Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are You An Orphan Hater?

Early on in this journey I approached someone about helping me with our “adoption adventure”.  They were pretty blunt in letting me know that this was not a cause they would support, and that was the end of that.  I’ve never heard from them again.  I completely understand that everyone has certain causes that resonate.  Everyone has something that inspires them to volunteer their time and/or dig deep into their pockets as they show support to their cause of choice.  And it’s different for all of us what that cause is (and that’s really a good thing!).  However, I admit that after this individual turned me down, we joked that this person must hate orphans.  We truly said this in good fun and certainly didn’t have any bad feelings towards this person or anyone else that is unable or even unwilling to donate to our cause.

Then, shortly thereafter, a friend of mine wrote a blog post entitled “10 Reasons I Hate Orphans”.  It made me laugh a little when I read the title.  And then, as I read it, I realized it was NOT funny.

Now, 2 ½ months later, I would like to attempt my own version of this blog post.  Although my reasons are the same (in fact, I’ve shared some of her words verbatim), there are some differences as they’re based on my personal experiences.

10 Reasons I Hate Orphans
1. Orphans Are Incredibly Difficult To Sell:  I mean it – REALLY HARD!  People love babies.  They will buy babies until the cows come home.  But with Orphans they want to test drive them, and kick the tires, they want discounts, and warranties.  It is really hard to move an Orphan, and when I look at the stock of orphans, there are always more waiting to be sold.  It’s sad really, that such innocent children that have been dealt such a hard lot in life are immediately viewed as damaged and unwanted.  No doubt that trauma, neglect, and abandonment cause problems.  But as my dad has always told me, “They just need somebody to love them”.

2. Orphans Make Your Biological Children Look Bad:  While Alina stayed with us I didn’t have to take out the garbage once.  She took on that job all on her own and later said it was one of her favorite things about staying with us.  One Saturday we cleaned the house, cars and garage.  Each time Albina would finish her job, she would come find me, get another job, and happily get back to work.  She said that this was one of her favorite activities while visiting. They made their beds.  They put their laundry away (and by putting it away, I mean they actually hung it up and didn’t just hide it in a pile in the closet).  Alina opened the blinds and took out the dog each morning.  (All this without being asked).  Even though we ate food that was entirely different from what they eat in Ukraine, they never complained and always ate what was served.  Then they said “thank you” and took their dish to the sink.  I don’t know about you, but this is NOT typical behavior of the children in my home.  It was lovely.

3. Orphans Make It Difficult To Believe Your Problems Are Real Problems:  When you’re exposed to the life of an Orphan, you start realizing how blessed you are.  After an especially difficult situation, I realized how fragile Alina was.  How hurt she had been and how desperately she needed to be wanted and loved.  It made my heart ache and caused me to realize how fortunate I am to have always had a stable family.  No longer did I think my problems were major problems… I’ve always had the most important things available to me in my life (even during my most challenging times).  Exposure to the life of an orphan changes your perspective.  It makes you feel petty and small for worrying and complaining about such silly things all the time.

4.  Orphans Make You Question Your Spending:  I mean REALLY question it!  We spend so much money on cute shoes, manicured nails, haircuts, nice pump soap by each sink, eating out, etc. etc. etc.  Every time I spend money now I second-guess myself (and that’s AFTER I’ve given up a lot of things to save for this adoption).  After being exposed to the life of an orphan, it seems like almost everything I would typically spend is frivolous (even things I’ve at one time or another convinced myself are needs).  It just seems silly to spend and waste so much money that could have gone to saving a life.  This is one of the most difficult reasons because it makes you feel especially selfish and like you may not be a good and charitable person.  It becomes a constant battle with yourself.

5.  Orphans Make You Question Your Relationships:  It’s crazy!  You think you have a ton of friends that will always be there for you through thick and thin (and if you were to go through a divorce, or got into a car accident, they probably would be), but just start talking about orphans and good gravy you find out what the hearts of the people around you are made of.  And in some cases, you may find out your friends are not worth having.  (I kept this exactly as my friend wrote it… this was one of my greatest fears going into this “adoption adventure”.  Fortunately, I have learned that I have many wonderful and supportive people around me.  Unfortunately, I have learned that there are also many relationships that were not quite what I thought they were. *sigh*)

6.  Orphans Are Exhausting:  I had never felt so exhausted as I did while Albina and Alina were visiting us… until they left.  And then I felt even more exhausted.  The “adoption adventure” is nothing like the exhaustion you feel after 3 days of “adventure” at Disneyland.  It’s completely physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting.  It’s busy and difficult and it feels lonely.  It gets you out of your comfort zone (which is always exhausting!).  It forces a person that strives to be self-sufficient to reach out and ask for help (LOTS of help).  It causes you to become open and vulnerable.  It puts you in a position where you must let down your guard, where your mistakes and thoughts and feelings are all on display.  This is an uncomfortable position that is usually avoided, but Orphans cause you to think beyond yourself and your exhaustion and just keep moving forward (regardless of how uncomfortable).

