With the Russian children coming, the main thrust these past few weeks was to find host families for them. They cannot come unless matched with a family about two months prior to their arrival. Plane tickets must be bought; visas must be obtained. We set up an information table in our church lobby but because tables are often set up for all kinds of events and ministries, people tend to just walk by. We had to use stronger tactics to get attention. When someone passed that I knew even casually, I grabbed them by the arm and drew them to our table. It was amazing to see the response. It's one thing to ask people to take some unnamed orphan into their homes and quite another for them to flip through a photo album with the faces of real children. Many people volunteered to help with humanitarian aid that will be sent back, to participate in the Vacation Bible School we have planned, or to talk to friends who might be considering adoption. We also found some host families.
As for our family personally, Fred and I also looked at the pictures. The coordinator of the program wanted families with a serious interest in adoption. We don't have the means for that. And our ages! We wanted to step aside and let other couples with more resources and more years left to volunteer. Two sisters caught my eye though. They were the same ages as our girls. But they disappeared from the album. This project is going on simultaneously in other states and pictures are shared. Children's photos would come and go and be replaced with other faces. There were many boys, several sibling groups, and only older girls. We waited, memorized their faces, prayed for them, and pondered where God was leading us.
One day our coordinator e-mailed me with a picture of an 11-year-old boy named Misha. Would we host him? She hadn't asked us about any other child. Why him? He was an impish boy with a cute smile. We can't take a boy--no room in our small house. On a whim, I sent his picture to a good friend of mine. She never mentioned adopting again, but somehow this boy seemed right for her family. To our delight and surprise, this family decided to host him. Through their example, we considered the children who were left as time was running out.
Finally I asked the coordinator if any single girls (not in sibling groups) were left. Only one, she said. An almost 13-year-old named Oksana. I remembered her from the photos. A plain, blonde girl with glasses. She reminded me of me at that age. Fred and I said yes, we will take her. We met at our friend's house one evening to see videos of the children and to sign paperwork. It turned out Misha was taken! But our friends were interested in another adorable boy named Sergei. The coordinator showed us Oksana's video and I was very drawn to this child and her unfortunate circumstances that brought her to the orphanage. We were also shown another girl's video. I thought only one girl was left. But supposedly this girl had been chosen by another couple who later changed their minds. However, we were committed to Oksana.
The next morning the coordinator called me. Oksana was gone! She was going to Texas to stay with a family that wanted to adopt her. We bond so quickly with a photo. Ask anyone who has adopted from China about how we cling to those tiny photos. I couldn't believe how this news about Oksana struck me. "Our" girl was gone. I was thrilled she would have a home but I thought it might be with us. There was still the other girl. Time was running out for these kids. We said yes again. Is this the child God intended for us all along? Her name is Diana. She is 10-years old and has big blue, sad eyes.
Please pray for her and for all these children. Negotiating over children, choosing children. The whole process makes me uneasy. But these are real kids with real lives, children without homes or families. Children loved by the same God who loves and cares for us. They will be turned out of the orphanages around age 15 when their government ceases to provide for them any longer. There are statistics on what happens to these orphans as they grow to be adults. It is horrifying.
Friends and family--we need your urgent prayers. Pray that we can discern where God is leading. Pray for Diana and for this program and all the other children.