This August, Lydia Tarr, International Adoption Program Director, and Nicole Skellenger, Director of Operations, traveled to Hidalgo, Mexico to visit children’s homes, meet the First Lady of the State of Hidalgo and explore the possibility of international adoption. Below they reflect on their visits to three governmentally run facilities that are homes for children.
We were shown such a warm welcome in Mexico and are thankful to have met so many wonderful people with hearts for children. On Tuesday, August 16, 2011, we were invited on a special tour of four governmentally run facilities in Hidalgo, Mexico. The governmental entity that runs these facilities is Sistema Nacional de Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) Hidalgo, a public administration committed to improving human and social development for vulnerable people. Their commitment to children and older adults was clear on our visit. Though there is great need, DIF has done a tremendous job with their facilities and staff. All four facilities were very well kept and organized. The staff was gracious, kind, and showed extraordinary professionalism.
We visited both a girl’s and boy’s home; where we met beautiful boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 18. The facilities are home to 100-200 boys and girls in the constant care of the State, based on their legal status and vulnerability. Hundreds of other children have access to the facilities and resources on a daily basis. DIF is committed to providing these children with not only food and shelter, but also life skills, in an effort to give them the best chance at life upon release at 18 years of age. In the homes, there were training schools for various occupations. The children were learning to become bakers, seamstresses, electricians, construction workers, craftsmen, hair dressers, among other occupations. Despite the great efforts by DIF, there is still great need for supplies. The Fatherless Foundation, Inc. was able to provide donations, but the need is still great.
The last stop on our tour of the DIF facilities was the home for the youngest children, from infants to 6 years. This visit was one of the highlights of our day, yet also one of the most heart-wrenching, since we had a little more time to interact and connect with the children in this home getting to know them. The little ones were just beautiful and we wish we could show pictures of these angels, so that readers could experience the beauty and innocence as well, but for confidentiality purposes we could not take pictures of the children residing in this home or the other children’s homes.
While visiting this home we had the opportunity to play with the children. Whenever we have the opportunity to visit with children in need there is always one child, and often several that touch you and you take the memory of them with you. In this case there were several! There was one little boy with huge dimples that kept throwing his socks out of his crib so that we would pick them up and every time we did he would let out a giggle. He just loved the attention! We also met a very sweet special needs child as she worked with her therapist on sensory issues. It was great to see not only the basic physical needs are being met for these kids, but also that resources are also allocated to help the development of children with additional needs.
DIF is doing a fantastic job with their facilities and staff, but there is no replacement for a loving and permanent family, that a child can depend on not to leave no matter what. DIF is committed to caring for these children and also to adoption when possible. We are hopeful that these children will find homes in Mexico or abroad.