We visited the children today with hopes of winning a tiny piece of Emma’s confidence in us. The weather was chilly, but not freezing, so we asked if we could bundle the kids up and take them outside with the help of one of the nurses that Emma seemed to trust quite a bit. Upon entering the orphanage, Aiden spotted us and came running, but Emma retreated again. We communicated with the nurses with the help of our translator (via the phone), and then decide an outing might be in order. With the kids bundled up like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” we headed outside. Emma refused to hold our hand or acknowledge us, but she did walk along, as we walked with Aiden, and held the hand of her nurse. We walked to the rear of the orphan age where the “orphanage dog” had just had what looked to be just one puppy. The kids watched through the cracks, and Emma allowed me to at least talk to her and be near her without reacting. We then approached one of the rear buildings on the grounds. The nurse went in to get a clean wash rag to wipe the kids faces- they were dirty from peering through the wooden slats of the dogs kennel. She left Emma with us when she went in. Emma was alright for a moment, but then started whimpering a bit and rocking back and forth until she saw the nurse reappear.
This out building appeared to be where the laundry was done. A woman came to the door, and Aiden went up to greet her, friendly little guy that he is. He took the initiative of following her inside. John went after him. I took the lead, thinking Emma might be curious as well about the insides of this building, and offered my hand to her (which she took) and led her in behind John and Aiden. The nurse nodded her approval with a smile and kept her distance. We wandered in to find three woman in what was now obviously the laundry room with one room full of laundered, freshly pressed white gowns, one room with an enormous ironing machine that could have easily had bed sheets fed into it for pressing, and another room with folded children’s clothes and sewing machines. (I assume the room we didn’t see was where the washing machines were). The three women watched as we showed the children the building and then left. Emma held my hand the whole time, and was intrigued by the new adventure, but upon leaving and seeing her nurse she ran to her and would not continue contact with me.
John went in to get the two bananas that were in my bag and came back out. Emma allowed me to feed her and forgot about her nurse for a few moments. The nurse was great. She backed up and around a corner, smiling at me, obviously pleased that Emma was taking the treat from me.
We walked some more, and then spotted some cats climbing and playing and the nurse encouraged me to show the cats to Emma and again slowly backed out of the scene. Emma allowed me to talk to her, touch her, take her picture, and take pictures of the cats to show her on my camera. The nurse kindly went inside as she saw that Emma was handling it well. We then led the kids back inside by the hand, and in attempts to gain her trust, and not push to hard, I gave her to the nurse and allowed the nurse to undress her from her coat while I tended to Aiden (who was very sad to be taking his coat off!)
The nurse was incredible. Even with the language barrier, I was able to distinguish that she has been like a Mamma to Emma. She communicated to Emma that we were Mamma and Pappa and pointed to herself as “Babushka” (grandmother). I felt like she was kindly and gently trying to help Emma make the transition to seeing me as her Mamma. We are hoping tomorrow to have our facilitator with us to meet with this nurse and talk to her about her history with Emma, about Emma’s recent behavior, and get her advice on continuing to work through this with Emma.
In all honestly, I have to put myself in this little girl’s shoes. She has been here for nearly three years (since birth). Her birthday is July 9th, and she will be three. This is the only world she has known. No matter how much we see it as “less than”, and no matter how much we know there is so much more waiting for Emma, more than she can ever imagine, more love, more provision, more healing….. this is what she knows, this is what is safe and secure to her. As hard as it may be for our minds to wrap around, Emma will grieve what she is leaving behind. Aiden will grieve at some point too. I know of many other adoption stories woven with grief. I think of a friend whose newly adopted 2 year old lay between his new mamma and pappa on a warm comfy bed, a momma and a pappa who had chosen to love him well, as he wept, grieving the wooden crate and blanket he had been sleeping on in the small, dirty apartment that had been the only “home” he had known. Many other reminders of those before me, loving their children through grief remind me that love will win.
We know this. We will love them. We have chosen to love them. We will love them through even when love is not welcomed. We will love. Don’t think us to be heroes. This is a battle of the heart, choosing to love. Our hearts have tossed and turned over this. I have cried, feeling rejected. With my weak human heart wanting something in return, I have been selfish in love. Holding back. We have not arrived. We walk one day at a time and offer love willing to be rejected. This is not a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. This is reality.
Thank you so much for your incredible words of encouragement, prayers and the love that echoes through your comments as we read them and cry! Thank you for walking this journey with us and learning with us even more about the love of our Father. He is using this to teach us all so much about His love.
We returned this afternoon for our 2nd visit of the day and had a tiny bit of connection. More bananas and a short walk. We brought a gift that was not accepted. We persist in love and know that HE who is so able, He who knew Emma before time began, who spoke her very life into existence and who has an incredible perfect plan for her life, IS ABLE to do far more than we could even begin to imagine in her life!