Wow! It has been 3 years now since we came back to the States from Chile and said good-bye to the girls at Hogar Ines Riesco Llona. Many of the girls have had big changes in their lives, with blessings and continued challenges of returning to live with their families. Others have been adopted into a new family. We wanted to share with you some of their stories.
Not every story has a perfect ending, several situations continue to be far from ideal. These girls have led very difficult and emotionally chaotic lives. While working on this post, I realized that if I only told the exciting 'successful' stories, it would not be true to myself or to the girls. Each story is meaningful because each child is relevant and important. This is the real fabric of their lives. (To protect the girls' privacy, I have not used all their names.)
God encounters us in the messiness of our humanness, and it is here that we find testaments to the power of love. If we are not willing to 'be' in the messiness, we miss the full beauty of the miracles that happen within.
Millaray Returned home to live with her Grandmother. While living at the Hogar she was failing all of her classes. Now that she is back with her grandmother, she has blossomed, she isn't as angry and she is now getting a B average in all her classes.
About 10-15 of the girls have also all returned home with family. As in Millaray’s case, many of the girls found more security and stability in returning home. In several of the families, however, alcohol continues to have a significant negative impact on the parent’s ability to provide for their family and to be present and parent the children.
One of our sister pairs who were able to return home with their parents lost their mother the next year. Their father struggles with addiction and was unable to take care of the girls. The older sister is now living with her boyfriend. The younger sister is living with a school teacher who opened up her heart and her home to her.
Two of the youngest girls were adopted in 2011 by Chilean families. Yocemberg returned to visit the Hogar after a few months. Her 4 hour temper trantrums were gone, she was calmer and more confident. By the simple act of someone saying ‘I will love you always,’ she was a transformed child.
Ruth was adopted by a couple from Spain. It is amazing that someone so far away could love Ruth so much that, before ever meeting her, they loved her completely and took her as their own. What a beautiful reflection of God’s love for us, complete and unearned.
Javiera and Tania were both adopted by their 'apoderados,' a family that provided weekend respite and mentorship for the girls. This is especially unique in Javiera’s case as she was older at 11, and adoption is rare at this age. Her adoptive family applied to adopt her 3 times before the judge granted the adoption. They never gave up on her.
A handful of the girls continue on at the Hogar, along with the new children who have come to the Hogar. There are 17 girls in all and most of them are much younger. There is only one teenager still living at the Hogar, which has been a lonely and challenging road forward.
Cynthia left the Hogar to live with her boyfriend and his grandmother. She had a beautiful little girl in December of 2012. With the continued support and encouragement of the Sisters, she started school again last March.
The true miracles, interwoven into these girls lives, are miracles of love and love’s transformative power. When we witness love’s power, it can inspire us to love more intentionally and more deeply.
Thank you to everyone who has accompanied us on this journey, and especially to the girls of Hogar Ines Riesco Llona. You have all taught us to love more deeply.