A few months ago, I was presented with an opportunity. Like, a HUGE opportunity. Because of our involvement in many different adoption advocate groups on Facebook, I found out about a group called New Horizons for Children. This amazing group brings children from Latvia, Ukraine, and now China to the States to be hosted by families for 4-5 weeks over Christmas and during the summer. Because of this program, siblings who may be in different orphanages will be reunited to enjoy each other as part of a family unit. The ultimate goal of the program is to find adoptive families for these kids.

Craig and I chose a 17 year old girl, who was posted as “host only”, because she is too old to be adopted. I won’t go into too much detail with the statistics for kids who age out of orphanages in Eastern European countries, but approximately 80% will fall victim to poverty, crime, prostitution, trafficking, drugs, and suicide. I don’t know about you, but I find this unacceptable. We hope to bring light and hope to the girl we are hosting and make that horrid statistic, “one less”. We may not be able to officially adopt her, but we are willing to be a support and encouragement to her.

Sunday evening, J arrived from Latvia. We had one picture of her prior to meeting her in person, and let me say, the picture did not do her justice. She is gorgeous.

It’s only been two days but it’s been a full two days. We have struggled through the language barrier, gotten frustrated, completely exhausted, laughed, made discoveries, and finally a breakthrough. While we’ve had a few translation tools, there’s really nothing quite like being able to communicate freely. Today, we took her to buy a good winter coat, and afterwards, we went to Whole Foods to allow her to pick out some foods and hopefully find something she liked at the buffet they have. We were not five steps into the store before I heard what sounded like Russian being spoken by a woman to her young son. I asked J, “Is she speaking Russian”? She was. I debated for a few seconds, then approached her. I asked if she spoke Russian and she said, yes. It turns out she is Lithuanian and is also fluent in Russian. To me, she was an angel. She was willing to translate for us, and even offered her number and said she was more than happy to help if we needed it in the future. We were able to find out that J was feeling awkward and embarrassed to tell us what she wanted. We we were able to communicate that we loved her, and wanted to give her what she wanted and needed. The woman even added that Americans were nice and that if we were willing to ask a total stranger for help in communicating, then we really do care. A wall was broken down then and the rest of the day was so wonderful.

But tonight after she went to sleep, I came down and thought about her, and I wept. I am scared I am not equipped to give her what she needs. I have struggled to find the courage to reach out and initiate physical affection. This afternoon I just tried. I sat next to her on the couch. Like, RIGHT next to her. I leaned against her and smiled. She responded well. Tonight after I tucked in my daughter, I sat on her bed and stroked her hair and cheek. I told her I loved her and that I hoped she sleeps well. She had a smile that was halfway between “what is happening?”, and complete bliss that I was sharing love and affection with her as well. Thank you, Lord, for pushing me to do that. I don’t feel like I should share her story, because it’s her story to tell, but I will tell you that she has not had the privilege of feeling loved unconditionally. So this is my goal. To prove to her that WE will love her unconditionally. To prove to her that she is worthy of that love.

My tears tonight were for her lost years. She should have grown up in a family, surrounded by love and acceptance, but she didn’t, and that breaks my heart. What an amazing responsibility, but what an amazing blessing. I am so humbled to know that our family was chosen for this.