Tuesday, April 19, 2011

welcome back to where you are

recently i took my daughter on a return visit to the orphanage where she spent the first three years of her life ... her first home, Rehoboth Children's Home.  it is an amazing place that my husband and i will forever be grateful for.  all three of our children  come from this little place in the mountains east of Manila.  it is a true haven for these children while they wait for the families that they deserve.

we had been back before with Lea .... but that was to pick up our boys.  this was a different visit .... it was a visit who's purpose was to re-engage with the roots that give her the foundation of her heritage .... she may be aussie now .... and proudly so.  but her roots are in the philippines .... and owning roots is as hard as it is rewarding.   

we teach our kids to be proud of being filipino .... PINOY AND PROUD is a comment that you will hear around our home. and talking about all things filipino is not uncommon either.  but to live it ... just "be" in amongst a group of people who share your birth right .... nothing can beat that. 

Lea, in the middle with two girls
from the home walking down
the street
 many families don't take their kids back until they are much older .... in their teens even.  saying they can't handle it, it is emotionally too hard.  i am not one to judge what is best for another family .... as parents we all have different roads to navigate.  all i know is that for us to leave these homeland visits to when the kids are older would be a travesty for them.  some of the opportunities that we have for them to re-engage with their roots are precious.  and for my daughter, who is an emotional volcano at the best of times, to leave it until she is a teenager would have been a real deal breaker for us .... and we knew it.  we needed to begin re-introducing her to what was her place of origin now ... so that as a teenager she will be able to cognitively own more of her journey. rather than reject it, which is the norm for teenagers anyway -- to reject out of hand anything mum and dad say because that's just "what you do."

we were in the Philippines for a week (nice thing about living in Australia, it's not really THAT far to travel!), and stayed in the guest apartment of the orphanage.  for the first few days she would not go into either the baby house or the house for the older children.  she would happily play with kids outside .... but wouldn't go in.  fair enough .... i can't imagine some of the feelings that would've drug up in her. 

Lea with some of the babies
 but there were these girls .... a small group who Lea really clicked with (i am astounded at times how well children can communicate even when they don't have language!).  and after we went out for ice cream on the third day .... that was it ... she was in her element and i could sense a real "change" and acceptance, even joy, in being in this place.  it felt good! and it didn't take long after that for her to be comfortable in everything in the home.  to the point of one day i left her in the home while out for a few hours and she had lunch and even took a nap with the girls (i would be lieing if is said she didn't come running out to see me as soon as we got back <g>) .

she really made herself at home .... during the big kids nap time she would then play with the babies in the baby house, or just run around with some of the staff helping out with chores and soaking it all in. she ate the food, she worked really hard at owning a language that she had lost (ang Dios, aye mabuti! God is good!).  at one point i took her to a mall to do some shopping and she was bopping around and having a great time .... i had to pull her up and remind her that in Australia ... she would stand out a little bit and i could easily find her.  here in the Philippines .... i could sooo easily loose her in a mall and i needed her to stick close.  she turned at me and smiled and said, "mum .... you're the one who doesn't fit in here!"  she found that highly amusing!

lea and her mates in the
"girls gang"
on the last day the emotional pain of seperation was starting to hit ... a few tantrums here and there and an inability to cope and focus on much.  she was struggling.  she knew that we were leaving .... that this was no longer her home.  but it was a special place, with special people and special relationships.  i can't imagine what a child's mind must have to process in that sort of a situation.  that this was once her home .... but isn't now .... and yet the tie's that bind are so strong.  i can't walk this path for her .... but i can certainly walk it with her .... give her support and encouragement to engage in and own her life.

i look forward to more of these visits with Lea and with the boys .... spending time at the orphanage but also going out in the province and seeing more of the beauty of the Philippines so that our kids understand that they have an amazing birthright in that country .... and it has a beauty and a character all it's own.  there is a reason that filipino's have been voted the happiest people on earth!

so welcome home my darling girl .... to your adopted home that you love so much.  i know your heart is confused .... that there is a sense of loss not being around other filipino girls your age.  but always remember, that while you are a child of two cultures .... first and formost you are a child of God ... and heir to His eternal home in paradise.  selah!

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