Unconditionally: Tales of the Unloved
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the LORD my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the LORD my soul to take.
No matter how big, or how small.
No matter how young or how old.
No matter what colour, shape or size.
No matter where the journey of life may lead them.
p l e a s e,
Bless them All.
For many people,
a family begins once a baby is born.
But, sadly, many children have never felt the sensation of being “home.”
I know this;
I have m e t t h e m.
It is heartbreaking when a child, only two years old, screams at the top of her lungs when you reach out to pick her up.
It is horrifying when you see the marks on a child’s body from where they have been beaten, time and time again.
It is absolutely astonishing to see a child, under five, devour an oversized adult meal.
In less than three minutes.
And what's even worse is knowing, that same child, likely, hasn't seen that much food in weeks.
There is only one way to break habits of the unloved,
and that is to love them;
u n c o n d i t i o n a l l y.
Unconditional love shows us the good that is found deep inside all of us, even when it sometimes seems like there is none.
When a little six year old boy takes your hand, looks up at you and says “I think… I love you.” When the little sScreamer crawls up on your lap and buries her face in your chest because the movie is scaring her. When an eighteen month old baby girl is dancing with a top hat on, completely engulfing her entire head. It is these small moments that children share with us, with me, that mean the most in the long run.
Those little moments some people think that they can only experience once. People think now that their children are growing up they will only be able to see those cute little things once their grandchildren are born. But I know that this is not true. I have seen hundreds of those “Kodak moments” from over a dozen kids. I know why I am so blessed to share these special moments with so many children too.
From the moment you step foot on the green tile at our front entrance, you are family. Once you are in the Ruzic household you learn that love does not have to hurt; that in order to love, you must first trust. All of your hurt can be wiped away; your pain is now the past and your future can be rewritten. You are now just a kid; plain and simple.
One little boy asked us the “rules” in our house. Would he have to go to bed earlier than all the other kids? Would he not be unable to participate in our family time? We had to sit him down and explain. In our house there are no foster kids and no “real” kids. There are just kids. He had just the same privileges, just the same consequences, and he was, just the same, as everyone else.
I remember our first set of kids. They're were so beautiful, so troublesome, and so very tiring. I remember how we loved the little girls so much. I remember the day we asked them if they would like a ‘k’ name like the rest of the kids. I remember when little K’alicia, who had only just turned three, told us that she wanted her name to be ‘Caesar Salad’. And when Kayla Hope thought that being called Kayla Dopey was a good thing. I also remember the day that the papers came, saying that they were ours, forever; no refunds, no exchanges. But the most important day I remember is when our parents sat us all down, the four “originals” and the new editions. Would we still like to foster, they asked us. I believe the answer was similar to “We are still breathing, aren’t we?”
From that day forward, many children came, and some left too. Some days it seems like they stayed too long, some days it seemed all too short. Some stayed for years, some months and some only weeks. I was once told that, sometimes, we only get a short chance to touch their hearts and we must trust that they will remember that we loved them as they go towards their new journey. Many children were sent to us so that we could help them. Help them love again, help them trust. But sometimes I think that some of those kids were sent here, not so that we could help them, but so that they could help us; remind us that even though life is dark and stormy now, there is always a silver lining.
Today my family is made up of ten children, I know that tomorrow there may only be seven. So today I will cherish every moment I have with them. Today I will show them the good in life. I will tell them that I love them, because we never know how much time we have left with them.
Today I will show them that a family does not grow in your belly, as a child does.
A family grows in your heart.
This Article was written in 2008, but this article captures the essence of my family and needed to be posted again.
As of today, I am the oldest of 15.