When we adopted our children from Russia in 1996 and 1998 my husband and I had no idea how much our life was going to change. Parenting our children has been the biggest blessing and challenge of our lives. However, they are not the only orphans that have shaped our world. Immediately after returning from our first trip I was haunted by the faces of the children left behind. I starting looking for ways to give back and became very involved with a program collecting shoes for children in Russia. That volunteer job led to working full time in orphan ministry and eventually helping start a ministry, Orphan Outreach, four years ago. I have led many mission trips and taken my husband and both children on trips to serve in Guatemala. However, our greatest joy and heartbreak as a family has been hosting older children that were visiting the U.S. to raise awareness for adopting older orphans.
Hosting a child from Eastern Europe was an awesome way to let our children learn more about their culture and also allow them to personally share their toys, rooms and hearts with a child that needed to learn what it was like to be part of a family. We have hosted four times and each time I have said that it was the hardest thing we have ever done. Children who come from hard places like an orphanage have so many issues very unique to their own situations. It was obvious each child had been hurt and they each dealt with that hurt in their own way. I also felt an instant pressure to show each child a loving family; I had to remember that did not always mean a “perfect” family. The pace of keeping up with the planned and surprise activities would always add a layer of complication to our already busy lives. But the hardest thing, by far, was falling in love with each child and not knowing what the future held for them.
Our first host child had extended family she was still close too (even though she was in the orphanage) so she was not placed for adoption. We still see and write this lovely girl and thankfully she is very involved with Bible study classes at her orphanage. She knows that our family will be there for her as she transitions out of the orphanage and into school. The second child we hosted needed to be placed in a family along with her older brother. It was a long process as the agency dealt with in-country slowdowns and accreditation. We are so thankful that they were placed with an awesome family in Texas and we have been able to see how they have thrived. The third child was quickly adopted and now lives happily in Houston. So that brings us to 2010 and Dimitry (name changed to protect the child).
Last summer, we spent a wonderful two weeks as his host family and loved experiencing Texas through his eyes. Dimitry was different from our other host children from the beginning. First of all, he was very easy going. He happily got in the car whenever we mentioned that it was time to go somewhere. He was so brave and never questioned where he was going! He did not have to be entertained. He was happy to sit and color, play with toys, video games or listen to music. He was honestly the first host child that got easier the longer he was in the house. It was obvious he liked having older siblings. He loved spending time with our 14-year-old daughter and running around with our 12-year-old son. It was great to see how much he wanted to connect with us! Dimitry was showing us things and making jokes all the time.
As we got to know him it was very obvious that he was very smart. It came as no surprise to us when we found out from the orphanage social worker that he had been tested and had a high IQ and that the orphanage where he lived was for the talented and gifted children. He would ask us about the value of a dollar and quickly convert the dollar to rubles in his head. He was very curious and asked lots of questions. He had been taking English in the orphanage and he was eager to learn more. He had only been in the orphanage a short time but according to the caregiver he had made amazing strides and was making solid grades in all his subjects. His caregiver also said that the experience of being hosted in a loving home also had a huge impact on his personality.
His list of great qualities goes on and on: he was a good eater; he was kind and gentle to our pets; he loved entertaining us with magic tricks. He was even appropriately reserved with everyone in the family, but after he got to know us we got the best smiles and sweetest hugs from him.
So why is Dimitry waiting for a family? Only because he is a 10-year-old boy. Boys wait for families, even the fabulous boys. I have prayed and prayed for a family for Dimitry but honestly no one has even inquired about him since August. We received darling photos of Dimitry receiving the gifts we had sent him in November. He quickly wrote a note asking when we were going to visit. It breaks my heart to think of him sitting in an orphanage, anxiously waiting for a family to call his own. Please help me in letting others know about this amazing child. Maybe you are the family he is waiting for?
If your family would like to learn more about Dimitry, visit Dillon/Buckner’s Eastern Europe screening form at www.dillonadopt.com/EE_screen.htm to receive a password to view a photo and brief information on him. From this web page, families may also contact the Buckner Adoption & Maternity Services case manager for additional information and how to begin the adoption process to adopt Dimitry.
About the author: Tiffany Taylor is currently the Director of Marketing and Development for Orphan Outreach, a non-profit that ministers to orphans and vulnerable children around the world by meeting spiritual, physical, emotional and educational needs. she and her husband are parents with two amazing children adopted from Russia. You can reach Tiffany at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more about Orphan Outreach at www.orphanoutreach.org.