For 19 years, we have cared for the children of Guatemala and helped unite them with loving families. Although our deepest desire is for each child to find a home with a loving family, transitions are both happy and sad. We are joyful for the future our children will have, but sad over the loss we feel in our home.
Over the last 2 months, 3 of our children have been reunited with their biological families.
You may wonder why these children were in our home at all if their families were able to care for them. This is one of the hardest realities to understand about Guatemala. It’s hard for us to understand too.
Although many of our children came to us after enduring abuse or some other traumatic experience, some of our kids simply needed someone to take care of them for a while. As our director, Alejandra shared, the reality in Guatemala is that poverty is widespread and the cycle of struggle affects the most basic needs throughout the country. For some families, the most loving choice they can make is to relinquish their parental rights to the courts. In other cases, extended family will come forward to care for children who are no longer able to live with their parents. In many cases, it takes time to decide what’s best for a child. During that time, we step in.
We understand the pain and tension our children feel as well. They mourn the loss of their families and their identities. There are strong ties to their biological families and the places they called home. At the same time, they also form tight bonds with the staff and children at Dorie’s Promise. How we help them navigate these transitions may be one of the most important ways we support our children.
For almost 6 years, Luis has called Dorie’s Promise home. Now 11 years old, he has spent most of his formative years with us. He’s a very smart boy and did very well in one of our local private schools. Although he was quiet at first, once you got to know him, he was funny and loving. Luis was always in the middle of the melee playing soccer, riding bikes, or just being silly.
In February, Luis was reunited with his biological mother, stepfather, and 2 siblings. After many years, Luis was excited about the chance to be part of his family again. But, he is also sad to be leaving his family at Dorie’s Promise. Before leaving, we promised they could return to visit anytime and that we will always be part of his family as well.
No two stories are the same for children in our home. Although Luis lived with us for several years, Vilma was only with us for 4 months. Coming to our home in November, Vilma was very quick to connect with the other girls and Special Mothers. She was more reserved with visitors, but for those she connected with, she made a lasting impression. Meeting her only a few days after she arrived, Vilma definitely impacted me. Why else would I allow a child to paint my entire face like a tiger?! Vilma was tightly connected to those she trusted, bright, inquisitive, and loving.
In March, Vilma’s dream came true. She was able to go home with a trusted family member who fought for her in court. All along she wanted to be with her family and their fight proved just how much they loved her as well. Most special, Vilma is home with her family in time to celebrate her quinceañera this summer.
If you’ve visited the girl’s house at Dorie’s Promise in the last year, you probably remember Estela. She was the beautiful toddler with curly hair who loved to greet everyone. Part of an inseparable trio of toddler girls, Estela was always one of the first girls looking for someone to play with her. Since the spring of 2018, Estela has been lighting up our home with her love and silliness. Her innocence and hugs will definitely be missed, especially by the other little girls.
In March, Estela’s uncle was granted custody of her. She now joins her uncle, aunt, cousin, and baby brother. Unfortunately, Estela’s mother suffers from an illness that makes her unable to care for the children. We’re thankful Estela’s family is willing to care for her and her brother. Growing up with her brother and her family who loves them is the best dream we could have imagined for her. Watching her excitement to be with her family reminds us that hope still exists.
Although saying goodbye is heartbreaking, we trust and believe there is a great plan for each of our children. We are grateful for the time we spent with each of these beautiful children and wish their families the best.