Thursday, July 22, 2010

Neglect (The Hard Stuff-Ethiopia Part 2010)

Though I've never considered myself a optimist, neither have I considered myself a pessimist. I always thought of myself as a realist that tried to believe, to hope, in every human being (a hint of optimism). Making excuses for others (and hopefully myself) wasn't in the equation. So here is my attempt to be real, to share some thoughts that have building and some struggles.


When we adopted our son Max, he wasn't even on the weight chart when we arrived in Moscow. His height was the 90th percentile. His bones shone through his skin. We had been informed that often, when an adoptive parent arrives, the toys (never played with) come out. The children, very rarely held, were picked up.

You see, no one wanted to admit the children were left to sit and not cared for. On some level, even the most untrained, knew that this wasn't right. The toys coming out and the children being picked up (that were rarely held) attested to that. It is not unusual (in some facilities) for a "show" of care to take place when parents arrive.

Some of these orphanages are wonderful and a blessing to children waiting for their families. Some of them genuinely care. Even in the most neglectful, I am confident some women and men remain, that I would look up to, diligently trying to make a dent of love in the never ending stream of the fatherless.

I imagine the hardship of watching child after child pass through the doors of the orphanage room you were responsible for. I imagine detaching yourself as a form of human preservation. I even imagine the lack of training and small paycheck for a huge job. These people aren't living in riches, they are struggling in a way that we in America hardly imagine. They are human. They have families, children, mothers and fathers who they cherish as we do.

On one hand I do understand...I do, yet as a mother...when I imagine farther, that's what disturbs me....

You see, to achieve Rachel's lack of muscle tone, the neglect had to be extreme.

For the orphanage to say our little Gabe couldn't even sit up, the neglect had to exceed what we imagined.

It was OUR children lying in a crib. It was OUR children that barely existed in the eyes of caregivers.


I wondered why only three families received the embassy date of June 28th...with so many waiting, why us? And then this thought...

Within days of taking custody Rachel couldn't even take one drink of water without vomiting. We constantly offered liquids through the night and nothing stayed down. What if she had still been lying in that crib at the orphanage?


Neglect wasn't just happening to everyone else's children. It was happening to ours.

Now we can't get the thought of the other babies out of our minds. Many are still laying there. Not just at our orphanage, but around the world.

I think the world often looks at these children like little numbers, statistics, residing in a crib. Instead of looking at them as our children...God's children.

They aren't numbers that are wasting away, and yes...dying. They are children.


I look at Rachel and she gives me this huge four (almost six) teeth smile. She crinkles up her little nose. Gabe glances over his shoulder as he reaches toward his daddy's can almost see the sparkle.

These are the faces of neglect. That little smile...that little gleam resonates in my heart as I occasionally see the fear of being left. The giggles holds me through the night of the sporadic whimpers of fear or terrified cries. We know what neglect does first hand.

We are thankful that God has brought our children home....joyous. Yet we still know what we've left behind.

As humans we are limited in what we can do. As Christians, we know God isn't...

The question we now put to ourselves is this...what do we do with what we now know?


"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" Matthew 25:44-45


  1. ugh. tears. motivation. love.

  2. Ugh. That's hard to hear when I'm soooo ready to go get my girl! Praying for your kiddos and others like them around the world.

  3. Powerful post. My heart is with all neglected and orphaned children. I'm sorry that your children were neglected. They will never be again. God bless you all.

  4. Our hearts break too. We are blessed to be able to look to your family for inspiration and our Father for the strength to pull it off!

  5. Yep. Disturbing beyond belief. A burden that never, ever leaves my heart.


In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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