Sometimes when I go on trips, I like to keep some of the special stuff a secret; the moments that were so monumental to me that if others don't understand or if I can't communicate it correctly I might be disappointed. But, sometimes these moments are too good, too hard, too simple and too beautiful all at the same time that no matter what someone else takes away from them, they need to be shared.
This moment was one of them.
The third day I was in the Dominican I met my "twin".
Her name is Jenny, she's 23-years-old and born in July, just one month after me.
We sat down to talk about some of the other children so I could share their stories with
donors, but the conversation somehow turned to her own.
She was born in Haiti, taken over to the Dominican and placed in foster care. A woman came and raised Jenny as her own when she was still young enough to forget about the foster home. At first she treated her well because she was her only girl. But, when two more sons came along, Jenny started asking questions about why she was darker than the others. Her "mother" told her to stop asking, but as time went on grew frustrated with Jenny and began to abuse her.
[[I don't speak Spanish, but as I waited for everything to be translated I sat on the edge of my seat staring at Jenny, recognizing the emotions in her face and tone as she let me into her life. Even though at this point I didn't verbally understand why she was crying, it didn't come as a surprise to see the tears.]]
One day as she was sitting on her porch a woman walked by and then slowly turned around to meet her gaze. "You need to leave this house," she said. Confused, Jenny asked her what she meant. The woman responded, "I am a Christian woman and God is telling me that you cannot accomplish what you need to accomplish in this house." The woman invited her to church and with permission, Jenny attended. Over time she and this woman (a psychologist) became friends.
Concerned for Jenny and what she was seeing, the woman sat down with Jenny's mother. But her mother, feeling threatened, forbid Jenny to ever see this woman again, securing this command by locking her in her aunt's house. For months the only time Jenny's door was opened was for food. One day it was accidentally left unlocked, so she snuck out and made it the psychologist's home. Finding her missing, Jenny's mother called the cops and said the woman kidnapped her. When Jenny straightened out the situation she was taken into protective custody to be placed in our partner orphanage a year later when she was 14.
There's no need for me to explain why her story impacted me so much.
...why the fact that without a birth certificate she can't attend college to become what she wants (a psychologist) makes me feel helpless and frustrated.
...why when I asked her if it was weird to feel like a mother to so many kids at the home and she said, "No, I'm used to it," made me feel so selfish.
...why when I asked her how she felt about God throughout all of this and she responded,
"I know God has never forsaken me. I know He has been with me since I was born. If He wasn't with me I wouldn't be here today,"
it humbled me beyond words.
Jenny told me her story and is allowing it to be re-told because she believes the children she loves might be helped by those who hear it, and I pray they are.