Finding Family

“You’re child has a rare disability, you need to have an abortion.”  “Your son’s disability will be too difficult and too shameful for you and your family, you need to give him up to the state.”  For years during the Soviet Union, this is what moms were told by doctors.  Many moms of children with disabilities were pressured to have abortions, and even more were compelled to give their children to state orphanages to be raised.

Parents made these decisions with heavy hearts.  Moms who gave their children to the orphanage did so because they thought it was best for their child.  Every week we minister to children who have grown up in the orphanage system in Ukraine.  Five of our office staff goes every week to different orphanages to teach the Bible, play games, do crafts, sing worship songs, and love the children.

Most of these children will spend their whole lives in institutions, but every now and then, we are blessed to see a child leave the institution, to become part of a family.  Many years ago, a young boy, Michael, was adopted from the Baby House orphanage in our city Bila Tserkva, by a family in Arkansas. Doctors told Michael’s parents he would be born with a rare condition known as Amyoplasia and that they should consider abortion.  His mother chose life for Michael, but because of his severe medical needs, gave him up to the state orphanage, hoping he would receive the medical care he needed.

bubby Ukraine

Michael (right) at the Baby House Orphanage in Ukraine

Michael was found by a family from the US and adopted.   In America he went through many operations and eventually was able to walk.  He attends school in the US, learned English, excels in Math, and is a very polite, loving child.

Bubby

Michael in the US

When he was a little older, his US parents told him something that was quite a shock to him.  He had a twin brother, who still lives in Ukraine, with his birth parents.  Ever since he found out he has a twin, Michael desired to meet him someday.  A few weeks later we received a message on Facebook from Stacey, Michael’s mom in the US, asking for our help getting in contact with his birth parents.  Stacey’s heart broke when she saw a video online of two twins who grew up in different countries reunited for the first time on an American talk show.  She began praying about facilitating a meeting between Michael and his twin and eventually contacted us.bubby 2

Michael and His Mother Stacey

Our staff went to work, Liliya, our office manager phoned the orphanage, found out the family lived out in one of the villages 40 miles away, with no internet and no email.  So, we had to get creative.  Stacey Skyped us, and we called the family by phone, and with Tanya from our office acting as the mediator, the two moms spoke for the first time.  The mom’s first question was if her son could now walk.  She prays and thinks about him every night.

The mom in Ukraine agreed to talk on the phone with Michael.  I was there with Tanya helping to make that first conversation with his birth mom happen, and all of our eyes were tearing up.  The mom was so happy to hear her child is healthy and doing well, it is best she could have hoped for.  Michael, had so many questions about his Ukrainian family.  He discovered, not only does he have a twin, but he has a little brother as well.  The families continue to keep in contact, and discuss the possibility of meeting someday, for now the brothers in Ukraine do not know they have a brother in the US.  It amazes me that Michael, who grew up in an orphanage in Ukraine with no family, now has two families.  He was blessed with an American family, a mom and dad who took him in and lots of siblings in the US, and now his birth family is slowly becoming part of his life too.  God worked powerfully in Michael’s life, God has big plans for him, and he is an incredibly fun, God loving child.

bubby and sister

Michael and his Sister, both adopted from Ukraine.

Our hope at God’s Hidden Treasures, is that every child in the orphanage would have a family.  That Michael’s story could be every child’s story.  Our dream is of a village for the children, where every orphan could live with host parents, and experience the love of a mom and dad.  There is so much work to be done and many obstacles to overcome, to make this dream come true, but with God all things are possible.  The God who found a loving home for Michael, can find a home for all His children.   Please pray for the village, that God would open all the right doors, and stir in the right people’s hearts, so that we can make a difference in these children’s lives, for they are God’s family.  I’ll leave you with Michael’s recap of his first conversation with his birth mom.  While there were many questions asked (Michael prepared a whole list), these are the things that stood out to him the most.

“I was nervous while waiting to talk to my birth mom. If you’re wondering if I have a birth mom, yes I’m adopted. I was scared to talk to her but I prayed to God and he gave me courage to say the right words I had to say to her. The first word I said to her was “hi” and she said back to me, “Do you have good grades?”. I said back to her “Yes, I have good grades”. I asked her if my brothers know that I’m their brother. She said, “No. Are you mad at me?” I responded to her, “No. What does your house look like?” She said it is a small house”

Luke 18:16 “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Big Things

Many of you know of our plans here at God’s Hidden Treasures to begin manufacturing children’s wheelchairs in Ukraine.  Yesterday we held our first focus group with many of the mothers of children from our camp.  We spent two hours discussing wheelchairs and how we can make them better, and more specific for Ukraine.  We came away with so many ideas that will help design a great wheelchair for Ukraine, that can help these mothers get their children around the city, to the hospitals, rehabilitation center, or wherever they need to go.

Vallodia, the partner we trained, who is distributing wheelchairs with us in the East of Ukraine, joined us.  He and his sponsor are a central part of our plan to manufacture wheelchairs in Kramatorsk.  In the East of Ukraine he has given out more than 200 wheelchairs and 200 walkers in the last six months.  Nita, has never seen anybody work so quickly to distribute wheelchairs to people in her 20 years of working with different Ukrainian cities.  Vallodia is working with five different cities, some on the Ukrainian side, some in the occupied territories.

We are already planning to send 100 more walkers and around half our next shipment of wheelchairs from Joni and Friends.  The growth has been huge, and we cannot be more excited, but this means we need more wheelchairs and more walkers! Please being praying that our next two shipments will be received without any complications and that God would bring in support so that we get the next shipments on the way.

Our staff continues to visit the orphanages every week.  The 8th of May is a big holiday in Ukraine, International Women’s Day, and the children in Valoshka, a small orphanage here, were preparing a program for the holiday.  I thought I would leave you with a small video.  We love our job, and we love these kids.