John and Kelly Rosati have adopted four children through foster care. They’ve traveled an incredible road, full of challenges and joys. They don’t sugarcoat the difficulties, nor do they despair. They are inspiring advocates for orphan care, and you can listen to their story right here.
I’ve shared before about our youngest child, adopted from Russia when he was just nine months old. We’re approaching the seventh anniversary of his “gotcha date,” and we’re so glad Zane is part of our family. The journey hasn’t exactly been easy, however. Most adoptive families struggle with something…from emotional complexities to learning difficulties to physical challenges. We seem to be dealing with every one of those concerns. Fortunately, we have found many helpful resources and experts along the way.
At a banquet a few months ago for a ministry that helps orphans, I sat near a dynamic woman with a huge heart for orphans and adopted children. She is enthusiastic, energetic, and insightful! And she’s our guest on this Focus on the Family radio program. Debi Grebenik offers encouragement and guidance that every adoptive parent should hear. Debi will help you better empathize with the unique difficulties your child is experiencing, allowing him or her – and your entire family – to thrive.
There’s also a book about adoption worth noting. Several friends contributed chapters to Handbook on Thriving As an Adoptive Family: Real-Life Solutions to Common Challenges. It is an excellent read, with multiple aspects of adoption addressed with firsthand insight.
Related, if you have a heart for orphans and adopted kids, there’s a terrific event you need to know about sponsored by my friends at Christian Alliance For Orphans. This annual conference has become a national hub for Christians committed to adoption, foster care and global orphan initiatives rooted in the local church. This year it is May 12-13 at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. With more than 75 workshops & unforgettable speakers and music, you’ll find passionate, caring folks and lots of great advice. I highly recommend Summit!
The sad case of the 7 year-old boy from Russia, Artyom Savelyev, who was adopted by a Mom in Tennessee and then unceremoniously returned to his home country — via one-way airfare — caught many of us by surprise. It was an inexcusable incident, and the matter raised tensions and fueled speculation that Russia would shut down oversees adoptions.
Today some good news for those in the process of, or thinking about, bringing home a Russian orphan: the government is saying that they will continue to allow adoption of the more than 600,000 orphans there. That door will stay open!
For further background on the situation, over at RealClearPolitics.com Cathy Young had this insightful piece which examines this specific matter and the plight of Russian orphans in general.
And my friend Paul Pennington wrote about Artyom’s case on his blog, offering his seasoned perspective on the adoption-gone-wrong.
Finally, to learn more about the needs of abandoned children in that country, here’s a New York Times article about Russian orphanages. It’s pretty touching.
(and for those interested, the photo above shows the entrance to the orphanage our youngest is from. Not a lot of curb appeal…but fairly warm and caring inside)
My friend Paul Pennington blogged today about the need for good people to do good deeds…specifically with regard to the 140 million fatherless children of the world. What happens when 1,000 committed individuals and organizations gather together to address the needs of orphans? Read the post for some inspiration – and suggestions.
And if you’d like to know more about Focus on the Family’s orphan care efforts, stop by this site.
I think this is an insightful, balanced and very good article about the realities of RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder, which likely was a factor in the story of the adopted Russian boy who was returned to that country. For those parents who struggle with RAD, there is often a lot of guilt, condemnation and misunderstanding…and little empathy (see some of the comments).
And if you’re interested in more info, here’s a great series of articles about adopted children, including handling difficult situations.
News of an adopted a boy from Russia – who was sent him back to Russia, by himself – really grabbed my heart. Here’s one account, and an excerpt:
The 7-year-old boy, Artyom Savelyev, who was called Justin Hansen by the Tennessee family, was put on a plane with a note saying his adoptive mother no longer wanted to parent him because he was violent and had severe psychological problems.
While the details are still becoming known, as an adoptive father – our youngest child is from Russia, and his given name was also Artyom – I am deeply saddened by the situation. This is a terribly tragic story on several accounts. The boy’s verbally violent threats reveal a child with some serious issues, perhaps related to fetal alcohol syndrome, which is very common in Russian infants, or attachment issues, or maybe even reflective of something on the autism spectrum. I’m very sorry to see that the parents’ were unable to control him, or to get some help – counseling, medical intervention, or more. And what about the airline which accepted the child as a passenger? And the agency which facilitated the adoption and would have been following up with the family? Who is (most) at fault here?
It would be easy to jump to conclusions and assign blame, but for now I’ll be praying for little 7 year-old Artyom, asking God to give him a family and to comfort him in this time of trouble. And I’m also praying that the door will stay open for other families to adopt from Russia. It’ll be a shame if this isolated incident adversely affects those adoptions that are already in process, or shuts down altogether the adoption opportunities for other families and children.
I’m afraid that we’re already forgetting the tragedy in Haiti. I don’t mean you, personally. I don’t mean the thousands of folks who have gone to serve the suffering, the dying, the orphaned, the hurting. I don’t mean the good men and women who pray for light in dark places, those who give freely – often times sacrificially – to the needs, those who have a desire to bring an orphan home.
