I’m not sure how to start this update. I don’t know how to describe to you what it is like to spend 11 weeks breathing life into a girl and look at her face when she realizes these are the last moments she will spend with you. I don’t know how to explain the sadness as I spent the morning watching her literally hiding in her bed, under her blankets wishing this day would go away.
When Alina arrived she was quiet, shy, and withdrawn. She didn’t make eye contact, she didn’t initiate a conversation, she didn’t offer assistance or smiles to anyone. She sat, quietly watching her environment, with clear uncertainty on her face.
As our summer progressed she broke from her shell, she left it behind. She started talking, and helping, and participating. She learned to be a sister, a daughter, a child.
On the day she performed at Bates the light from within her shown to the crowd. She smiled with pride, and offered me a hug, for the first time ever. She worked hard and was proud. She shown her little light to the world for the very first time.
On the day she departed her sadness shown. Her anxiety was obvious as she chewed her fingers. Her reality was obvious in her face. When we stood in line at the airport to check in she tried to be positive, but I could see through her fake smile. Donate Here
“I’ll send you photos of the clouds” She reassured me. She smiled and pressed the foot of her Build-a-bear My Little Pony we made together causing it to scream “We love you Alina!” in one united family voice. She giggled and rolled her eyes.
She danced around and gave Millie a piggy back ride, trying to preserve the last few minutes of her family. When they called her to security the smile faded, and Millie grabbed a hold of her leg. She gave us hugs, and she walked down the hallway, turning back to wave with a frown on her face.
With a heavy heart we walked back to the van, with one empty seat we drove back home. I didn’t have my little Ukrainian to make fun of me as we got lost for two hours in Boston. We were missing a part of us.
It was a long night, and day today waiting to hear from her. It was the longest time since June 15th that we hadn’t communicated, 27 hours.
A conversation with her friend who had returned from camp and was also waiting for her to arrive helped some time pass. This girl, who turns 15 on September 15th has never known a family. She will spend her golden birthday alone, with no family to call her own. She waits excitedly for her sister to arrive home with a present we sent, a small cat shaped purse. The first gift she’s ever received from any family. I expect her to be jealous of the stories and new things the kids will bring home from America, instead she is happy that Alina found her family, and hopes she will also find one before it is too late. This entire journey doesn’t stop with saving our one girl. This is a story of heartbreak at every turn, never ending feelings of helplessness as you learn the names of the voiceless orphans that sit in the orphanage endlessly waiting for their chance.
Alina arrived and they had a sweet homecoming. Her friends that did not travel celebrated her return. She gave the gifts and told stories of this faraway fairy tale that all orphans dream of. Alina had done it, she made it out of the orphanage, and she found her family. The excitement is revisited when she recalls the summer she just had, her life long dream had come true. She came to America, she had a volume of firsts, she found her forever family, and she had a photo album to prove it.
She messaged me after meeting with her friends, letting me know she had arrived.
“I have not slept the entire trip!”
“Wow, you must be tired!”
“Not really, I’m on English time, I cannot sleep even though we have night. I must go to school in a few hours”.
The buzz of her summer still fills her mind and keeps her body awake. She has so many emotions and thoughts running through her over-tired mind, much like I have running through mine. She recalls her trips and experiences, I obsess over how I will make her dreams come to life. I stay awake worrying how to keep my promises, how we will bring her home forever. I look at the piles of paperwork, the endless fees that are required, and my body too cannot relax.
Tonight, I’m sad I have a daughter half way around the world who doesn’t have a mother forcing her to shower, change her clothes, or brush her hair. I’m thankful for technology allowing me to parent from across an ocean. My heart goes out to the families with children too small to read. I’m anxious to get through the next 3.5 months until we can be together again. I’m happy for all the community members that sent their love, donations, time and energy to allow us to partner with Host Ukraine to fall in love with our special girl.
Hosting has changed our lives. It taught my children to be selfless, to fall in love with no reservation, and to miss fiercely. It taught my husband and I about compassion and parenting children from hard places. It taught us to lean on the community, to ask for help, to save a life rather than create one.
So now after 11 of the most amazing weeks with the sweetest girl in Ukraine, we have given hope to Alina, now it is time to move into action Home for Alina.