lostsparrows.org
December 2019 Newsletter - Lost Sparrows
Friends and family, The last three months have been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The lows began with pictures from Bosnia of children restrained, beaten and tied to radiators and beds in an orphanage. It was the beginning of public outcry and an investigation into the treatment of orphans in Eastern Europe. Personally, it was a reminder of things I’ve witnessed that are mostly too hard to carry each day. I want to take this newsletter to share one of the things I saw that is so hard to forget. Bulgaria – 2019 The teen boy is thrashing and rocking with his hands and feet tied to a chair. He has a padded football helmet strapped on in a desperate attempt by overburdened caregivers to keep him from seriously harming himself. He is yelling with a ragged voice, over and over, “Father? Father?” I kneel by him and he instantly reaches out and grabs my hand. I speak in a soft voice and he begins to calm. His breathing evens and the rocking loses its violent motions and slows. He smells. He reeks of institution; urine, neglect and unwashed fear. I know this smell and my insides clutch at the remembering. I remember that it took weeks of bathing before our adopted son no longer smelled of institution. It seemed to cling to his very being, a silent whisper of darkness and pain. The boys hands were covered in self-inflicted wounds from biting and scratching in an attempt to feel and release boredom and pain. I asked to remove the helmet and as I did, I saw that his sweat soaked hair covered scars and wounds, old and new. His violent head-banging had done real damage. I also saw the peach fuzz that an adolescent wears before entering adulthood, and startlingly beautiful eyes that lighted temporarily on my face. I looked away for a moment of reprieve, but there was none to be found. I was surrounded by children in a brightly lit, clean room who all swayed and rocked and bit and moaned and scratched in pain and boredom. It was unreal and overwhelming and it took everything in me not to stand up from that chair and leave that space. In these children I see my son, Israel. I see the trajectory for a special needs boy placed at birth in an orphanage. I see my son’s future in an orphanage and it makes my soul weep. I cried out silently in that moment, “Father, Father…where are you? Don’t you hear him?” My cries matched the pitch and intensity of the young boy I sat beside. Institutionalization often breaks the mind. Children were not made to grow up in institutions without love and family. They cannot grow and thrive when only basic needs are met; even in the best equipped and cleanest buildings. An orphanage can never meet the greatest human need. I sat for several more moments, and then I heard a megaphone voice in my ear, “Stacey, do YOU hear?” This moment was when I heard a voice that called me to lift my head …