I’m thinking more about the U.S. culture, generally, and our ability to forget. We tend to move on to other interests, more pleasant things that don’t remind us that our world is fallen, that God doesn’t prevent disasters, that pain in this world is pervasive. I’m thinking this as I scan the “Most Popular” category of news items over at Google news. As I write this, there are stories about the Grammy Awards – specifically the fashion blunders, the Apple iPad – and Amazon’s response, China’s indignation about U.S. arms sales, the expected bad news from the White House about the economy, and the meandering leviathan of a film, “Avatar.” THEN there’s mention of Haiti, the responses by our military and also the dispute between some Americans and the Haitian government regarding orphans.
In case you’ve forgotten, there’s still a tremendous need for financial assistance, for medical help, for prayer. Follow the news. Pray knowledgeably. And give. For where you might give, here’s a list from Focus on the Family of trusted partners. It isn’t comprehensive, of course. But it’s a start.
Here’s a helpful site with latest news about the orphans of Haiti.
For many years we’ve wanted to take our family on a missions trip, learning and serving together. And finally, it happened! We celebrated Christmas in a memorable way, as we visited Ayacucho, Peru and volunteered at an orphanage.
The orphanage is operated by a local church, and we served with their U.S. partner, Vision Trust, an agency whose mission is to develop orphaned and neglected children into mature Christians equipped to live in their own culture. They do this by enabling Christian nationals to meet the physical, educational, emotional and spiritual needs of these children.
Together with two other families, we showed kindness and Christ’s love to the 38 orphans at Casa Luz. We also worked a bit on some land the orphanage is developing.
The following was written some time ago, while I attended a radio event. While I never posted this journal entry, I thought it was a good story worth sharing here.
I’m staying a downtown hotel in Nashville, and while the place is pleasant enough, the AC has not been adequate. I especially noticed it yesterday afternoon, when the sun was pouring into the room and adding unwelcome heat. Despite having the thermostat cranked as low as I could make it go, it stayed uncomfortably warm in here, even until almost midnight.
So, today I finally called the front desk and a “technician” was summoned. A few minutes later, I met Leonid at the door, and greeted him with appreciation for his prompt response. A shorter man with graying hair, he had his little cart full of tools, light bulbs and supplies. Quickly he asked me some questions about the direction of the outlet vents, and the fan speed, and how cold I wanted the room. I told him I’d had the unit going full blast, and that the current temp was just too warm for my comfort. His brow wrinkled, as if he were thinking about the possible source of the problem.
Leonid pulled off the face plate of the furnace/air conditioning unit and tinkered around with it there for a few minutes. He then changed out the clogged air filter (ewww…it was bad), and put the unit back together. After carefully cleaning up after himself, he inspected his work and pronounced the AC was fixed. He showed me the venting arrangement between the bedroom area and the bathroom, and how I could redirect air if desired, in case I wished to direct 100% of the cold air toward my ‘living space.” I thanked him, and asked if he had another few minutes?
“I wonder if you can repair toilets,too?” I explained that it needed an adjustment, as the toilet did not flush without the handle being fully depressed for almost 30 seconds. It was most inconvenient, and probably an easy fix. Leonid took a quick look, and two minutes later was finished with that job.
“Wonderful,” I exclaimed, “Thank you!”
Noting his foreign name, I asked where he was from? “Oh, where you guess,” he asked? “Well, it seems to me that you probably grew up in Eastern Europe or Russia.” “Ah, Ukraine,” he replied. Turns out Leonid came to the USA 15 years ago, hoping to give his children better opportunities than were possible while back home. Indeed that had worked out well. Now, in addition to a good job at the hotel, his kids were enjoying success in a way that wasn’t possible in Ukraine.
In fact, Leonid is working so his 26 year-old son can complete his MBA from Wharton. His daughter, in her early 20s, is in law school, in part because of her father’s sacrificial support.
“Now I know why so many people come here (to the U.S.),” he said. “The opportunities here are great. That is why we come.” It occurred to me that Leonid’s kids will eventually earn bigger salaries than he could possibly have imagined making back in Ukraine.
I showed Leonid a photo of our youngest son, who was adopted from Russia. He smiled, knowing that the boy’s life will probably change significantly, much as his own children’s lives have undergone transformations since arriving in America. We talked a bit more, and I expressed my respect for him for the work he did with such devotion, all to benefit his family. After thanking him once more for taking care of the AC and the toilet, Leonid left.
As I reflected on the exchange, I felt a variety of things. Gratitude for my own situation, for the many good things God has given to me personally and to my family. Glad to live in freedom, in a culture that allows a person to chase their dreams, whether that is to go into business, to study law, or to work maintenance jobs so his children can pursue those vocations. Happy to see a father so devoted to his children that he’d leave everything familiar, move across the ocean, and take a new job, solely to see the next generation succeed.
And I became even more anxious to get home to Colorado, so I could see my own children. I couldn’t wait to hold them close, and tell them I missed them a bunch and that I love them dearly.
Finally, I was really glad the hotel room AC unit needed some attention. It allowed me to meet a remarkable man. Thanks, Leonid!