Waking up this morning was rough, not because it’s Monday, but because I found myself on the bottom corner edge of my bed. In the middle of the night we had a little guest come in after having a nightmare. She ended up taking the middle of the bed, and eventually moved her way into my space and crowding me to the edge of the bed. It’s amazing how someone so small in comparison can take up so much space.
I wish every child had the ability to crawl in their parents bed when they experience a bad dream. I wish they could all feel the comfort of a warm and safe place. A place where they can take up not only the bed, but the hearts of the people who sleep in that bed. My husband and I have always said we will not have our kids get into the habit of coming into our bed at night, but we realize that there will be times when they are scared and they need us, even if it’s in the middle of the night. Most nights we are able to let them fall asleep and then move them back to their rooms, but some nights we are simply too tired.
Our kids have always done a good job at self soothing in order to fall asleep. I know they can do that because they have had the attention they need to feel safe and comfortable. They know that mom and dad can leave them in their room, and we will still be there when they awake. They have the security of knowing that they are cared for.
Orphans don’t grow up with the same securities as children living with their families. They see many different people throughout their day; different care givers, and staff at the orphanages. This constant influx of people can lead to asocial development.
One of the days I was in Kostroma, our team volunteered at a Children’s Shelter. There were about five preschool age kids and seven older kids. The shelter is a place where children go when they are first removed from their home. It’s a place they live until the government is able to determine if the children can go back to their family, or if they will be placed in foster care, or go to an orphanage.
The shelter was a challenging place for me because in many ways I felt like we were visitors at a zoo. That is a horrible comparison, but accurate to how I felt. The directors at this shelter were very excited we were visiting, and had activities to do with the children. They prepared a slide show of the children, we had tea, they showed us around the building (with the exception of certain areas) and they shared with us what they do for the families, and a little about each of the children we would see. By the time we got to spend time with the kids, I felt like it was very limited.
I could see that the staff at this shelter genuinely cared for the children. In the slide show they presented to us, they said that many of the children had never seen a picture of themselves. So they take pictures of each child, and show them the slide show, so that the children can see for themselves the beauty within each of them. It was clear that the kids liked seeing the pictures of themselves, and really what child doesn’t like to see themselves. A friend of mine shared with me that children often feel a sense of belonging when they see their pictures around the house. It makes me think that for orphans, they have very little to help them feel a sense of belonging.
When I left the shelter, I had a feeling deep within me that I wish I could have done more. I wish I had more time to spend with the kids. I understand why the staff wanted to educate us on what they do there, and how they help families, but I wanted more time to connect with the kids, play games, and see smiles on their faces.
One little boy named Danya stole my heart. He was sweet and caring, but was a little rough around the edges. I saw him as the type of child, who if not given positive attention, will seek out negative attention. He was four years old. In between the ages of my children. I don’t know all of his story, he talked about his grandpa, but he couldn’t remember his grandma, and he didn’t talk about his parents. I don’t know what the future will hold for him, but I pray that he finds a place of security, and comfort. Maybe he will be able to go home, and if not hopefully he will be placed with a good foster family until he can one day be adopted.
There are many children in need of love, belonging, and a place they can call home. I wish there were enough families that were able to open their homes to adoption. I understand that there is a lot that goes into an adoption process, its not a simple process, and families need to be screened to know that the children placed in the homes will be cared for, loved, and safe. My hope is that more people become aware of these orphans needs, even if adoption is not right for them, that they would become advocates to these children. We may not be able to end the cycles that leave children as orphans, but we can act on the part of these children and do what we can to assure they are loved, and feel a sense of belonging.