It is always awkward initiating a conversation on a topic like adoption or asking for money. So imagine talking about both! But that is exactly what we have done so often these last few weeks; ever since Alex (the child we hosted this summer) boarded a plane flying back to the country in Eastern Europe where her orphanage is located. Over the last few weeks I have put together a fundraising site (here), a website (here), business cards (no link, but trust me they are good), and even, most recently, this blog (you got here already, so I will presume you don’t need the link). I’ve been on the phone with people organizing fundraisers, figuring out the logistics of spending a month in Eastern Europe, and crying– I’ve done lots of crying. Not just crying but full on sobbing. The kind that hits you out of nowhere when you have a stray thought. For example, yesterday while feeding my cranky and hungry five month old son Aramis I started to wonder if Alex had someone to hold her when she cried in the orphanage. And thinking of her being alone, crying, in one of those large rooms packed with cribs, each holding another equally lonely, abandoned orphaned child– each one deserving of a mother and father’s embrace in times of hunger and in joy– set my stomach to churning. From there I could feel the tears well up from the very depths of my soul, as if drawn from some sort of seemingly bottomless ancient well. Then, suddenly, the tears started to flow down my cheeks. Long sobs that blurred my vision as I couldn’t get the thought out of my head, an all too clear image, of a baby Alex left alone, crying in a crib, with only underpaid and overworked orphanage staff members struggling to keep up and able to give her only so much attention.
I guess this conversation just got a whole lot more awkward. We started with the issue of money and adoption and now I introduced the topic of a man crying. It’s okay, I understand. I used to find that unsettling too. You should know I am not a very emotional man, or at least that wasn’t the case up until recently. I mean yes the birth of my daughter Sasha and my son Aramis did bring a tear to my eyes. So did seeing my beautiful wife walk down the aisle eight years ago. It isn’t like I was some heartless Grinch or Bill Belichick (and the latter is possibly redundant). However, there was something about spending time with Alex; knowing where she came from, what she struggles with, and where we had to send her back to. I look at my daughter and my son and I know they never have to (and never had to) worry about someone holding them when they cry, taking care of their scrapes and bruises, ensuring they get fed when they are hungry, comforted when they are sad, and supported when they dream about their future. But I also know that when Alex cried she didn’t have a mother or father there to comfort her; when she scraped her knee not only was there no mother to patch it up, but given her HIV it meant being treated like a vector of a deadly infectious disease. And when she dreams, what can she dream about? Other little girls dream about becoming dog groomers (Sasha’s dream), the next Miley Cyrus (not a dream I would encourage), or the first female President (about time); meanwhile, Alex has to dream about having a family- a father, a mother, a sister, and a brother. She hasn’t had the luxury to dream, to hope, for something more than what so much of us take for granted everyday. Possessing that knowledge is what breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes.
This blog is meant to bring you– Alex’s supporters, whether our friends, family or strangers– a view into the struggles, the joys, and the rewards of the adoption process. Alex is one of millions of orphans, many of them living in institutions, waiting to find a forever family. She, like 89% of institutionalized orphans in her home country is over seven years old. I want nothing more than to see Alex be the first of many orphans– older children, often passed over in favor of babies and infants by potential adoptive parents– that finds a home here in our local community and beyond. I want to play a role in finding families willing to open their homes and hearts to children like her. So this isn’t just a traditional adoption blog that ends with the adoption or even one that continues through to describe our life with Alex. It is meant to be more. The start of something amazing. The start of a movement to host and adopt these children. Maybe this means me giving talks in public settings where I will be required to wear khaki pants and a tie? I am okay with that. Maybe this means the painful process of pushing beyond my natural introvertiveness (that’s totally a word, no matter what dictionary.com says!)? I am equally okay with that.
So keep checking in with us. Visit our website for even more updates and spread the word about Help Bring Alex Home to your friends, family, and any stranger who will listen. This will be a difficult process. At times it will bring us close to breaking. However, I know we can make it through. With the support of friends, family, and community we can radically change a child’s life in a manner that can’t be quantified other than by saying it will be perhaps the most rewarding feeling this world, and this life, has to offer.