The Making of an Orphan

 October 9, 2012

There were six babies in the small room.  I noticed her right a way, laying still on the only bed in the room.  Why isn't she in a crib? Why is she so still...and why is she alone?

The Director of the hospital tells us about each of the other children in the room...

One child not more than a year old has burns over 40% of his small body,  the result of a cooking pot filled with oil falling on him. The Director tells us this is common in Haiti and we make notes to develop burn protocols. I cringe looking at his open wounds...the lack of a sterile environment... no method of pain control.  I pray for his survival...prayer is his best only hope.

The child next to him has pneumonia.  He is at least getting fluids, oxygen and antibiotics.   His worried parents are at the bedside. He has a chance.

The Director moves our attention to the next child but I am distracted by activity in the opposite corner...

A woman carrying a box walks over to the child laying still on the bed.  She puts the box on the bed and works to line it with a small sheet.  What on earth is she doing? I notice one side of the box has been cut away just as the woman lifts the limp child from the bed and positions her snugly in the box... which has ingeniously become a make shift baby chair!

The Director moves over to me and explains...the woman putting the child in the box was not her mother but a nurse and the child is not acutely ill but rather has a birth defect...a profound neurological injury...perhaps cerebral palsy...they aren't really sure.  I wonder why then she is in this room of very ill children but before I finish the thought I have my answer.  The little girl who I am guessing is about two years old has been abandoned, left that morning at the hospital doors.

The box it turns out was to be used as a car seat...and the child was about to be taken to an orphanage. The Director shares his fear they will not take her...they may have too many children.  He promises, more to himself than to me, to keep looking until he finds a place for her.

And so here it is....the moment when a daughter becomes an orphan.

I am struck with emotion as I project to my own three daughters who share a similar HORRIBLE moment with this sweet girl...and I can no longer choke back the tears.

And I wonder... if she will ever be a daughter again...

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