After spending time with several girls in four different orphan homes, I was especially struck by my experience with one girl. For the sake of her identity, we will call her "Maria." She was 17 years old. I didn't get her story but knew her being there meant it was a painful one. Possibly a horrific one. My daughters and I introduced ourselves and led her by tables overflowing with dresses and together, selected several for her to try. She had a specific idea of what she wanted for her dress…long, formal, and elegant.
The first dress we put on Maria was a gorgeous, long, brown, silk with a halter neck. It fit her like it was made for her, and she lit up when she saw herself in it. We clapped and oohed and aaahed over her and she literally jumped when she saw herself in the mirror. We asked her if she liked it, and clearly she did. We asked her if she wanted to try some more, to see if she liked anything better. She nodded shyly, and we put dress after dress on her….bright yellow, bold teal, and on and on. Each time we praised her and hugged her and she beamed like a little girl twirling in her first fancy dress. I slowly realized that the first brown one was her favorite, and she knew she wanted that one. But she was basking in the attention of being a girl, getting to be praised and doted on. And so we continued. After trying several, she, as predicted, picked the brown one, and we cheered and nodded that we knew it was the best on her. Then we went to her room and she introduced us to her precious baby, who was just two months old. We held him, passed him around and cooed over him. Perfectly clean and dressed impeccably, sleeping peacefully, he was clearly well cared for by a girl so young to have such a responsibility. Seeing "Maria" as the girl joyfully trying on dresses like any 17 year old, then as the young mom facing such hardship, I cried. I hope we were able to give her some joy.