Heavy conversations with a 6yo

So, the topic of orphanages comes up in the context of talking about a new family I met whose daughter was adopted from an orphanage in Guatemala just before Guatemala closed to adoptions.  Our family has been foster parents (before Girly could remember) and one of our former foster children wound up in a group home–which is a special kind of uncomfortable for me.  Our kids have a fairly accurate idea of how “the system” works, and this conversation was to clarify the difference between orphanages, group homes, and what becomes of the children in each…

Girly had a hard time understanding that she was not from an orphanage.  She was placed while she was still in the hospital nursery and never had to go to an orphanage or foster home; and that in America (at least in the states we have lived in) there are no orphanages for babies.  They go to foster homes (sometimes after being in the hospital nursery longer than usual).

Unfortunately, Girly thinks all kids who are no longer with their birthparents find forever homes.  We had to correct Girly that not all kids in orphanages get to find a family.  In fact, my great-grandmother was a case like that.  She was left at the Foundling Hospital in New York City.  Actually–it was very much like Girly’s situation except that Girly was adopted and my great-grandmother never was.

Girly says “I was very lucky that I got a family”.  Ugh… Tears.  TEARS!!! She was so deliberate about it.  Not sad, a touch relieved and happy.  Not because we made life in those places out to be so horrible; but because I don’t think she could imagine life without her parents.   Girly also knows that if she had been born in Guatemala and given up, she may have had to grow up in an orphanage.

Going home day.  Girly was completely trying to focus on BigGuy. She can't focus yet, but something caught her eye in his direction!
Going home day. Girly was completely trying to focus on BigGuy. She can’t focus yet, but something caught her eye in his direction!

We made sure she knew that we were lucky, too–because lots of families never get a child let alone another child.   We talked about how we are lucky to have a child that came out of my belly AND one that didn’t.  We talked about the years and dollars people spend trying to make a baby in their belly or in someone else’s belly or in finding a baby to bring home from another land.  We talked about how some families do all of that and they still may never get one child–no matter what they try.

Girly & the scooter she decorated with fancy duct tape.
Girly & the scooter she decorated with fancy duct tape.

Of course, then my eyes welled up again at just HOW fortunate we are to have two children.  We’ve lost babies before and after BigGuy.  We looked for all kinds of non-biological alternatives to adding to our family but the money simply wasn’t there.  We finally had peace about the gift of even having one child after watching so many others in the circles of “people trying to add to their families” who had NO children.  And just as we were making plans for our future with one child (and getting really excited about it), the state called us with this little miracle.

And we were never the same again.

An extended relative has made great progress on a mission house in Guatemala to help mothers who need to have a place to stay near a hospital to give birth; and/or have no support to watch their other children while they give birth, recover, and tend to a new baby.  Please, read their “About” page to understand the situation there–and consider donating even a small (tax-deductible) contribution in honor of our sweet Girly.


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