A Look Inside the Heart of an Orphan
Ignite Hope recently asked Cynthia Adams Hudson to write a guest blog for us about her personal experience as an orphan. She was placed in the foster care system when she was eight months old and continued living there all of her years as a minor. Read on to hear about her experience in foster care and to learn how God healed her broken heart!
As I reminisce about my long journey in the foster care system, which ranged from when I was eight months old to an adult, I want to share my heart about being profoundly aware of my circumstances as an orphan.
I can recall the resounding thought that pierced my very being the day I was told that I was an orphan. I thought, “I have no mom, no dad, no brothers, no sisters, no aunts, no uncles, and no grandparents.” It was a day of reckoning, and I remember it as if it occurred yesterday.
After a long meeting, I gathered that I may have been subject to a rehearsed speech from my foster parents and the social worker. The very response I spoke with my childlike innocence, my only word, was “okay.” Inside, I was wondering if anything would truly change. My first reaction was not to wonder where my parents were or even why I was there, but simply to question, “Is anything going to get better?”
With all of the studies completed regarding children, there is one word that somehow makes its way to the top: consistency. Thus, this word should be entangled and wrapped around our endeavors to create a loving world for the Modern Orphan. Consistency is so powerful that we cannot ignore it, and scientific studies back this up:
Children, especially preterm children, showed faster cognitive growth when mothers were consistently responsive...The importance of consistent responsiveness...was evident even when a broader constellation of parenting behaviors was considered.*
I wanted to specifically share about the broken heart of the Modern Orphan using Psalm 147:4, which states, "He [God] heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds."
I frequently heard questions like: Why is your name different? Why don’t you look like the others in your family? Are you a foster child? These questions rolled around in my head until I begin to feel sad and brokenhearted. The real heartbreak was that I could not answer any of these questions, nor did I want to. I did have a different last name. I did not look like everyone else. And, yes! I was a foster child, an orphan. That truth really broke my heart.
Heartbreak is like a heavy weight on your chest that you can’t shake or run from; it just stays with you. As I learned how to nurse my broken heart, I begin to examine my circumstances more. How did I become an orphan? Who would put me in this position?
As I looked for a way to function in this ever-changing world, I mastered the art of looking okay, saying that I was okay, and even smiling as if everything was fine. I knew how to bandage up my heart for each school day, which was just long enough for me to get home and lay across the bed and cry. Then I would bandage it up again for the next day.
I became good at it, and I fooled everyone so well that I was not ever offered help. No one even knew I needed help because I was so good at covering my broken heart with good behavior and good school grades. They all said, “She looks as if she is doing well, so she must be!”
I would encourage foster parents to pay close attention to children that they are fostering, for they often act like they are okay with their circumstances simply because they don’t know what else to do. Also, consistency and prayer are important elements in any home, so I would encourage foster parents to value these as tools in their parenting arsenal.
Consistency and prayer gave me the stamina that helped me achieve every degree I hold today, and I wouldn’t have learned the importance of these things without my first foster parents. My first foster home was a deep pool of spiritual fire. Prayer was a major part of our everyday life. We had prayer when we got up in the morning and prayer when we went to bed. Oh yes! Bible study was twice a week. Which believe it or not, I loved that.
I believe God knew I had a broken heart and begin to mend it in such small and unnoticeable ways that I did not know he was working for me all the time.
God mends broken hearts! This is inexplicable, but yet remarkably undeniable!
*EC Cooksey, MM Fondell - Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1996 – JSTOR, (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)