I stepped into the room to find both caregivers sitting quietly in the corner, engulfed in the newspaper, holding it up so that they had no idea we were there. All of the children were in their cribs, silent. It was 10AM. My heart broke for the children.
When we said hello to the caregivers, Conner and Cooper perked up and both of them started making all kinds of excited noises. Prior to this visit, Conner hasn’t ever made any vocal noises in his orphanage room, only in the playroom. Even Conner was chirping and begging us to come rescue him.
Both Conner and Cooper were in the play crib, along with Sasha, but they weren’t playing, they were lying down, completely silent, in the dark, being ignored and surely told to make not one noise. Silent.
The caregivers must have thought we *might* come for the boys because I don’t think they would have put them in the play crib if not. The play crib is a square “crib” that has a hard wood “floor” to it. It’s basically to contain the kids in a small area, and keep them off the real floor. It’s not a comfortable place to lay. In fact, Sasha tried to sit up when we reached for our boys, and he had a large red wound to his head where he’d been lying on the flat, hard surface for so long. The red mark resembled a fresh burn or severe slap, about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide, on the side of his head, directly where he’d been lying on it. My stomach hurt seeing him. Oh how I wanted to take him with us. I reached to softly caress his face, and his eyes rapidly shuttered, fearful that my hand might be a slap instead of a caress. Shattered heart of mine, walk away, there’s nothing I can do.
The caregivers did not change our boys’ clothes, nor did they put them into “play” clothes (another sleeper on top of their other layers). They simply stuck jackets on the boys as we held them. (They don’t need jackets, we play indoors, but that’s the way things are done here.)
As I turned to exit the room, I got a whiff of vomit. I almost vomited. After being extremely sick (with E Coli) for 2 full days, it was only by the power of God that I did not barf all over that floor. The stench was horrendous. I quickly exited, clutching Conner closely to my side, desperate to escape.
We walked rapidly to the playroom, with both boys making all kinds of noises, shouts of joy, cries of freedom. Oh how it broke my heart that they missed this opportunity to escape for two full days.
I set Conner down in the playroom so I could take my boots off (a requirement to enter). When I went to pick him up, the same stench of vomit entered my nostrils. I gagged, but again, by the grace of God, didn’t vomit.
I noticed that Conner’s pajama sleeper (which he’d never been changed out of) was covered in vomit. Both boys have severe reflux, most likely due to being force fed mush so rapidly at each meal, so most likely that’s what was all over Conner’s pajamas. Reflux is worse when left lying flat, and it seems that’s all Conner’s done since we haven’t visited in two days, so there’s no telling how long he’s sat in vomit-saturated pajamas. The smell is atrocious.
Matt decides to remove the vomit pajamas, leaving Conner in his underlayers. Today, under his pajama sleeper, he only has on one pair of pajama pants and one shirt. The underlayers are also wet, but they don’t reek the way the pajama sleeper does.
Both boys’ breath is also atrocious. Really, their whole bodies reek, from head to toe. After being sick ourselves, the stench is nauseating. I pray for God to help us both get through this visit.
Then I’m reminded that I, too, am an atrocious, stinky, vomit-covered sinner who also must make my Father want to hold His nose and run the other way. Yet, He doesn’t. He stays close, no matter how rotten I smell, no matter how disgusting my breath is.
Jesus, give me the strength to do the same for these boys on my first day out. I am weak, but He is strong. Father, I need Your strength.
Then, sweet redemption. We praise our Father for blessing us with an hour of good play, great strides, and the scent of His sweet redemption.
Click HERE to view the videos from our morning session.
We went from gagging to laughter and love. Praise God for sweet redemption. Our boys don’t mean to smell badly. They don’t mean to have horrible breath. They don’t mean to be covered in vomit. Nor do they deserve to live a life like this. They are meant to blossom, to have warm baths with running water, to have oral hygiene, to have clean clothes, to have fresh diapers. They are meant to be chosen. They are meant to be loved. Thank you, Jesus, for showing us the need, and for choosing us, lowly sinners, to meet the need. We are blessed to have the privilege to love these boys, to choose them, to adopt them as our own, just as He has done for us, regardless of our stench. Oh how we praise Him!
Cooper crawled across the floor and positioned himself between Conner and me.
After our glorious morning visit with the boys, radiant with His redemption (watch the videos…the boys had regressed since we didn’t come for two days, but by the end of the morning visit, things were back to “normal”), we had to return the boys to their room for lunch. Sasha was still lying in the hard play crib, in the same position, and, yes, he still had the mark on his head. We had to say goodbye to our boys and Sasha, then head out to meet our driver.
We were exhausted. This was our first trip out after being ill, and our strength and energy was sapped. Completely gone. We stopped by McDonald’s for some “safe” food (believing it won’t make us sick), then headed back to the apartment where we took a 2 hour nap!
It was time for our afternoon visit before we knew it, so we headed back out to visit the boys. We were pleasantly surprised to find that both boys had been changed into different clothes, and it appeared that Cooper had been given a sponge bath. Praise God, the smell of sweet redemption. Oh, there’s nothing like it. Thank you, Jesus!
After a morning filled with vomit vapors that Jesus graciously masked for us, He blessed us with an evening visit of clean boys who no longer smelled atrocious, even their breath smelled better. Sweet redemption.
Both boys were outgoing and active during the evening visit. We took both boys into the ball pit to play, and Cooper was much more active and outgoing than he’s ever been. He was not drugged, his eyes were not closing, he was not groggy. Redemption! Sweet redemption!
Cooper crawled across the ball pit many times to switch laps between Matt and I. Whoever wasn’t holding/playing with Cooper would have Conner. Then Cooper would decide to make his way across the pit to toss Conner aside and crawl into the other person’s lap for some lovin’. It became apparent (after many times of doing this) that Conner was being bullied by Cooper. One time, Cooper took Conner by his head and face and yanked him out of my lap, with no warning. We realized then that we need to be vigilant about protecting Conner and teaching Cooper soft touches. We’ll have a lot of character training to focus on for a while. But, it was good to see Cooper becoming alive, active, alert. Sweet redemption.
We took video of both Conner and Cooper at the night visit, but somehow Conner’s video must have gotten deleted from my iPhone. Anyone ever had that happen? It’s not showing up under my photos where it would normally be. It was a sweet video, showing Conner
I know this photo is blurry, but I had to use it because it’s the only still-shot I got of Conner (because Cooper kept attacking the iPhone!). And, because the video of Conner got deleted, I wanted to include this photo of him.
The evening visit was up in a flash, and when we returned the boys to their room, an additional caregiver was present. She was very kind. Sasha was sitting at the table, so happy. Every single child was in the play crib. Every.Single.One. Not one child in a crib. The lights were on, the atmosphere was happy. Sasha was laughing and giggling and chattering up a storm. Sweet redemption.
Thank you, Jesus.