Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Rainy Days They Stayed Inside

On rainy days, they stayed inside.

They stayed inside when it rained.  Or when it snowed.  Or when it was too cold to go outside.


It has taken me a year to grasp the horror of those words.  It has taken me a year to understand the depths of Aaron's agony whenever the dark clouds roll in.  It wasn't that I didn't know what happened when it rained: I was aware that they stayed inside.  But I refused to consider the reality of those words.  The truth was too hard for me to face.  I didn't connect the dots.

Aaron tried to tell us.

From the beginning, even before he knew any English, he tried to tell us.

Our little weatherman.  Always watching.  Forever vigilant. Constantly pointing, worrying, waiting with his haunted eyes.  Concerned each time the dark clouds formed in the distance.

I used to think that his anxiety over storm clouds was cultural.  I believed that his culture had passed its overpowering fear of germs, sickness and cold on to my son.  I thought that he didn't like getting wet because his caretakers had taught him that rain would make him sick. 

I thought that he watched the clouds with such intensity because he had learned to do so from his caretakers.  I didn't understand his fear, his obsession, with rain and cold.

I didn't see why rain should send a small boy into such sorrow.  I didn't grasp why he woke up each morning worrying over what the weather would be that day.

But on rainy days, they stayed inside.

***

We always focused on the outdoor sheds where we saw the boys so often. We thought that the boredom of life in the sheds was the worst thing about living at Aaron's institution.


But on rainy days, they stayed inside.

Inside, where the smells were strong and the walls were bare and the halls were empty.  Inside, where the boys' bedrooms were off-limits except during sleeping hours.  Inside, where the 20-plus boys who lived on Aaron's floor were all crammed into one room.

One room.

20-plus troubled, challenged boys, ranging in age between 5-18, all crammed into one room.

A room that was entirely empty except for the benches that lined the walls. A room with no shelves, no books, no toys.

A room with closed windows that were set too high for little boys to reach.

A room where a bench blocked the doorway to keep little boys inside.

A room in which there was absolutely nothing to do.  All day.  Every rainy day.

One room.

That room was where the Lost Boys lived when it rained.  Or snowed.  Or when the bitter cold prevented them from sitting in the shed.

It was a room completely devoid of color, of toys, of books, of television, of radio. One room for a huge mass of unhappy, noisy boys.  One room full of chaos and foul smells. One room with nothing to see but the other boys sitting, standing, rocking; one room with nothing to hear but the other boys' moans, their shouts.

Nothing to do.

Can you imagine it?

Boys banging their heads against the walls.  Boys biting themselves, tearing at their own skin.  Forever scratching the sores on their bodies. Hitting, smacking each other out of boredom.

Do you see?

One caretaker, or sometimes two, trying to maintain order inside a room that is crammed with 20-plus troubled, Lost Boys.

And our own little Lost Boy-- our five-year-old Aaron-- stuck in that room. Struggling with the shock of the transition from his beloved baby house to this institution, which is more like a concentration camp than an orphanage.  The agony.  The despair for him.  Jostled, poked, pushed around by the other boys.  Looking out the window-- hour after hour, day after day, month after month. Watching the clouds.  Looking for the sun.  Rocking back and forth, back and forth on his toes.  Looking for the sun.   Praying for the sun.  Willing the dark clouds to go away.  Trying to tune out the chaos around him.  Unhappy.  Fearful.  Worried.  Rocking.  Praying.  Rocking some more.

Longing for the shed.

Longing for the blessed shed.

At least there, he can see the birds.  At least there, he can hear the cars.  At least there, he can watch the planes fly over. At least there, the boys are calmer.  Still moaning, still groaning, still hitting-- but calmer.

In the shed, the air is easier to breathe.  In the shed, the cacophony of sounds is muted by the open space. 

And if he is good and if the caretaker is nice, then maybe, maybe he can sit outside the shed on a bench and draw in the dirt with a stick held between his toes.

Maybe.

And sometimes, sometimes when things are really going well, they may bring out a ball or two for the higher functioning boys to kick.  Sometimes.

But only when it isn't raining.

When the sun is shining in the sky.

When the dark clouds are far off in the distance.

"Mama, do you see?  Do you see?  Do you see that sun? Look, Mama!  No rain today. The sun is good, Mama.  It is good. The sun makes Aaron happy.  Aaron is so happy, Mama.  Aaron doesn't like clouds.  Clouds are bad.  Rain is bad. Rain is stinky.  Stinky. Do you see, Mama? Do you see?"  

On rainy days, we stayed inside.  Mama, we stayed inside.


