Once upon a time, four years ago, I happened upon a blog of an adoptive mom who had just returned from Ukraine with her two new daughters, both with special needs. That night, sitting on the couch with my laptop and cup of coffee, my life was changed. Our lives were changed.
Tears streamed down my face that night as I read every post on the adoption blog. That night I learned about life in Ukraine for orphans with disabilities. A whole world was opened to me that I hadn’t even known existed. I learned about school-age children, the size of infants, living their lives bedridden in their cribs. I learned about mental institutions in rural villages that house the disabled- hidden from the rest of the world. I read for hours that night. One blog led to another led to a website that led to another site. My heart was broken and I knew something big was happening. God meant for Jed and I to do something about this issue and these children, and He was serious about it.
Now, four years later, I’m in Ukraine, sitting on my bed with my laptop and my cup of coffee, realizing just how serious God was that night. Yeah, He wasn’t messing around. 🙂
All along the journey that began that fateful night, God has been growing and refining the dreams He’s given us for orphans with disabilities here in Ukraine. We knew then, and we know now that He has called us here with a specific focus on bedridden children. That is a population of orphans that is extremely difficult to reach, but God has been very clear that they are our people. They are the ones we are to fight for. Of course, we are absolutely in love with many, many people with disabilities here that are not confined to their beds. The big vision of Wide Awake includes varying levels of ability, but we knew then and we know now that God has a special plan for us that involves bedridden children.
The big question has always been “How will we gain access to the bedridden children?” Those children are generally more hidden away and it’s difficult for outsiders to work with them at all. Perhaps orphanage directors are afraid, maybe they are protective…we will probably never fully understand the reasons. We have just known that it would be up to God to bring those children across our path. After all, it’s not like we can just walk into any old orphanage and ask to be shown to the crib section. Ha! Access to medically fragile kids only comes with relationship and trust. Those things take time, so we have not been in a hurry.
Last week our team arrived at Romaniv and learned that two new little boys had been transferred to our Isolation Building from the baby house orphanage. When Jed saw them for the first time his heart skipped a beat (or two). They are both five years old and the size of infants. They are bedridden and have spent their whole lives thus far in their cribs. They are exactly our target population. For these boys and others just like them, we have sold everything and moved across the globe. After months (actually years!) of wondering how we would gain access to children like these, they have literally been dropped in our laps. We didn’t even have to find them. They were brought to us! I still can’t believe it.
Mission to Ukraine has been faithfully serving at Romaniv for five years. Over those five years, they have loved and given and loved and given some more. They have brought Jesus there and His light and love have changed everything. It is not the same place it once was. The staff are not the same. The Directors are not the same. The boys are definitely not the same! Because of MTU’s incredible faithfulness, we now reap the harvest. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. Because of the amazing work they’ve done over the years, we have full access to our boys in the Isolation Room. We can visit any time we want. We can take the boys to the Sensory Room. We can try new things and interact intentionally with each boy. The Directors welcome us whenever we can come and invite us to even come more often. It’s a situation we could only ever dream about.
Now we have new boys who are completely bedridden and we have full access to them. We even got to visit on Tuesday and talk with the staff about some of their biggest concerns about caring for these new boys! Today we got to bring them a pack n play so they are not confined to their room every minute of the day. We got to bring them mobiles for the cribs. We got to observe their feedings and give input and advice. We get to be actively involved in improving their quality of life and it’s unreal.
Each one of our boys in the Isolation Building holds a special place in our hearts. We are learning their likes and dislikes, their habits and cues. I really can’t express in words how much they mean to us and how great our love is for them. They are our babies, each one of them. I can’t even believe we have the honor of knowing them and loving them. And now we have two more to love.
I guess I just had to share how awesome our God is. His plans are so perfect. He is so wise. He placed us right where He wanted us, knowing all He had in mind. He brought us here with an impossible-to-reach population in mind and then proceeded to drop them right in our laps. Incredible. I can not thank God enough for our dear friends at MTU. They have paved the way through many hours of love and care, and they loved our boys before we even had a clue of their existence. We will be forever grateful. Now to watch and see what God does next! 🙂