I have 6 children. Three are my biological birth children who came home with me. One is my biological child who was birthed into the arms of Jesus and never came home with me. One is my child who was birthed to another birth mother but who later came home with me through the miracle of adoption. And one is a child who was birthed to another birth mother, came into my life for 5 weeks last summer, later chose not to be adopted...and is currently living on the other side of the globe. To further complicate things, the birth dates of all my children are not in order. Child #4 was born after child #5, and child #6 was born after child #1 and before child #2. If you're confused, that's okay. If you're not confused, then you are probably another adoptive parent with a similar story. :)
This blog post is about child #6, our teenage host daughter who lives in Latvia. We hosted her through New Horizons for Children last summer. She loved our family and told us it was her first time to have a real family who really loved her. When offered adoption, she chose to stay in her familiar country but wanted us to always love her. We respected that choice, and we have tried to show her a family's love as much as is possible in a long-distance situation. For some orphans, adoption is the answer; but for Sandija, long-distance love is what we are called to give.
Her birthday is coming up, so we collected lots of things that we know she loves...candy and Barbie and all things Hello Kitty. And of course, pink pink pink!
Letters have to be written in English and then translated into her language. This says "Happy Birthday, Sandija!" Love really is in any language. I've made it a point to put a heart around her name in every letter I send to her. I hope it means something to her...that she knows that somewhere, there's a Mama who loves her.
Lots of items that we send are necessities...deodorant, soap (I had no idea they made Hello Kitty soap...she's going to love this stuff!), lip gloss, toothbrush, toothpaste, school supplies. Have you every wondered what a fresh toothbrush can do for a child who may not receive one very often? I remember how she would hug me for almost every item we bought for her...even a boring ol' toothbrush means something in an orphanage. We chose pink, of course.
Every package we send always has two for-sure staples: 1) A package of AAA batteries for her mp3 player that we gave her (assuming that it hasn't been stolen from her...sadly, orphanage life is what it is!)...and 2) new, clean socks. The night before she left for Latvia, she took great care to fold her socks and place them gently in her suitcase, and I asked why she hadn't worn some of the socks we had bought for her. She said, "They are young, and I save them." She treasured new socks and wanted them to stay "young" and unused for awhile before wearing them. I remembered that and made a point to send new socks at Christmas and for her birthday. This package also had a new pair of pajamas and a bright pink shirt that I know she will love.
Inside her Hello Kitty notebook, I wrote a little love note from Mama. I imagine her being at school and opening her notebook and knowing for that split second that someone somewhere on the planet loves her. It's what I can do...stopping for the one, even if it's not in person.
The boys in our family have matching shirts that say, "How do you help 147 million orphans?" "ONE at a time!" And this is how we are loving the ONE today.