The frozen river in Kremenchuk, photo taken while driving across the bridge to church.
Our day started off gloriously as we spent the morning worshipping our Savior with other Ukrainian (and American) believers at a local church our American missionary friends invited us to. The pastor asked us to speak about our family and share why we are in Kremenchuk. We pray God was glorified as He allowed us to share a little of what He’s done in our lives.
After church, we went bowling and had pizza with the American missionary family. They have three boys, so it was a treat for us to get to hang out with them for the afternoon.
We were really missing our Ukrainian sons since we didn’t make the morning visit (due to church), so we were eager to get to the orphanage to love on Cooper and Conner. Upon our entry to the room, we noticed two new caregivers whom we’ve never seen before. Of course they were sitting, reading the newspapers and eating their own meals, not with the children. They seemed surprised that we were there, not knowing why we were there nor understanding whom we were there to visit.
Cooper wasn’t even in the main room, neither was Sasha (those two are pretty much guaranteed to be in the main room, with Sasha sitting at the table reporting all happenings to the caregivers). The caregivers told us to sit on the couch in the room and wait. She headed into a back room with the other caregiver. I noticed one of the boys was in a walker, but they had tied it to the play pen using a pair of pajamas. I guess they didn’t want that boy to go anywhere in the room that is fully enclosed?!?!
While we waited one of the boys was in his crib bawling. I couldn’t sit on the couch and watch him in his distress, so I stood beside his crib and rocked it. He calmed down and stopped crying. One of the caregivers came out of the back room and scolded me for not sitting on the couch, and for not taking my boots off when entering the room. (They had rolled up the rugs in the room, and every time that has happened, the caregivers always tell us not to take our shoes off.)
Then they brought Conner out. He had a HUGE black eye. I almost started bawling. I held him closely, my lip quivering, my blood boiling. I asked the caregiver what happened to his eye. She very rudely motioned that he fell and hit it, with a disgust in her tone/actions. I wanted to sock her. Instead, I glared, not able to fully contain my wrath.
They brought Cooper to Matt, then we headed out of the room and on to the playroom. I was so livid my body was physically shaking. This is why:
As I examined Conner’s eye, I realized the caregivers had rubbed make-up/foundation over the black eye to try to conceal it. This made me even more furious.
This is the wipe I used to remove the make-up.
And here are photos of Conner’s black eye without make-up concealing it:
The reason why I’m so livid is that there’s nothing I can do. I cannot protect my own child. My hands are tied. As Americans and Christians, we want justice. There is no justice here. It’s not an option. I posted Conner’s photo and my feelings on my Facebook and people told me to report this to the proper authorities, to find another caregiver, to not return Conner to his room. What people don’t understand is that THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO. There’s no other option for Conner or for me right now. Conner must return to his room, there are no alternate caregivers for me to go find, there are no authorities to speak to on a Sunday night, there is nothing I can do to protect my son.
I’ve spoken with our facilitator who is going to do everything she can to seek justice. She, too, has adopted a child from a Ukrainian orphanage (she is Ukrainian herself and lives in Ukraine). Her adopted son was also abused while he lived in an orphanage, and her son is not special needs.
I do not believe for one second that Conner injured his own eye. The boy is not allowed out of his crib. Remember the bed sores? If he’s let out, he is ONLY put into the play pen. There are no toys in his crib or his play pen that he could accidentally hurt himself on. The configuration of the cribs and play pen are not conducive to this type of injury. Conner cannot walk. They don’t even give him the opportunity. Kids are RARELY taken out of their cribs, and if they’re lucky enough to get out, they’re in the play pen or in a walker that’s tied so it can’t even move. Conner didn’t fall on something to cause this type of injury. We have raised/are raising 10 kids, none of whom has ever had a black eye like this. Our kids are active. We have a trampoline, the kids ride horses, scooters, bikes, they play every sport imaginable, including airsoft gun wars. No one has ever had a black eye like this. Ever.
This is just too much for me to sit back and watch happen to MY son. When you hear about orphanage abuse and mistreatment and neglect and starvation and 147 million orphans, it’s so easy to turn a blind eye because they’re not OUR kids. There’s not a face to the name. Out of sight, out of mind. But I’m here living this, seeing first-hand what these children are living day in and day out.
Fellow believers, we are commanded to care for orphans in their distress. I urge you, BEG you, to do something. If you don’t know where to start, read THIS post.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27