Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What the absence of love looks like

I've seen some pictures lately that break my heart.
I've posted a picture of this beautiful little girl. She is turning 6 years old this year, so I would guess this isn't a terribly recent picture. In her country, once children with Down Syndrome reach a certain age they are sent to an institution. That age is typically 5 years old, although as we saw with our daughter Vera some orphanages will occasionally make an exception for higher functioning children and they can stay at the children's house orphanage until they are 7 or maybe even 8. In the next level of orphanage, though, the children are sent to school so they simply cannot/will not accept a developmentally disabled child, and the child is sent to the institution.
If you can stomach it, here is a picture (taken recently) at an institution in Eastern Europe: these children are tied to their beds. Let me drive this point home again--this is the type of place where MY VERA would be living today, if she were living at all.

I saw the above picture on Shelley's blog recently, but something (or someone) else more recently took my breath away. As I have said, I am in love with the little girl in the top picture because I see Emma in her face. Right now, not much is known about her except where she is geographically; it isn't known if she is in an institution yet or still in the children's house orphanage.

If she is still at the children's orphanage she is likely still in good shape and getting at least a minimally adequate diet. If she has already been transferred to the institution, then she is not. What took my breath away was the picture below. This little girl is already in the institution where the beautiful girl above will be sent to live. In all likelihood the emaciated little girl, below, did not look like that when she was sent to the institution. She is a picture of what the girl who stole my heart will look like some day, if not already. My heart literally hurts to think of the bright and shiny and smiling girl changing into a shell of her former self. I can't help it; I think of Emma.

Matthew 25:31-46
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
I love a hymn that we occasionally sing in our church. Part of the first verse makes me think of the sad little girl I've pictured, yet it reminds us that WE are the wretches and the Lord treasures us. As we strive to be more like Christ I would submit that one way to do so would be to make a wretch our treasure; to love someone the world deems as of no value.
How Deep the Father's Love for Us, by Townend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure


Charissa said...

I wish every child had a family like yours. What makes it even harder is to think of the blessings that someone is missing out on by not taking a chance and saying "yes".

Leslie said...

Tears of understanding. Thinking so heavily on all you have posted - especially today as precious Tonya turns 4 and is now "eligible" for the institution.

Love you friend,

3 Sons said...

Praying for all of these little ones.

Suzette said...

Oh Jill,
This breaks my heart for these little ones. Our only consolation is that our heavenly Father holds them when no one else will. How I pray that others will open their lives to adoption and realize the abundant blessings that will follow. I can't believe how many times lately I've heard, "Oh, I could never do that(adopt)." With God all things are possible.

Arizona mom to eight said...

Through tears I am writing this, I so wish we could take them all, bring them home and love them, it hurts my heart to see how much that precious little girls has changed. My Amanda looked much like that when we adopted her, skinny, beaten down, and I know that the love of a family can change a child, but the effects on their health have got to be lasting.

All I can do is pray for all those left behind, pray they get a forever family too.