Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Kodachrome World

Institutionalization is institutionalization, pure and simple. Great attempts can be made by staff to brighten up walls, to bring the outside world in, but it doesn't really change the fact that life for a child in an orphanage is a very lonely, dreary existence, devoid of the most important things in the world that a child, God, family.

Olesya said something today that illustrated this perfectly. We were driving home from our church book sale and were talking about all the books that had been sold and how much our kids love books. We joked about how Angela had said "I no like books, I no like music, I only like sport!" when she first came home. Oh, how that filled my heart with fear and dread! How could I ever manage to help this child open up to the beauty that surrounded her and the world of possibility that had been denied her? Was it even possible at this late stage, or was she already programmed to view herself in only one way and remain closed to all else?

We laughed as we talked about how Angela now begs to take more than the 40 allotted books from the library each week, and how she has now surpassed Kenny in her love of the music from Mama Mia (Oh Lordy, what have we unleashed?? Couldn't it have been something other than ABBA music??? PLEASE?? Hahaha!). Just this week she was ticking off on her fingers all the things she loves now...Little House on the Prairie DVD's, lots of music, playing games, working at church. As Olesya and I were talking about the transformation in her sister she turned to me and said to me something I will never forget.

"Mama...Angela no like books in Kazakhstan because all books black and white. America everything color! So beautiful America everything beautiful and colors!"

I sat there pondering that one for a long time, thinking of all the things both literal and figurative that turn my life into a Kodachrome world. Lush illustrations in magazines or books, the most awe inspiring Colorado sunsets right out my front door every evening, the laughter, warmth and hugs from a loving family, music of any variety that uplifts and touches my soul on more occasions that I could ever begin to count. Then there is a relationship with God that helps me have a deeper appreciation for every single thing in my life, both good and bad.

All that and so much more is what adds color and texture to our lives. All of that had been denied our children. No wonder they initially couldn't understand or reach for the richness that our life might offer them!! They had never even had a taste of the sweet goodness of it all! Life was a series of bland classes with rote memorization, how could they be eager about education? Life was dreary gray skies, dreary buildings, dreary food. There were no choices, you did as you were told. 6 months home and both girls still struggle to make simple selections and we have to limit their choices to make it easier. Can you imagine a life with no options, no variety, no hope?

It was a black and white world.

A family brings it offers hope, it offers variety, it offers safety and room to explore! It takes us from black and white to Kodachrome in an instant. God guilds the edges in gold, adding the richness and definition to it all.

To the outsider, our life may appear mundane. Inside our life though, there exists a wealth beyond measure, a palate with a plethora of colors. That is because God is at the center of it, and that means love is at the center. Every time we veer off course, the colors dim slightly, and the further away we walk the darker it all becomes.

No child should have to live in darkness, lost to the world. It is not only children in institutions who live like that. Often it is our elderly, or those who live a life untouched by love. We all bring the Kodachrome colors with us when we reach out and offer love to one another, and we give those colors away with every hug, every smile, every "I believe in you!".

As I see the world expanding on a daily basis for our daughters, I can't help but think of the hues they once lived with, deadened and dull, and contrast it with the luminosity of their colorful new world.

God, don't take my Kodachrome away...


Calico Sky said...

Beautiful! Having just been working (volunteering) in an orphanage with children, many of whom are hospice/palliative care I can really relate. I have come back almost feeling like my eyes are stinging from all the colours, choice, richness although it is such a stark reminder at how little colour there was...

Anonymous said...

Love of ABBA apparently is part of the post-Soviet soul. My big boy and Angela can rock out next time we see you. Love from Vegas.

Love the new template by the way! Great job.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your "colorful" post, Cindy. I never considered how monochromatic life must have been or how it would obviously effect a child's outlook on life and the world. Our kids from Guatemala experienced much sunshine and color, but their world still lacked
family and the kaliedoscope of opportunities that affords. In your girls' case, with the city looking gray, books printed mostly in B&W, gray's a wonder they didn't ask for sunglasses when they arrived home! You've opened up such a world to them. It's a blessing Oleysia shared those thoughts with you, so you can also reflect on what God has done for two special little girls...and for your family of sons.

Nancy in the Midwest