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A Valid Emotion

To be honest, I’ve thought of most displays of anger as a sign of weakness.

“Pull it together person, change your voice, is it really worth all that?”

Even while reading the places in old testament, I would wonder, ‘but why angry, God?  I mean, why so upset?” even in the case of injustice.  And now I know, I had never seen it.

Until the day, I was sitting on the side of a couch so sagging and broken, I had to try and not roll into Dasha sitting next to me.  The stark white walls with it’s peeling paint had stacks and stacks of yellow, faded papers roughly jammed into full folders, each one piled onto the next.  Medical files, hand written, telling of each child’s impairments, “CP, bent knee, protein deficiency, failure to thrive…”  Written and marked, a child’s fate in a few sentences.

I stared into the stern woman’s icy gaze as I smiled, something important I wanted to share with her, and so I began,”We would like to purchase a rocking chair for this floor, just for adoptive parents who are visiting to have a place to sit while they are visiting their…”

I was stopped mid offer.

“No, there is no one here who will rock the babies, we have much too many,” and looked at me, waiting for the expected questions of our specific child’s medical information.

So sudden, slightly harsh to say that no one would rock them, she must have misheard me, so re-smiling, “Oh no, of course, I hear you, it is for parents, who are visitng you see, so that they can have a place to sit while they hold their babies.”

She frowned, “No.  We have no room for one.  We do not need it.”

She was done with this conversation, which stuck me as odd, and I started to get bothered, and my cheeks began to feel warm.  She was done, and I folded my hands.

“Well, what about in the play room?”  I ‘offered.’  The obvious solution, to put it in the room where the children don’t go and it won’t be in the way.  “I think we could fit it there, it would be our pleasure.”

Dasha shot me a look as the woman folded her arms across her chest, a menacing frown on her carefully painted pink lips, tilting her face back to look at me through slitted eyes.

Sveta started talking, trying to smooth things over when suddenly their words started to fade into a murmur as my ears were filled with the silence of the hall around me, and I slightly turned my head to the empty hall.  The hall lined with doors cracked open, not a sound escaping.  The silence filled me up, a strange, almost echoing silence, drowning out all else.

And out of the corner of my eye, movement, a flicker through a white door, catching and blocking the light.
Side to side, side to side, rhythmic, side to side, rocking rocking, silent.

Tiny, infant-sized hands gripping the cold, metal rail of it’s crib as she rocked her thin body, putting her weight from foot to foot, staring at the white wall ahead of her.  Side to side as her little body worked to comfort herself.

The dull, cold winter air from the window behind the crib made her a gray flickering silhouette, a flicker of movement catching my eye.  No one else’s.  In this baby house.  A house, for babies.

As the silence filled my ears, the silent sounds of the babies, their mouths closed, eyes open, each doing thier own flicker, their bodies taking over for their lack of care, some on hands and knees, back and forth rocking, rocking, comforting themselves, back and forth, side to side.  Staring, at the walls, at their mattresses.

The murmuring woman started to take shape in my ears again, as I started to feel hot in my chest, and like my teeth were starting to press against each other.  I was no longer smiling.  I was starting to feel angry, and I wanted her to hear just one more time what we were offering, and it wasn’t for her.

I could feel anger in my face, “We could buy it at the store, and assemble it here…”  I didn’t care, the flicker was the only thing I could see.

Sveta put her hand on my leg.

The woman put her ice blue eyes on me, and I think she may have been very beautiful at one point in her life.

She waited, “What we need are cookies and candy.  The children never get these things, you see,” as she threw her hands up in the air at the injustice of it all.

That,” she looked at my eyes, “is what you can get.  Cookies and candy,” and she closed her medical book.

Thoughts and phrases flew through my head, and I felt this strange strength that I wanted to use on the desk as my palms started to sweat.  I was angry, and it was taking over my body.

“Great,”  I said and I kept my voice low and even, using all my control, “I would love to buy some cookies and candy, heck, maybe even some fruits and vegetables, I mean, you are a doctor, right?  But, we could buy all of those in addition to a rocking chair,” as heat filled my chest.  “We’ll get it all.”

The answer was no.  They denied us the opportunity to offer such a small item of comfort.

I realize that one rocking chair wouldn’t change an institutional setting, I realize that children left in their cribs all day wouldn’t suddenly have the love a family brings, good nutrition, comfort or necessarily interaction due to one piece of new furniture, but I didn’t expect, that even one tiny start, one offering of help, would be denied.

It represented more to me than a no to a free object.  It showed me a lack of effort, or desire to change, a pride in a system that isn’t working to raise children, a system set in it’s antiquated ways, despite new research, changes in the knowledge of child development.

