I’ve been mulling over this post for many, many months. I don’t love writing about my mistakes. Nor do I love putting in print the fact that I sometimes act upon assumptions that are not based on fact. Especially when the consequences of my assumption could have been so severe. But the time has come to write about her. And please know that I do hope that I’ve learned my lesson.
I first met this child in May of last year. And, oh my. When describing Nueva Esperanza I often say “It is everything you imagine a government home in a povery-stricken country would be”. But the state that she was in was beyond my worst expectations. I was told that she had bronchitis or pneumonia or possibly both. That she didn’t eat. Maybe it’s a heart condition. That she’s just not hungry. She barely weighed more than the blanket she was wrapped in. This was the most malnourished child I’ve ever seen. But along
with whatever ailment she suffered from, she had a definite issue with reflux and very little of the food given remained in her for long. She stared at you with these panic-stricken eyes the size of saucers. You had no idea if your holding her was helping or hurting, her constant discomfort evident in her furrowed brow. You tried to feed her slowly and she would start to gasp and cough. I will never forget when the tia said “I have to go get something real quick, you’ll be ok with kids, right Jenny?” (Oh, sure, I’m fine being by myself with over 25 babies and special needs kids.) I was feeding her and she started to cough and choke. I had no idea what I was going say to explain to everyone how this child died in my arms.
She went to the hospital for pneumonia (or bronchitis or heart trouble or…?) in June. A little thought flitted through my mind that it may be a blessing if her time here on earth was coming to an end…
But she returned at the beginning of our week in Nueva. And she looked just as sickly as she had when I had seen her in May. In a few days time, Anita figured out how to feed her in such a way that some of the food she desperately needed stayed in her little body. It took the better part of our time there each day for her to drink one bottle. This was equally en- and dis- couraging. It was so good to know that her body was getting what it needed. But what would happen when we left? The sad truth was that the necessary time would not be spent by the tias to ensure that she would continue to be fed. (Whether they don’t have the time or choose not to take the time is a argument we can fight some other day.) The end of the week came and we left with heavy hearts.
She crossed my mind often in the coming months. And I frequently had conversations with my comrade, Lauren (check her out at NextStep Honduras). What should we do? What could we do? We could raise money for special formula. But would it be properly used in the government orphanage? Would the employees take the time to feed her well? Do we raise money to take her to a hospital where she could have extensive tests performed that would definitively show us what’s going on with this poor child? But then what? She goes back to Nueva Esperanza? We just kept coming back to the question “What is in store for this little girl when she’s 8 or 11 or 15?” Would we be ‘saving’ her only to leave her to suffer in Nueva? What kind of life is that? And that’s when those thoughts started flitting around once again – Maybe it would be better if she could just go be with Jesus. She has suffered so much. Who knows what permanent damage she has experienced? But do I have the right to make this type of decision??
Thankfully, there are other people fighting for these children. People who still fight when I’m ready to throw in the towel. The Garcia’s from Reach Out Orphanage Ministries (ROOM) searched high and low for a foster family who would take her in. Then they searched higher and lower and found a Honduran family who wanted to adopt her. ADOPT HER!!! She will not grow up in Nueva Esperanza. She won’t even grow up in a well run children’s home. She has a forever FAMILY of her very own. And then they started posting pictures of her recovery. She’s like a different child. I believe she began sitting up on her own within a month. A MONTH!!! Those big ol saucer eyes are still quite big and still quite saucer-like, but they’re filled with glee instead of the vacant, pleading eyes that so thoroughly broke your heart.
It makes me shiver to think about what may have happened to this beautiful creature if I was the only one in charge of her future. Oh, how thankful I am for the path that her life is now on. I hope that I’ve learned my lesson to never give up hope. To never stop trying. And I sure hope that, in the future, we’ll always be talked about as the ones that kept fighting even when all looks bleak.