When my husband and I stepped forward in pursuing adoption, it was after much research, conversations, and prayer. During that research, our eyes were opened to things we never knew existed. One of the findings that struck me the most was reading blogs and articles from adults who had been adopted internationally. Some of these adoptees shared openly online how angry they were that people spent all this money to adopt and no one was trying to help the struggling birthparent to continue to provide for the basic needs and parent their children. Those children are called poverty orphans. A poverty orphan is a child that is very much loved and wanted by their birth family, but due to a variety of reasons, that family cannot care for the child. Instead of getting support to stabilize the family, a child is dropped off at an orphanage with the hopes that a brand new set of parents who have money and resources will make it all better. Yuck. That’s awful. I can see why these adult adoptees are angry, and that realization was haunting. We drew a line in the sand. We were not OK with that, and we would not be party to that sick and twisted view of family and a child. As we pursued adoption we committed to only working with an organization that focused first on family reunification and orphan prevention. Of course, we know this is a broken world and not all families can be reunified and not all orphans can be prevented. Insistently, we pursued growing our family only through ethical adoption. When we found Mwana Villages the pieces clicked together and we kept saying, “I can’t believe a place like this exists!” The more we heard, the more we knew this was the organization to stand behind.
When the directors of Mwana Villages told us about Raphaël, our hearts lit up inside us. We already have three biological children ages 11, 9, & 7. Raphaël rounds us out to a party of 6 and even keeps the age pattern going since he is 5 years old. As we considered adding a fourth child to our family we kept repeating, “He just fits. We have room for him. He’s already one of us.” Raphaël is a joy giver, loud talker, easily laughs, stubborn, extroverted, and kind. He fits right into this family. Raphaël also knows brokenness and loss, and we understand that too. Raphaël was named after a name for God mentioned in the bible, Jehovah Rapha, which means God our Healer. Amen sweet boy, amen.
It is an honor to be chosen as an adoptive family to raise a beloved child from Mwana Villages. The staff have not only met the basic needs of Raphaël, but also fed the inner soul with love, affection, and joy. His hearty chuckle comes from a boy who feels safe and has found refuge. Raphaël’s easy smile reflects the dignity and tender loving care that he has received in his years at Mwana Villages. He prays to a God he has learned about and knows is real. Raphaël knows his Healer. We are forever grateful that Mwana Villages was there to be a refuge for our son before we ever knew about him. Our hearts are forever knit together in one big Mwana family.