The biggest challenge for any volunteer or nanny at a foster home or orphanage is “staying soft”. You have to find a way to love in a temporary setting. It’s so easy to love the babies but the inevitable will come. They will leave or I, the volunteer will leave. Either way there will be goodbyes. That’s one of the few guaranteed outcomes for a caregiver in this setting. The easiest way to protect yourself is to not love, to not grow too attached, to guard your heart. But the babies will feel that, and it will harm them. That of course is the exact opposite of what we want. So we “stay soft” and love knowing it will hurt. And we fall deeply, deeply in love.
My love developed for a little black-eyed angel whom I nicknamed Jewell for her intense beautiful eyes. When she first came to us, she was tiny and emaciated. She was six months old but barely looked three months. There were no tears, just her stares with too-big eyes in her tiny drawn face. She came in with another far more vocal little one and so little Jewell was left to her own devices. My heart was drawn to her but I was concerned that she may be sick and so couldn’t be around the other children.
One day, I asked the nannies if I could hold her and they said yes. I picked up the tiny bundle that was more blanket than baby and began to rock her. Her too-big eyes stared into mine and she took heart. It became a tradition, I would walk in and the nannies would hand little Jewell to me. I would rock her, sing to her, put her to sleep (even when she wasn’t supposed to nap – oops), and just cuddle her. All while trying to play with five other children in need of attention, but Jewell was “mine”.
The nannies knew it too, they would ask me if I was going to adopt her and offer to send her home with me. I would explain that my husband is too young for us to adopt. But oh how I wished I could take her with me.
I sang one special song for her, We Will Glorify by Twila Paris. Jewell knew that song and as she grew older she would come crawling or running if I started singing her song. My family came and visited us in China and my mom joined me in singing the song. Jewell was making a dash to me, when she skidded to hard stop and turned to stare at my mom with eyes the size of sauces. I called to her and she sidled over to me, never losing eye contact with my mom and even after she settled into my lap, she kept a hard look for my mom. She knew that special song, a song between me and her.
I once left for a summer break and the day came to say goodbye. Jewell snuggled onto my lap and just let me love on her, a gift from a Father who knew my heart was aching at the temporary goodbye. When I returned she looked at me with something akin to annoyance. It was almost as if she was upset with me for leaving her. But then she seemed to remember that I was her special person who always held her and we were back to being best buds.
I adored her and I knew the day would come when the permanent goodbye would happen. I didn’t know how tightly she had me wrapped around her gorgeous tiny finger until she was hospitalized. For two weeks my precious baby girl was in a local hospital with no clear word on what was wrong other than a fever and no visitors. I ached to hold her, to be with her and sing to her, and I found myself unable to visit the foster home because my heart was in the hospital. I found myself concerned not just for her health but for my well-being should she leave to her forever family.
I had to surrender her to precious arms of the True Father and trust His plans even if she did not come back from the hospital. It was one of the hardest experiences in my life, and then I received the message.
Thankfully I was going to be one of those going to the hospital to collect her. I almost grabbed her out of the nurse’s hands and just clung to her, sang to her, and rejoiced that she was coming home. I was still worried about the permanent goodbye that I was asking the Father to send. Do you know how hard it is to ask for what is best knowing that it means your heart breaking?
That Sunday morning was so hard, I cried knowing this was “The Goodbye” I dreaded yet longed for. Knowing this was what was best for Jewell, but fearing that I would not be able to love again. I wondered if I would be able to enter Dove’s Wings the next day or if my heart would be in the hotel room with baby Jewell, and then what?
On the day we call Gotcha Day I went and picked her up from the nannies. They had tears streaming down their faces and there were tears in Jewell’s eyes, and I willed myself not to cry. I held her tightly and sang her song to her, and cuddled her as she slept in the car. I entertained her as we waited for the moment. Then it came and I carried Jewell into the room torn, between joy and fear. When mama came in, Jewell was unsure but went to her new family and I found myself crying tears of joy.
This family needed her as much as she needed them, that I knew. As I slipped away, I felt the Father take the responsibility for Jewell from me. I felt His pleasure in my heart for her while she had been mine. I felt His faithfulness to relieve me of that burden and to place it with love for the children back at Doves Wings. The next day I walked in with a hurt bursting to love those who were “mine” as long as He gives them to me
This is the story of Jazz’s volunteer involvement with our kids in Doves Wings. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to pray for something so passionately and fervently while all the time knowing it’ll bring you heartache? It’s the story of many of our volunteer helpers.
Helping kids re-write life stories and turn around futures
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