‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine
(Urged to repost this. So I am. It's from December 2010)
I feel compelled today to remind everyone who reads my blog that the children you are sending gifts to have one gift they desire more than any other -- a family. More than half of the children at orphanage #5 are currently available for adoption.Why aren't they being adopted? Many reasons, but the primary one is that they are not babies. Adopting an older child is not for the faint-hearted, but I cannot imagine anything more rewarding in life than giving a home to an older child.
I am not in the adoption field, but I do want to do everything in my power to advocate for these kids. As you can imagine, many of them are very jealous that D is being adopted, and wonder why no one has come for them. Are you the person they've been waiting for? Are you willing to do what it takes to bring them home? Here are a few random things you absolutely need in order to adopt:
1. Infinite Patience: it can take as little as four months but as much as a year or so ( longer if complications occur) to bring a child home. It depends on so many factors that it is impossible to gauge a time frame. But isn't a child worth the wait?
2. A Lifetime Commitment : Older children come home with many problems. They are damaged and hurting and it takes a great deal of time for them to heal but again, isn't it worth the time and effort? I know my daughter was and is. You cannot adopt these children expecting gratitude from them. You need to be the adult who leads them to healing. You cannot give up on them. Ever.
3. A Loving Heart : And by love, I mean the action word. You need to have enough love to put someone else first. You need enough love to say goodbye to your former life and welcome a whole new type of life in -- one of sacrifice and some suffering. ( Sorry, need to be honest here.) You need to be willing to make this child your life's work, the work of your heart. You need to be willing to let go of expectations, and just allow that child to move at his or her pace in healing. It can take a lifetime.
Of course there are other practical requirements -- You need to be healthy, you need to make enough money to qualify, but that's fairly easy. I only made $30,000 a year when I adopted Nastia. You don't need to be married (I'm single) You do not need to own a home (I don't.) You do not need to be rich (I'm not.) You do not need to even have a college degree. ( I do, but not everyone who adopts does!)
If you want to adopt, and you meet the above criteria, you should adopt. Plain and simple. Too many people let either the financial concerns or the fear of the paperwork get in the way. It's hard, I won't lie. It took me five years to save the money to adopt Nastia. Five years. Filling out the paperwork was one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life ( I'd rather climb Mt Everest, to be honest) Having ADHD made it very difficult to get through all the documents, but I did it. Slowly and painstakingly. You can, too.
Don't let age be a deterrent either! In Russia you can adopt well into your fifties, as long as you are no more than 45 years older than the child you are adopting. Meaning, I can still adopt children ages 5 and up . But Latvia has no upper age limit! My friend Jama is adopting a 14 year old right now, and she is 61! ( Hope you don't mind my sharing, Jama!)
Here's the thing -- I truly believe that there is nothing more urgent and important in this world that finding homes for orphaned children. These are real flesh and blood children we are talking about. I met them, held their hands, wiped their tears, and listened to their desperate pleas for families. I met hundreds of them in Russia, and yet there are millions more throughout the world.
Lives matters. Souls matter. Christmas presents, houses, ipads and ipods, vacations, jewelry, fancy clothing, spa visits, -- Do NOT matter! AT ALL! Every extra dollar you spend on things you don't need could be making a difference in the life of a child. Strike that -- it could be the difference between life and death for them. Truly - life or death.
Can't adopt? Why not give to someone's adoption fund? I plan on committing a monthly donation to adoption funds once I get D home. Why not commit to raising a specific amount for a family that wants to adopt but needs a little leg up financially?
Here are some of the kids waiting at Orphanage #5. They are even 'advertised' on the new orphanage website. They are waiting, waiting so very long to have someone to love them enough to climb that mountain for them.
Dima and Angelina ( not related, just in same photo)
Rosa, who has a younger brother Vasya.
Pray for these kids. Advocate for them. Tell people about them. If you can't adopt, try sending them monthly care packages or letters. It may be a pain to translate a letter into Russian from one of those online programs -- but it's not impossible. I do it at least once a week.
Want to adopt but don't have the funds? There are countless organizations that give grants to help. There are also amazing organizations like Reece's Rainbow that make adopting down syndrome and special needs children very affordable. If money is your excuse, throw it out the window. It is a flimsy excuse. If I can adopt as a single mother in this economy, making under $40,000 a year, you can. Start saving now! Hold yard sales, bake sales, have an online auction, sell things! I'm currently selling things on craigslist and it may end up paying for half of D's adoption costs! Look around your house -- you'll be amazed at what you find you can sell!
Ok, I am stepping down off the soapbox. But I'm not saying I won't get back up on it very soon :)