God sets the lonely in families…

September 21st, 2011

Have you ever looked at pictures of orphans and thought that their surroundings didn’t look too bad?  In Katie’s room, there are even a few pictures hanging on colorfully-painted walls.  There are sheets on the beds.  About a year ago, some volunteers arranged to pipe music into every room on her floor.

“It’s a Small World After All,” must have been the staff favorite.  Just now, I heard it again in my mind, and along with it came the memory of the overpowering stench of that place.  Suddenly, I am seeing the rooms full of cribs, tiny people lying there alone, eyes empty, waiting, waiting, waiting…

What if money was poured into Katie’s orphanage, and every last square inch of it was remodeled and decorated according to the latest vogue?  What if every orphan there was dressed up in brand new trendy clothes like child models?  What if the workers only played Mozart and Bach over the speakers?  What if they even went all out and decided to take care of the children’s teeth?

Did you see this picture in the girls’ room post?

When I see it, it gives me a sense of well-being, peace, contentment.

Why?  What makes this picture look right?

Is it the items hung on the nicely-painted walls?

The sheets on the cribs, or my baby sleeping soundly?

The fact that I know music is playing?


But wait…

…those things are also true of Katie’s orphanage.  Although our music is way better, and the room doesn’t stink.


What if we had brought Verity home from the hospital, put her in this bed, and then…left her there alone?

What if Verity had not bonded with someone who thought she was the sweetest little sweet pea in the whole wide world?

What if nobody came when Verity needed her diaper changed?

What if nobody understood Verity’s unique potential?  Or saw her as fully human?

What if we got Verity out of bed twice a day, only as long as it took to hurriedly wipe her crusty eyes and spit-upon face and hair with a baby wipe, change her diaper, and maybe her clothing?

What if we never brushed Verity’s teeth?  Never had Verity’s eyes checked?

What if Verity had never been taught how to eat and drink properly?

What if we came into Verity’s room at feeding time, and fed her in her bed?

“The food is not only nutritionally poor but the way the children are fed by the staff on some wards is barbaric.  The practice is so traumatic and the bottles with which they are fed are so inappropriate (old beer bottles with huge teats stuck on the top) that they can’t feed properly – the teats are cut so big that the liquid free flows out – far too quick for the children so they are literally gulping – and often they are on their backs so their throat isn’t fully open – which often leads to them being sick. This is repeated several times a day, over the course of months and years – so of course they develop emotional problems because something that should be soothing and satisfying is horrible and stressful – and of course deeply damaging.”  

What if we didn’t look lovingly into Verity’s eyes for even the few minutes it took to do any of this basic care?

What if we never helped Verity’s body learn to move properly?

What if we never talked to Verity in a way she could understand?

What if we never let Verity experience all sorts of activities and touch all sorts of objects in this world God gave us so richly to enjoy?

What if we didn’t fill up Verity’s days with cuddles, kisses, playful interactions, affection, touch, love, love, love?

What if Verity lived this way for seven years, before a granny came into her life to focus on her for twenty hours a week, excepting holidays and vacations?

What condition would Verity be in right now if she had lived in this pretty room for just fourteen months in the same way that Katerina has lived in her room for one hundred fourteen months?

What if we treated Verity the way Katerina has been treated??

Would Verity be making progress in crawling over obstacles on the floor, pulling up to stand, beginning to cruise, stacking rings onto ring-stacker toys, turning pages of books and pointing to the pictures, learning new words, eating table foods, using some signs, and the list goes on?

What if Verity was living in this room, being profoundly neglected?  How would this scene look different to us then?

What would still be missing from this picture?



Could you please take a look at this little boy?  His name is “Tony.”  He’s wearing a boyish shirt, sitting in a walker in a room with cheerful yellow walls.  He lives where Katie lives.

This little boy is an orphan.

That means his greatest need is for a loving family.

Thousands of orphaned and abandoned children are never listed for adoption.  There are many ways to love them, and more people are always needed to do that.

But God has now made it possible for a family to find “Tony.”  This is  a miracle.

There is a really big mountain between this little boy and a loving family just for him.

This little boy has Down syndrome.  That’s not the big mountain, though.

He looks healthy enough, doesn’t he?  A healthy toddler boy with Down syndrome, right?

Remember when I told you that the children on Reece’s Rainbow who are most overlooked are the older boys?

“Tony” weighs about the same as the average two-and-a-half year old boy with Down syndrome.

But he is turning twelve years old this month.

We will not stop praying for him until God does another miracle and sets him in a family.

Would some of you pray with us?  Thank you, friends.


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8 Responses to “God sets the lonely in families…”

  1. The fact Tony is 12 and weighs less than my nephew who is not quite 2 is heartbreaking.
    I’ve donated to his RR fund in the hopes of getting his fund going!
    More importantly, I’ll be praying for him.

  2. Renae says:

    Praying for Tony today:(!  For God’s hand of deliverance and justice for these precious ones in such horrible situations!

  3. Rachel says:

    I am always uplifted when I see a child on Reece’s Rainbow on the “New Commitments” page. Then I am heartbroken, remembering all the very needy children still waiting for families.
    I am sure there is a family out there for Tony. What a beautiful moment that would be, to see him on the “New Commitments” page.

  4. Tara and Family says:

    Praying for sweet Tony!

  5. Susanna says:

    Jessica, that is fabulous! Thank you!!

    Thank you to everyone who will be praying for a family for Tony. He was hidden away for 12 YEARS, and now God has opened the door! This is a miracle, but we are praying for that family, whoever they are!

  6. Dear Susanna and family,

    May I reiterate my joy at seeing Katie’s process move forward and the power and LOVE of God radiated in such a dark little corner of our world.  I continue to lift up in prayer all His children who live without families, especially those that live in such unthinkable conditions.

    As I think I mentioned before I currently work in an orphanage in Bolivia which, thanks be to God, is a far cry from what Katie and other children have had to suffer.  My sisters and I will be the first to agree that what any orphan (or social orphan–those that have living parents that are unwilling or unable to care for their children) needs most is a loving family.  However, the reality of the situation, when looked at from an individual child’s perspective, is that many children, especially those that are “unadoptable” for any number of logistical or legal reasons or because of their (older) age, will not receive that precious gift of an adoptive family.  I live with and love more than 100 older or otherwise “unadoptable” girls, but have also watched with great joy as more than 30 of our little ones have found adoptive families over the years. 

    God willing, the number of children that grow up in orphanages will diminish as more and more families hear His call to make orphans part of their families.  But I truly believe that His call to all those who love Him is to work at this situation from all angles: to advocate for adoptive families for all the children that can possibly be adopted, but also to pray for and work towards changing society’s view of family and disability so that it includes ALL children, and to work to improve conditions in current orphanages so that all children that grow up without nuclear families can receive the care and, above all, the LOVE that each needs. 

    Ideally, and perhaps some day in the future, all children will receive this care and love in a “forever family”, either biological or adoptive.  But, until that day, may He show us how He wants each of us to help His LOVE to reach the furthest corners of the world.  My prayer is that many, many more orphans have the opportunity to grow up in a loving family…but also, that those that grow up in “homes” or orphanages receive abundant LOVE and ACCEPTANCE, and not just physical and material comforts.

    May God continue to fill you family with His Love and Peace,
    Sr. Anna :)

  7. Susanna says:

    Anna, thank you for writing this excellent reminder!  I edited my post to reflect just a little of what you have said.  :)

  8. Lauren S. says:

    Incredible.  I am re-reading some of your posts, Susanna, and it is amazing to come across this one!   Sweet Tony is now set in a family and is just waiting for his mama to be able to get him!  Praise Him!

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