By Sara Choe
I think my heart broke a little this morning.
Becky has wanted to care for orphans in Romania for about as long as she’s been in Romania (which is the early 1990s). She initially wanted to take in infants, but received older children. Some have come and gone because they couldn’t stand the “tough love” or the discipline/chastisement that comes with being under a parental authority. Some have made their home at Casa Shalom because they’ve been reconciled with their family.
Casa Shalom, despite caring for and housing orphans through the years, never official became an orphanage. The government’s laws and regulations continued to hinder her from running a Christian orphanage that would be financially feasible for Becky to operate. Ultimately, these roadblocks have changed the direction of Casa Shalom; we now hope to see this place become a retreat/conference center.
This place, which truly lives up to its name, is in transition. Namely, the two remaining orphans, Marius and Catalin, both eleven years old, will have to move to different orphanages soon.
We’ve half-joked about putting them into our backpacks and taking them with us, persuading our families to adopt them, lamenting that if we were older, we’d adopt them (and by “we”, I refer to myself).
Then, this morning as our team met to pray, we found out that Marius would be leaving as soon as Friday and that he can’t be adopted outside of Romania. Of course, should we follow through with stuffing him in our packs, we could possibly be charged with kidnapping.
If you got to meet Marius, you’d also be confused as to why attempts to reconcile him to his family didn’t work.
He’s quite friendly: right away, he introduced himself to me, shaking my hand. He loves to play soccer and basketball, and sometimes tennis, but mostly soccer and basketball. And he loves to sing; I noticed the slight vibrato in his voice during praise.
He’s always helpful in the kitchen, setting the table and cleaning up. And the way he played with two pre-school age girls helping them on the swings and the other thing that spins exuded sweetness and kindness. He gets motion sick, I learned; he told me, as he spun the thing, but not too fast, that if he sits on the-spinning-thing-I-don’t-know-the-name-of, he will “vom.”
Anyway, the story of how the second, and seemingly final, attempt of reconciliation made me sad and angry, but mostly sad. “Don’t you know how precious he is?!” I want to scream at his father. And then I want to tell him, “You don’t deserve him, anyway.”
So, within a few days, he will be living in a new place, meeting new people, away from the house and friends he’s known for eight years, which is a considerable chunk of his lifetime. His “real” family won’t receive him and this family, who cherishes him and wants to keep him, can’t. I’m sure there are families outside of Romania who’d be thrilled with the idea of a Marius, but he’s not available to them.
And it sucks. It sucks enough that, as he sauntered through the dining room during breakfast, greeting us, I had to avert my eyes and fix them on my recently-empty bowl of cereal instead to keep from crying.
Until this afternoon, I didn’t know how exactly to pray about all this. There was just this big “I dunno” on my heart. My friend came to the rescue with the idea of praying against a spirit of rejection over Marius before he goes; for in God’s eyes, Marius has never been an orphan.
And I remember, too, now, that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So while I don’t know much, what I do know is enough.
Sara is currently on an 11-month adventure around the world.