I intended to post about the joy of getting our court decree today, making it official that Valentina Grace Louise and Sergey Alan Gordon are our children forever. I have indescribable joy that 18 months of labor, prayer, and passion for 2 children we had never met, has come to this. Soon we will all go home to America, and leave this all behind.
Or will we?
I have unforgettable images etched in my mind, movie reels that play back when I don't expect them. A glimpse, a smell, a sound, brings it back.
How about our kids? How do they leave behind a significant portion of their lives? How do they forget the images, experiences, the emotions of life in the orphanage?
I will be leaving Ukraine different than when I came.
Because I have felt pain and humility at the orphanages that I have visited while in Ukraine. The gracious and loving children that do not deserve to be where they are. Even so, almost always able to share a smile. At least for now.
I think about the girl that was pushed off the steps by a boy, fell down on to her back onto the rough jagged concrete beneath, and ran limping around the building where no one could see her cry. Having no one to run to for comfort.
I think about the girl who looked at me and Mark longingly, speaking a thousand words with her sweet face, not once, but over and over.
I think about another American family here that made arrangements to remove their new son from the orphanage out of fear for his safety, because of jealous bullies.
I think about the 14 kids who unselfishly shared their Christmas candy with me, as they would lay it out on the floor, their treasure, every piece counted and recounted.
I think about the ones that would greet me with a smile and outstretched hand as I arrived, honestly glad to see me. The 14 kids that would come to me and say Thank you, in English, for the banana.
I think about the boy who suffered indescribably as he was set on fire by the other street kids as he slept. And yet, smiles when he sees me. And not just me.
I think about these jewels, hidden away from their society. Like discarded diamonds. Behind concrete walls and iron gates. People walking and driving by every day oblivious.
Hope keeps these children going. Hope that someday, someone will come for them. But it rarely happens at this age. Maybe today will be the day they're surprised by the visitor that wants them. Someone has come to take me out of here, to a better life! No, well then maybe tomorrow.
I question God, why don't you do something about this, and the King of Glory reminds me, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
I understand better, now, St. Francis,
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;And Amen. I will be leaving Ukraine different than when I came. In many ways.
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
All of the images were taken at Orphanage #4 in Odessa, January 28, 2009.