This is perhaps the most difficult part of our daughter's story to share...
For reasons that we don't know, her foster parents could no longer keep her with them. Perhaps they knew they couldn't care for her special needs any longer. Perhaps the only way for her to find a forever family meant that she needed to go into the care of an orphanage. We do know, from the photos they gave us, that her foster mother was very grieved to see her go. I am not posting the photo of her foster mother with red puffy eyes and pain on her face (I chose not to share any front-shot photos of her foster family...for their privacy).
But here you can see our daughter at the train station in the arms of a social worker who took her to her orphanage. Clearly, this day was very hard on our little girl. She was, FOR THE SECOND TIME, saying goodbye to a "mother" in her life. For the second time, she was off to a new place with new people and new smells and new "moms."
She was taken to a really wonderful orphanage many miles away from her foster home. I say "wonderful" because I have heard the horror stories of other orphanages with children kept in beds all day long, often lying in their own filth. This was not the case with our daughter's orphanage. It was clean, had pretty pictures painted on the walls, and was run by caring people. She had music class each week and other stimulation to help in her development.
But still, it was an orphanage, and she really needed a home and family. So, the orphanage got her paperwork together and began the search for a family. They took this photo of her and sent it to different adoption agencies.
Here she is playing with a bead chaser at the orphanage.
As is often the case in orphanages, her hair was cut very short (usually to keep lice at bay but also to make for an easier time taking care of all the children). Her orphanage was run very efficiently. Our U.S. contact told us that the children were given 30 minutes to eat each meal, and then bowls were taken away. This is ample time for typical children to eat, but for our daughter with special needs (including low muscle tone in her jaw), this meant that she didn't finish her meals. According to the reports we have, she would sit for a long time with one bite of food in her mouth, not clear on how to chew it. The orphanage put her on baby formula every 4 hours to ensure she was being nourished. She was still on formula at the age of 3.
Just before we adopted our daughter, her foster family visited her at the orphanage and took several photos of her. Her foster mother wrote us a beautiful letter. Among other things, she told us that because of what our daughter had had to go through, she was timid and not trusting of people. You can see it in her photos here. At this point, she had lost 2 mothers in her life. And at the orphanage, she had a favorite caregiver, but with so many children, she simply didn't get that individualized attention and focused love that a family can give. I imagine she woke up at nights and had nobody to sing to her or rock her back to sleep. I imagine that she wondered where her wonderful foster family had gone. She became withdrawn and had lost trust in people, especially "mom" figures.
And here you can see it again on her face...the hurt of the past, the distrust of people, the uncertainty of whose child she was...
This is the road she had to take to finally arrive in her forever family. God knew every day of her life before it came to pass, even these rough days. He was with her.
The next step in her journey involved a random passing moment when we (thousands of miles away) read her profile on Reece's Rainbow's website...