Saturday, October 2, 2010

Belinda, "The Pregnant Girl"

When I was in Hyderabad, a lady called me, saying she was calling from the government child welfare department. She told me they had another child for me, and would I please come in tomorrow to sign for her? Just out of curiosity (wanted to see if it was the baby with the ortho issues who's supposed to be coming), I asked how old the child was. This was met with silence.

Assuming it was the Hyderabad government department the lady was calling from, I went there the next day to find out more. There, the official I spoke with hadn't heard anything about it. I showed her the phone number that the call had come from, and she talked with them herself. It turns out that the call had come from the department in my hometown, and that it was about a "mentally retarded pregnant girl." They wondered whether we would care for her. I told the lady that I'd be home in two days and that we could talk more about it then.

I arrived home yesterday morning just in time to get my girls ready for school and myself ready for our ministry's monthly leadership meeting. The meeting went on all day and I wasn't able to get over to Victory. Theresa called someone that afternoon and had them get me out of the meeting. She said that a new girl had been dropped off, with the government rep saying that she was an orphan and that there had been many calls from the area she was found in saying she was wandering around causing disturbance. Theresa said that the girl, "Belinda," did look like she was at least 7 months pregnant, that she was scared and anxious (hid under the van, tried to run out the gate) and that she was "precious." I felt good about the idea of welcoming her and helping her to safely deliver and learn to raise her child, and when I got home I announced on facebook that we'd received a pregnant young lady into our care and were very happy about it.

This morning Theresa told me that Belinda had been complaining about abdominal pain and asking to go to the hospital. She also told me that our secretary had said that the government lady claimed that Belinda wasn't pregnant at all, but rather had a kidney problem. However, our staff said that Belinda claimed to have "a little boy in her tummy" and that she had to go to the hospital because of that.

I met Belinda this morning. I realized immediately that she's much older than the letter in her file said--she's probably in her late 30's or 40, not 20, with graying streaks in her hair. She immediately took to me and said "I want to stay with you. I don't want to stay with her" (pointing to Parvathi, one of our sweetest ayahs). That lasted about twenty minutes, though, until we stopped by the MRI center to drop off a nurse and child. Belinda tried to climb out the open window, shouting to the people going by, "I don't want to stay with these people!" She started to cry, saying she wanted to go to the hospital. We took her to the diagnostic center to get an ultrasound and some bloodwork done. She refused to go in and made a scene outside, biting Parvathi and screaming that she didn't want to be with us, that she wanted us to go away. When we finally convinced her to go into the center, she ran to a man, saying, "I want to stay with you, not these people." Then she sat down on the floor and cried. When we tried to get her to sit in a chair, she ran behind the receptionists, refusing to leave and begging to stay with them, not with us, and crying loudly. This just went on and on.

The ultrasound revealed that Belinda is not pregnant, that she just has an excess of abdominal fat. I asked whether she might have had a recent abortion, and the technician felt that her uterus looked as though she had never been pregnant, and that if she'd had a recent abortion, it would be more distended. He also said she does not have any apparent kidney issue (I got a kidney function test done to double-check). I also asked that a complete blood picture, HIV and Hep B screening be done for her.

Belinda wouldn't leave the center until I got the brilliant idea of trying to get her to come with me the opposite way--then she turned and went out the door. Once outside, she bolted straight into traffic and ran like an Olympic sprinter right into oncoming cars and motorbikes. Parvathi and I screamed, "Catch her!" to the men on motorbikes, and someone finally caught her. We caught up with them and each took an arm to lead Belinda back to the van. By the time we reached the van, a big crowd of men had gathered to see why Belinda had run from us. I just handed over the file with the government transfer letter and let them read it for themselves.

I think that, in addition to being cognitively challenged, Belinda has a mental illness and is accustomed to street living. She's delayed, but she's not childlike in the way our young adults are--she's calloused and leery of us. Just keeping her from running away will be a difficult job.

My gut feeling (and this is the first time I've felt this way about anyone referred to us) is that this is an entirely different situation than a pregnant 20-year-old with cognitive challenges would have been. I have had dreams about ministering to people with mental illness, have had prophecy along those lines, and have always believed we'd have a home someday for people with mental illnesses found wandering on the streets. There are probably at least fifty people in similar situations on the streets of our hometown alone, and we could fill up a building instantly if we opened our doors for that. But I kind of feel like, "Not Victory. Not now. Not with 60+ little children...." I just don't see Victory being a good fit for her.

There's a Sisters of Charity Home for the Destitute and Dying in Guntur where they care for many adults in similar situations. It's bare-bones, but it's a more natural fit for her. I think I'll give the situation three days, seek the Lord on it, and, if He doesn't show me that she's to remain in our care, I may approach the government about transferring her there. If He shows me that she's ours, then we'll joyfully make Belinda a permanent part of our Victory "family."

Please pray for us, that we'll hear very clearly from the Lord and that Belinda will be comforted and calmed, will not run away, and that our staff can minister to her a bit in the meantime.


Anonymous said...

Wow! God will show you, but it sounds right.


Sarah said...

Oh, wow, Sarah, there's never a dull moment, is there?! Praying for Belinda.


Claire said...

Good Luck with everything. If the Sister's of Charity home doesn't work out then the Camp Hill village in Bangalore might be a good option. I know it is very far away, but it might be a better fit.

dorothy said...

Praying and laughing a little at the way the Lord twists and turns what we think are straight paths.
hugs, hugs, hugs!

Erin said...

Sarah, you have such a heart for others. I know that it's not an easy decision. I had to make a similar decision when I had a home for pregnant and parenting teens. While I already had 2 girls and 3 babies plus my son, a new pregnant girl was placed with me. The case worker did not tell me that she was schizophrenic. I loved her for the time she was with me and I did not want to send her to live in a state home. The deciding factor for me was that her mental instability could put my other kids in danger and as difficult as it was, I did make the decision to have her moved.

I'm praying for you and for Belinda.

Love you!

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