This is a post that I really wish I had photos for. Unfortunately, I don't. Today I went to Eastern Social Welfare Society in Hongik University area of Seoul to volunteer with the orphan babies there. I went with a friend I met at church, who goes every Sunday.
Pretty much since I got here, I've marveled at how adorable Korean babies are. Like, I don't think I've seen an ugly baby here. They are all just so stinkin' cute! My friend, Miri, told me about volunteering at the orphanage about a month ago, but then 2 weeks ago at church, my pastor gave an amazing sermon about the church's role in taking care of the orphans in the world (to watch it, here is the link!) In the sermon, he mentioned a church here in Seoul that has an amazing ministry to care for unwanted children. Rather than attempting to explain this, I'll share the trailer for the award-winning documentary made about the ministry. These combined forces led me to accompany Miri for the afternoon caring for the little babies.
I met her at noon in Hongdae and we walked over to the building. Since it is Sunday, the main door was closed but we walked in the side entrance which was propped open. When we got to the floor with the babies, I was kind of shocked at the lack of screening of the volunteers. Since Miri goes often, I just followed her. I wasn't asked any questions, just given a pink doctor's robe, told to wash my hands, and given a baby to feed.
I took SooBin, 4 months, into the room where the volunteers were at. Miri said there are usually around 5 volunteers on Sundays, but today there were more, around a dozen. I sat in an office chair and fed my little one. He was a bit fussy and spit up on me within about 15 minutes. He only drank half his bottle then refused any more, so I burped him and just cuddled him for a while. Eventually I took him back to his room (shared with 40 other babies). He was so sweet and precious and looked at me with huge eyes. He was so easy to love.
After I put him back in his place, I was directed to a 6 month old, whose name I can't remember. (I remember SooBin because I have a student with that name). Anyway, this one was older and more active. I just took him to play and be loved on, rather than to feed him. This little guy was super jumpy, as in he went nuts when I bounced him in the air. His smile was infectious and I wore myself out playing with him. My arms are literally jelly right now.
We stayed about 2.5 hours, and that was plenty. I was exhausted as we left. As much as I wanted to take every one of them home, it was another shot of birth control, as only 2.5 hours left me so exhausted I don't know how I'd be able to do it full time. At the same time, my heart broke as I saw all the little ones and realized just how few people worked at the place. There are usually 4 workers to care for ~70 babies (30 of which are sick in some manner). Of course, there are volunteers, but they can only help so much, and only at certain times. Every one of those little miracles deserves so much love and attention! I couldn't help think about several of my friends who have new babies and how much they fawn over their children. These babies don't have anyone to arrange newborn portraits, to rejoice at their first steps, first teeth, first words. Everyone deserves a mommy and daddy to shower them with love.
I have a LONG ways to go before I could be ready for motherhood, but there is definitely something beautiful about loving a baby. I want to share the amazing love I was raised in, and hope/expect to have in my future relationship and marriage, with a child who might otherwise not have the opportunity. I believe in adoption and I hope very much that in the future I can have that experience.
While at the center, I saw 2 couples come in that were in the process of adopting some of the babies, and another family come in that were discussing the decision to adopt (so Miri told me; they were all Korean and I couldn't understand myself). Seeing that definitely raised my spirits! But, there are still so many more beautiful children in that building that need love and a forever home. I hope and pray that they find that. They are loved so much already by a great and amazing God; I hope they find an extension of that love in a family.
As for me, I am exhausted. I could barely manage to write notes at church, my arms were so worn out. I am going to bed early tonight in an attempt to regain use of them before another week of work.