Wow! I have never met so many adoptive families, from different places, as we have over the past seven weeks since moving to Kiev! Prior to this I have personally known only a small number of people who have adopted children into their own family. What an encouragement to see adoption as a “common” thing here. Don’t get me wrong, it is no small undertaking, but having the privilege of personally meeting six (?) adoptive families in such a short time, from all over the United States is simply wonderful! Some have biological children at home, some have other adopted children at home, some have both, some bring their children along for the journey…amazing! Not surprisingly, each of these acquaintances has been made at church. Us trying different churches to see where the Lord has for us, and them worshipping in a foreign country while waiting for legal aspects to be finished up before returning home with the adoptive children.
In addition to these personal connections, I have been introduced to some online groups specifically for people coming to this area to adopt, which allows me to get an even broader picture of God’s work of placing the Ukrainian orphans in families. Besides that, I am meeting people who volunteer in the orphanages, children’s hospitals, host out of town adoptive families, and bring groups of children to the U.S. to stay with host families (which often leads to adoption). It is so inspiring to see people who have never met one another come together as if old friends because of their common desire to serve in whatever way they can.
On a similar note, the children and I also had the pleasure of going with a new friend to volunteer at an orphanage (one time so far) to bring some summer fun. We played games and brought a couple projects as entertainment. It was surprising to me how easy it was to gain access to the facility, how well kept it was, and how the gate was open for the kids to be out in the neighborhood. This was a place for older children (8+, or so) and most of them seemed to be away for the summer at various camps or on vacation with family(?!), etc.
I don’t think it was a “typical experience”. I hope to be able to return there as well as to others in the future. I am told that the orphanage we visited was uncharacteristically nice, likely due to it’s location to the large city of Kiev. They get more visitors/money/volunteers(?) and keep it looking presentable. It must have to do with the ladies who run it too, I am guessing. It sounds like volunteers/guests aren’t quite so welcome at some other locations.
Back to the orphanage visit, we met a boy, age 12, that day. My friend told me that an American family was coming to adopt him in the coming weeks. Lo and behold, we meet them at church and have had several contacts with them since then. It seemed like such a small world thing with the number of children out there that we could have met. It made the whole thing so much more personal for us.
I say “Great job!” to the pastors and organizations who are promoting adoption. You are making a difference! People are catching the vision and setting out for the journey. It is long. It isn’t easy. But we believe God calls for it. Keep on going. Lives are being changed one child at a time!