Sunday, 3 June 2012

Out of Here

In October 2010 I met a little boy for the first time in an "orphanage" in Kampala.  He had been there for just under a month and he was the saddest baby I had ever met.  I prayed when I got home that God would do a miracle and that they would find his parents, because I just felt that he was missing somebody very, very special.

When I returned to the "orphanage" a week later - he was still there.  I was so shocked that his family hadn't come to pick him up, because I was convinced there had been a huge mistake and that they were bound to have found him!  I had lots to learn.

Many people think that "orphanages" are full of orphans (double orphans with no other known family), or that they were pit latrine babies (thrown in make shift toliets) or that they had been abused and removed from their families by the authorities. I didn't know that children could end up in "orphanages" because of mistakes, poor processes and lack of record keeping or because of miscarriages of justice.

This photograph was taken the second time I met the little boy.  I was heartbroken that he was still there and when I got home I couldn't stop crying. I was really grief stricken witnessing first hand how deeply sad a baby can be.  I held my children so much closer that night.


I started visiting the little boy as much as I could, sometimes up to 4 times a week.  I started bathing him, feeding him, carrying him, singing to him, just trying to fill the gap of a mother to him.  At the same time I was regularly speaking to his social worker about what progress she had made in his case. I just wanted her to feel the urgency I was feeling in trying to trace his family, but she never did. 

 
It seems so strange now looking at the photograph above, because my perspective has changed so much since that photograph was first taken. I fell in love with this little boy over the following 5 months as I became a temporary mother to him and Mark and I even started praying about whether we should adopt him.  However everything was about to change.

We would like to share with you a film about what happened next in this little boys story because this is  what helped to ignite the work we do now. 

Huge thanks to Emanuela Lorenzone who shot and edited this film.  What made this shoot even more interesting is that we discovered after we had started filming that Emanuela had actually been internationally adopted herself from Brazil as a young baby, so it became an interesting and life changing journey for us all.



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11 comments:

Marcy P said...

HOnestly, until I had read your blog, and what's really going on out there, I was full blown into growing our family through international adoption. You have made me see the other side. We will probably instead foster/adopt within our province, though my heart yearns and aches for those left with no family, and living in institutions. YOu are doing good work here. Bringing families back together. For the ones left truly behind, finding homes within the culture/country is absolutely wonderful and for the many others that will never find homes...I wish there was a way. My heart aches for the many facets of this problem. I pray for you as you obviously have an integral ministry. Thank you for sharing with us.

Mama in Uganda said...

Thank you so much for the work you are doing for the sake of these children!

Anonymous said...

This is one of the sweetest, most honest and good videos I have seen on UG adoption/resettlement... ever. Thank you so much for making it! Thank you for caring about the full scope of children's rights!!! Be blessed in your endevors!

Desiree said...

What a beautiful story about reunification! Iwhole-heartedly agree with you that reuniting children with their birth-families needs to happen first. Thank you for your honest hard work!

Anonymous said...

I hold the work you are doing up in prayer. I pray that all of these children end up with the earthly parents God intends for them to have.

lauramenenberg said...

Thank you for this, Riley family! We live in Zambia and know what incredibly important work this is. Thank you for sharing and helping more people to be aware of what goes on behind the scenes in orphanages and working to reunite families. Stay strong in what God has called you to do!

Anonymous said...

Great job!! So happy to see that something like this is happening!!

Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy said...

So fantastic!!!! I love this in so many ways...and thank you. For the families that you help, for the children, for the truth.

Kathy said...

This is how is should happen and it is likely the situation in so very, very many cases. Thank you, Keren and others for your persistence in finding little Devis' father, returning him, and for helping to set up his father with a business! An excellent example of putting the child and his birth family FIRST rather than an agency/orphanage/and governments charging $20-$80,000 for a child to be sent out of their country for international adoption! Can you tell us why the Ugandan authorities did not contact the father? I mean, they had his phone number all along. This must have been a very emotional experience, also, for Emanuela Lorenzone, the adopted young woman from Brazil. At any rate, thank you so much for making this movie and finding Devis' father!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for doing what you did for the little boy and his dad. It is sad that many cannot have children of their own but that does not mean that it is okay to take children away from their culture and country and yes many are in orphanages only because mum and dad are poor not that they don't exist. I am an adoptee who was taken from a poor widow in Australia in 1962, she had other children but as a baby I as easier to adopt. I lost my complete heritage,and grew up in a family of strangers who treated me as a slave. As an adult I have no belonging everything was taken from me. I would have been better off left with my struggling mother than being sent to cruel unloving better off adoptive parents. Now I run a support and lobby group for abused and mistreated adoptees and bring awareness to these issues. I also support families to stay together in places like the Congo and help keep children out of orhanages.

Rileys in Uganda said...

Thank you very much for your comment anon. Please could you give us any details of the organisations you are involved with - they sound very interesting. We are collecting info on other resettlement projects across Africa, so we would be very pleased to hear more about this project in the Congo. Thanks again for sharing what sounds like an incredibly traumatic sound