My Lifelong Commitment to Ukraine


ukraine travelIn the last few weeks my heart has been very heavy for my children’s birth country, Ukraine. I love this country and the strength they represent. They have fought long and hard and have been oppressed many times over the centuries, yet they march on. The Ukrainian people represent endurance and resilience to me. I feel it is that deep rooted strength that my children inherited in order to survive and later to thrive. The pictures coming out of Kyiv break my heart. I can barely log onto Facebook without wanting to cry for the people, the country, and my friends.

Because of my children, the friends I have made, and the time I have spent in Ukraine, I have developed a deep love for the country. Since I have been involved in adoption I have talked to many families over the past 13 years and have discovered that while some families have a willingness to travel, there are those that do not. I strongly encourage every family to travel to their child’s country of birth because I feel it will give you a greater understanding of life there, as well as an appreciation of the United States and the freedom that we often take for granted. I now have a desire for all of my children to visit a foreign country so they can contrast in their own minds as to how privileged they are and appreciate the benefits of the country they now call home.

The pictures I have seen of the riots in Ukraine and their aftermath are a stark contrast to the beauty I saw while in Kyiv, but I am glad that I was able to see it . When travelling to your child’s country you will see the good, the bad and the ugly. You will witness extreme poverty, people that live a very hard life, and experience many things that may shock you. Take the time to witness the beauty of the country, the strength of the people, and appreciate the willingness of the country put the needs of their children first – whether you are adopting from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Africa or Latin America.

It truly upsets me when I hear a family talking negatively about the country their child is from. Some families are unwilling to do post adoption reports because of their feelings towards the country and the life their child endured during their time there, and sometimes the difficulty of the adoption process has made them bitter. It is my wish for all families of internationally adopted children to develop a love for their child’s birth country as opposed to the disdain that some families express.

It is an honor and a privilege to be the mother of four Ukrainians. While I see the negatives in the country, and hate that my children had the lives they had – I was also able to see the beauty of Ukraine and the people there. It is my hope that the children will take great pride in their country.

Photo Credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

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.