Celebrating Ten Years!


A little over 11 years ago, on the northside of Indianapolis, Sonja Brown and I met with Michele Jackson to discuss the steps to becoming an adoption agency. Little did we know how much we would grow in 10 years! Initially starting out with a program for Ukraine, we started preparing to  launch programs in Honduras and Nicaragua. In the past 10 years over 500 children have been placed in loving families!

First, I celebrate all the beautiful children that I have been honored to serve! I have 303 children that I call mine.  I was professionally and personally involved with their adoptions. Every time I see their “after” pictures and see how they have bloomed, I am amazed! I have been fortunate to meet those in the Indianapolis area, that have made it to our picnics or events and they are always so much more beautiful that I could imagine. I am thrilled to hear about their accomplishments.

I don’t think we could be celebrating 10 years if not for the people that have made up MLJ and the programs we have worked with. I have been so blessed to work along side some amazing ladies in our agency.  These amazing women have displayed a real commitment to doing what it takes to move mountains to advocate for the orphan! Whether it is fundraising, counseling, immigration or more there is a passion for doing their best to help families and children alike. I have also been very lucky to collaborate with some of the most caring and knowledgeable staff in the sending countries where we have worked. I have witnessed a dedication to children, families and ethical practice, not to mention making friends all over the world!

Never in my dreams growing up did I ever think I would be able to travel to so many places.  I do not always have much time to sightsee on our travels to the countries we serve, but when I have been able to, I have been awestruck.  The beauty in contrast to the despair in Haiti, the stunning history in Ukraine, I do not think I can even begin to describe how many beautiful areas I have seen. I feel so very fortunate to have been able to see where the children I have served, have come from.

As a parent to biological children, at first I dismissed adoption education.  I felt that my experience as a parent was all I needed.  I was sadly wrong!  I have since discovered what a valuable tool, adoption education is. In a previous blog, I wrote, “I had the opportunity to attend an Empowered to Connect Conference by Karen Purvis, and it was then that I realized just how valuable the education of adoptive families was and how crucial it is to successful parenting. I walked away from that conference crying, about assumptions I had made about my children’s behavior, how I had sometimes handled situations with them, and just how lost I was.”  I have learned that the investment of 10-20 hours of education is worth it. Giving me and all adoptive parents the tools to parent children from a difficult past.

Lastly, the reason I celebrate the past ten years, I think this is best said from a blog I wrote previously, “It is easy to get discouraged when those around you do not seem to understand what you feel about the plight of the orphan. It is hard when all of those around you can’t understand your passion for the fatherless. It is difficult to pick yourself up and face the opposition time and time again, only to get knocked back down feeling defeated. I mean we are talking about ORPHANS! How can people NOT want to do something?

I have faced churches who had other focuses, people that were empathetic but not led to help, bureaucracy in foreign countries that get more and more bound by red tape and restrictions, the disappointment of families, the crushed dreams of older children that so desperately wanted a family but it never happened for them, I could go on and on. Those things all point to the fact that it is easy to become bitter and feel defeated with the cost of this decision be bared by children.

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a picture of a hummingbird. It has become her personal symbol of “doing what you can and never giving up”. According to Wiki answers, the hummingbird represents love, joy, and beauty. Because the hummingbird can fly backwards, it teaches us to reflect upon our past but to look to the future and move forward. Noble Peace Winner, Laureate Wangari Maathai shared a story about a hummingbird in a speech she gave. She told how this tiny bird, when faced with a forest fire that would likely kill all the animals, decided to act and mouthful by mouthful carried water from a nearby stream to douse the fire. When asked why, the hummingbird replied, “I am doing what I can.”

The story reminded me that despite the frustration that orphan care and the adoption journey may bring; the pain, rejection and bureaucracy, that I can choose to be a hummingbird,  I will do what I can, and that even though it may seem small, if I can encourage enough people to also do what they can – we just might accomplish something big for the sake of waiting children in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Burkina Faso and Peru, and for the children in need all around the world.

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.