Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pieces of My Broken Heart

As I held Zoya rocking her and singing her to sleep tonight, I thanked God, as I do every night, that she is ours. Along with thanking God for Zoya usually comes thoughts of "I can't believe she spent almost 2 years in an orphanage," or "she has changed so much" or "what if we left her there because we were too scared to leap?" which inevitably leads to thoughts of all the other children still in orphanages without a mommy and daddy to call their own. They will enter another year alone and forgotten. I laid Zoya in her crib, put my hand over her heart, and said a prayer about the orphans left all around the world, but specifically for those children we saw personally in Zoya's orphanage.

Hearing about these orphans and seeing it first hand are two totally different worlds. I wish I could convey to those of you who haven't had the opportunity to meet these orphans with your own eyes just how life-changing the experience is. I haven't written much lately about those left behind and the honest truth is that I haven't because I feel like a whisper in a vast empty field and because it still hurts a lot to think about them, let alone put into words what we saw. So many children. So alone. So full of hope. Some so alive it hurts to think they realized what they were missing. Some dying, literally rotting away in their cribs without even a touch from another soul. Some with eyes full of hope and giggles with the smallest amount of attention, only to see that smile turn to screams and tears when they are treated in ways that would put someone in the US behind bars for a long time.

I still don't think (for many different reasons) I can talk about what I saw the day I returned to Zoya's groupa to ask for a different coat to put on her, when we weren't supposed to be there, when nobody thought we were there. I get sick thinking about it. I try to convince myself that what we saw wasn't the norm...several of the caretakers really did care about the children-truly and genuinely. I try to convince myself it was just this one caretaker and that it was an isolated incident. But for as many orphanages and orphans as there are, I don't think what I saw was so far from what many orphans face daily. I have reason to believe and a feeling in my heart that throughout Zoya's life in the orphanage, she saw the same actions I saw. I hope and pray she was never a victim of that same mistreatment (to put it kindly). I remember looking into her groupa one day after we "gave her back" after our visit and the caretaker had her under one arm like a football so that her body was perpendicular to the caregiver's. The caregiver held her like this while walking into the next room and Zoya's head smacked off the door frame like a garbage bag. Not intentional, but not treated like a valued child by any stretch of the imagination.  I can't tell you how many times I typed and retyped this paragraph and backspaced and deleted and I'm still wondering if I should even finish this post and hit publish.

Anyways, this is my voice trying to convey to anyone reading this the seriousness of these lives that will surely be lost without ever knowing love if they do not find their mommy and daddy soon. One child for Zoya's groupa that has been on my heart since the day we first set foot in the orphanage is Leeza.

Leeza (2)

Girl, Born May 21, 2008
Sweet Leeza has Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome. She was born with a heart murmur, but physically she is healthy. She is severely impacted by the two of these medical conditions, and is quite low functioning at this time. Adoptive families who have visited with her say she is darling, responsive, and will so benefit from having a loving family environment to grow up in.

Leeza is Zoya's age, but I would have never guessed that when we saw her. When I saw her laying in the crib day after day shaking her leg violently for stimulation, rocking herself, and sticking her fists so far down her throat, I wondered what her story was. I felt so sad for her.  I wondered why the entire time we were there we only saw her picked up out of that crib 2 times. I wondered why the caretakers wouldn't even take her out to feed her. I kept asking Shawn why nobody would pick her up.  I only briefly got a glimpse of her face because her back was always to the door. She had sores all over the back of her head, probably from laying in the crib so much. It seemed she was dealt a bad hand for sure. It seemed she didn't get a fraction of the little attention the other children got. It seemed she was forgotten about in that room. She was tiny. The size of a 9 month old I'd say. She would just lay in the play crib, while another child was in the same crib in a rocker chair.  The other child, unknowingly, was rocking over her little hand with the metal frame over and over.  She laid there helpless.  She wasn't listed on Reece's Rainbow until a family who visited after us was able to get her information. I was very surprised to see that this little angel still has fight left in her. She tried one day repeatedly to roll over. She'd give it all she had, which just wasn't enough, but she'd get the momentum up and try her hardest! Despite having little to no attention, I could tell this girl would just eat up attention and love from a mommy and daddy and truly blossom into a precious child. She has so much to offer. She has so much to receive.

Is Leeza your daughter?
She needs you, Momma. She can't beg for you to rescue her, so I will beg for her.  Love her. Give her the life she was born to have. Step out on faith. Listen to your heart.  Put aside your worries. This is your child laying in that crib day after day so alone and scared.  Would you not do anything to rescue your child?  Move mountains for her. Save her. Please?

Please visit THIS BLOG to donate to Leeza's account. If you donate you will be entered to win a week's stay in a condo in Panama City Beach, FL!! Please join with me to shout this child's need for a family through sharing her story on your blog or through email or however you are able. If she is not rescued and she survives the baby house, I highly doubt she would last long at all in an institution.


  1. I am waiting to bring my soon to be two year old daughter home from Russia. When I think of Paisley, what she is enduring until we can get to her, my heart just breaks. Thank you for writing with such honesty, from a place of love, from a place of pain, from your heart. It is a blessing to us all to have had you go before us, your love for Zoya, your heart, your devotion to her is inspiring. I too think of Leeza. I pray for her to find a family, she has been on my heart for some time. Thank you for posting about her, God is working, there is someone waiting to scoop that sweet girl up.

    Love wins,
    Renee Tam

  2. Sarah, great post! I have felt that way about our little ones we just brought home although we were never even allowed back to where they "lived". But I could tell by the way the caregivers carried one of our girls off after the visits exactly like that...like a sack of potatoes. :( (I think one of our girls was a favorite, the other definitely was not). I know it was hard, but I am glad you posted this! People NEED to know these things!! Always love reading about Zoya, she is way cute!!! :))

  3. Oh, this just makes me sick. My poor little baby is in that orphanage, and this whole time, people have been reassuring me that it is a good orphanage. :( I want her home now.

    I, too have a special place for Leeza. I want to take her home too, just not sure that it would work out. I really hope that your blog will cause someone to step up and commit to her. I just can't even imagine this sweet child suffering through that. Having her hand rocked on? Poor thing. God please don't let them suffer any longer.

  4. Oh my gosh....my stomach is just turning and turning. Leeza impacted me more than any other child I saw. I saw a fight in her....a need in her to live and to be loved. I told myself I wouldn't leave without holding her and when I did I knew that my heart would be forever touched by her soul. I PRAY and PRAY and PRAY that someone takes her home and let's her platinum hair grow long and let her feel love from a mother. To be held when she is fed and rocked to sleep. I pray for Leeza. Thank you for posting this Sarah.

  5. That you so much for this post and helping promote our little site and helping with your donation - congrats on your win with YOUR TRIP to Panama City, FL! Get ready - it's gorgeous!