Born deaf and blind, Susanna has a story that is opening people's eyes and ears. After God provided just the right family (her mother has specialized training in communicating with the deaf and blind), this little girl has been thriving in her parents' love and care. In fact, her parents have discovered she has more sight and hearing than previously thought. They've become an active voice encouraging other Romanians to consider taking in abandoned children. At the Romania Without Orphans summit in 2015, Susanna's mother spoke about the joy of mothering a child with special needs. We’re honored to be helping this family tell their story—and be a voice for the voiceless.
Our work with Romania Without Orphans could make all the difference in "Hannah's" life. Her older brother "Adam" was in the process of being adopted when we learned that she too had been abandoned. Adam's family immediately expressed a desire to adopt Hannah too. The law states that a family in the process of adopting cannot initiate a second adoption, but it does allow for exceptions. Unfortunately, local officials dragged their feet in making the exception and allowing these siblings to be united.
Thanks to RWO, we knew just whom to call next. An official from the central child welfare office in Bucharest has been working closely with RWO, even speaking at the annual conference. She has expressed delight in seeing our movement grow, and a willingness to help with difficult cases. We expect Hannah's case to be finalized soon.
We drove and drove down a long, open street. I did not know yet what the drive was for, but I knew it had to be done to protect one of our foster children from being returned to her abusive biological family environment. I had met this child we were advocating for a few times, and I knew she still carried a deep fear of the place from which she had come. I also knew that our social workers were going to do everything in their power to protect her in ways she could never protect herself.
That is the thing about trying to make wrong things right, hard things easier, and dangerous things safe. It takes more than just a longing to do it: it takes action. Our team of social workers spend hours upon hours finding ways to make the government a more helpful partner in the desire to give every child a safe, loving family.
For far too long, Joshua was forgotten. First he was abandoned at birth; then the state failed to issue him a birth certificate. This lack of legal identity prevented him from getting the surgery he needed to repair his cleft palate. So Joshua waited and suffered for months in the hospital, his condition growing steadily worse. Finally, we found a family who joyously welcomed him as their son.
But our commitment to Joshua's healing didn't end there. We wanted to make sure he got the best possible surgery to repair his cleft palate, so we asked our supporters on email and Facebook if they could help. Before 24 hours had gone by, all the money necessary for Joshua's surgery had come in. Today, he is on the road to complete healing—which is the goal for every child in our care.
We first found "Darren" and "Ryan" in a place where they never should have been. After entering state care, the government placed these two young boys in a temporary youth shelter—alongside older delinquents and runaways. This negligent act led to all-too-predictable abuse. We rescued them and placed them in a family as quickly as possible. Still, the process of healing from trauma is anything but quick.
Thankfully, the foster family soon discovered that working with horses was extremely helpful for both boys. When their horse died in 2015, we asked our supporters to give toward a new one. Their generosity allowed us to bless this family with another horse —a horse they made available to all our foster kids. They named her "Blessing."
Supporting parents as they learn to help their child heal is something that brings us great joy. The therapy office can be a place filled with uncovering painful memories, but it can also become the most freeing place of healing and safety.
“Becca” was a downtrodden little girl, with a defeated presence and skittish countenance. Her reservation and inner displacement could be felt, but it was clear she did not know how to express all that was inside. As our professional counselor took her aside and led her to open up from within, memories of her years in the institutional care came flooding out of her mouth. The bullying, the comments, the neglect, the fear—she had been carrying all of that by herself.
We believe that each child should have safe and strong places to explore their pain, receiving the attention and guidance they need to heal. Training parents how to listen well, how to introduce physical touch with dignity, and how to guide their child in developing is profoundly important to us. Redemption is a step-by-step progression of love, learning, counseling, therapy, training, and changing. It is a beautiful picture of God’s nearness and patience.
With a birth mother in prison and an extended family unable to care for him, Sam was a newborn utterly alone in the world. Abandoned in the hospital, he saw several prospective adoptive families come and go.
