Help Bring Alex Home

A Chance to Make a Radical Difference in a Child's Life

Our Vision for a Hosting Program In Fuquay…

This is a big ministry that is meant to have a big impact both locally and abroad.  It begins with hosting but goes much further.  What exactly does it involve?

  • Step One: Identify 10 families interested in hosting and 50-100 individuals and/or families interested in serving as host aunts and uncles.  While host families will live with the children for 3-5 weeks, host aunts and uncles will work with the children during the day, providing services like pottery classes, art lessons, chaperoning field trips to bowling alleys, etc.
  • Step Two: Bring over 10 children from one or two orphanages in the Ukraine to be hosted by local families in and around Fuquay-Varina.
  • Step Three: Set up a summer camp for the children while they are here with English language classes (taught by native Russian language speakers), arts & crafts, field trips & activities, etc. that will bring members of the community and the children together.  A chance for mutual understanding and empathy to develop and grow.  A chance for the community to decide that they want to invest in the lives and futures of these children.
  • Step Four: Work to build connections in the Ukraine with local churches and families to provide post-hosting support for the orphanages where the hosted children live.  This can take the form of supporting local groups that promote seasonal camps for the children.  It can also take the form of finding reliable sources/persons to gauge the needs of the orphanage.  Do they need supplies like soccer balls for their playground or sheets for their beds?  Do they need a hot water heater so they can take hot showers?  We must ask how we can make their post-hosting lives better, more comfortable, and more connected with the resources they will need to succeed in life.
  • Step Five: Creating a community with an interest in the health and well-being of these orphans half-way around the globe.  A community that can respond when one of the children needs a surgery the government won’t pay for.  A community that can adopt when necessary, support when needed, and respond when essential.

This is the vision.  I hope to see it come to be not only here, but to be replicated in hundreds of other communities throughout the United States.

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An Odd Night…

I spent last night reading about two sad subjects.  First, the horrors of Soviet Rule in Eastern Europe during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Second, adoption blogs where the comments were a stream of anger, resentment, and destructive idealism.  As a result, when I finally fell asleep around 3 a.m. I had the oddest dream.

In my dream there were half-a-dozen-or-so people gathered together and they were admiring a finely crafted piece of stone work.  The grooves and cuts were perfectly detailed and the end result was a piece of stone that resembled a lifelike hand.  The finely crafted piece of stone was part of half-finished statue of a man sitting on a throne with his arms resting on the sides the throne (which truth be told looked more like the chair from the Maxell speaker commercial than any throne I have ever seen)

This commercial.

These six men and women stood around their handiwork admiring it and speaking of how beautiful each cut in the stone looked.  They spoke endlessly of how much the statue was coming to resemble local masterpieces and how wonderful their imitation was.  Indeed, it seemed a matter of the greatest pride that their statue could pass for being indigenous, that it replicated the existing culture, and that those who viewed it would know they were not “cultural imperialists” who disregarded the local ways and customs of the people.  On-and-on they continued in self-congratulation amid a room filled with plenty.  A Roman patricians feast adorned the marble table at the center.  The grapes were vividly green as they popped them into their mouths and the wine was the brightest red as it was poured into their glasses.  Moreover, breads, foreign spices, fine meats, and more lined the table with little space left for anything else. Read the rest of this entry »

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Upcoming Blog Posts

Over the next couple of weeks I have some blog posts planned.

First, I have been working on a blog post that talks about the origins of some of the social problems of Eastern Europe by focusing on the history of the Ukraine during the Twentieth Century.  In particular the post will address the triple victimization of the Ukrainian population.  It spanned two decades and was perpetrated by two men– Hitler and Stalin.  In a brutal chronology the Ukraine was first victimized by Stalin in the 1930s, then by Hitler in the early 1940s, and then again by Stalin in the mid-1940s.

Stalin’s victims

Hitler’s victims

Second, I am also working on a  post sharing some of our successes and struggles over the last month with everything from anxiety to fundraising.

Lastly, I planned on digging through some pictures from when Alex was with us and posting them with some (I hope) interesting stories about our time together.

Come on back later this week and check them out!

 

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Our Seven Reasons for Choosing Adoption

[For those catching up, check out Part I: Why Adopt? and Part II: Our Story]

If you’ve been following the last couple posts you know they’ve all been directed toward answering the question, “Why adopt?”.   The previous post answered some the question indirectly by recounting our story from our engagement through our first meeting with Alex.  Now, to switch gears, I will answer the question directly by explaining things we did and did not take into consideration when choosing to adopt internationally.

