Rising to Great Heights – An Adoption Story of Inspiration


michaeladeprinceInternational adoption provides loving, permanent homes to children in need across the globe. The children left behind in orphanages face a childhood with little hope. These forgotten children grow up without families and many live a life of hardship, hunger and with little opportunity for education.  Many age out of the orphanage into lives of crime or prostitution. Some lives unfortunately end in death due to malnutrition and preventable diseases. Every individual is placed on this earth with gifts and potential to do great things. For children left behind in orphanages, their gifts are often lost to the world and their potential is unrealized. International Adoption allows the adoptive child’s gifts to shine forth and these successes need to be shared and celebrated. We are happy to share with you the story of Michaela DePrince.

Michaela DePrince was born in Sierra Leon and was orphaned during Sierra Leon’s civil war. Her father was murdered by rebels and her mother perished as a result of starvation. Michaela was handed over to an orphanage by her uncle. Further malnutrition and emotional abuse occurred at the hands of her orphanage care taker who deemed her as the “devil’s child” and ridiculed her due to a skin condition known as vitiligo. After the orphanage was bombed, Michaela fled to a refugee camp. Michaela’s life took a dramatic turn when at the age of four, Michaela was adopted by a New Jersey couple who encouraged Michaela to pursue her dream of ballet, regardless of the fact that she did not fit the stereotypical model of a ballet dancer.

Michaela dreamed of becoming a ballerina after seeing a magazine cover featuring a ballerina. Michaela kept this magazine cover and after being adopted by Elaine and Charles DePrince, showed the photo of the ballerina to her adoptive mother in an effort to express her dream to aspire to be a ballerina. Her adoptive family consisted of a total of eleven siblings, nine of whom are adopted.

Michaela’s dream of ballet was achieved as she trained in ballet in the United States with her adoptive mother’s encouragement. Michaela is world renowned and currently performs with the Dutch National Ballet. Michaela has authored a book with her mother titled Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. This year MGM acquired the film rights to her book.

While Michaela’s story is the quintessential example of a rise to stardom from the depths of poverty and despair, there are millions of children who never see such an opportunity for greatness. Seeing not only the survival of this young woman, but to see her life blossom with such talent, should give us all pause and remember the children still living behind in poverty and in need of a family. While all adopted children will not attain this type of success through dance or become world renowned for achieving such great heights, they all have something to bring to our world. Every life matters and is precious. Consider adopting a child in need, many of whom are struggling to survive in countries such as Burkina Faso and Haiti. Let’s give them a chance to show us how they can blossom as well.

For more information on international adoption, please contact us.

Photo Credit: Michaela DePrince

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.