Aaron doesn't like the rain.


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44 comments:

  1. Tears. Nothing but tears like rain.
    -Elisabeth

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  2. I can only imagine the intensity of this when it was cold and snowing and they couldn't go out for days and days on end... I think I would lose my mind!

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  3. I needed to weep today....

    Carla
    www.bringinghenryhome.blogspot.com

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  4. Wow Julia. Thank you for sharing. I can appreciate how difficult this post was to write because it was so difficult to read.
    Thank you.

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  5. such fear, bewiderment and sorrow for these dear children. so difficult to read and process aaron's story. thanking God that aaron has been rescued and is now home with his loving family. his family searching and learning more of aaron's life, aaron's story of survival.
    thanks julia, for laboring to write and now sharing!

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  6. Poor boy, to be so intent on the weather for such a fearful, horrid reason. Thank you for sharing, Julia - this must be very hard for you. So very hard. Thank you for advocating so hard to keep other boys from having to be scared of the rain.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this post. I am crying for him. But, this needs to be out there, people need to know that there are kids locked away in situations like this still.

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  8. My heart is heavy, Julia and I would bring them all home if I could...

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  9. That was very well written Julia, I know it was difficult for you. It is difficult to think of these poor children living that way. I pray Aaron can learn to love the rain and enjoy the feeling of it. Enjoy either playing in it or curling up inside a warm loving house with his family. To love the smell of a fresh spring rain or the warmth of a summer storm. The smell of fresh rain on hot pavement (one of my favorites) God bless

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  10. I second Megan's prayer that Aaron can learn to enjoy the rain. With time, love, and slow easing, I'm sure he will.

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  11. It bothers me that there are some people who are against international adoption. I wish they would all read this post.

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  12. I can see why you wouldn't want to share this post, but it is beautiful..... not the things that happened, but that he has mamma to take care of him when it rains now.... A mamma who is doing her best to understand no matter how hard it is..... A mamma who without knowing is inspiring people all over the world!! A mamma who made this mamma cry with her words!!!

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  13. Oh how I pray you live in a place with very little rain and snow.

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  14. Oh, my heart. I was thinking about Aaron's wounded little heart and I thought of this verse:
    'And I pray, that you being rooted and established in love (your sweet family!) will have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - so that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.'
    Praying for Aaron and for your family.
    -Beth in Atlanta

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  15. Thank you. I pray for sunshine for Aaron, for always. I pray for sunshine for the Lost Boys.

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  16. Wow. I truly can't imagine how horrifying that would be, especially for one who is "all there." It seems that this needs to be brought to light. Can't their government do anything?

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  17. That was painful to hear, but a reality that has to be heard. We got our son Isaac out a month before his fourth birthday. He would have been in a place like Aaron was. I am convinced he would not have made it out alive. 4 yrs. old , 25lbs and wearing a 2T! He didn't sit up until he was one. Didn't walk until he was 2. They didn't let him out of that crib until he was able to walk. The only blessing in all of this for us is that Isaac, with his cognitive delays, has no memory of Anything from there. He could not tell us a thing, good or bad about it. All his memories begin with us-home! God is good and I am thankful Aaron got out of there!!! He looks so much like all of you too!

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  18. 'Concentration Camp" that is exactly what I thought when I heard about these institutions orphanages. They are treated like animals, these precious children of God. It took me a long time to completely wrap my head around it. I would wake up some days and think maybe this is all just a really bad joke. It's incomprehensible.

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  19. Our 6 yo little girl, whose story barely compares to Aaron's, has the opposite problem. After a summer at home, we still cannot get her more than 15 feet from the house. We can get her to our swingset, but she will not ride her bike to the end of our rural home's garage pad, much less down the driveway. Her experience was limited to a tiny playground, and anything out "there" is feared, to the point of hiccuping anxiety attacks. Fortunately, if we take her to a place, like the zoo, she is OK holding hands, but for over 6 months we cannot get her to pass that invisible boundary, and when we try to force the issue, I feel like we are just torturing her. We also have not gotten her past her panic over storms, although I don't think her issue is similar to Aaron's. And don't even get me started on rocking. The rocking just tortures me. We are getting a baby bottle based on some recent desire for turning into a baby expressed by her. Maybe you could consider warm chocolate milk out of a modified bottle as a rainy day treat? Might make some new associations for him. I have heard of even teen adoptees who needed a bit of bottle therapy. Can we cure the damage? I hope so!
    Sherry

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  20. Praise God that he is home with you. My heart is heavy for all the lost children not yet to their forever homes. There is no way to understand how someone can discard a child. Each one so precious. I shed so many tears over it. Thank You for advocating, and being a messanger.

