Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Living With Myself

Coming back to America, I wonder if it was the right thing.


Is it right to leave my daughter for a second time? Is it right to allow her to be alone, even though it almost isn't a choice? I literally cannot afford it and can't take that much time off from my job, which I need in order to provide for her when she comes home, but I feel so torn. To see her big eyes fill with tears that spilled out like an unending river......to feel her on my shoulder, warm, silent tears soaking my shirt......to know that I am once again leaving her in a far away land where I can't communicate with her or protect here..........these are the things that tear at my mommy heart. These are the memories that haunt me.


But there are other things too.


What about the others? All the children without anyone?


What about the little five year old girl living on the road outside the guesthouse? What about her??? A FIVE-YEAR OLD, alone and living off the leftover scraps of the rich people who use the hotel. A five-year old, who doesn't beg, but is willing to humbly accept food that you would throw away. A five-year old in rags and with no hope of a future....sleeping wherever she can and living with the dangers that accompany street life. Wild animals. The weather. Disease. HUMANS. 


We wanted to give her money, but we were afraid someone would rob her. And what would she do with more than a few dollars? She's FIVE. She needs someone to take care of her. 


I think the worst part was watching everyone walk right by her. No one DID anything. The thing is, it's not abnormal there. In fact, in Ethiopia, it's a norm. No one gives a street child a second glance. There are thousands of them. Generally speaking, there is nothing "special" about this little girl. She is one in a sea of faces. 


What truly bothered me was that no non-natives helped her. Not even the people who were shocked by her situation. This isn't about blaming anyone; I just struggle with the fact that there were many people at the guesthouse and several were giving her food, yet (as far as I know, and I hope I am wrong), no one attended to her long-term needs. Feeding her is great; yes, she desperately hungry. But I don't understand being able to feed her once, look into her dark brown eyes, and then leave and never look back. So it is okay to leave a defenseless five-year old on the street with nothing? It's okay to go help one child, but turn your back on another? (That's a question I am asking myself.) If we saw a five-year old running around alone in America (and ESPECIALLY if we knew they were an orphan), we would call someone and DO SOMETHING about it. We wouldn't rest till she was safe. But in Ethiopia, it's okay to just leave her? To walk off and forget her? To not feel GUILTY??? It's not okay. And this is not a post to try and say that I am right and others were wrong. It's not a post to say, "Look at me and what I am doing!" But for people who might wonder what we are doing about the situation, Abe and I are trying to get her into an orphanage. Or child care. SOMETHING. Because I can't live with myself. I cried and cried at the guesthouse. I am crying now. How can I SIT here??? Why am I not back in Ethiopia with a house where I can take in kids like this; kids that no one wants, but that maybe can't be adopted due to paperwork and red tape. Kids who will be stuck in the system, but who need you and I just as much as the kids who make it out. I could get a home and open it up to kids in Ethiopia so easily. No one cares. I don't need a license to care for these kids. What am I DOING???? And then the age old questions start. What about school loans? Mortgage? My kids that are home? Trying to help this little girl is a start but it is not enough. Nothing is. Because there are always more kids. Needing a home. Needing love. How can I help the most???


What about Micah? Alone and lost, locked in silence. Trapped in a world where feelings are buried so deep, that if they were to be dug out, only dust might remain? I should be there for him. Who knows when that boy is coming home? He can't wait another year or two. That's TOO LONG. He needs me now. Desperately. And I need him. I should be there, visiting him. Playing with him. Giving him language. Teaching him about love. Trust. Permanency. FAMILY. He is my child, and my heart cries out to him. But he's across the ocean. And I am sitting here, crying, wondering where I am supposed to be. I have other children to think about. Other children who I brought here to give them opportunities. To give them life. But I am split in half, and it is making me sick. My soul is crying out for him. I can't stop thinking about him. Praying for him. Hurting for him. I keep harrassing the people on his case, but nothing has happened yet. 


I feel like I am dying inside. This child needs me even more than the others. Levi and Zahria are survivors. They are the strongest people I have ever known. This world gave them the hardest life it could, and they OVERCAME. And they thrived when all odds said they wouldn't. They took what life dealt them, and they won. I am SO proud to call them my kids, and to see them not be eaten with bitterness or filled with hate. Instead, they are the most loving, kind, and generous kids I have ever known, and every day I aspire to be like them. Natalie is a fighter. She will not be pushed around. She will not be walked over. She knows what shes wants and she goes after it. But she is LOVING. She is a defender, a protector. She cares for defenseless and hurting people. And she is strong and tough and she does NOT GIVE UP. Like Levi, she had NO language, and didn't even start signing (even home signs--"made up" signs) until last year, and yet her communication level is outstanding. People (professionals!!!) said that Levi and Natalie would fail; that they were past the critical learning point. That they would therefore never acquire language or be able to learn, and yet I have two of the smartest kids on the planet, who are literally absorbing everything I can possibly teach them. And they sign so beautifully that I can only hope to use ASL in the way they do.

And then there is Micah. My precious Micah. I barely know him, but I think he is like Abe. Quiet, so smart. A lover, not a fighter. At least, not an outward fighter. But Micah IS a fighter. If he weren't, I wouldn't have seen life in his eyes last week. He is gentle. He will lead by example someday. A light through his actions. But he IS a fighter. He is STRONG. He is not defeated.
I cried for Levi's safety. For the anguish of his life. I cried for Zahria's heart and soul. For her history. I cried for Natalie's plea for help, her desire to be set free. I cry for Micah's life, past and present. And I cry for that little girl, and all the others like her.


These kids are not defeated.

And neither am I.

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