Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines?

This is Kimberly. She makes me smile
It is Valentines Day and the girls rush to besiege our little truck. Nightfall has taken place as I arrive and the girls just want to give me sweet little Valentine cards they had made for me this afternoon.  I am home from Comayagua.  I went there today to drop one of my girls at their version of Defax.  There was supposed to be two girls to go to Comayagua, but one went home to family members that live locally.  The youngest had the stiffest penalty.  She has to go to Tegucigalpa to the main center.  She was scared but stubbornly refused to say that she wanted to stay at the farm because the older girls wasn't saying anything either.  

At the first of this new year, we had those two girls escape from the farm.  They left off the back of the property to stay off main roads.  They didn't understand how walking in the woods works when you don't know anything about direction and they had no clue where they were going.  They got lost and wound up in a town miles from our farm.  They back-tracked and found the house of our new interns Jerimiah and Linda Botkin , who had just moved into their house in Yamaranguila.  They wouldn't even had known where they lived except for the fact that I had been to the hospital with one of them with a stomach infection two days prior and had run by Linda's house for just a minute with the sick girl before we headed home. 

The two girls had left right after lunch on Sunday afternoon.  When we realized that they had left and when we contacted the police, they began interviewing my neighbors, with no luck with any clues that might tell us where they went.  I was very concerned because of the one girl who had started her medication for her stomach.
 Finally, when I thought they weren't going to be found because it was extremely dark at this time,  we got a call, and they had shown up at the Botkins house.  When the police and all the adults ask why they left, they said they didn't know .  One had been writing some letters to a guy and the older just was bored.  Two days later after the older girl's failed attempt, two other younger girls, 12 and 7 decide to go to find their birth moms two hours away by car. This running away was just to easy and to much drama and fun.The whole thing had become a game to them, but they didn't understand the dangerous consequences.

So Monday and Wednesday I had I go to the courts, because I have to report the situation and bring the police report to the children's court.  The older girls didn't have a statement to make to the officials.  My statement was that one of them has run away many times before with other girls and she always has someone new with her, who hasn't left the farm before.  The other girl was 3 years younger and was just happy that she was with the older girl and a party to her grown-up plans.  The officials said they needed to go to another center, but to keep an eye on them, because if anything happened to them, then I, their legal guardian would have big legal trouble.  I moved them in with me at my house because I didn't want the negative rebellious influence they were displaying to affect  the other younger girls. 

So it took one month to resolve the case. The officials would say to come and bring the girls things, and then my other girls would say good bye to them, cry and carry on because these girls have been with us for 6-8 years.  It was always emotionally draining for everyone. We are like a family, but the officials look at us like a holding station for girls.   I would carry them to the judges and they would lecture the girls about how the other centers were not anything like our center and that they needed to straighten up and behave and send me back home with the girls and their luggage. One of my older girls, who had left once before with the older girl, just broke down emotionally and spiritually this week, when the two had returned once more back from the judges.  She was older and felt responsible for leaving with one of the girls last year.   I tried to tell the judges how hard it was on the girls for these prolonged and repeated good byes but to no avail. The runaways felt like they were exonerated from any wrong doing when the judges would send them home with no clear penalty for their actions.  They told the others at the farm that nobody could do anything about them running away. Some of the children were thinking that they might try it, because they saw they could live at Mom's house and no school and trips to town.  We were like side-way yo-yo in the road.  We were told to come and bring the girls and then return with the girls to the farm once again.  

