Give a Ukrainian Orphan an iPod…
And they’ll share it with all their friends, who will then message you and FaceTime you and beg you to find them a family to love them too.
What do you say? What do you tell their hopeful faces on the other side of the screen? How do you answer their questions written while holding their breaths, written with extra question marks for emphasis?
I never expected this to happen. I thought we may be able to exchange messages with Igor. That is if he can find internet and get it to work, if his iPod wasn’t immediately stolen.
Instead I suddenly find myself FaceTiming a room full of Ukrainian orphan boys…in my pajamas with embarrassing bed head.
What a way to make orphans real. They are just regular kids who are thrilled to have outside attention.
The first thing they do is beg for help and a chance to be loved.
A boy named Ilya has taken command of Igor’s iPod.
Ilya says he’s keeping the iPod safe for Igor so that no other kids steal it. Igor says Ilya is his friend.
And it’s gone a bit further…Ilya and I are buddies now. He messages me for hours. Ilya is 15. He tells me he has never been to America. He longs to find a family. He’s asking me questions about how the hosting program works. He asks me if we could host him or adopt him.
He gives me his full name so I can ask the Ukrainian facilitator to look and see if he is able to get a visa for hosting. I explain that I cannot host him, but if he is able to come then I will do everything I can to be sure a family chooses him.
He asks me other questions, and he keeps reminding me not to forgot him. Don’t forget to find a family, ok?
Ilya ages out of the system soon. They age out at age 16.
Recently a friend adopted an older child from Ukraine. They refused to let her use the internet for the first few months because it interferes with bonding and adjusting to life in America if the kids are focused on what their friends in Ukraine are doing. Finally after six months they let her get on VK, Russian/Ukrainian Facebook.
Do you know what she found? Her best friend had aged out at 16 with the rest of her class. Her best friend was found two days after being kicked out of the orphanage. Raped, strangled, and dead.
These are real people I know. These kids, their adoptive families, the kids left behind.
It should be shocking that this poor 16 year old girl was murdered after only two days on her own. But it’s not shocking in Ukraine. It’s what happens to them, it’s expected.
I just…can’t…I don’t know what to do. Why can’t I save the whole world?
Well Ilya is my next project, in addition to Igor of course. Anyone want to offer a lot of love to a 15 year old Ukrainian orphanage bully who sends text messages from his bed in the orphanage confessing that all he wants is to have a family?
Update: I am beyond thrilled to say that ILYA HAS A FAMILY!!!!!
Since Ilya is 16 years old he is technically too old to legally adopt. (The cut off is their 16th birthdays.) He could only be adopted by a family who had filed adoption paperwork with immigration before his 16th birthday.
Well as it turns out a family had filed with immigration just days before his 16th birthday, not knowing anything about this boy. They intended to adopt a sibling set of three girls. The girls had a change in plans and won’t be available for adoption for another year, leaving them with filed paperwork and no child. Then they saw our posts about Ilya and fell in love.
The adoptive parents have been talking to him on Skype.
I read on Facebook where the mom posted that Ilya asked them if they really liked him. She said, “Of course my son, we love you!”
Now we can all sniffle and post 10,000 cheesy <3’s. Because it was surely no coincidence that they had already filed this paperwork just days before the cut off, and Ilya’s greatest wish to find a mother has come true.