7.  Orphans Are Expensive:  REALLY expensive. Many people ask me why it costs so much.  They ask why the process would be so difficult when all we want to do is take children that were unwanted and love them and care for them and WANT them?  You would think that Orphans would be free or cost less than regular children.  But NO!  Orphans have processes and paperwork, red tape up one side and down the other.  To get the orphans you have to travel to countries that aren’t known for their sunny beaches, or site seeing destinations (when dreaming of a European vacation someday, believe it or not, Ukraine was not on my list of places to visit).  And to top it off, you are required to stay in those countries for who knows how long.  This can (and does) cost a fortune.  But when you find Orphans that were meant to be your children, you don’t question the cost.  You simply do whatever it takes to get them home!
8.  Orphans Have Terrible Teeth:  It took a number of days for us to even see Albina’s teeth.  She was so embarrassed by them that whenever she would smile or laugh she would hold her hand over her mouth.  Orphans don’t get regular dental care, so many of them have teeth that are full of cavities and crooked.  They don’t have dental check-ups every 6 months or orthodontic care.  If they have genes that are less than stellar, well, too bad for them!
9.  Orphans Are Addictive:  The other night my daughters and I were talking about the Orphans that visited this summer.  We were going through each of the Orphans and discussing who had found adoptive families and who hadn’t.  When we got to one set of siblings that didn’t find a family we talked about how much we loved them and how much we wanted them to find a family.  My husband overheard this conversation and good-naturedly said, “NO!  I’m putting my foot down at three orphans.  Seven kids is all we can handle!”  While I realize he is right (primarily because we have felt directed to adopt these 3 specific kids and not different kids or additional kids), it is HARD to see any of these beautiful Orphans remain unwanted and living in an orphanage.  I want to help them, I want to find them a family, I want them to know joy and love and stability.  It’s hard to not think beyond saving only three children from a difficult future!
10.  (this is the most important one) Orphans Break Your Heart!:  They do!! They get right in there and break it right open. Your heart physically aches.  And no matter what you do, it will ache forever, because there are always more Orphans.  So you are left with a broken heart, that you go around trying to mend by doing everything you can think of to save just ONE life  (or in our case, THREE lives).  And you hope that although your efforts will never be enough, they will make some sort of difference.
AND FINALLY (because I don’t want to only focus on the Hating of Orphans):

I’ve been asked how I could love these kids after only 4 weeks of having them in my home. 
I’ve been asked how I could know they were meant to be my children immediately upon seeing their pictures.
There’s really not a good explanation.
You would have to experience it yourself to understand what it’s like,
Because I never would have understood otherwise.


Sometimes it’s impossible to explain why you love someone. 
It’s not anything they do or don’t do. 
It’s not anything they are or aren’t. 
It’s not out of pity. 
It’s not out of obligation. 
It’s not out of duty. 
It’s just because somehow your heart was opened to the possibility that it was big enough to love and give more than it ever dreamed possible. 
And it’s as simple as acknowledging that you were meant to do something more.
That you were meant to love and be with someone forever. 
And then suddenly, you can’t imagine your family being any other way then with that person
(Or those persons in this case). 
So you love. 
You just LOVE.

(And you hope others will find enough love to help you take care of the fact that #7 exists!)


  1. Wow - Just WOW! I love you very much, Shelly.

  2. I could not have said it better. I hope you don't mind if I share your thoughts on our family blog. We are currently on the same journey as your family, only for one child, Olena. She came over with your girls! I wish I could write as well as you, your words are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts.

    1. Absolutely (especially since I got the outline from my friends blog)! You are sweet... I struggle to express all my thoughts and feelings properly. I am so happy you are in the process of bringing Olena home. We discussed your family when we were going through the orphans from this summer. What a blessing you will be in her life! I'm checking out your blog and your journey now! Thanks for commenting!