But Sam was far from unwanted: his Mom and Dad just hadn't found him yet. Finally, one day, they walked through the door and knew him at first sight. Here at last was the little boy for whom they'd waited and prayed. It was a match made in heaven—but getting him out of the hospital and into their arms for good required a lot of earthly paperwork. Thankfully, our staff was there to do the job, supported by our donors in the United States. In 2016, after two years of work, his adoption was finalized.
“Bethany” was born into a highly unstable Roma family. Although she initially went home with her birth mother, Bethany later returned to the hospital with severe illness due to neglect. Child welfare workers visited the home and discovered the dangerous situation, so Bethany was removed from her mother’s custody and remained in the hospital.
Weeks went by, then months. Although she had healed from her illness, Bethany stayed on alongside the many other parentless children. Prospective adoptive parents came and went, but sadly, it became evident that Bethany’s beautiful Roma/African ethnicity was presenting an obstacle to permanent placement.
One day, Corina got a phone call completely out of the blue. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to a woman who had adopted a daughter from our ministry 13 years ago. “I’ve had such a vivid dream; I can’t shake it,” she began. “I keep dreaming about a little dark-skinned girl who is crying and in trouble. It seems like I am supposed to help her. Tell me: do you know of a little girl like this who needs a family?” Of course, Corina knew of a little girl exactly like that. And the God who undoubtedly sent the dream knew too. Bethany is now adopted and thriving.
"Philip" was weak from the beginning. Born a preemie, the squalid conditions and neglect at home wreaked havoc on his tiny body. Finally, his birth mother abandoned him at the hospital, saying she couldn't raise the sickly child. Her decision probably saved his life, but without a family, his prospects were dim.
But God saw Philip, and He made a way. An American missionary living in Romania took him out of the hospital and began the adoption process, with help from our social workers. Today, Philip is healthy and thriving, and his cheerful personality is the joy of the family. He and his 13-year-old sister (also adopted) recently enjoyed a visit from their American grandparents, who spoiled them as all grandparents should. Not only does Philip have a home; he has one in which he will grow up hearing about the Savior.
For nineteen years, year after year after year, this quiet and kind couple waited and tried to have a child of their own. When they first reached out to Romania Reborn, we knew immediately that they would be special parents to a lucky child, but we did not anticipate how beautiful it would be.
Dylan was a shy child, left abandoned early in life due to his significant heart problems. When a child is left for medical reasons, finding a family ready to care for those medical needs long term can be challenging. But for Dylan’s new parents, the couple who had been waiting for nineteen years, the path was certain. They knew that Dylan was meant to be theirs.
When we first laid eyes on "Daisy," she was hardly ready to come with us. She did not know that her scent, her skin, her eyes, her clothes were weighed down by years of neglect and mistreatment. She was young—just nine years old—yet somehow aged with bravery and filled with memories we would soon learn. As she drew near to us and we drew near to her, layers of fear and exhaustion shed. We gave her a long, warm bath, where the dirt of world she had known swirled down the drain. The hope of something different wrapped around her as we dressed her with fresh clothes bought just for her. She was beginning to awaken to the reality that there was another sort of love out there in the world: a sort of love that she could have for her own.
We took her clothes and tattered shoes, which were hardly recognizable as such, and could do nothing with them but throw them into the furnace. Although we knew it would be much harder to burn away the years of brutality, neglect, and abuse, we prayed that this was a rescue that would change this little girl forever.
As the months since meeting Daisy have passed, she has begun to find her place in her new family. Though memories of her former life tap on her shoulder from time to time, we continue to remind ourselves of the day we found her, scared and ragged. If the Lord could rescue her from that place, we are confident that He will not stop rescuing and healing her.
Sisters “Becca” and “Allison” were removed from their extremely abusive birth mother by the state. Because Romanian law prohibits children under age 2 from living in a group home, the constant influx of babies into the foster system means that older children nearly always face institutionalization. And that’s exactly what happened: Becca and Allison were placed in a state orphanage. Despite all they had been through in their birth family, the girls did not adjust well to an institutional environment and were very unhappy.
