and it's certainly not the easy road, but we are grateful for the privilege to walk it.
Praying, especially today, for the kids walking alone.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!