As you celebrated Thanksgiving with your friends and family this week, we hope you remembered the staff and children at Dorie’s Promise. Although the Thanksgiving season invites us to celebrate the good in our lives, being thankful when your story includes trauma can be difficult. This year we’re giving thanks for rescue, resources, restoration, and faithfulness.
Giving thanks for rescue
On more than one occasion, we’ve received an emergency call in the middle of the night asking us to take a new child into our home. Often, those dire emergency calls result in very scared children being brought to us with nothing more than fear and sadness. We may know their names but not much else until the court sorts out the details.
In the days and weeks that follow, our Special Mothers and medical staff carefully navigate the physical and emotional wounds these children carry with them. It’s a balance between meeting immediate medical needs from abuse, malnutrition, and untreated conditions while also identifying how to best meet their emotional needs.
Other, more “normal,” cases bring children into our home after a series of court appointments and careful planning. Even in the best circumstances, when children walk into our home they’re scared, unsure of who they’ll meet and how our home will be. Some are angry because they’re moving yet again, their adoption didn’t work out, or they were abandoned. There is no easy case.
Imagine walking into a new orphanage with your younger siblings in tow. You’re a child yourself but as the oldest, your job is to protect everyone else. You carry your baby brother from the van to your new “home.” Hopefully, this home is safer than the one you just came from.
We mourn the family each of our children lost before coming to Dorie’s Promise, but we thank God for rescuing them from abuse, abandonment, and neglect.
Giving thanks for resources
Friends, it’s not easy to care for children who have experienced unimaginable trauma and loss. There may be training, but there isn’t a manual telling us how to best care for each of our children based on their specific circumstances. What is helpful for one child may be a trigger for another child.
Every day we find ourselves studying our children, listening to their words and searching for the key to unlocking their innermost emotions. We watch their actions and try to be patient as we connect the dots between their words, their actions, and the parts of their story we know.
Together, as a staff, we combine our experiences and skills to piece together the best care for each child. For some, that means we tackle complex medical conditions and relieve them of physical pain first. Others need time with our psychologist to work through their experiences. The first thing many children need is a safe place where they have food to eat every day, where they aren’t moving frequently, and where adults protect them.
Although their basic needs were challenged before, we’re thankful God has created a team at Dorie’s Promise to provide for them and donors who ensure our home is the safe place they crave.
Giving thanks for restoration
Fighting the battle within themselves is the biggest challenge our children face. The nightmares they relive haunt their minds for years. Lies from important people in their early lives thwart our efforts to build up their self-esteem and confidence. Years of abuse, abandonment, and neglect manifest themselves in destructive behaviors and attitudes, often to the detriment of healthy growth.
When you’ve been trained to steal and manipulate people to survive, being honest isn’t natural. Plus, there’s always the fear that you’re being manipulated. Some of our children were abandoned as infants. One child, who has since been adopted, was even discarded with garbage before being discovered. Their stories don’t include a narrative of being valued as individuals, unique and full of purpose.
Gaining the trust of our children is a long, hard process. Our Special Mothers model patience and integrity every day, hoping to prove they will do what they say and can be trusted. Moving from a constant state of survival to thriving is challenging.
We open our home to children in need of long-term care because we are invested in helping children move from survival to restoration.
Each member of our staff has unique talents to support the full emotional, physical, spiritual healing of our children. We’re thankful for the opportunity to participate in God’s restoration of our children.
Giving thanks for faithfulness
Most importantly, we’re thankful for the faithfulness of everyone associated with Dorie’s Promise.
Heather took a risk and followed God’s plan for her to work in Guatemala. She trusted him when international adoptions closed and he asked her to continue caring for children in Guatemala. From the beginning, God has brought strong, faithful women to join our Special Mothers, medical team, office staff, and serve as our director. Working alongside them, a quiet group of men serves as the patriarchs of our home, maintaining a safe place for our children and demonstrating how to be men of integrity.
We’re thankful for the opportunity to use our gifts to serve the children of Dorie’s Promise. Thank you for believing in our mission.