Let’s continue our journey back in time to Kamelia’s pickup week. It didn’t take long at all for this adoption to cause some uncomfortable revelations in me…
Today is Wednesday in Bulgaria. One week from today we’ll be packing to go home, so that feels good to say. This morning was hard – mornings are extra hard for me because the day is so new and looks so daunting.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
We learned several interesting things about this country today. It baffles me that when I look up at the sky, it’s the same sky we see in the United States and that we are in fact on the same planet, because there is not much we seem to share in common besides the obvious.
Perfection is of high value here. We’ve been frequenting some wealthy areas of Sofia where both women and men are dressed to the nines for a simple shopping trip. Children, when we see them, look perfectly dressed and neatly groomed. If you’re going to do something, do it perfectly is the message that comes across. Of course, we casually dressed Americans with our obviously imperfect child stick out like a sore thumb. The judgmental glares and comments (sometimes through open windows during Kamelia’s tantrums) we’ve received around town are very telling. If I could communicate back to them, I’d like to tell them that yes, this child is screaming and flailing violently because she’s been put away like an animal for 7 years, right under your nose, in your own country. Yes, you could have adopted her, but at least three Bulgarians decided to pass on this child which is why she was made available to us. Yes, it’s difficult to see and deal with a child having a fit, but her apparent misbehavior is the result of extreme neglect that could have been prevented by more one-on-one care for her when she was an orphan. None of this would do much good even if I spoke Bulgarian, because adoption is just not something people do around here. I have trouble accepting this criticism for sure, but I’m finding myself more on Kamelia’s side and less nervous about what the perfection-obsessed observers will think.
During my downs, I look at her and think to myself, what have we gotten ourselves into? We can’t do this! It’s hard! She is so hurt and is literally a baby inside of a girl’s body because she was never given the stimulation to develop further. Then the Lord reminds me that He is our healer and that He can restore lost years, and that He’s set her in our family in order to effect that healing. He reminds me of the hope that I felt from the start regarding her potential and her hidden abilities. He reminds me that no matter what needs any of my children have, He’ll equip me to mother them and Mason to father them.
Kamelia has only been with us for three days. For some reason it’s felt like an eternity, and I have a tendency to transfer that time frame to my expectations for her. Why isn’t she doing better yet? Because it’s been less than 72 hours since we picked her up, that’s why. She was unceremoniously removed from the only place she’s ever known. She was clearly not told that she wouldn’t be returning. Some orphanages, and of course foster homes, do a better job of preparing the children for their new life. But even if Kamelia’s orphanage had provided consistent and logical explanation of what was about to happen, she surely wouldn’t have had the perspective to comprehend it. Here she is, away from “home” in a huge, noisy city full of strange people, her schedule is gone, her sleep is affected, her food is different and suddenly there are these two people handing her more of it than she has ever seen in her life. These two people seem to really like each other, and her too, because they take her everywhere they go. Suddenly she is not her own boss, wandering around all day mindlessly doing the same things over and over, including hurting herself. They are telling her that she can’t do some things. Instead of leaving during her fits or giving in weakly to what she wants when it’s bad for her, they speak strange sounding words to her and hold her still to keep her from hurting herself or them. Once she calms down, they treat her like it never happened, and they keep giving her more food and drink! They make her laugh, especially the big tall guy, and the woman keeps singing songs to her about this guy named Jesus. They hug her, they kiss her, they bathe her and change her pull-ups and stay by her side as she goes to sleep. They’ve been there the last 2 days she’s woken up, too.
When I consider the absolute strangeness of all of this to Kamelia’s mind and heart, I am filled with mercy and compassion for her. It’s only when I’m selfishly concerned about how I look with her or how I’m going to swing these fits on the plane or at home that I freak out. I’m learning that obedience to God is messy sometimes. It’s really messy, and it seems chaotic and like He must have made a mistake or maybe we misheard Him – but no, I marked this trail well enough to be able to retrace my steps. She is who He told us to come for.
The more time we spend with her the more conclusions we can draw about her past. Our assumption based on the last few days is that in the orphanage the children are given cold showers where they put their heads under a running faucet, not a shower head, because when we turn on warm water or get the shower head down, she cowers and panics. She barely drinks at all, and we know from the schedule we were given that she only had prescribed times of day for receiving water. She continually pulls all pillows and blankets off the bed to create a flat surface before falling asleep. Her orphanage behaviors are rocking back and forth, tapping on objects, playing with her fingers, grinding her teeth, and singing and talking to herself, all to self-soothe. Tell me, what person would not resort to these behaviors and act frightened and angry when their routine was suddenly changed after seven years of such poor treatment? Please pray for Kamelia to forget the former things and to see that God is doing a new thing, making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Right now we are watching her mourn her desert and her wasteland.
When I first shared this entry from Bulgaria, I asked our friends and family to pray for us to have clear, unwavering vision for the future that sees beyond the current situation. Funny how two and half years later, even though we’ve witnessed so much transformation and progress, that’s still exactly what we need. Maybe that’s what you need today, too. If so, I pray God gives you the ability to see beyond your situation and claim hope. I know He’s not done with Kami, or me, or you yet.