God's Littlest Angels (GLA) is a Haitian orphanage in the business of relentless love, restoration, and redemption through adoption, medical, and outreach ministry. Founded with the primary purpose of providing medical care to premature, malnourished, and abandoned infants in Haiti, GLA is regularly called upon to care for orphaned children around the country by connecting them with permanent families through adoption.
Loving and leaving are synonymous to these orphan babies. An infant’s tie with his mother is instantly and irrevocably broken when he is orphaned weeks or months after birth, and a toddler neglected by her parents will come to know abandonment as the foundation of her life. These children’s lives are rooted in loss; their beginnings are centered around what becomes the only constant in their lives―the belief that those who love them will leave.
Each orphan, premature baby, and malnourished child carried through GLA’s gates is shown abundant and personalized care. Every child is covered in love, something infinitely vital to their developmental and emotional growth. Cognitive disruption in a child’s early life has the potential to severely impair brain development, particularly when frequent eye contact, verbal communication, and emotional connection is lacking. GLA staff understand the importance of healthy social and cognitive development and have a steady influx of volunteers working to provide as much direct attention to each child as possible.
God’s Littlest Angels is one of the best equipped orphanages in Haiti. The staff pours out extraordinary care into every child who comes to them and provides some of the best pediatric medical expertise in the country. However, the harsh realities of orphanage life are unavoidable, and institutionalized children invariably sustain damage in some way.
When eighteen-month-old Mina* was abandoned at GLA’s door by her exhausted and financially distressed mother, the orphanage staff immediately noticed she struggled with intense separation anxiety and attachment issues. Overcome with grief, Mina would pound her head against the pavement, scratch her face until it bled, and wail until she made herself sick, effectively embodying the anguish she could not communicate.
These children crave connection, closeness, and constant care―attention they not only desire, but deserve. Unfortunately, the rotation of volunteers and staff members, which change almost weekly, creates an unstable routine for the children. Volunteers bond with the children and shower them in love and attention, but they inevitably have to leave; they hold them when they cry, until one morning they inexplicably do not return. A volunteer’s presence and eventual absence manifests as yet another broken promise, another loved one lost. This kind of unpredictable emotional provision can cause incomprehensible heartache and confusion in the lives of already vulnerable children.
From the moment she was abandoned, Mina believed she was unloved, unwanted, and unseen. Despite the exceptional level of care she receives at one of the best orphanages in Haiti, the ramifications of early abandonment and long term institutionalization on her life are profound. Mina is internalizing lessons about love and loss that will permeate through the rest of her life―when she is sixteen and seeking permanence, when she settles into a future relationship and wrestles with trust, or even as she parents her own children someday. The parallels between loving and leaving will perpetually coexist and may even remain as the only reliable truth Mina knows.
The stability and constancy these children need will only be fully realized in the form of a permanent family. While God’s Littlest Angels provides the highest quality care for their children, each orphan truly needs and deserves placement with a forever family, one that will prove to them that love stays. GLA functions as the crucial bridge between a child’s desperate beginnings and their potential for a fulfilling, joyful life.
*name changed to protect confidentiality
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