Last week I received a call from one of our MLJ families, who finalized their adoption from Ukraine about five years ago. They adopted their daughter when she was almost 16 years old. Today she is a 21-year-old successful young lady, completing her third year of college and speaking four languages fluently. She already chose her career path and is working hard to follow her dreams. This story inspired me to share with families who are only considering adoption, sharing some thoughts and a success story about adopting older children from Ukraine.
In 2018, MLJ’s Ukraine Program experienced one of the most successful in years, placing 11 children in need of forever families from Ukraine who joined their families in the U.S. Roughly 90% of these children were kids 10 years of age and older. According to Ukrainian law, children become eligible for international adoption only after they are five years old. An exception to this law can be invoked if a child has moderate or severe medical needs which are detailed in a list developed by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Though Ukraine is making efforts to place children in families within their own country, many times older children are overlooked. For children aging out of the orphanage, there are almost no state support programs for these children after they turn eighteen, providing them with no education, training, guidance or support to ensure they succeed as a working adult. Many who age out of the orphanage end up in a prison, being involved in prostitution or are victims of human trafficking. Consider this, when adopting an older child from Ukraine you are not only giving a child in need the family and home they so need and deserve, you are actually giving the child a chance to jump into the last car of the train providing a path to a “normal” life.
Here is the experience of MLJ families who adopted older children (15-16 years of age) from Ukraine. Their stories demonstrate that adoption of an older child can be challenging but at the same time very rewarding and worth pursuing:
Our family chose to adopt a teen. We have been blessed to enter into the life of a child at one of the most critical and emotional times. The teen years. Because of this I believe we have doubled our fun, laughter, and joy! Truly the best decision we made in adopting!
And from another adoptive Mom:
When our family heard about hosting an orphan we had no intentions of adoption. We were only interested in sharing Christmas, our home and family with a child in need. Nick arrived just days before his 15th birthday. He was loud, stayed up until wee hours of the morning, friendly, personable to all. At the time another family was considering adopting him but when we got a call in late May that Nick still needed a summer hosting family, we felt called to take him at the last minute, even though it was our daughter’s last summer at home before going to college. The family who was initially adopting him was not able to finish their home study after 2 years and if we didn’t do something Nick would be stuck in Ukraine with no options. We started the adoption process in July 2018 and with the incredible support of MLJ had our dossier submitted to Ukraine on December 10, and brought Nick home July 2019.
We have been home nearly 6 weeks and while the in-country process was challenging, we wouldn’t change it for anything. Age-wise Nick should be a junior, but we have placed him as a sophomore to give him an extra year to grow. Our public school is working with us to help Nick academically, but it is going to be a challenging year. He thrives in ROTC and is looking forward to the start of wrestling season.
The transition home has been incredibly smooth, probably because Nick was hosted in our home 3 times. My husband and I only have experience parenting a very easy 19-year-old daughter, yet as older parents we now welcome the opportunity to make a difference in our son’s life. Every day Nick brings so much joy into our home. His hugs, smiles, I love you’s, and willingness to help are treasured. We simply can’t imagine life without him now and have been so blessed that God chose us to be his parents! I hope we can be an example for other families to see that adopting an older teenager is an incredible gift!
If you are interested in adoption of an older child or interested in learning more about Ukraine Program or other international programs that MLJ offers, please contact email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (317) 875-0058.