My name is Stephanie Howe. I am an emergency room nurse in a small catholic charity hospital. My husband’s name is Ted, and collectively we have 6 children, but currently one lives in an orphanage in Ukraine.
When I was a young girl I was raised by parents who were absent, consumed by their drug use and selfish obsessions. I was abused, physically, emotionally and sexually. When I turned 7 I was given the responsibility of taking care of my baby sister, and the endless animals my parents collected but didn’t care for. I experienced and saw things no child should, and as I grew older I felt a relational compassion for the girls who fell victim to human trafficking. The desire to make an impact on this tragedy drove me to work as hard as I could toward the path of personal growth to be in a position to help. Help Now
Ted and I grew up in the same town, and knew each other our whole lives. We grew up and went separate ways, but in 2013 we were drawn back together, and 2 weeks after my 3rd baby was born, he came to take care of us forever. He left his life in Maryland, and moved to Maine, started college and helped me raise my 3 children.
While he was in college we worked as hard as we could to keep the house running. I worked overtime, variable shifts, and experienced the trepidacious journey of losing my job from hospital bankruptcy. During this time I spent several years in court fighting to keep my children safely away from their abusive biological father, a journey that was financially debilitating. We had another son in 2015. Abruptly in 2016 we learned my husband’s daughter was also in unsafe situation, so we then added in the cost of an out of state court struggle and eventually gained custody of his daughter, though we were in financial ruin.
During these 4 years Ted was in school full time and I was the only income. We learned of Host Ukraine and although we were in no position financially to host, our hearts were drawn to the girls of the Eastern block. We had planned for him to leave college to start working that spring. We have unique family of children that come from different places and have a perspective to the importance of belonging. We decided although we weren’t believers, maybe God was trying to tell us to host. We looked at the hosting lists, and one girl spoke to us. Ted continued to look for work.
Her name was Alina and she had been an orphan since 2 months old. She had never known her parents, and had never seen outside the orphanage. She was insightful and motivated, and dreamed to live life inside a family unit, to see what it was like. We fundraised and we brought Alina for the summer. We hoped if we answered the call it the resources would be provided. It wasn’t easy, but somehow we stayed afloat. Help Now
When we first met her she was shy and quiet. I asked her what new thing she saw on her journey to America. I expected her to tell us about the plane, the cars, the buildings she had only seen in movies. Her response was “I saw hope for my future”. Her grace continues to astound me.
The 11 weeks of summer flew by. Alina impressed us with her insight as she navigated a foreign world. She was the missing link in our family. Ted started working in July, the feelings of this calling started to be reinforced.
I don’t know why my journey lead me here. I don’t know why God would call non-believers to be spoken to so loudly to leap out in faith to adopt this girl. When the summer ended and I looked at her tearing eyes as we stood in the departure terminal of the airport, I knew then I had to do everything possible to save her from the 70% chance that she faces of human trafficking. I can’t let my daughter be a statistic. In my way is a mound of paperwork I do with a joyful heart, and a mountain of $30,000.00 standing in my way. How can I say this is too hard and walk away. How can I ignore my friends encouraging me, the hardest challenges are given to the bravest soldiers. I can’t ignore the need for this girl to come home to her family. I need to swallow my pride and understand part of my lesson is asking for help. 34 years I’ve done everything on my own and bravely carried on, this is the challenge that isn’t possible to do alone. I’m being tested to learn to ask for help, and have faith the people who can help save Alina will come forward and hold us up.
Now I ask you, to ask everyone you can, to ask everyone they can, to help us move the financial mountain to give hope to a girl who stares at a statistic she doesn’t want to be. Help us give hope to Alina and a guarantee at a chance to rise up and change the world. If she is given the chance, she will grow wings and fly, if not she will be just another number of the endless list of children lost to sex slavery and organ trade. She just needs a family to support her growth and provide her the resources to excel. We may not have $30,000.00 but we have unlimited love and understanding that the force behind the love of a family is un-stopable.