A few months later, the children from this particular orphanage happened to be visiting a local park at the same time as our director, Corina. It was a divine appointment: something about Becca and Allison’s sad faces caught Corina’s eye, and she struck up a conversation. She left the park that day determined to do all she could to find the girls a foster family. It didn’t take long: one of the best families already in our foster program happily agreed to open their home to two more children.
But removing the girls from state care proved more difficult than expected. Child welfare officials initially were unwilling to re-open a case they considered “solved.” Once again, God intervened, opening doors for us to appeal this initial decision to a higher authority. Thankfully the decision was reversed, and Becca and Allison went home with their new foster parents.
It was quickly apparent that these two little girls had never experienced carefree childhood. Whenever she left the room to play, Becca would ask her foster mother, “Can you watch my little sister while I’m away?” Gradually, she’s learning what it means to be truly safe and cared for.
“Lord, please give me a Christian family" was "Oliver's" constant prayer of faith for four years. Abandoned as a child, Oliver grew and thrived in a state foster family. Unfortunately, after years of care and love, this family also abandoned him when they decided to move out of the country. Placed in state facility for special needs, even though he did not have any special needs at the time, Oliver had no freedom and was greatly mistreated. He states that his relationship with God is the only things that brought him through those years.
While Oliver prayed for a new family, he also continually begged his social worker to find a Christian family who would take him to church and let him read the Bible. Finally, the social worker spoke with our Romanian director, Corina, to see if we could help. God answered Oliver's prayers!
Oliver's days are now filled with rediscovering the joys of riding bicycles, reading the Bible, attending church, and playing music with his new foster brother, "Drew", with whom he has formed a close connection. Even though he now suffers developmental delays from his four years in the institution, his love for God and others shines brightly. Recently baptized, Oliver's smile couldn't get any bigger. God's plans for this boy of deep faith are just beginning!
In 2008, neighbors of a young, Roma woman heard faint cries coming from her apartment. When authorities arrived, they found that “Andra” (3) and “Angie” (2) had been locked in the apartment alone without food or water for almost a week. Their mother had simply abandoned them there. Severely dehydrated, starving, and suffering from rat bites, these sisters were almost dead.
Thankfully, their story didn’t end in tragedy. We found a foster family for Andra and Angie, where they have grown up surrounded by love.
However, we know that every abandoned child desires to know that they permanently belong. So, we spoke with their foster parents about adoption. Not surprisingly, they loved the girls and had wanted to adopt them for a while. Unfortunately, they could not financially support the girls without the foster parent salary. Knowing it was better for the girls to be adopted, we promised continued financial support until the family is more financially secure. With this weight lifted, they immediately started the paperwork to make Andra and Angie their daughters. After one of the fastest adoptions in our history, Andra and Angie now belong. Rescued from abandonment and death, they are building a new future with their forever family!
by Jayme Metzgar
Anyone who reads fairy tales know how they typically end: the villain is defeated, and the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset . . . never to be heard from again. The narrative ends where everyday life begins.
At Romania Reborn, our accounts of kids’ lives often follow a similar story arc. A child is born into an impoverished or neglectful family and abandoned at birth. After months (or years) of waiting and suffering, he or she is rescued and finally placed into an adoptive family. And that’s where the story ends: with our own version of “happily ever after.”
So it was a rare treat for me this month to talk via Skype with one of our former Hope House kids, “Stephen” (now 11), and his adoptive dad, Sorin. Despite the inherent awkwardness of a conversation across language barriers, time zones, and internet-quality audio, I nonetheless loved getting a glimpse into the miracle of Stephen’s normal, happy, everyday life.
I had met Stephen on a visit to Romania in 2005, when he was three years old and still living at Hope House. He easily stands out in memory, his curly hair framing his small face, and an expression of shy intelligence shining from his one good eye. The other eye had been lost in the incident of domestic violence that had initially landed him in state care. Finally safe at Hope House, he was at peace, but not entirely happy. Something was missing.
“Families would come and go from the orphanage, and most of his friends started getting adopted,” Hope House director Corina Caba remembers. “He began to pray every night: ‘Please God, send me a mother and a father.’”
