I'm on the Missions Committee at my church, and one of the missions we've supported for a long time is Niños de Baja, located in the town of El Porvenir, outside Ensenada.
While I was going through that stack of papers, I came across the April, 2008, newsletter from Niños. This article was in there. It quotes a letter from an adoptive mother. She is a Mexican woman, not an American, and her letter was written in Spanish and translated into English for the newsletter.
Abandoned in a park swing at 3 months, Andrea was one of our first babies [at the new orphanage]. Blonde and blue-eyed, she was a very serious baby who preferred to observe things from afar. Over the next year and a half, we watched as she slowly began to come out of her shell. Our director, Raquel, had a special relationship with her, and Andrea was a very bright student whose abilities far exceeded her age level. Andrea was adopted last September by a very loving couple who had adopted another girl earlier. The adoptive mother was so impressed by the level of care that Andrea had been given by Niños de Baja--such a contrast to what her first daughter experienced--that she sent us the following letter to express her gratitude:
"We adopted our first daughter, Anel, when she was 4 months old. When she came to us, she was extremely ill with the flu, bronchitis, and the chicken pox. She didn't want to eat and had symptoms of anorexia. At 5 months, she couldn't turn over or sit up, and her motor skills were very limited. She was a very small baby even though the discharge papers from the hospital said she had been born very healthy and had a good birth weight. I have friends who have also adopted, and after spending more than a year in the 'Albergue' (Mexico's home for children while they wait to be placed in an orphanage) their children also have arrived visibly uncared for, leading us to believe that they are not well attended there.
"We always said we would like to have two children, so when Anel turned 4 years old, we turned in our papers for another girl. Adopting Andrea was a completely different experience. Unlike Anel, she knew and missed the people who had cared for her, which made it difficult for everyone. When we went to get her in Ensenada, they first told us about her background, and then they gave us a letter from the orphanage. It told us what foods she liked and didn't, but more importantly, it said that the best way to approach Andrea was calmly and quietly (which was very difficult for us). When they brought Andrea in, our eyes filled with tears. We decided that I would hold her first, so they gave her directly to me. She didn't cry once, but I'll never forget how serious and how very tense she was. On the way back to Tijuana we talked to her but she only would shake her head yes or no. Once we arrived home, her expression changed when she saw the toys and our dog, which in that moment, became her pet. She began to relax when she saw Anel, her new sister. Since I had held her first, she attached herself to me so much that she wouldn't let me out of her sight, or she would cry with such anguish that it still hurts us. The adjustment was a bit slow, but we believe that she has now adapted to our family and friends, and she enjoys being with everyone.
"All of us were very surprised at how advanced Andrea was. Her overall abilities, especially her very large vocabulary, her knowledge and understanding of things that generally children her age haven't mastered--all of which she could only have learned with a lot of time and dedication. This told us she had been very well cared for in the orphanage.
"We can't thank enough all the people that fed her, cared for her, bathed her, taught her, and above all, gave her love and supplied her emotional needs that we were not able to do at that time. From the day we were told that Andrea would come to us, we asked God for her to be in a place that could meet all her needs--that she would be a healthy child who was loved and cared for. Now that we have had telephone contact with the orphanage, we realize that it's not at all like the Albergue, where children just pass through; that at the orphanage they worry about the children, truly care for them and that the caregivers suffer too when they are adopted, even though they know it's best for the child.
"Thank you for taking care of our baby when she needed it the most. Thank you for all! May God bless all of you!"
This is what it's all about: making the world better one child at a time, one family at a time.