One year ago, at seven years old, he was transferred to our institution. We were shocked when we saw him. He was so beautiful. His skin was soft and unblemished, his eyes were bright, his smile mischievous. We said he didn’t belong in that place of suffering, but honestly, no one does.
The nannies doted on him, laughing when he only wanted to eat milk and cookies instead of borscht. They would sneak him candy and rub his soft cheeks.
Then time moved on, and the darkness weighed down on him. Those bright eyes and that beautiful smile began to fade. Children are not made for institutions. Children are made for families- and he had none.
By spring he was less social. He allowed us to hold him, but didn’t seek out the physical affection like he had before. Soon he began to self-harm- just a bit- and not always, mostly just when he was stressed.
Summer came and he was regularly self-harming. We tried to take him to the Sensory Room but he would cry and try to escape. There are so many of them and so few of us, we had to focus our precious Sensory Room time on boys who would tolerate the therapy. And in the background he was fading away.
Fall brought brisk wind and the time had come for us to stay inside. When we would arrive for our visits we rarely saw him up walking in the hall. He was more and more often found in bed, arms restrained in an effort to keep him from harming himself. He would smile when we entered his room. We would stand over his crib talking softly to him and he would laugh. Then we would take the restraints off, hoping to give him some moments of love and he would cry, reaching for the restraints and the comfort they had come to provide. It was almost as if he knew he needed them- he knew he couldn’t help but self-harm- and he had no Mommy or Daddy to protect him from himself. I remember never wanting to leave him on those fall days, but having no choice.
December came along and he was almost always in bed. I do remember one day, December 12th, when he was up and had a light in his eyes- almost like before! We all praised him and cuddled him and hope filled our hearts. He and I played in the hall for quite a long time and I was reminded of how far he had come from the boy he used to be. But I hoped he was coming around.
Then came January and our hopes were dashed. He stays in bed all the time now. He doesn’t smile when people enter his room now to fetch him from bed, in fact he doesn’t smile at all. He is like a ghost boy. He is a shadow of his former self and we are lost on how to help him. The nurses and doctors try music and massage and attention, but he only declines. It seems that he has given up.
The thing is, I don’t blame him. He is only a boy- yet he is without a childhood. He suffers day after day and he has no one to comfort him. Overworked nannies simply can not give him what he needs. The nurses are stumped and worry night and day about him. I dream about him at night. His eyes have no light. He is a shell.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You see, out of 80 boys at our institution only 12 are available for adoption, and he is one of them. He is legally free to have a family, and now we need to find them.
Do you have room at your table for one more precious child? Do you have room in your heart for one more invaluable soul? No, I cannot tell you how he will develop or if he will ever speak or if he will ever live on his own. I cannot tell you how he will respond to a Mommy and Daddy or how long it will take him to trust or how long before he will accept your love. But I can tell you that he is valuable and he was created with purpose and he is worth any inconvenience adoptive parents could encounter on his behalf.
Please stop and pray. Please ask God how you should respond. We are watching our boy waste away before our very eyes and I almost want to beg for someone to come take him away. But all I can ask of you is to be open to saying yes.
Open your heart and trust that if God is asking you to respond He will give you everything you need to do what He is asking you to do.
Time is of the essence.
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