And the next day we showed up with food for the kids.

As they rocked their bodies, and reached their skinny, small arms to us up from the sides of their cribs, eyes pleading with us to lift them up, and nothing more.

And we couldn’t do more than buy them some treats before we were ushered out.

And there they still sit, as winter turns to spring. Little flickers.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • rosedel March 5, 2013, 7:44 am

    Oh, that broke my heart.

  • Enchanted Moments March 5, 2013, 12:11 pm

    oh…the one thing that a baby needs to grow, love…..and touch…and comfort…sweet girl, you brought one baby home with you, but I bet a million bucks you wish with all your heart you could have seen them all leave with loving people that day too………..x

  • Woodpuddle March 5, 2013, 12:15 pm

    I just sat here and cried and cried.. Oh to be able to sit, cuddle and rock these babies. xx

  • Se Se March 5, 2013, 2:49 pm

    This makes me so angry but also so very very sad for those babies. I thought you were going to say the staff took the candy and cookies too! Oh how I hope your blog inspires more families to rescue these precious babies. Russia may be closed but there are so many, like Iris, waiting in Ukraine, Bulgaria, so many countries. God bless you – I love your blog!

  • Lisa L. March 5, 2013, 3:44 pm

    So sad. Especially when there are so many people wanting to sit, cuddle and rock these babies.

  • Reed Family March 5, 2013, 4:08 pm

    My heart is broken for these babies. I wait for my husband to say yes and I cry. I pour over Reeces Rainbow and cry more. Hearing their stories has changed my life. Thank you for sharing and giving them a voice. -Allison

    • Gloria Hsu March 7, 2013, 5:57 am

      Keep Praying for your husband. I did too and slowly, God has changed his heart over time. It is so painful to wait. But God sees your pain and heartache, and He is the one who has placed the desire to care for the orphan in your heart. Keep giving it back to Him and asking Him what He wants you to do with it. I feel your heart and my heart goes out to you as you wait.

  • amy March 5, 2013, 4:27 pm

    i too wrote of the quiet in my son’s orphanage.
    there is so much sadness in the quiet.
    my child remains there, in those silent halls, as does a piece of my heart.

  • The Monier Family March 5, 2013, 8:20 pm

    Father forgive her….

  • Rachel March 5, 2013, 8:46 pm

    I’m a little shattered after reading this, which is good but still hard. I am every day grateful for the wonderful women at my daughter’s two orphanages in Ethiopia. Yes, she was malnourished when I got her home, but I truly believe she was cared for for those two years prior to adoption. Her orphanage caregivers were full of smiles and hugs, at least while we were there, and she was only minimally delayed in terms of development. I know she didn’t get held too much because she didn’t know how to be held. She didn’t get how to lean in and hold herself on my hip and would just hang there like a limp noodle. But I think she must have been interacted with – she engaged so well from the very beginning and she knew how to play. Despite this, I almost daily think about all the other littles and not-so-littles there. I’m sure some were adopted, many though were not available and probably some will never get chosen. I’ve had my daughter home for almost a year and a half and I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe we’re not supposed to.

  • Jen March 6, 2013, 1:11 am

    A righteous anger- Lord please come quickly.

  • Sherry March 6, 2013, 2:49 am

    There’s a lump in my throat and my dinner is right behind it. I know. I’ve been there. At least once a day I think of the eyes of the ones we left behind. The ones who aren’t going to get adopted. Because no one is coming behind us. Their chances were slim. Now they’re none. It haunts us every single solitary day.

    We brought home a 23 month old infant. We taught him what toys WERE. We taught him to chew. We taught him to use a bottle because it was taken away far too soon. We taught him to love. And now he knows and he’s bouncing back and he has almost all good days.

    But he still rocks. And we’re fairly sure he always will.
    I know. I too, am mad as HELL.

  • Jessica March 6, 2013, 5:03 pm

    I am scared to death to actually follow through in this dream we have. I know I will never be ok sitting at home. Ha, probably never look at a rocking chair the same even.
    Even so come, Lord Jesus!

  • shayneswife March 6, 2013, 6:48 pm

    This is so beautifully written. I missed the babyhouse experience by adopting two older children. It was hard enough leaving the older ones behind that I can not imagine seeing babies in cribs that are just starting to develop those terrible stimmimg behaviors that my child will always have from being without a rocking chair.

  • Christie Minich March 8, 2013, 3:04 am

    Oh thank you so much for this beautifully written post!

  • Jen March 9, 2013, 5:43 pm

    Didn’t they just ban American’s from adopting?? Like, what’s up with the rest of the world- can’t they do something?!!

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