When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
At the Lighthouse Project, a whole bushel of lemons dropped in our laps two weeks ago with the swine flu travel moratorium for Russian children. The somber news looked a recipe for disaster, but today we’re working on a big pitcher of lemonade, stirring, sweetening, sampling, and making something potable from our lemony windfall.
Going in reverse is usually seen as a step backward, but for kids who wait it’s a step forward. Our program has brought forty-four groups of Russian orphans to the United States in the past eleven years. Trip forty-five will not likely happen in 2009, though things look promising to resume in early 2010. Last week it appeared orphans would languish in loveless institutions longer because they couldn’t travel internationally until the ban is rescinded. Then our director had an epiphany: if Lighthouse can’t bring the kids to America, it can take the families to Russia in a mirror-image of past trips.
While exact details are still being hammered out, travelers would choose a child, fly to Russia with other Lighthouse families this fall, meet the child in Moscow over a long weekend, sightsee, and decide whether to pursue their host child’s adoption. Single boys, girls, and sibling groups, likely ages 6-15, would be available. The Lighthouse Project will arrange transportation, lodging, some meals, and activities for parents and children; sightseeing might include Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb, and other culturally-appropriate activities. Dates for the trip will be October 29 - November 4. While exact cost is being determined, it would be comparable to the cost of adoptive families hosting in America and more cost-efficient than making a “first trip” to visit a child in a standard, two-trip procedure. Paperwork will be basic and include an application and a local police background check. Families planning to adopt will complete the requisite paperwork in the US, returning to Russia to finish their adoption in one trip 6-9 months later. Seven families are required for trip viability; several have already expressed interest.
Happily, kids will continue to have chances at a family while the swine flu scare rages, so I’m finding I can love this “Lighthouse in Reverse” just as I love the Lighthouse Project. I expect to travel to Russia myself on this inaugural trip, along with Missouri Lighthouse coordinator Elaine. Join us, and we’ll pour you a glass of our Lighthouse lemonade.
If you would like more details and a flyer on our Reverse Lighthouse Project trip, please call me, Becky, at (616) 245-3216 or click on “View my complete profile” on the right to e-mail me.