As I was looking over our blog last night, I realized that a lot of the content of my blog posts has centered on our time with the babies. Interestingly, this wasn’t the original plan. We had hoped to spend equal time at the babies’ home, Eliza Martinez, and San Gabriel. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, our time at EM and SG was cut in half.
I can’t help but think that things worked out for the best, despite the unexpected changes. The children, especially those closest to Juan Pablo, all seem to know what’s happening. Others have left them because of adoption, and it’s obvious that they know that JuanPi is next. It’s good that Jody, Nate, and I could be there to give them individualized attention and love just as they start to feel the loss of their friend.
Over the course of this short trip, we made the most of our limited time with the older boys. With loads of help from our van driver (William), Ana (she works for Buckner), and the staff of the two homes, we managed to get a picture and a completed survey from each boy. The surveys will give us insight into the boys’ lives (birthday, favorite super hero, tshirt size, what makes them happy, what life was like before they came to the orphanage, etc.) and will hopefully help people in the U.S. get to know these boys in a more personal and individualized way.
Right now, the biggest logistical challenge is the high turnover rate. I have a picture we took in August of seven boys. Today, only two of the seven are still at San Gabriel. As I understand it, San Gabriel is being used as a juvenile correctional facility. A judge determines how long they are supposed to stay, but escape is common.
Perhaps this is part of the reason why many groups don’t focus on SG. It’s hard to get to know them, because they don’t hang around. On top of that, these boys are tough. They aren’t cute like the babies or heart wrenching like the special needs kids at EM. Let me tell you a story to illustrate. At one point, Nate and Jody went to find a bathroom and Ana and William were inside with the other boys. This left me all by myself trying to pass out some little gift, like Playdough or candy, to a group of four or five boys. I’m getting used to the madness that comes with passing out gifts, but I was surprised when one of the boys pinned me up against a wall and wouldn’t let me go. It wasn’t a big deal. Really, it wasn’t. They were all smiling and laughing, and when I very adamantly told them, “No. Move now,” they moved.
If anything, this experience gave me new determination to return to these boys. They don’t know how to interact with females. To survive, they’ve had to be defensive and aggressive. They haven’t had parents teach them right and wrong, good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. They don’t know what it’s like to be loved.
This is where we come in. No, we can’t adopt them all and bring them into stable, secure, loving, nuclear families, but we can show them love. We can bring gifts and write letters. We can pray for them and send birthday cards. We can smile at them, play soccer with them, and give them a hug. They need us to look at their rough, deviant, aggressive, unlikable exteriors and choose to love them in spite of what we see.
After all, isn’t this what everyone needs?