Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Maria's Story

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

....this story continued from HERE.....

Four children: three sisters and a brother.

Four precious children.

Traci Heim met them last summer while traveling across their country for Project Hopeful.   Their internat director allowed Traci to take their picture and interview them, in the hope that Project Hopeful could help find a Stateside family to adopt them.

All four children were together in the same internat.  The oldest was 16 at the time, and the youngest was 4.

They had been orphans since 2009, when they were found abandoned at a shelter.  No one knew where their father was.  The courts deprived their mother of her parental rights.

Four children.  All alone in the world, except for one another.

When people look at this picture, a lot of them immediately fall in love with the littlest.  I did.  She is absolutely precious, and seeing her picture makes me want to reach in and bring her right into my house.

And Traci definitely fell in love with her cute little self.  Her name is Vika (4), and she is quite spoiled.  When Traci asked her what she liked, she said "candy." That fits.

Alina (9) has a personality that doesn't match her serious picture.  Traci says that Alina is a spitfire.  Her goals in life are to watch TV and play all day.  Although she's very athletic, she told Traci that she doesn't like sports.  Spitfire.  I love her already.  

Traci didn't really get to talk much to the boy, Sasha.  He was involved in a soccer game, so he couldn't be bothered with a silly thing like posing for a photo that might help find him a home.  He's a tough boy, made even tougher by the grim circumstances of his life.  But there is a tender side to him, a little boy inside that rough exterior.

Then there is Maria.

And here is where I have to slow my story down.

When Traci first shared about these four kids-- when I first saw their picture on her blog-- when she first indicated that she was trying to find a family for them-- I did what I think most people do: I focused on the younger three.  I saw their potential.  I saw that they were young enough, and that adopting them would not be too hard.

But Maria?

Well, I was dismayed about Maria.  She was17 years old, almost ready to go out on her own.

I looked at Maria, and I wondered how in the world I would advocate for someone to adopt her.  

I wanted to support Traci.  I wanted to help her find a family for these kids.  I would do anything to pay Traci back for the way she helped me when we were adopting Aaron.  But goodness.... a family of FOUR children? And the oldest is SEVENTEEN?

I couldn't get past Maria's age.

I wrote her off as unadoptable.

But God knew that Maria was not unadoptable.

Just a few weeks after Traci posted about these four kids on her blog-- after she advocated for them, and thought that she had done all that she could for them-- she and Scott looked at each other and, in a unified YES, realized that THEY were these four children's parents.

And not just because of Vika, Alina and Sasha-- although they loved them dearly.

It was Maria who broke their hearts.

Maria, who has a carried a terribly heavy load on her too-young shoulders.  Maria, who's lived a life of chaos and confusion.  Abandoned by her parents, who dumped the load of responsibility for all of their children onto their eldest.  Trying to lay that load down at the orphanage, but finding it hard because orphanages are not really places where girls can lay down their burdens.  Attending school, but struggling because of all the time that she's missed.

And drawing ever closer to the age of 18, the age when she will no longer be legally adoptable.  The fearsome age when she will receive a bag, some clothes and a wee bit of money, then be sent out into the world to fend for herself-- with no skills, no family and no home. 

Shy.  Embarrassed by her looks, and by the behavior of her siblings.

Maria stood with Traci, quietly answering the questions that she asked her.  Knowing that this lady was trying to find families for orphans like her.  Probably not too hopeful for herself, but holding her breath in the hope that the little ones might find a family.

At first, Maria gave safe, careful answers to Traci's questions.  She was protecting herself against the danger of disappointment.  But when Traci persisted, Maria finally spilled out the desire of her heart: "I would like a mom and a dad."


At 17 years old, sweet, sensitive Maria doesn't want riches, beautiful clothing or fast cars: She just wants a family.

For herself. 

She wants to lay down the heavy load of being both Mom and Dad to her brother and sisters, and she wants another chance to have a Mom and Dad of her own.  She wants someone to care about her, someone she can depend on.

She just wants a chance to be a little girl.

And by God's Grace, Traci and Scott Heim want to be her parents.  They want to let her be a little girl again.  They want to bring all four of these children into their already-full house.

How the Heims humble me.

Traci first posted about Maria and her siblings at the beginning of January.  I didn't post about them then because I couldn't get past Maria's age.  I wanted to support Traci's endeavor, but I kept dragging my feet.