When he was nearly four, Stephen had the opportunity to receive a top-quality artificial eye in England. Christopher Calow, a Christian eye doctor visiting Romania from the UK, met Corina and told her that an English surgeon could give him a much better eye than anything available in Romania. Dr. Calow and his wife, Patricia, subsequently arranged for a pro bono surgery, transportion, and housing for Corina and Stephen in England.
But God wasn’t done answering prayers. When Stephen was five, Sorin and his wife, Adriana, visited Hope House for the first time. Initially, they were interested in adopting a baby. “We were unable to have children of our own,” Sorin told me. But as soon as they met Stephen, their plans changed. “We felt a connection with Stephen from the very first visit.”
“Stephen was shy. He wasn’t the kind to run right into someone’s arms,” Corina remembers of that moment. “But I remember Sorin going over to him, getting down on his level, and talking to him quietly. You could just see the connection.”
Happily Ever After
Today, that instant connection has deepened into an obvious fatherly love, joy, and pride in his son. Sorin speaks glowingly of his adoption experience. The obstacles, if any, were minor compared to the blessings Stephen has brought to the family. “The process of adoption is very natural,” Sorin told me, “And the changes in our life have all been positive ones.”
Similarly, the loss of an eye hasn’t proved to be a barrier to a normal and full childhood for Stephen. His many interests include karate, soccer, riding his BMX bike, swimming, and skiing. At school, he just completed the fourth grade, where he has many friends and excels in mathematics and drawing. His current aspiration is to become an architect when he grows up.
Stephen’s family recently moved to a new home on the outskirts of the city, next door to his aunt, uncle, and two cousins. They travel to the mountains every winter for a family skiing trip.
But more than all these material things, Stephen has finally found that “something” he had been missing: love. “We love Stephen, and Stephen loves us. And this is very important,” Sorin emphasized. “We give him a lot of love, and he gives us a lot of love. We can’t imagine life without him now.”
Sometimes God uses one simple, faith-filled action as the seed from which to grow a miracle. A young boy gives up his modest lunch, and five thousand are fed. A widow drops two tiny coins into the offering box, and untold generations are challenged toward faith and generosity.
In the case of little “Gina,” an entirely new life came through a very simple act of faith indeed. We just heard her sweet story this week from our orphanage director, Corina.
Abandoned as a newborn, Gina spent her first year of life primarily in institutions. In the region of Romania where we work, private charities often send workers into hospitals to help care for abandoned children, rendering their living conditions (while still less than ideal) far better than they once were. Thanks to these volunteers, it’s rare today to find the hollow-eyed, utterly emaciated children we saw so often in the 1990s.
But sadly for Gina, she was shuffled from one place to another during her year of abandonment, missing out on the volunteer caregivers. By the time she came to our attention, she looked like an abandoned child we might have met twenty years ago. Weak, malnourished, and barely able to take food or lift her head, no visitor would have guessed she was nearing her first birthday.
When a young couple approached Corina a short time later, seeking a newborn to join their family, her thoughts immediately turned to this frail baby still waiting in the hospital. Gina wasn’t quite the newborn they had requested . . . and her health was clearly fragile. But the couple agreed to come and visit her.
The day of the visit came. The prospective parents, not knowing what to expect, tentatively followed Corina through the hallway of the hospital, passing windows of crib-filled rooms. Finally, they pushed open Gina’s door and entered softly. The weak, neglected little baby stirred, looked up into the gentle, eager faces . . . and reached toward them, beckoning to be held.
That was all it took. The couple knew their daughter when they saw her. There was no doubt: “She’s ours.”
Gina went home just before Christmas. Today, just a few weeks later, she has already made tremendous strides, growing healthy, gaining weight, and already learning to crawl. She couldn’t be more loved.
And it all began with that first, impulsive, needy act of faith, as a baby who had never known love summoned all her meager strength to reach out her arms to her unknown visitors.
Do we have the eyes to see our own need, and the faith to respond as this child did? There is One who has quietly entered our lives and stands waiting to heal and restore us. May we daily reach for Him.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.'” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)