I knew in the beginning that I would have a hard time seeing the other children here at the orphanage and knowing that I would one day have to leave and that I could only take one of them with me.
Mia's orphanage is very private and we are not allowed anywhere in the building except the few designated areas; one waiting room near the entry where we wait for them to bring her to us, one waiting area upstairs where we play when it is rainy outside, and one playground outside. We don't see much of the day to day routine of the children. We just catch glimpses of them going to and from different areas, if we are lucky.
Since day 1 here I have been SO curious to see the other children, especially because another RR family will be coming in the next few months for little Spencer and I would so love to see him for them. I have wanted to see what the other children are doing and what condition they are in.
As time has gone on, we have caught a few more glimpses of these sweet children and it is already wearing on my heart.
Yes, they appear to have their needs met and yes, this orphanage appears to care for these children from the little bit we have seen, but these kids know they are missing something, something big.
Up until yesterday we had mostly just seen a few groups of kids going on their walks outside. One little boy always tries to come and talk to us as he passes and in his cute little voice he speaks Russian to us and then when instructed by the caregiver to stay with her and keep walking, he smiles at us and waves and says "paka paka" (bye bye). The children are trained to hold hands with eachother as they are walking outside. There is usually a group of maybe 8-10 kids and maybe 2 caregivers with the children and so they each hold one anothers hands as they walk. Unfortunately we were instructed that we were not allowed to take pictures of the other children here or I would be snapping away at these precious little ones.
We often see cars coming to and from the orphanage and a caregiver will get out with one of the children and it appears that they are going back and forth to doctors or some kind of appointments.
The babies are pushed around the grounds in these little strollers that snap together side by side so there can be up to 3 babies being pushed by one person at a time.
We were told there are about 110 kids here in this orphanage from birth to age 3 or 4 and we have maybe only seen about 30 kids total on and off, and usually from afar.....until yesterday.
Yesterday was a cold and rainy day so we were told to stay in the inside visiting area and we have never been inside during the morning hours, which are much busier than the afternoon hours there. As we sat in the visiting room with Mia there was constant action going on around us. Different groups of kids walking through, nurses and staff back and forth, and for one Mia was enthralled with all the commotion. She couldn't keep her attention on ANYTHING because she was so curious about what was going on around her. If someone coughed she wanted to know where it came from and what it was. Interestingly enough a few of the staff who walked through did not get a welcoming reaction from Mia....she waved at them to leave and squealed "Nyet (no)". Otherwise she seemed to like when the children came in and most of the staff.
As we got to see more of the children up close I realized that this may very well be the reason the orphanage keeps us seperate from the other kids because it is just too hard....both on them and on us. Some children are happy and want to run over to us to talk (but they are usually not allowed) and others just look so sad and so lost that it breaks your heart. One little girl saw us and tried to pry free from the caregivers hand to come to us and when she was not allowed to, she started crying "mama, papa" as she was taken out past us. How could they explain to these kids that Mia now has a Mama and Papa but they don't?
I can only imagine that allowing these children to be around someone elses' "mama and papa" would only cause more problems and more heartache, but oh how I am just dying to reach out and wrap my arms around each of them as they walk past us. To kiss them and smile with them and give them a hug. It just breaks my heart!
I feel so helpless watching these little ones walk by and knowing that they may never find what Mia has found. They may never know the love of a family or life outside this big white building. This country has just now changed laws again and is now not allowing international adoption of "healthy" children ages 0-5. These children are now off limits to international adoption and will only have a chance if someone from their country finds them or if they are found when they are older.
So as part of me wants so badly to be allowed to play with them and interact with them, the other part of me knows how hard it would be to leave once I did that. With just the little interaction we have had, and the views from afar of these precious little ones, I am already heartbroken that I can not do more for them. That I can not find them all a good home and tell them all it will be ok and they are loved.
As we finished our afternoon visit I watched Mia being carried down the long white corridor back to her "wing" of the orphanage (this was the first time we had seen this hallway-usually we are not even allowed to that point) and so many thoughts were flooding my mind...what does it look like down that hallway?what does her room look like? what other children are there? where do they sleep? where do they eat? where do they play?
I want to know what her life has been like for the last 4 years and what she calls "home". Maybe before we leave we will be allowed to find answers to these questions and maybe we won't.
Of course the emotions on this journey run high and tears are often (ok almost always) at the surface, and I felt the weight of these other little ones on my heart yesterday, and I watched as while being carried down the long hallway, Mia was looking over the caretaker's shoulder at us and with those big beautiful eyes she seemed to say, "it's ok mom and dad, because you are making a difference to me"
"It matters to this one, I can't save them all I know. It matters to this one, she deserves a chance to grow. It matters to this one and it matters to me..."