I encourage you to take a minute and watch the next short video clip about children from hard places. From everything I understand about the orphange conditions in the Ukraine, I cannot imagine I am going to easily want to maintain as much continuity and familiarity for our children as suggested. I am sure my desire as their mother will be to try to swifly move them into feeling a new familiarity. This video, however, reminded me to think about the children’s losses through their eyes. When they first come home, to them, it may seem as if everything familiar (no matter how bad) has been removed or taken from them. Familiar smells, familiar foods, familiar language, familiar music, familiar faces. They are going to be thrown head first into a new culture with new grown-ups and kids whom they have never seen before. Even as an adult who knows Christ, that would be hard for me to transition easily and without some sort of resistance. I am so humbled to get even just a small glimpse of the sacrifice Christ made by leaving a sinless heaven where there is no pain, death, or evil in order to come to earth for me. What a rotten place earth must have looked like to Jesus. I can imagine that the orphanage may look like a rotten place to me, but to my children in the Ukraine, it may be the only stable familiar thing they have ever known.
It’s a question we’ve heard quite a bit: why are you adopting from the Ukraine? We’re always glad to talk about it because it is part of our adoption story. When we first were called to adopt, like most adopting families, we had to make a decision: domestic or international adoption. While we know that there are many children in the U.S. that need a great family, we really felt led to consider international adoption. I don’t know how else to say it other than God laid it in our heart to look overseas.
Of course, there are many countries and lots of orphanages to consider when you decide to adopt from another country and it can be a little overwhelming. In doing our research, we came across resources such as Lifesong for Orphans (watch a great video here about Lifesong & adoption) and Show Hope (Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization) that helped us understand that one of the best things we could do would be to work with an adoption agency that would help us navigate the adoption waters. After a careful review, we selected Christian World Adoption, which is based in Flat Rock, N.C. and Charleston S.C. CWA works in specific countries around the world and they can help in identifying the country that is a potential best-fit for your adoption process. So, initially, we elected to work with … Khazakhstan. That’s right, Khazakhstan. You know, that large country just south of Russia! Yeah– we didn’t know much about it either. But, we were impressed with their approach to adoption and the condition of their orphanages. So, we started the process. But then, we learned that CWA had not received any referrals in Khazakhstan for siblings (if you want to adopt two children, many Eastern European countries require that the children be siblings) in the past eight years of working there. So, after further consultation with CWA, they advised us to look into their Ukraine program. And for us, it was immediately a good fit. There are so many children waiting to be adopted, CWA has processed several “sibling groups” in the recent past and the timetable to adopt from the Ukraine is about 8-10 months (compared to 4 years for China). So, we decided to change our application from Khazakhstan to Ukraine and we were on our way.
In the months since that decision, we can definitely say that we’ve learned a lot about the Ukraine. We even followed the presidential elections in the Ukraine (wow, that was different!) to keep tabs on the political climate within the country. It’s strange how you can become so connected to a place that you’ve never been to. But, when God tells you that two of your children currently live there, you really want to know all you can about the place where they live.
So, that’s how we came to our decision to adopt from the Ukraine. We are very excited about travelling there. And of course, we’re most excited about bringing home our children from there.
One last thing: if you’d like to get a sense of what it is like in a Ukrainian orphanage, watch this brief video. Warning: you might want to get a tissue; it’s a little tough to watch.