Most of the children that come to us have baggage. And I don’t mean clothes and other such “stuff.” In Guatemala, only the most severe cases of abuse warrant sending a child to an orphanage, and that is usually looked at as a temporary solution. The director of another hogar actually heard a judge tell a young girl that it wasn’t right for her father to molest her, but that she needed to be wise and stay away from him when he was drunk.
With this kind of early and tragic imprinting it is normal for these children to be confused about how they should act. Many have been trained to act in inappropriate ways. Our psychologist has some experience with the typical acting out behavior that accompanies these serious kinds of abuse. The children have regular individual and group therapy sessions where they learn more appropriate kinds of touch.
While these children are endearing, most are needy emotionally. As volunteers we want to advise you not to treat these children like your own children or your grandchildren. We do not want to teach them to give hugs to total strangers; you wouldn’t want your own doing that. Please be respectful of their very confused boundary issues. Even if you are sponsoring one of these children, give the relationship time to develop.