Finding Families for Children – the Struggles and the Rewards


Working in adoption the past eleven years has afforded me the opportunity to work with many adoptive families, and I have treasured the opportunity.  I feel that I have connected many parents with the child or children that completed their family; however there are times when I need to be reminded that my job is about finding families for children and not children for families.  What is the difference?  The difference is knowing children that need families, and working to help them find a family, versus trying to find a child to meet the family’s desire.

For Ukraine, this means I need to find families that are open to adopting older children or sibling groups of two, three, or even more!  Many families are nervous about adopting older children and very few families are open to adopting a sibling group of more than two children.  While it is so important that parents understand the realities of how difficult adopting older children and sibling groups can be, it can also be very rewarding. MLJ has supported families who have adopted older children and sibling groups from Ukraine. I myself have adopted both older children and a sibling group from Ukraine, so I absolutely understand the challenges, but I have also seen amazing rewards. The rewards may look different for children from hard places, and there are times when I have to look hard for opportunities to celebrate small successes, but the successes and rewards are there, and they are worth celebrating. I was led to adoption because there were children in need of families, and I felt strongly that my family could meet the needs of the children despite the challenges.

For some families, adopting siblings is a wonderful way to build their family, though the most successful families have a plan and have prepared for the challenges ahead. We are grateful for the families who open their homes and hearts to these children in need. We have supported many families who have adopted either an older child or sibling group (or both!) and hope to help many more families have successful adoptions!

In looking back, I have helped place around 150 children from Ukraine – in that group of children there have been some amazing stories, as well as some very difficult situations.  It isn’t easy hearing from families who are struggling, or children who have experienced so much trauma that healing seems beyond  reach, but I have realized how important it is to look at the overall numbers. Out of the approximately 150 children home, less than 10% of the families have reported that their children have experienced extreme difficulties.  For those children and families who are really struggling, they know that that their sacrifices have made a much better life possible for children than they would have had in Ukraine, though certainly some days are hard. But, it is these children- the older children, those in large sibling groups, and those with special needs- that are in the greatest need of an adoptive family.

This summer we had 15 children visit and spend a couple of weeks with US families through our Ukraine Hosting Program, and it is my desire that some of these children will have the opportunity to experience a chance at a future with the love and support that a family offers!

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.