Today, I carried the girls to the school for the girls to say good-bye again. One of the older girls said "Oh no, not again". Everyone was tired of this process at this point.  Then I went to the children's Defax type holding center two hours away.  I am realizing that I have spent more time with the girls who are being disobedient than with the girls who sincerely want to be at the farm.  I had to give the Valentine candy, I bought in the States out this morning, because I know I will be in the road and my plans for a Valentines party for all the girls are dashed.   The defax center only attend to kids during the day and place kids in different centers or paid foster care homes.  The older girl that ran away so many times last year, and in January,  got to stay in La Esperanza, which didn't seem fair since she has been the key person who led  the conspiracies for the girls to leave these last two years.   She is extremely high strung and hyper and they put her with a little old grandma who is so sweet and soft spoken and sells tortillas in the street all day!  They established last year that the grandma isn't her blood relative. she was  only someone who raised her father, who has long since past away.  That was one of the reasons she was living at our center for all these years in the first place, there was no clear person that would be there for her.  They had decided 6 months ago after one of this girls many escape attempts, that this wasn't a good situation and that the teenager would just not be monitored and end up in the streets, but now they changed their minds about her having to be with a blood relative and the social risk it would be but, it was a quick fix.  The grandmother couldn't take care of this strong willed child of 8 years old several years ago but now grannie has a strong willed 15 year old.  I couldn't believe what they had decided.

At our final court date, last Friday, the judge asked me why I didn't discipline the girls more to keep them from running away and another lawyer for children's rights spoke up and said that the government has made it virtually impossible to do so with all their regulations of what constitutes punishment/discipline.  Also people don't realize that I have 34 girls to discipline and most people have 2 children.  My girls do the same things as other children and I have punishments, like no movie night, raking the pinestraw and cleaning and then of course, I talk to them, which my son used to say he would rather take a beating than to have me talk to him about what he did wrong.  I mainly try to keep the girls busy. They go to school, they have chores, they crochet and draw and write letters.  My mom always told me "a tired child is a good child". But it is easy to try to judge.  I am sure my way of discipline looks odd to a lot of people, but I didn't come to Honduras to beat children, even though sometimes…. I have thought a good spanking was what was needed. 

When I tried to share with the officials that I was concerned that the older girls would be in the streets, everyone said,; "Listen this is not your problem anymore", "You are not in control of them anymore, you are not the legal guardian".  Don't worry about what happens to them. " If they make mistakes they are their mistakes their choices, not yours. " "Leave it alone"  Or they told me that it was criminal to let this 13 year old girl to go to the main youth center, and that they would give me a special permit over-riding the judges mandate.  I wanted the youngest girl to change her mind, but she was adamant to see this thing through.  Then after some calling to the district attorney for children, they assured me to obey the judges court order and that no one could over ride it with a special permission.  So I drove home, so torn, crying and praying, and hoping that God had a plan in all this.  

How do you just turn off 8 years of loving and caring and raising a child?  I feel like I have been put through an emotional coffee grinder this past week.  It would all be okay if I didn't sincerely love the girls, but I do, and so do many of you.  Please pray for the three girls that have left the farm. 

Driving back home, I was upset that everything had turned out the way it did.  On my two hour return trip back home,  I started thinking of the rich young ruler.  Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor and follow Jesus.  Everybody thinks it is a sermon about the love of money and it is, to a degree, but it is more a commentary about obedience.  It says he walked away sorrowful, but I know now that Jesus cried for the young man who refused to obey, but he let him walk away. 

I know how He must grieve when we are so determined to go our own way, regardless that everyone has pointed out the horrors of disobedience.  But we are just like our girls, you hear something so much it fails to have a ring of truth because your ears have become dull of hearing His Word.  Obedience is optional and our plans reign with our own personal agendas.

As I am writing this blog, one of my new girls has come over at 10:30 crying with a toothache.  She is the sweetest child I have ever met.  She never complains about anything. She had a horrific circumstance and loves being here in a safe place where no one can harm her.  I have been so busy with these other girls, I forgot that their are others who need attention too.  I know there are so many other girls in Honduras who need to be here because while all this has been going on, each official in every office is asking me to fill the place of the girls who are leaving with another girl who desperately needs a place to go.  

Please pray for these girls. Pray for me.  Pray that God's plan will rise to the surface and that I can get peace about all this.  Blessings, the Heart Broken Honduran MOM