Adam and I have been married for almost 10 years and the only time I have seen him cry was at our wedding and it was more of a "tearing up" than an actual cry. I also heard that he cried after losing his last football game in high school, but needless to say, he is not a man who expresses himself through tears. He is extremely loving and compassionate, but he just doesn't cry. Me, on the other hand, I don't cry very often in public, but I do shed tears over a variety of emotions including anger, happiness, fear, and fatigue.
The second time I have ever seen my husband tear up and the first time I have ever seen him really cry came so unexpectedly. Our pastor asked us to share a portion of our adoption story with our church family one weekend and we spoke about our experience meeting the other children at Home of Hope orphanage...the ones we were not able to take with us. My husband was talking about the way they swarmed around us, begging to be held and cuddled, and then he lost it. He truly couldn't speak because his heart breaks for the ones we left behind, these children who were created in the image of God with real names, faces, and stories...
We have been home since the end of December and Levi and Judah are doing beautifully...I am ashamed to say that so often it is easy to forget what we saw, felt and experienced. God is so good in that I was reminded of all of this today as I read a posting from a woman who just returned from Rwanda and once again I felt a call to do more, to never grow comfortable or complacent...I've posted a portion of her reflection below and you can read more at…
It was two Saturdays ago, and we walked down the cement ramp into the mass of tiny precious babies covered in rashes and rags. The Sisters beckoned our group on a tour of the orphanage – where each room was a wall-to-wall sea of tiny blue cots, and then even tinier blue cots where the children slept, thirty or more to a room. But another girl and myself never made it past the shoreline of the children. We plunged into the wave of them, holding our breath and suspending our hearts for the next two hours, until we emerged, soaking wet with this new reality.
There are 127 children at Mother Teresa’s, from one day to 6 years old. They are here because their parents were killed, because their parents died of AIDS, because their parents or caretakers cannot afford to feed them. They are here because everyday they are left outside the gate where we entered, as unknown, unannounced, unscreened as we were. They are here because the orphanage takes every one of them.
I sat at the shoreline of this sea of children. And they literally clawed and screamed and elbowed their way onto my lap. There was rarely a moment when there were not three on my lap – one closest to my chest, one further down my knees in the middle, and one dangled at the edge of my knees. The ones who were not closest to my chest wailed and scraped and fought to get to the prized spot – where they would be held, close to someone’s heart. It was as if they instinctively knew the way a baby deserves to be held – even if they had never been held that way – and they craved this cradling above anything. They wanted to be a baby that one person holds and protects. They wanted to be touched.
They wandered around in plastic bags for diapers, some with no pants or no underwear, some in adult T-shirts to their knees. They had no toys. There were a few balls or pieces of bike in the cement yard where they ran – one 2 year-old boy was pulling around the broken handle bars that must have once been part of a bike. When it was taken from him by another child, he wept and screamed and threw himself on the ground.
One child did not ever have a ball or a bike piece for more than a few moments – they were always taken by another. And the one left without would invariably weep and scream and throw herself on the ground. As I watched, it occurred to me that these children had never had anything that was theirs. Not a ball, not a bike part – not a mother or a father – that was not violently stripped from them in a moment. They had nothing that was theirs to hold. And so, as I watched them weep, angry, uncontrollably, it made perfect sense to me. There was nothing that they could hold onto, nothing they could cherish and call their own, nothing to comfort them, which had not or would not be ripped away in an instant. Their wailing made perfect sense to me and made me want to throw myself to the ground as well.
When I started noticing that this was happening – all over the cement ground it was happening – and not knowing what to do, I started walking over to each weeping child and put my hand on his back, or ran my fingers across her head. And the child would stop. The child would catch her breath and breathe. The simple act of a human touch to their precious, scabby skin soothed them instantly. Because they want to be touched. They want to be a baby. A baby who someone holds and protects.