The thought of adopting an older child brought feelings of fear, uncertainty and apprehension. My husband and I easily said “yes” to adoption, but in my mind it was of an infant. I wanted a baby. Then it would be MY child. Molded, shaped, trained and developed by us. Free of abuse, bad habits, and all the baggage that comes with a life in less than loving surroundings. It may sound very selfish, but honestly, it’s the way I felt. My husband lovingly encouraged me to be open to the idea of adopting an older child, but I stood resolute in my feelings.
Then in an instant, all my own ideas, plans, motives and agendas were flung out the window like dirty dishwater.
One morning when I was praying around 5 AM, I had a vision. Clear as day. I’ll never forget the picture. I was sitting on our living room sofa, and my eyes were wide open.
I saw a green field, sparsely dotted with trees. The landscape was similar to ours here in Southeast Texas, but I knew right away from the war-torn feel of it all, that the place I saw was in an Eastern Bloc country.
My eyes were drawn to a blue, plastic barrel. It was bigger than the usual blue barrels you typically see used for storage. It was on the ground near a tree, was tipped over on its side, and the end was open so I could see inside.
Standing in the barrel, looking out and seemingly straight into my eyes, was a little girl. She was an orphan. Alone, and having to fend for herself. She looked very sad, but was unafraid.
In that moment, I knew there was a young girl in the former Soviet Union, who was our daughter, and was waiting for us to find her. I knew that we needed to begin praying for her. Because of the blue barrel, I knew that God was protecting her for us. Preserving her. Keeping her safe from the battles that would take place around her.
We began to pray for this daughter of ours. We prayed for her protection. We prayed that God would bring people into her life who were loving and kind. We prayed that her needs would be met. We prayed for her to sleep well and have sweet dreams of Jesus. We prayed for her caretakers and teachers. Among other scriptures, we prayed from Ephesians 1:17-19, that she would know and experience the love and beauty of Christ.
Then our pastor invited us to attend the “Together for Adoption” conference with a group of adoption-minded families. We were challenged, encouraged, educated and enlightened for the entire weekend. While attending a session on international adoption, the plight of Ukrainian orphans was mentioned. My husband and I looked at each other, and immediately knew we were supposed to adopt from that country. That’s where the little girl in the barrel was waiting. We began talking with a gentleman sitting in front of us, and learned that he and his wife had adopted from Ukraine. And in the same session, we met yet another man who told us about orphans in Ukraine.
We’ve learned that when children leave Ukrainian orphanages at the age of 16, many girls become victims of human trafficking, and boys begin a life of committing crime. Their outlook is impossible and bleak. You can read UNICEF’s overview here.
Our journey to finding our daughter in Ukraine has officially begun, as we are currently hosting a beautiful nine year old girl from an orphanage there. We’re surrounded with wisdom, experience and resources from other families who have paved the way for us.
My fears and thoughts on adopting an older child have been put to rest. The need is great. Our calling is clear. In the future, we may be adopting domestically and/or from other countries as well. But Ukraine is where we begin.
~ Justina Dee