We returned this morning to see the girls again. The weekends seem to get longer as we sure miss the girls over those two days. Lindsay greeted us with excitement today! She ran right up and was practically climbing to be held before Lee could even get his coat off. She was all smiles! Then we could hear Shawna's giggles in the other room as the nanny was telling her Papa & Mama were here! We hugged and kissed and greeted each other with enthusiasm!
Not long as we were settling in for our visits, there was another visitor that came to the orphanage today. We had not seen him before, so we were curious to see which child the nanny would bring out. There are many sweet faces that we have cherished over these last few weeks. My heart leaped as they brought out the precious little blonde fellow (who also has Down syndrome) who has the sweetest smile that could melt a heart of stone! His Papa held him so gently and sweetly in his lap. You could tell that he does love his son.
We tried to make some space for them in the little foyer area, but there's not much to be had. We told the father, in our best attempt in Russian, that his son is handsome. And he sure is! The father smiled. We broke out the bubbles and we were able to include them in our play. As Lee would blow some bubbles toward him and his son, the boy would laugh in sheer delight! And his dad would help him reach out and pop the bubbles. We would also smile, clap and cheer as his dad would hold his hands and his son was taking several steps across the floor. It was such a sweet time to spend with them.
As lunch time approached, our visiting time came to an end. The nanny took the little blonde fellow back to his room and helped him wave paka-paka to his Papa. And another nanny came to get Shawna. We gave hugs and kisses and said our paka-pakas, too. As the boy's dad was leaving, we could see that his eyes were teary. Oh, my heart sank and broke right there! Right into a million pieces!
My heart hurt for this father, and for all the other parents who are not able to raise their children (with disabilities) at home with them. When a child is born with Down syndrome in this country (and many others), they are told that there is no opportunity for a child like this, and that placing them in the orphanage is the best for the family and for the child. But to see a father's eyes tear, when he comes to visit and then leaves his child behind, again - it hurts... I just cannot imagine the pain and grief they must have felt, when they were told it's best not to take your child home.
But I admire this father, as he presses through this pain to come visit his wonderfully handsome son! I'm telling you, the radiant smile that this little one has will make each visit so worth it! I intend to pray for this father and for this boy and his family. I pray that he will always know that his parents love him, even if they have to live apart. I pray that his father will hold onto this love and continue to be strong and keep this connection with his son.
I pray that one day things will change and awareness and opportunities will open up for all children with disabilities in this country, and in many other countries around the world. I pray that their births will be celebrated, and that they would not be raised and sheltered away from their families.
I pray, too, for Shawna's and Lindsay's families. I pray for the fear and pain they must have felt hearing the news that their daughters had Down syndrome.... for the losses they felt as they left their children in the orphanage. I don't know the reasons why their families stopped visiting or didn't visit, but I believe those choices didn't come without grief, or without their mothers and fathers leaving pieces of their hearts behind. I pray that God will bring them comfort and peace they may need.
This evening we were able to stop by and say our farewells to our Italian friends. They will pick up their daughter from the orphanage tomorrow and return to Italy next week. We are so happy for them and for their new daughter! Ciao! Arrivederci!