One day I received a message from a friend 12 hours away. She was asking about us taking in a child who had been abandoned for many months at their public hospital. Every week there are requests to take in children who are left in hospitals or in corrupt orphanages or abusive situations. Almost always, the answer in no on our end unless there is a family member that we can relocate with the child. It is not easy to say no, but the reality is if we want to have children remain in families, we cannot overflow our foster families with more children than they can handle. But there was something about her photo that captivated me. The threats from IBESR (the local government) were that if we did not take her soon, then they would find whatever orphanage would be willing to take her. You could see in the photos that she was covered in scabies and the hospital said they were recovering her from very severe malnutrition. They did an amazing job getting her to gain weight and be able to move to blended foods. We knew that Sterline had family in the area where she had been abandoned, but IBESR refused to continue trying to return her home. The truth is, they would return her home and she would show back up at the hospital again and again. But what were they doing to offer that family any kind of counseling/therapy? Raising a special needs child in a country that curses them and throws them away...takes dedication and love for a family to KEEP their child for this many years. What kind of help was offered to help find a place nearby that could work with their special needs child? What kind of training was offered in business so that the family could learn to take care of her? All her family knew was that she was very malnourished and sick and her best chance of survival was to leave her at the hospital where hopefully she would find help. I knew, that if we ever had the chance to re-unify this child with her family, we would first need to rescue her. If she ended up in an orphanage, the chances would diminish to almost 0% of a reunification to happen. I also knew that the chances of her getting one on one, specialized care would be almost non-existent. Special needs children are looked upon as a burden in an orphanage because they cost them a lot of money. There are special nutritional food that is needed, sometimes blended meals as well as medical bills and seizure medications. Children cannot fend for themselves and are 100% dependent on their caretaker, which means they are also prone to abuse from other children or those in charge of them. My heart could not say no this time. After praying for a month and more threats from IBESR and the hospital to find an orphanage, we decided to arrange for Sterline to come home to the Jackson House. We had one spot open because Maria passed away in March and we were hesitant to fill that place. But if the Mondelus family (foster family of Jackson house) had the chance to rescue another child and bring that child love, then the answer could not be no.
With the help of our missionary friends, Sterline made the 12 hour journey to come home to the Jackson House. She met her new foster mama whose heart sank when we said that we were trying to locate Sterline's family and there may be a future chance of reunification. She fell in love with her in thirty seconds.
So here is our beautiful Sterline. She swam in the ocean for the first time and was all smiles. She is enjoying being held all the time and she is attempting to be able to sit on her own if she is in the right chair for support. We hope to one day convince one of her family members to come and learn how to care for her, but in the meantime, she is well loved in a family with Jackson, Bella and her foster siblings. We may not be able to say yes to all the requests, but for Sterline her life was spared from entering in to orphanage where she would have been left without parents and siblings. For that, we are grateful that she has been brought to One Gift, One Child.