Then in the middle of January, Traci started a giveaway to raise money for Maria and her siblings, and again I was confronted with them.  Again, I balked.  What family could ever adopt four children at once, the oldest of which is 17?

Less than two weeks later, Traci and Scott themselves committed to adopting all four children, and it was then that the Lord exposed my heart. 

It was then that I realized that I needed to re-think the older child.  That I had been writing older children off-- seeing them as beyond hope.

Yes, I was advocating for Jack, who was a bit older. But Jack is 12.  Maria is 17. 

Thinking about Maria's story was what led me to write Millie's story.

Maria's story was the main reason I started advocating for Laurel.

and Duncan.


Maria's story is the reason my heart was broken for Sam-- who, by God's grace, now has a family.

Maria's story opened my heart so that I could truly see all of the older kids on Reece's Rainbow who need someone to be their voice.  Until Maria, I was closed. 

Maria just wants a Mom and Dad, a family that she can call her own.  She is not too old for a family, any more than Laurel and Bernadette are too old for families.  I certainly hope that no one ever decides that I'm too old to have a family, because I couldn't stand it.  My dear friend Millie was written off too, but look what the Lord did in Millie's life.  

With God's help, Maria and her siblings are going to be crossing the ocean soon.  Our Mulligan Stew is for them.  It is also for Bernadette, Laurel and Jack.  Older children.  Hard to place children. 

Children who just want a mom and dad. 

Many kinds of children are going to share our Mulligan Stew-- older children, desperately needy children, the Lost Boys and others.  Knowing the way that God multiplies our tiny offerings, I have no doubt that we will have enough to go around-- even though there are many at the table.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" be continued....


  1. Just saw Duncan on MFFM ... hooray!!!

  2. Made me cry this morning right before I leave the house to fedex my I800A for my little one. I truly think a teen is in my future. Thank you for your honesty and advocacy and inspiration. Millie's story has been my favorite story I've read, possibly ever.

  3. I'm so happy for these children!! And so glad that they will be together. What a great way for me to start my day. When I first saw the photo, I only saw the oldest. What wonderful parents they will have!!

    By the way, you are a total master at the art of writing cliff hangers! Keep it up!

  4. Amen and amen. What a great family with huge hearts.

  5. There is a blog called Never Ending Story about a mom and dad who have adopted several children including a sibling group. The boys in the group were little but the sister was over 18. From all accounts it has been a good thing. I don't know how to do links but it could be a good resource for people interested in older children.

  6. Beautiful children. Beautiful story.

  7. We adopted our Naomi from Haiti at age 17, Meribeth from Colombia at age 11, Asher from the US at age 9, Conner and Cooper from Ukraine at age 6, Ella from the US at age 5, Chrissie from Serbia at age 4, Kiefer from Haiti at age 22 months, and Selah from the US at age 7 weeks. Thus, we have a broad range of experience with adoptions at all ages.

    Each of our children have such a different adoption story, and each one's transition has been uniquely challenging. Some have adapted quickly, others not so much, but it has much less to do with age and much more to do with their life experience (abuse, neglect, etc.) prior to adoption, coupled with their individual coping mechanisms of how each one handles their history. Mostly, it has to do with their desire to turn their lives to Christ and allow Him to mend their hearts, heal their hurts, and restore beauty from ashes, regardless of age.

    One of the beauties of adopting older children is the ability to truly share Christ and the Good News with them because they're old enough to understand. Once they give their hearts and lives to Christ, He does the transforming, redeeming every day the locusts have stolen from childhood, restoring a new childhood to even the oldest children.

    The oldest children are many times the most vulnerable if not adopted because they will be turned out on the streets, unable to defend themselves, unable to create a decent future on their own, sold into sex slavery, committing suicide to end the despair. They need Christ and they need support. There's nothing better than a loving Christian forever family to come alongside them during this time.

    Please don't let the older children scare you. That fear is set by Satan. Don't let the fear/sadness/regret of missing out on one's childhood stop you from adopting an older child. Christ WILL redeem and restore in His perfect timing. There's no one too old for redemption, no one too old for adoption. God's already modeled that for us. He never rejects one of His children who turns to Him to receive His gift of adoption, whether that be at age 9 or 99. Praise Him for His Perfect model of adoption, redemption, mercy, and unconditional love.


Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!