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  21. Heartbreaking...simply heartbreaking. Praying for his tender heart, and yours too.

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  22. a heartbreaking post.
    l just wish that the mud away from the heart of Aaron, and one day love the rain.
    l wish with all my soul.

    teresa, desde España.

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  23. As always, your posts are so powerful. I can't imagine in a million years what children like ours have endured. I actually owe a great deal to you. Because of one of your posts I read last year, we decided to take the leap of faith and start the process of our adoption. I have loved your posts ever since. They paint such a picture...

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  24. I hope Aaron will learn to love the rain and splash in puddles! Praying for those left behind :-(

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  25. Wow! Just wow! I am so happy to hear that you have gotten Aaron home, and I am so happy that we got our little Mikaela out before she was moved from the baby house. Conditions were very poor there, but the staff tried so hard to meet all their needs, and it was nothing like the institution for older children. Mikaela was less than a year old, and she has been home for a year and a half now, and she still has some strange fears. How long it takes for their little hearts to heal all the way! I also pray that Aaron will learn to love the rain as he heals. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Heartbreaking. Shared on FB. People need to know this.

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  27. It's taken me a whole day to respond - really there are just no words...the picture you paint with words is haunting, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see it in real life. And am I wrong to think that no one is doing this on purpose? To be so entirely limited by money and resources that this is the end result is gut wrenching. I am so thankful Aaron got out. I imagine that for most of the Lost Boys this will be all they ever know.

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  28. Oh Wow! Thanks for sharing. Praying for your family and your sweet boy that God will give him blessings in exchange for the pain.

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  29. Wow. I hate that places like this still exist. I hope things have changed there since you brought your sweet Aaron home... the fact that this story makes the places I've been going to seem like great facilities horrifies me.. I've seen things no person should ever see, because they shouldn't happen... yet nothing, nothing like this. It breaks my heart to know that those lost boys have so much potential that isn't being tapped into because of their situation... really, really hoping your excited news is in regards to the institution!

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  30. Oh sweet Aaron :-( How very very sad. Thank you so much for sharing Aaron's own thoughts.

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  31. No, I cannot imagine. And it rains, or snows, or is cold on so many days in Eastern Europe. I remember reading your posts about the outdoor sheds and thinking how inhumane they were. Now I can see how Aaron might have longed for the days when he was able to go outside to the sheds. After reading this last night,I looked at my own five year old, playing on the floor, and choked back tears at the thought of her having to endure a place like that.

    God has given you such a gift Julia - your ability to write in a way that makes us all see through your words the suffering of these boys. Thank you and please keep sharing.

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  32. This breaks my heart. Thanks for sharing- people need to know.

    Janee- Mom to Vika from Aaron's baby house

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  33. In the midst of sorrow and pain , through the clouds clearing, God is shining His love down upon Aaron and His dear children. Your deep love for these children is such a great example of Christ's love for all mankind. I too am praying for those left behind. That not only the Son will give them pure joy , but they will delight in His cleansing rain and see it through their creator's eyes. Thanks for doing the hard things Julia.

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  34. Oh Julia - your words rip at my heart and soul. You were sent to see and to share. I am so sorry for this very heavy burden but I am so Grateful that it was you HE called!!! No one could ever write this post any better. Thank you Friend!!!

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  35. I have to admit, I shared on FB the other day but I hadn't read it. Cause I was kinda scared to. But, this needs to be read. By anyone who calls themselves by Jesus' name. By anyone who claims to care about others at all. I'm gonna share again and be honest and hope that others who are too scared will read it too.

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  36. Heartbreaking! Thank you for sharing. I just can not imagine.

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  37. Each time I think of Timothy in a place like you have described, I know that he would not have made it out alive. A place like that would have broken him. He would have been tied to a crib because he was so active they wouldn't have wanted to chase after him. He would have give up. I just know he would have given up... When I think of what could have been... I thank God everyday that He sent Timothy to our family. Thank you Julia for showing your heart, and Aaron's. I too pray that someday Aaron will learn to love the rain...

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  38. Oh precious Lord, I am crying as I read these words, crying out to You that Your people might make a difference in the lives of these littles ones who so desperately need to be loved.

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  39. I read this a few days ago and still cannot get it out of my mind. Just looking at his sweet face and know ing he endured all that pain and that there are still boys enduring that is just heart crushing to me and I can just imagine what it does to our Lord and Savior. Praying for him and all others in that institute.

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Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!