This war being waged on Ukraine by Russia has millions of tales that will be told to generations. The unthinkable is actually happening this minute and we hope in our hearts for peace as soon as possible. One of our customers who lost their adoption facilitator a couple weeks ago in Ukraine was kind enough to share a few words.
In spring 2012, I came home from a work conference not with a tote bag, but with a picture of a little girl, with disabilities similar to mine, to adopt in Ukraine. By November, my husband and I were living in Ukraine for a couple months, which was complicated as a mixed race couple and as a disabled woman.
Ukraine was my daughter’s home for almost four years. Half of all disabled Ukrainian children live in institutions (“children’s homes”) because disability is stigmatized and parents often don’t have community support. Ideally, every child would live with their birth families. When that’s not possible, you hope that they have at least one person who sees them.
For our daughter, that person was a nurse in the children’s home in Odessa– as well as her extended family. They protected her, advocated for medical treatment, and cared for her in their apartment when she was ill. I still remember them meeting us at the train station for our journey to Kyiv, loading our bags with chocolates and oranges, and crying from the platform. They joined Facebook and sent us baby photos and videos of our daughter. They are still in our lives– remembering birthdays, asking us if the tween is listening to us (#goals), and encouraging us during difficult times.
I mourn the destruction of their homeland and also what it means for my child. I know, too, that loss and trauma experiences are familiar to many people and often go unrecognized. I don’t know your story, but I hope that strangers along the way have surprised you with love.