  1. We don’t want to be heroes.   We labor under no misconception that we are “saving her.”  Although the words are often used in well-intentioned atta-boys, the words are incorrect.  We know that adoption is a two-way street.  There is no saving, only loving; there is no rescue, instead there is a new relationship.  First, when you come into adoption thinking you can “save” a child, you come in with a host of preconceived notions, images, and situations that will almost certainly be shattered by harsh realities.   So we checked them at the door.  Second, think about heroes.  When Superman selflessly flies in and saves some citizen, what does he get in return?  Well, assuming he rescued a polite person, he gets a thank you.   That is about it.   We aren’t comic book heroes, our actions aren’t selfless.  There is much that Alex does to help us become better people and a better family.  This is the place where you would expect me to write that she makes our family complete.  However, there is no such thing as “completeness”—only emotional and spiritual growth throughout life.   To put it simply, we are better for knowing her.  And in the end I think we will benefit as much from adopting her as she will from adopting us.
  2. We see the global orphan crisis, and want to be part of the solution.  There are over 163,000,000 orphaned children on this Earth.  163,000,000 individual stories of loss, separation, and hardship.  163,000,000 children, many of them left vulnerable to sex trade smugglers, drug dealers, organized crime syndicates, and a host of other social parasites who exploit vulnerable children.  We want to be part of the solution to this problem.  We can’t help every child, but we can help Alex. (Stay tuned for another post later this week explaining the controversy over the 163,000,000 number). Read the rest of this entry »
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Our Story…

[To catch up check out Part I of “The Big Why”]

This is our story.  It began long before we met Alex.  When Alex was a small infant an ocean away.  Allison and I met in the spring of 2003.  I was finishing up my second year of law school and she was working on a Master’s degree.

We had discussed adoption ever since our engagement (also remembered as the best Fourth of July weekend of my life).  Allison was not supposed to be able to have children.  We trusted in that medical counsel and ended up parents a little over eleven months into our marriage.  When things had settled down we began looking into foster care and the foster-to-adopt program.  The process was long, but we made it through the paperwork and training sessions.  We outlasted several of our caseworkers and about a year in finally got a placement.  The history of that catastrophe is well documented, but for privacy reasons (for the child) I will not talk much about that.  I will only say that it was incredibly difficult and ended with three police cars at Allison’s school.  We were heartbroken.  We were told throughout the process that we were this child’s last and only hope.  The weight of a broken life was on our shoulders and we held out as long as we could; perhaps longer than we should have.  When it all came collapsing down we were left broken.  However we were fortunate, we had taken the last exit on what a therapist working with our family described as a road to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It was that bad.  It was worse than you could imagine. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Big Why

I sat down last night to write a short answer to why we chose adoption.  Four hours and 2,500 word later I finally finished.  I know that blogging isn’t the proper medium for a post that long, so I am going to break what I wrote down into several posts.  I will publish a new part each day of next week.

It is such a personal question and it is the question everyone has for us, but they don’t want to ask.  The question comes in many variations:

Why are you adopting…

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Things Are Picking Up…

Anyone familiar with adoption or foster care knows the joys of visiting the local courthouse for your fingerprints and county background checks.  For us, living out in the countryside, that means venturing into the city.  A trip into the city is always fun, and fun in that sarcastic way where you don’t really mean it.   Of course it has its upside.  First, you get to grumble about traffic, the astounding number of red lights, the people who are oblivious to your car and seemingly attempt to walk as slow as possible crossing the street, and the outrageous confiscatory parking rates.  Second, there are the people who tend to live in cities.  People who seem to enjoy being rude, cut in front of you, push past your small child and your wife (who is holding an even smaller baby) just to cram themselves onto an already crowded elevator.  Third, there are the interesting characters you meet (or in our case walk past trying not to make eye contact).  For example the guy with an abundance of tear drop and Aryan nation tattoos who was chatting it up about “the cool stuff about white culture” in the hallway of the court room.  Yup, trips to the city and the courthouse are always fun.  But it was worth it.

City People

My experience every time I drive into the city.

This wasn’t our first trip.  When we began our adoption/foster care journey three or so years ago we went through all the same steps. Read the rest of this entry »

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The First Post is a Doozy

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.

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