Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wonderful Wilson! (+ How Adoption Transforms Lives)

Today I would like to introduce you to Wilson. Wilson turned 6 years old in November. He is HIV+. Not much is known about Wilson other than that he was cleared for adoption this past summer. But look at those brown eyes! And those sweet, big ears! And his serious expression ... Wilson looks like he has a lot on his mind.

And he would, being a child with a serious medical condition in a country that will turn him out on the streets when he is still a young person. 

I have visited many orphanages. Some were clean and well-run. Some were in disrepair and it was the clear that the children ran wild. We don't know what type of orphanage Wilson lives in. Hopefully he is in a clean facility with people he knows and trusts and who care about him, even if they are only paid employees and not family. Even paid employees can love the children they care for.

But it's still not a family. Nothing takes the place of a family. Visiting orphanages and seeing happy children run and play, excited that they have a visitor, can give you the false impression that all is well. 

But it's just that: a false impression. Young children don't spend a lot of time ruminating on their lives, but even very young children keenly feel the lack of a mother and a father, someone who loves them first and best. Orphanages by day can be loud, action-packed places and the kids can look happy. But orphanages at night are a very different place.

Orphanages at night are places where children cry themselves to sleep. They rock themselves to sleep, sometimes banging their heads rhythmically in an effort to both self-stimulate and self-soothe. Orphanages at night are places where children keenly feel the fact that they are alone in the world, that it is likely that, should they have a nightmare, no one will come to comfort them. No one will bring them a drink of water when they are thirsty. No one will shoo the monsters out from under the bed. Orphanages at night are places of squandered dreams and lost hope.

My son was young, still a preschooler, when he came to us. He lived, when we adopted him, in a relatively small group home run by our adoption agency. He had lived there nearly a year and had experienced love and care while there. Indeed, he was pampered to the point that, when the nannies took clothes for him from the towering wall stacked with shirts, pants, underwear, and socks, my son would sometimes shake his head, rejecting their choices, and point regally to the clothes he desired to wear. My son was not left for hours in dirty diapers, and he was fed a nutritionally adequate diet (this was all in the adoption agency's group home, remember ... the huge institution he lived in before coming to the group home was a completely different environment).

But still ... our son was so insecure, so anxious to be loved, so desperate to be someone's son, that whenever a visitor arrived at the orphanage, my son would run full-speed to that person and cling to them, whining to be picked up. And once he was picked up, he would not get down for anything. He locked his little legs around the person holding him, wrapped his arms around the person's neck, and held on for dear life. If you tried to extricate yourself from his grasp, he would scream, kick, headbutt, pull hair ... anything to keep you from putting him down. His need for human contact and love was so huge that it literally terrified him to be put down and left behind. 

Even to this day, many years later, my son still seeks frequent confirmation of our love for him. The lack of a mom and a dad in his early years has had long-lasting effects.

However, he is a kind, sweet, gentle boy who has a friendly word for everyone and a large well of compassion for animals.

These children's lives are transformed by adoption, transformed by entering a family, transformed by belonging to someone and being that person or family's very own best-loved child.

Every child desires this, and every child deserves this.

Please help Wilson by donating to his (small) adoption grant. Please help Wilson by sharing his photo and information. Wilson's birthday is in November. He could potentially celebrate turning seven in the arms of his loving forever family!

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