Thursday, May 28, 2009


A family in Michigan can’t stop thinking about Egor; can’t stop praying for him, either. When seeking updates on my blog for another Lighthouse child, an incredible mom stumbled across my post about this extra-special boy, (Unmasked, 4/22/09). Kind-hearted souls have seen him, expressing sympathy for his plight, but her maternal eyes saw more: her son, waiting hopefully in his orphanage for an emergency dose of compassion. Six brothers and sisters love him already; Mom and Dad think he’s precious, just as he is. Eagerly anticipating hosting him on the July Missouri Lighthouse Project trip, they especially hunger to get him home forever to share the love and attention he starves for now.

It’s rare a family combines both willingness to adopt an older child and ability to pay without help. I’ve lost count of the number of potential adoptive families with whom I’ve spoken, and have finally concluded that while a wedding of willingness and ability are ideal, I’d take willingness over ability any day if forced to choose. I sense this more acutely in Egor’s case; if his adoption were free, would there be more aspirants? As it transpires, the cost of adoption is the only obstacle Egor’s hopeful family faces. While the director of the Lighthouse Project will complete the adoption at cost, the many other people involved still need to be paid, so even with this nod, Egor’s adoption would be cost-prohibitive for the family without external assistance.

In my most fervent prayers, I never expected a family to pick Egor so swiftly. As the perfect family awaits God’s provision, Egor waits shyly, his dream of a mama and papa within his grasp.

A tax-deductible account is being set up to receive contributions for Egor’s adoption. If you would like to help Egor join his family, please contact Becky via phone at (616) 245-3216 or through the Lighthouse Project .

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hoping to travel to Oklahoma, and just needing host families:

Vitaly, 7, and Alexandra, 5, are siblings. No information is available on them currently; hopefully a faith-filled family will agree to host them.

Dmitry B., 11, and Alexander B., 6, are brothers. Fourth grade Dmitry enjoys art, drawing, math, and computer classes. His best friend lives near the orphanage; Dmitry said they share secrets and everything else. He hopes to be a chef, and can already make soup; pickle soup and garlic are his favorite foods. In his spare time he visits a teacher who works on crafts with him. He also enjoys soccer and reading fiction. His favorite seasons are summer because he can fish and go mushroom hunting, and winter because he can throw snowballs. Alexander is a kindergartner. He likes puzzles and playing soccer. Spring is his favorite season. He likes to eat beet soup and cabbage. He hopes to be a pilot, explaining he likes to fly.

Dmitry K., 13, enjoys math and wants to be an archeologist in Egypt. He likes the colors green and pink. He likes to make crafts and does not particularly like sports. He would like to have a cat. He likes honest and fair people and dislikes it when people fight. He would like to do better in school and help the poor. He has read the Bible and knows that Jesus came to earth.

Artom, 11, finished fourth grade. While other kids play, this kind and industrious boy knits socks in bed before going to sleep for the night.

Bubbly Alena, 10, considers herself optimistic, a trait very apparent in her interview; the longer her translator spoke in English, the more smiley Alena became. She gets all grades in school, playfully confessing she can be lazy and doesn’t always do her homework. She wants to do better in school, aspiring to attend college and teach kindergarten. She loves playing with children because the young kids she knows are sweet and kind. Alena likes to draw, dance, watch TV, and would like to make clothes when she’s older. Her favorite seasons are summer, when she can swim, and winter, when she can throw snowballs. Her wish is to have a family who owns horses; she has never even seen a horse in person before.

Dimpled Angelina, 13, has lived in her orphanage six years. While she likes living there, she wishes her biological mother would stop drinking so she could live with her again. Noting there is not too much good in her life, she misses home. Angelina was cautious about sharing her dream, but finally confided she’d like a family of her own.

Kristina, 14, is in seventh grade; she enjoys literature, physical education, and music classes most. She likes drawing and would study English but for lack of a teacher. While she formerly was able to play the piano, she no longer remembers. Her favorite days are her birthday and New Year’s Day. She hopes her future will include a good family, a computer, and a career as a veterinarian. She worries whether she will have sufficient money to feed her children once she has them. If she were president, she would ban alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, and she would assist the poor.

Twelve-year-old Andrei liked fifth grade, and prefers math and physical education. He enjoys playing ping pong with his friends. As he loves soccer and likes teaching, he would like to be a soccer coach. His favorite colors are red and white, the same colors as the team he roots for. Andrei said he likes to eat everything, but doesn’t know how to cook. He believes in God and has attended church in the past. He wishes for peace for the whole world. After eight years in his orphanage, Andrei is ready to join a family with good people.

Sisters Anastasia, 11, and Anna, 9, get along well together. Anastasia’s best class in fourth grade was Russian. She enjoys reading fairy tales. She’d like to be a rescue team member when she’s older; she wants to help people. Her favorite color is orange because it’s bright. She wishes for a dog, health, and the chance to travel. She believes in God and would like to be baptized. Anna finished first grade; she likes to play when school’s over. She enjoys playing the piano and says she’s a good singer. She wants to work in a shop when she’s older. She likes eating porridge, making snowmen, and skiing. Her one wish is to have a doll.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Waiting Heart, Wrong Arms

Seven-year-old Yuri was looking out a window when he got the thrill of a lifetime. Heading toward his orphanage were people he recognized from a Lighthouse Project trip he’d been on several months previous; his family had come! Sprinting down the hallway, bounding out the door, Yuri leaped into their arms, overjoyed his wait was over.

It would have been a heartwarming scene, except for one problem: the couple had come for a different child they’d met on his trip. It was devastating for all involved. A pall was cast over the family’s joy, Yuri was crushed, and others who’d witnessed it suffered vicariously with him in his bitter disappointment. I heard the next day, and with aching heart resolved to do my part to locate parents for him who would show up soon.

Yuri, now nine, is a smart boy, as confident and articulate as his age allows. Charming with his darling smile and quick laugh, he’s still young enough that age does not pose an undue hurdle in recruiting. My notes on him are categorically succinct: “complete winner.”

Eighteen months after Yuri’s colossal letdown, I’ve mentioned him to a myriad of families. Thrice since, he’s been scheduled to travel on Lighthouse Project trips I’ve coordinated, but illness conspired to keep him home. His health is fragile, though as an insulin-dependent diabetic, his very life depends on finding a family. Russian orphanage directors have expansive latitude in deciding who can leave and who must stay, and Yuri’s cautiously felt his first trip to America was too taxing. Now, if he is ever to be adopted, a family will have to visit him in Russia first rather than meeting him in America on a Lighthouse trip.

This chafes: as a seasoned coordinator, I am more cognizant than I’d like of the difficulty finding families willing to go to Russia to meet an older child. The Lighthouse Project concept is predicated on our experience that precious few families do so. Most who adopt older international children do so having met them in America with a relatively minimal commitment prior to the meeting. Parents first meeting children in Russia are much further along in their paper chase than families meeting Lighthouse children here. Worse, Yuri’s medical issues do not engender confidence amongst would-be adoptive families who might otherwise visit him. It’s “safer”, for everyone other than Yuri, to just meet a different child here before becoming overly involved. I’ve spoken to hundreds of families in thousands of conversations, so my brain understands the logic.

Envisioning Yuri in his despondent trudge back up the steps of his orphanage, my heart is less acquiescing.