This day we headed to the state orphanage after spending the past three evenings in family’s homes that were raising orphan and abandoned kids in loving, Christian homes. The difference in those being raised in a state facility and those being raised in a Christian home was staggering.
It is noted living in the orphanage is not much different than living on the streets. The language used and pictures drawn in sidewalk chalk by orphanage kids was more vulgar. The intensity in which to be a part of a game or fight for a turn at jumprope was unmatched at the orphanage.
My immediate reaction in touring the orphanage was it felt like a jail. There were gates to enter the facility, yet left open and unlocked. There were bars and locks on the floors that separated female and younger males from older males. The smells that drifted out of the rooms made my stomach turn.
We came bearing gifts – candy, pillow pets, and cards made by kids for kids. We got an occasional thank you for the gift. But what was most wanted and appreciated appeared to be a hand to hold, someone to play tag with, someone to sing with, someone to be silly with. That is where solemn faces turned to smiles.
I engaged the opportunity to hold the jump rope for multiple, unending rounds of Double Dutch. I also used the opportunity to learn to count in Romanian. Teach me something was my posture that afternoon.
And they did.
They taught me how to count to 10. But they also taught me that they were grown in their souls, trapped in kid bodies.
They taught me the world has been cruel to them.
They taught me they want to be known.
They want to be accepted.
They want to be known.
They taught me that kids are kids are kids.
They taught me not to judge because I had no idea the path they had travelled.
They taught me that they didn’t get a choice to become an orphan. Nor did they get a choice to be brought up in an orphanage.
They taught me that every kid has a story.