Finding My Son through Google Maps

I figured out the orphanage that my son is in. I am technically not supposed to know at this point in time (even though we are only weeks away from travelling) because oddly enough that is not a "luxury" that new adoptive mommies and daddies are awarded until they meet their child in person (along with medical history, current photos, or any photos for that matter). But I am sure I am not the first adoptive mother to ask questions, grasp the puzzle pieces that are let out and begin to build and construct a fuller picture of what my child through adoption may be like in person and where they came from. My son currently lives in a very small town. This small town has very few orphanages in it and given the information we know about his medical needs I have concluded that there is really only one orphanage he can be in. And I have sought insight from those who know the area, asked the questions needed to get some clarity of why my child would ever be put in such a place. Because this place is not somewhere he, or any child, or adult for that matter should ever call home. If I am correct (I fear, but know that I am) my 6 year old son resides in an institution for people with "deep and moderate mental retardation" (their words, not mine) and the age range goes from 6 years old to 35 years old. This means that my son is with institutionalized adults older than myself. Just think about this for a moment as we head into the "Back to School" season: What would the impact be to allow a 6 year old to try to learn and thrive alongside 35 year old adults? And this is not just his school but his residence, his home. And the labels my son carries that brought him to this place: "Orphan", "Mentally Retarded", none of which represent who he really is, and yet they dictate his cruel circumstance anyways. I could spend my day worrying about his circumstance. I could, quite literally, curl up into the fetal position and let his reality control how I navigate the very fortunate world that I am in. These worries that I have are only softened through prayer and trust in the bigger plan and the knowledge that God loves him. They are softened by looking into the smiling face of my first son and knowing that there can be a happy life for children who are adopted (even if it does not solve every sorrow).

Google maps is heaven sent. I spent a bittersweet hour scouring the whereabouts of my son's orphanage, the surrounding streets, the "hot-spots" that I am sure we will frequent while living in this small town. I plan for my first son- where we will play, where we will eat, how to fill his day with happiness and healthy challenges. I am unable to plan much for my second son, only look at a single google maps photo of a run-down institution with a very large and decrepit brick wall surrounding it. The reality is that my first son's life is very full. My days are spent just fulfilling all of his desires and needs, and I love every moment of it. My second son's life is so very unfair, painful, and drastically stunted by his circumstance. These two realities come crashing together and I turn to God for understanding and assurance as their mother.

The orphanage/ institution is set apart from what seems to be a small but bustling town. I imagine it would be possible for you to pass the orphanage without knowing exactly what it was for and assume that you had just gone the wrong way. Most would very likely turn around or quickly go in another direction. And when they walked a few blocks up, they would feel a greater sense of safety. They would be able to go to a cafe in fact they would have their choice of several. They would see market places, restaurants and stores to shop in. In the centre of the town there is a very large fountain surrounded by people and children who are smiling and enjoying their day. I detected one little girl skipping while holding her mother's hand. At one of the cafes sits a business man on his cell phone. There, it is full of life, and only a few blocks down where the orphanage is it seems nearly dead. And I would not blame the residents of this town for wanting to keep this orphanage a secret, for appreciating that it was set apart from the general population, we do that here too. The hard stuff seems so easy to push to the side and hide. We all at one point in time choose to squash down our feelings about something that makes us sad or angry, out of fear that if we took the time to acknowledge it we may just have to know the truth and ultimately do something about it. It was only a few short years ago that I myself didn't know that children died at such young ages just for being orphans and it took me all of that time to acknowledge that I should do something about it. And in other avenues of my life where I still squash truths I hope one day to have the strength to do more and that God can help me overcome my selfishness and pride.

Until we leave, I will likely "check in" on this map as means to be close to my son just like I do with the few photos of I have of him. I don't expect that when we adopt him and he is relocated to our home that somehow his circumstances of abandonment, or medical issues, disappear. There is a lot of healing to do, a great amount of it having nothing to do with him moving to another country, although it does help. Very soon I will be walking these streets in person. Very soon my husband, son and I will be on the doorsteps of this orphanage so that we can meet him for the very first time. And for now, I will be thankful for the opportunity to have a small glimpse into his whereabouts and use what I can of this map to be the best mom for him. It's all I have right now- and I am eager to do so much more.   

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