Less than an hour after clearing customs, I walked into Dorie’s Promise. From the nurse’s room, the quiet cry of a baby drew my attention. There aren’t many babies at Dorie’s Promise anymore so this little cry was like a beacon for my baby-loving heart. Within minutes, I fell in love with baby Christopher, his thick black hair, and tight grip on my finger. Over the next few days, the reality of how love, hope, and poverty intertwine in Guatemala came to life in his sweet little face.
New life with a familiar narrative
Had his birth story been shaped by safety and abundance, I wouldn’t have a story to share; my sacred moments swaying him to sleep while Doc Castro and Mirna, our nurse, arranged his care would not exist. Unfortunately, Christopher was born into an all-too-common Guatemalan narrative.
A single mother with three children at home already, Christopher’s mother didn’t have the luxury of prenatal care. With childcare help from her mother, she works long hours, earning just enough to provide the necessities for her family, primarily a home and food. On the rare occasion extra funds exist, that money goes towards other basics like clothes for her children, not care for herself.
His mother and grandmother do their best, but even so, they are always fighting to survive, sharing a familiar story with thousands of other families caught in Guatemala’s cycle of poverty. They work hard, do their best, but always find themselves fighting the same battle.
Just 4 weeks after his birth, Christopher arrived at Dorie’s Promise. His fragile health required a special place where caretakers had time and resources for a serious fight. Luckily, we had both. How could one little boy be so loving and so sick at the same time?
To truly understand Christopher’s story, you must start at the beginning.
Alone at home, Christopher’s mother went into labor. Although she has three children already, giving birth alone without the assistance of medical professionals and the comfort or support of a hospital is dangerous and scary. She was unprepared for a complicated delivery and infant in need of immediate assistance.
Within minutes of his birth, an ambulance arrived to help both Christopher and his mother. Immediately, responders knew something was seriously wrong with the baby. Unsure of his condition or that of his mother, they immediately took him to the hospital and put him into the care of social services. Caring for Christopher was their immediate priority. Shortly thereafter, he came to Dorie’s Promise.
Our part in his story
Thankfully, a subsequent investigation by social services revealed no hint of abuse or endangerment by Christopher’s mother. She is a loving mother doing her best to provide for her family. His injuries and illness were results of a complicated home birth and his mother’s lack of prenatal care. Even with an abundance of love from his mother, poverty inserted complications and danger into his story from the beginning.
The investigation also revealed the family’s vast need for support in almost every area of their lives. Although they are doing their best, his mother and grandmother struggle to provide for their family. More than material goods, which are a very real need, they also need emotional support and practical help. Generational poverty profoundly impacts families. Thankfully, the court is helping their family.
While his mother receives help, the baby lives at Dorie’s Promise.
Watching our Special Mothers with a tiny baby again brings back sweet memories. They hold him, rock him, and often worry about him. He’s so little and was so sick. As I rocked him and carefully held the oxygen mask on his little face in January, Doc and Mirna made calls, took vitals, and packed for another hospital stay. His little body was fighting hard and needed extra help. For several weeks, our Special Mothers rotated shifts, insuring he was never alone at the hospital.
Love, hope, and poverty
For most of our children, Dorie’s Promise will be their home long-term. For Christopher, we are only a small part of his story.
We are called to passionately serve the world’s forgotten children, but orphan care doesn’t always look like raising children in hopes they will be united with an adoptive family. Many times it means standing in as family for a short time, willing to give your heart even though you know it will break a little when that child eventually leaves your care.
Christopher’s story is one of love, hope, and poverty. The reality of poverty into which he was born may have threatened to permanently mark his story, but love and hope won. The love of his mother and grandmother shows just how much family matters, even when you struggle. Our staff loves Christopher, even knowing he is only with us for a short time. Most importantly, we have hope he will return home and be loved by his family. Even if their financial situation does not drastically change, they are better equipped to face hardship together. God has seen them and shown up in their life.
In a story of love, hope, and poverty, love and hope can overcome. We’re thankful to be a small part of Christopher’s story. Your support of our home through monthly sponsorship makes space for children like Christopher and the other foster children in our care. Thank you for providing the means for love and hope to overcome poverty as we care for our foster children.