Today I want to introduce you to Gladine. This is the second post in our series where each of our children will be introduced to our readers and supporters. If you missed our last post, just click here to meet Apolon. Today I am writing this with the knowledge that I will be leaving tomorrow to spend some time in the states. The first week I am in America, I will be speaking at a silent auction fundraiser in LaGrange on Sunday the 27, going to a missions committee meeting at FBC in LaGrange on Monday, and then flying out to Arkansas to meet with the Hope Rising board. After that, Jessica and I will be in Jacksonville expecting our first baby! We are adopting a baby in Jacksonville and we are every excited (click here to read our adoption story). So, I am writing this knowing that I will miss our children here very much over the next month until I get to see them again. Anyway, let me introduce you to Gladine…
Gladine is a 7 year old girl who lives with us and she is extremely fun! When I was deciding who to write about first, Gladine was the first one to come to mind. She has changed so much since we moved onto the Hope Rising campus, she is almost a completely different person. At our old place, Gladine was oftentimes subdued and would fade into the background. That is, until you gave her something with sugar in it, at which point she would turn into an endless ball of energy. I remember one time, after having a birthday party where she got both coke and cake, her grabbing a hula hoop and spinning around in circles. She did not realize that it was the hula hoop that was supposed to spin, she thought she was too, and she did it for at least 15 minutes straight. She would spin, fall to the ground, get up laughing, and then proceed to spin around in circles again. We really thought she was a fairly shy little girl who changed a lot when sugar was introduced to her diet. She was always extremely sweet and never defiant. She always loved to be held and craved attention. One of my most vivid memories of being in the old orphanage was one day when Gladine came and grabbed me by the hand and pulled me behind the meeting room. There were no other kids around, just a bench that she had clearly set up next to the building. I was a little confused as to what was happening until she pulled me to the bench, had me sit down, and then proceeded to just sit next to me and hold my hand. She made sure nobody else was around, and we just sat like that for about 5 minutes. Slowly, other children started coming and she just got up and we went back to what we were doing before.
You can tell that she was sweet, and like I said before she was quite subdued. Until we moved into Hope Rising. The first night we were here, she just continuously giggled. We could not figure out why, she just giggled. The longer we were here, the more consistently she ate, and the safer she felt, the more her personality truly started to shine through. She is not shy. She is not subdued. In fact, what we thought was “Gladine on sugar” was really just Gladine. She is a ball of energy all of the time now. Not only that, but she is also one of our biggest comics. She tells jokes all of the time and it can even be difficult to get her to be serious sometimes. Just 2 days ago, when we were all outside playing, she told everyone it was time for her workout. She proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes running around the field, backpedaling, hopping around on 1 foot, and really just doing anything she could think of to get a laugh. It was hilarious. It made me realize what a safe environment and consistent nutrition can do for a child. She is almost a completely different child, but she is becoming the child and the person that she was always created to be. She is still one of our sweetest and cutest girls, but she no longer fades into the background. She is now one of the first children you notice, and I love it! I love that she has been able to be herself maybe for the first time in her whole life.
Another thing that you may not know about Gladine is that she has a Mom and a Dad. They both live close by, and our first thought with her was that we wanted her to stay with her Mom and Dad when we moved to Hope Rising. We thought that if we could just help their family financially that maybe she would be able to stay with them. In fact, we talked with them and told them we could pay for her school and we asked what else they would need. At this point, we found out that Gladine’s Mom was pregnant again and we knew that her Dad no longer lived with them. They told us that we had to take Gladine because they just could not take care of her no matter how we could help. We struggled with this decision knowing that her parents were right there, but in the end we knew it was the right thing to do. We knew that if we put her back with her parents they would just find another “orphanage” to send her to and we could not let that happen. This has been the best decision of Gladine’s life. Like I said before, she is safe and happy maybe for the first time in her short life. As much as we try to keep families together, we could not here, and Gladine has thrived because of it.
Because of your support for All Things New, Gladine has found a new life. She has found safety and protection, food and nutrition, and love and attention that she has never known. Thank you for everything, and one day Gladine will understand how blessed she has been to have you in her life.