Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. I really haven’t begun to process everything, but I need to get my thoughts down before they leave me.
Selah has lived in an orphanage her entire life. For 5 1/2 years she has lived in an institution. This institution that we saw yesterday is probably a lot like what you would imagine an institution to look like. Or maybe you’ve seen one on TV or the movies. White walls made of cement blocks and bars everywhere … white, steel gray no color, so lacking of anything pretty or bright or colorful. Honestly, I tried to prepare myself for what I might see when we got there but nothing could have prepared me for the reality of where my daughter had lived her entire life.
Let me just start by saying that I have been told that this was one of the nicer orphanages in China. I don’t know, because I’ve never been to an orphanage before. All I know is I’m not sure it matters how nice they look from the outside or even how clean they look when you walk in, it’s an orphanage, it’s an institution. It’s definitely not a place where a child should have to grow up!
At first when we walked in things looked relatively nice. They took us to the play room, and the cafeteria. This was on the first floor and it made you think, wow it’s not that bad. I mean there are white walls and bars everywhere but they actually have a place to play and eat.
But then, we went down one floor and walked into the children’s area. The place where they sleep and literally just walk around aimlessly. I cannot describe it… actually right now writing this, my stomach is sick and I’m in tears. Upstairs where the directors office is and where the nannies and teachers work there is air condition. Downstairs there is no air. It was so hot we were all drenched in sweat! Selah came to us covered in hundreds of mosquito bites and we were told it is because they don’t run the air while they are sleeping so they just get bit over and over and over…
These kids sleep in a bed with metal bars. The mattresses are more like a sheet of wood and they have one little blanket for each crib. The cribs are lined up basically side by side. But, I would say the most heartbreaking thing for me was seeing that they actually tie the kids down in their beds. Yes, they strap them in by their arms or their legs to the bed. They can barely move and they cannot get out. I don’t know if they do this just for naptime and at night, but I don’t think that that is the case. We were there walking around and they actually had kids tied down to their beds. It was not naptime. I really can’t talk much more about that….
When we walked into the children’s area a lot of the kids came to us. They wanted to be held, they wanted the food that we brought as snacks and went running towards the snack bag. The nannies were all talking in Chinese, it was so loud and so chaotic and as the kids would come up to us the nannies would grab them by their arms and sit them down on the floor and tell them no. These kids just want to be loved. They’ve done nothing to be there and they need families! I will do everything in my power to advocate for these children and all the others all over the world in orphanages! I will forever be changed by this experience. I can see why God calls people to go back over and over again. I will not ever judge the family that has adopted eight children or 10 children or 12 children ever again! My Hannah and I could not keep walking forward as they were trying to show us around. We just broke down and we had to leave. Hannah said she wants to take them all home and oh my goodness how I wanted to also! I want to just scoop them all up and bring them on the plane home with us.
And they definitely did not take us to all parts of the orphanage. For example we never really saw the babies or the severely disabled children.
The experience was worth it. We did get to take pictures and learn a lot about Selah’s daily life and see her teacher and nannies. But I will tell you that when we walked into that children’s area she started crying and wanted to leave. I am so thankful that even though she doesn’t understand English she understands love. And all I did was hold her tight and whisper in her ear that we were taking her home and she never had to come back to this place again!
This was her classroom(upstairs floor)
This is the entrance into the children’s area
This is part of the play room on the first floor
This is just a few of the cribs in one of the rooms where the kids sleep
This bed here with the blue blanket was Selah’s bed
This is one of the children that was tied to the bed
This is the upstairs floor where the playroom and cafeteria etc. is
This is her coming to me asking me to please don’t leave her there… she got very nervous and I could just tell she was ready to go! This was after she broke down in tears when we entered the downstairs children’s area.
This song kept coming to my mind and I sang it to her on the way back from the orphanage.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace